The Upton Deal's Impact On The Farm

Losing Nick Ahmed does sting a bit

The trade for Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks not only has an impact on the big league squad, it has both short-term and long-term effects on the Braves' farm system overall. Did the deal make sense with what the Braves gave up on the minor league side?

Absolutely! Yes the Braves had to part with the likes of Martin Prado and Randall Delgado [who is no longer rookie eligible], but you have to give up big league talent to get big league talent and the Braves also received big league third baseman Chris Johnson in the deal.

Whichever side of the fence one lands on in this particular trade, at worst it was a two for two swap of current big league players. However, the Braves also included minor league shortstop Nick Ahmed, right-hander Zeke Spruill, and third baseman/first baseman Brandon Drury.

From the big league roster on down the trade doesn't really hurt the organization's short-term depth much at all so from that sense this was a big win for the Braves.

Delgado, while a sky-high talent, is somewhat easily replaceable by right-hander Julio Teheran, a pitching prospect whose ceiling was even higher than Delgado's and one who seemed buried by the big league depth at least in the short-term even after Atlanta shipped Tommy Hanson.

The loss of Spruill, somebody who was going to vie for the final rotation spot, hurts the overall higher minor league level depth but that is a spot the Braves have some real depth at right now so it's a cost-effective move.

With the likes of Sean Gilmartin and J.R. Graham coming up right behind Teheran, Atlanta still has some real intriguing options to hold down the proverbial fort until Brandon Beachy is ready to come back from his Tommy John surgery later in the year.

The fact is though, while Spruill has the requisite fastball needed to succeed at the Major League level, his secondary pitches, and more to the point his command of them, were still lagging as he was getting closer to the big league level. He was still the longest of shots between the trio of Teheran, Gil Martin, and Graham.

Drury is a low-A third baseman turned first baseman who really struggled with his first taste of the long-season leagues last year, not only offensively but defensively as well. The former Appalachian League MVP in 2011 hit just .229 in the South Atlantic League last year.

Considering the question marks surrounding his ability to stick at third base long-term and now with the batting potential more in question lately, while he still provides some long-term potential, including him in the trade isn't going to teeter the state of the farm system much in either direction.

The real loss from a talent perspective down on the farm, however, was including shortstop Nick Ahmed in the trade. Yes the Braves have 23-year old shortstop Andrelton Simmons seemingly inked in to the position for the foreseeable future and that would have made things difficult for Ahmed to break in with the Braves if and when he was ready, but including Ahmed in this deal, which might have been needed to get it done, does have Atlanta selling a bit low on Ahmed's long-term potential.

The 6-foot-3 middle infielder has blazing speed, solid defensive abilities that could allow him to stick long-term, and more power potential than folks realize. He even draws walks and the bat is starting to come around more consistently.

If there's a plus to dealing Ahmed now from Atlanta's perspective, one that can help mitigate the potential of 'what if' down the road, is the fact that he will be 23 years old by the start of the 2013 season, and while fine for the Double-A level it's not exactly super young either.

Still, right-handed pitching is easily more replaceable in the pipeline and so are corner infielder types so the losses of Delgado, Spruill, and Drury are not going to send shockwaves through the organization.

The loss of Ahmed, however, is actually the toughest pill to swallow in Thursday's deal with Arizona. Having somebody like Jose Peraza coming up from the short-season levels as a potential impact shortstop does help offset the loss of Ahmed, but it doesn't change the fact that Atlanta is probably selling low on Ahmed, a player who one year from now could theoretically have been a headliner in another trade.

The bottom line though is that outside of Ahmed the pieces traded away won't have much of a negative impact on the farm system and from that sense this was a very big win in the Justin Upton trade.

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