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2016 MLB roster outlook: Atlanta Braves

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2016 MLB roster outlook: Atlanta Braves

2015 record: 67-95, 4th place in NL East

Manager: Fredi Gonzalez, 6th season

Estimated 2016 payroll: $85 million

Key additions: CF Ender Inciarte, SP Bud Norris, INF Erick Aybar, INF Gordon Beckham, INF Kelly Johnson, RP Jim Johnson

Key losses: SS Andrelton Simmons, SP Shelby Miller, RP Edwin Jackson, RP Ross Detwiler

Projected lineup

CF Ender Inciarte
SS Erick Aybar
RF Nick Markakis
1B Freddie Freeman
3B Adonis Garcia
C A.J. Pierzynski
2B Jace Peterson
LF Michael Bourn

Projected rotation
RHP Julio Teheran
RHP Matt Wisler
LHP Manny Bañuelos
RHP Bud Norris
LHP Williams Perez

Top relievers
CL Jason Grilli
RHP Arodys Vizcaino
RHP Jim Johnson

Biggest questions entering 2016
1. Will they show progress ahead of 2017? The Braves have traded away all their best players not named Freddie or Julio in the past few years and in doing so have restocked their farm system to go younger and cheaper. The whole idea was to retool and rebuild ahead of the 2017 season, when their new stadium opens in Cobb County. Last year, however, they were terrible, and this offseason they traded Shelby Miller. The future could be bright, but this should be a big building block year for them moving forward. It would be ideal to start showing progress and generate excitement among fans for the new park.

2. Can Julio Teheran return to form? Teheran was among the best pitchers in the NL in 2013 and 2014, particularly in 2014 when he posted a 2.89 ERA across 221 innings in 33 starts. He made the All-Star team and looked like an ace, fulfilling his potential as a top prospect. But then he took a big step backward in 2015 with a 4.04 ERA and a 1.306 WHIIP in 33 games. Their rotation, and their future, looks a lot better with an effective Teheran. Without him, they are basically starting their rotation from scratch.

3. Which prospects will debut and make an impact? The short-term future of the Braves' rotation looks bleak, especially with Teheran's recent struggles. But they do have a new wave of young pitchers set to reach the majors in the next few years. Two in particular could make impacts in 2016: Sean Newcomb and Aaron Blair. Newcomb was the 15th overall pick in 2014. He is a 6-foot-5 lefty who held a 2.38 ERA in the minors last season. They acquired him in the trade that sent Andreltom Simmons to L.A. Blair came over in the Miller trade from Arizona. He is a 6-foot-5 right-hander who had a 2.92 ERA in the minor leagues in 2015. Neither projects as a top-shelf ace, but both could help accelerate the Braves' rebuilding phase if they transition quickly.

[RELATED: Nats' GM Rizzo issues a detailed defense of Papelbon]

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.