/Foundation for many of these Atlanta Braves was poured in Mississippi at Trustmark Park

Foundation for many of these Atlanta Braves was poured in Mississippi at Trustmark Park

You may not be able to see it, but the Atlanta Braves, a team that was heavily bolstered by the former Mississippi Braves, began the day in first place in the National League East by 3.5 games. The Braves are now at 49-34 and 15 games higher than.500 after beating the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Monday night. It seems like a long time since the Braves were in first place so far this season. In order of their finish, the last four Atlanta teams are 17, 23, 26.5, and 25 games behind first place. They have been awful. They are not terrible now. The Class AA Mississippi Braves who play at Trustmark Park, Pearl, have been a major part of the turnaround. Look at Atlanta’s infield. Second baseman Ozzie Albies and shortstop Dansby Swanson were all part the Mississippi Braves’ infield in 2016. Austin Riley, a 20 year-old Hernando native now at Class AAA, might make it difficult for Camargo to keep the third base job. Mississippi Brave first baseman Freddie Freeman is a feared slugger in baseball. It’s hard to believe that Freeman, who has 182 home runs in eight Major League seasons, won’t be 29 until September. The 2009 M-Braves team included Jason Heyward (now with Chicago Cubs) and Freeman, then 19 years old. It’s funny how sometimes it works out. Heyward was rated No. In 2009, Heyward was ranked the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Freeman, his best friend was ranked No. 11. Heyward was so strong, I used go to Trustmark to see him practice batting. While Hayward was the most prominent of these headlines, Freeman is far more productive as a Major Leaguer. He is a strong candidate for MVP. At 21 years old, Ronald Acuna, Jr., is Atlanta’s left fielder. He could be the brightest young star. Just last year, Acuna was promoted from the Class AAA Gwinnett to Mississippi from the Florida State League. Acuna was able to hit.326 in 56 games, before hitting.344 at Gwinnett in 54 games. Acuna’s two-run homer against the Yankees on Monday night was the Major League All-Star most expected to win. 2017 will surely be his year. Acuna started the 2017 season ranked No. Baseball America ranked Acuna the No. 67 prospect in baseball. The same publication had ranked Acuna No. Acuna was ranked the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Acuna has lived up the hype, hitting.274 and seven home runs, despite missing one month because of a knee injury. Acuna’s worth is evident in the fact that the Braves only played.500 baseball while he was away. This year’s Atlanta Braves revival is due to the return to a system that built the Major League team via its minor league system. Frank Wren, the former general manager of the Braves, was more comfortable with the free agent route. It didn’t work (think Dan Uggla and the Upton brothers, Derek Lowe etc. These were all high-dollar purchases that didn’t work out in the long-term. The Braves are now building again through the system. The Class AA level is where most prospects can either play or fail to perform in professional baseball. The make-it or break in level is Class AA more often than not. Brian Snitker (current Atlanta manager) told me this in 2005, when he was managing Mississippi Braves. I was researching Brian McCann (then-M-Braves manager), and was doing a piece about him. Snitker stated, “If you can strike at this level you can hit anywhere.” McCann ended his 2005 season in Atlanta. Over 14 Major League seasons, McCann has hit.263 and 268 home runs. Some pundits call this Atlanta team the “Baby Braves.” They’re young and many of their most valuable players were trained here at Trustmark Park.