Don’t let the Braves shaky start fool you

Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Atlanta Braves, who dropped their season opener 6-0 to the New York Mets Monday in New York, will be much improved this season in my opinion.

All of the trades they made to rebuild their major league roster and restock their farm system should start paying some dividends this season and in the seasons to come. John Hart, the Braves director of baseball operations, has made some shrewd moves. The trade of right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller to the Arizona Diamondbacks brought back shortstop Dansby Swanson and center Ender Inciarte

Swanson, who played on a national championship team at Vanderbilt, was raised just a few blocks from the Braves new SunTrust Park. He grew up an avid Braves fan.

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Inciarte is a strong defensive center fielder and hitter who reminds me and other Braves fans of their former great defensive center fielder and hitter Andruw Jones.

Rounding out the Braves’ strong outfield are left fielder Matt Kemp and right fielder Nick Markakis, a former All Star outfielder with the Baltimore Orioles who they signed as a free agent a few years ago.

Teaming up with Swanson as part of the Braves around the horn double play combination is second baseman Brandon Phillips, an Atlanta-area native who is a former All Star with the Cincinnati Reds. They picked him up in a trade.

All Star first baseman Freddie Freeman looked really locked-in in the opener against the Mets. He was right on every pitch and drove it hard.  I look for him to have another All Star season.

The Braves pitching staff will again be anchored by ace right hander Julio Teheran. They signed a pair of veteran right handed pitchers, Bartolo Colon and knuckle baller R.A. Dickey, who could pick up some wins and mentor some of their younger pitchers.

Some of the top pitching prospects in the Braves farm system are Kolby Allard, Touki Toussaint and Ian Anderson.

All in all, if some of the young pitchers mature more quickly than expected, the Braves could surprise some folks this season.