Major League Baseball hits Braves with heavy sanctions

John Coppolella resigned as Atlanta's general manager last month

One of the top prospects in baseball is suddenly a free agent, the biggest hammer to drop from sweeping punishments against the Braves for improper behavior while signing amateur talent.

Manfred also announced 12 players the Braves signed illegally during the 2015-17 global free-agent period have been released from their contracts, making them eligible to sign with any team. The final paragraph of that statement begins, "With respect to individual discipline, former Braves General Manager John Coppolella will be placed on the permanently ineligible list, effective immediately".

The highest-profile signee that the Braves will lose is infielder Kevin Maitan. Blakeley will be banned for one year.

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The Dodgers, Angels and other teams have exceeded their bonus pools for signing global amateurs at various times, well aware that the result would be a severe reduction on what they could offer worldwide amateurs for the subsequent two years. The investigation also found the Braves offered impermissible benefits to a player selected in the First-Year Player Draft, persuading said player to sign for a lower amount. They will need to find a new agent than the one who negotiated their deals with the Braves, Yahoo Sports reported. As a result, Atlanta will be stripped of their third-round pick in 2018. Manfred also announced that the Braves have been prohibited from signing prospect Robert Puason.

In the 2019-20 global signing period, the Braves will be limited to spending $10,000 per player and will not be allowed to sign 14-year-old Robert Puason of the Dominican Republic, who the team had reached an agreement with, because he is too young. Catcher Abrahan Gutierrez, most notably, signed for $3.5 million in July 2016 and was the Braves' No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

The Braves have been praised for building one of the best farm systems in Major League Baseball, but the rebuilding effort took a hit with the penalties handed down by Major League Baseball.

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