Braves to Lose Draft Pick, Release 12 Minor Leaguers for Rule Violation

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2017

Atlanta Braves hat and Rawlings glove in the dugout in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday, May 12, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brett Davis)
Brett Davis/Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves will be releasing a dozen minor leaguers and losing their third-round draft pick in 2018 as a result of an MLB investigation into their prospect-signing practices.     

Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan shared the full punishment levied against Atlanta:

Additionally, the league has banned former general manager John Coppolella for life and suspended former head of international scouting Gordon Blakeley for one year, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post

Shortstop Kevin Maitan is the most notable of the 12 minor leaguers set to become free agents. MLB.com ranked the 17-year-old the No. 38 prospect in baseball following the 2017 season.

Passan reported in October that Maitan's signing was part of MLB's investigation and that the league had been looking into allegations of "[player] bundling in Latin American, under-the-table benefits given to at least one draft pick and predraft deals struck months in advance."

The Braves signed Maitan in July 2016 and gave him a $4.25 million bonus. In 42 Rookie League games this past year, he batted .241 with two home runs and 18 RBI.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien noted how Maitan's signing was part of a significant investment the Braves made in the international market:

MLB's investigation already resulted in John Hart leaving his role as a senior adviser. Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra wondered if the franchise will clean house in the front office:

Losing 12 prospects would hurt any franchise, but the impact hits the Braves especially hard because they're in the middle of a long-term rebuild. Coppolella and Hart traded away a number of key players in order to start over in 2015, and as a result, they assembled one of the best minor league organizations in MLB.

Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter ranked the Braves' farm system as the No. 1 in baseball at the end of the year. Among the 12 players set to become free agents, Maitan was the only one whom Reuter listed in Atlanta's 10-best prospects.

Taking that into account, the Braves still boast a lot of talent in the minors. Nontheless, the effects of MLB's punishment will unquestionably hinder the team's rebuilding plans going forward.

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