Atlanta Braves: Remains of Wren Era Nearing Judgement Day
The Atlanta Braves were a solid team in 2013. Just one year later, the many failings on General Manager Frank Wren’s part began to show through. It all fell apart exactly a year after winning 96 games.
Frank Wren gets a bad rap for his tenure as General Manager of the Atlanta Braves. He ran the show from 2008 to 2014. The Braves won 604 times out of the 1,127 games Frank Wren was employed for. He made some nifty decisions to accompany some rather poor ones. These decisions weren’t the main reasons why he was fired, but they carried some weight in the verdict. There are prospect pieces in play today coming from Frank Wren’s era. They could be future Atlanta Braves cornerstones, and others still solid contributors.
Braves fans were quick to criticize Wren’s farm systems over the years and how he went about the draft. Yes, there were some bad picks, but he was at the helm when Atlanta brought in Mike Minor, Craig Kimbrel, Brandon Beachy, Andrelton Simmons, Evan Gattis, Alex Wood, and more who’ve gone on to play regularly for other teams at the major league level. Wren may or may not have had much say in those decisions, but he was sure there for them. Credit him how you want, these are just facts.
The farm system blame comes from poor maintenance and trades emptying what talent was there. John Coppolella and John Schuerholz get a lot of credit for the revamping of the farm system. Their goal of a quick worst-to-first for the prospect pipeline was a success. In light of this, Frank Wren managed some talent acquisition worthy of applause toward the end of his own reign. Many of the players he acquired in his last two years as general manager are still around and garnering quite a bit of buzz and hype today.
Take a look at some of today’s top-30 prospects in the league’s best farm system. Ozzie Albies (#1), Ronald Acuna (#7), Lucas Sims (#18), and Braxton Davidson (#27) were all obtained during or before 2014. Jason Hursh spent some time on the list, as well as the MLB.com top-100 list, and was acquired in 2012. His hype may have tailed off, but he’s still got value.
The entire league is now aware of what was the Albies secret. Acuna isn’t as under-the-radar anymore either after his 20 game dismantling of the Australian Baseball League. Lucas Sims was walking a fine line between starter and bullpen conversion, but is breaking out so far this season. Braxton Davidson has struggled a lot, yet still takes his walks and flashes the much-need power lacking in Atlanta’s system.
#Braves 1st round pick in 2014, Braxton Davidson went 4-for-4 with a homer and two walks on Friday…he’s still only 20, don’t give up on him!
— TomahawkTake (@TomahawkTakeFS) April 29, 2017
For those who spend their time combing the Atlanta Braves farm for fun-to-follow prospects, do the names of Caleb Dirks, Wes Parsons, Johan Camargo, Joey Meneses, or Kyle Kubitza sound familiar? These are Wren hold-overs as well.
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Dirks has a future ahead of him if he can carry his minor league dominance to a major league bullpen. Wes Parsons might realize that as well. Johan Camargo just recently made his own debut. Meneses may only ever be a safe-guard stashed at Triple-A, but as a $15,000 signing out of Mexico in 2011, he’d be an insane value if he got there.
Frank Wren has also been the butt of a few jokes in drafting his son, Kyle Wren. They would have been funny if Kyle wasn’t currently hitting around the Pacific Coast League at a .291/.350/.400 clip. He finished last season with a .322 average and 29 stolen bases.
Whatever Frank Wren did or did not do for the Atlanta Braves, he is still due credit for some masterful trades, as well as the acquisition of a few of the fan favorite prospects to dream on. Also keep in mind if Wren never went after Jordan Walden, Atlanta may not ever have had Shelby Miller.