I’m going to try something new this season and that’s keeping up with minor league transactions. Every Tuesday, I’ll take a look at each level to go over some of the moves and provide analysis. If this is the kind of thing that interest you, let me know. For this week, I am going to ignore the moves to set the opening day roster and simply focus on releases and moves because of injuries/promotions.
Review last week’s transactions.
Activated: Mike Foltynewicz…He’s still building arm strength, but Folty’s early returns since being activated are both solid (15 ING, 13 K) and disappointing (10 BB, 2 HBP, WP). This could be an extremely important season for Folty as he is joined in the starting rotation by prospects like Aaron Blair and Tyrell Jenkins with Sean Newcomb and Lucas Sims waiting in the wings at Double-A. If Folty doesn’t establish himself as a future starter soon, he might find himself moved to the pen.
Activated: Braeden Schlehuber…With Schlehuber in the fold, Gwinnett can use both Ryan Lavarnway and Blake Lalli in the catcher and DH positions without worrying about losing the DH if a change is needed behind the plate. A minor league lifer, Schlehuber appeared in Triple-A for the first time last year in his eighth season. He’s a career .218 hitter with a .602 OPS.
Activated: Kanekoa Texeira…Another veteran, the Hawaiian, who was originally a White Sox pick in 2006, is in his third season with Gwinnett. He’s been a swingman to this point, but with no room in the rotation, Texeira will work out of the bullpen for the time being. He’s appeared in 49 games in the majors with his most recent exposure coming in 2011 with the Royals.
Activated: Rob Wooten…He’s struggled in the majors and lacks good-enough stuff to match up with major league hitters, but he’s a decent placeholder in Gwinnett for depth purposes. Wooten has already logged a couple of scoreless appearances with 3 K’s.
Optioned: Joel De La Cruz…The 27 year-old’s time in the majors was very brief. He was brought up for just one day after the Braves demoted John Gant. His value was that he was a fresh arm. De La Cruz’s road to the majors was long and though he didn’t play in a game, I’m sure he felt great just to dress in a major league dressing room. In his ninth year out of the Dominican Republic, De La Cruz has a 3.38 ERA through four games out of the pen for Gwinnett.
Outrighted and DL’d: Jose Ramirez…After a solid spring, Ramirez had high hopes that this was the year it all came together for the fireballer out of the Dominican Republic. However, after a pair of ugly games in which he could only retire six of the 15 batters he faced, Ramirez was designated for assignment and outrighted to Gwinnett, where he was immediately placed on the DL. I’m unsure what the DL trip is for.
Activated: Steven Kent…This may be one of my favorite pick-ups this offseason. Kent was originally signed by the Braves over a decade ago as a teenager out of Australia. He was impressive in a second go-around in the Gulf Coast League (3.7 K/BB, 1.14 WHIP) as an 18 year-old and upped his K-rate to over a batter an inning with Danville the following year. Then, injuries. He was limited to less than 90 innings over the next three years and was released after the 2011 season. He went back home and in 2015, at the age of 26, became one of the finer pitchers in the Australia Baseball League, recording 64 K’s in 65 innings and even pitching his first shutout. That’s when the Braves brought him back. A lefty, it’s going to be interesting to see if he carves out a second career here in the states.
Activated: Victor Mateo…Welcome to Year 10 of Mateo’s career. He finally made it to Triple-A last year, but he’s back in Mississippi because there was no room for him in Gwinnett. You won’t get many strikeouts or walks from Mateo, but you also won’t get many excellent performances.
Activated: Dian Toscano…Oh, Lord, he’s alive! After not playing a single game in 2015 because of visa issues, Toscano finally played his first professional game here in the states last week. His numbers are pretty rusty (7 K in 16 PA), though he did rocket a pair of triples. The Cuban is 27 years-old so if he’s ever going to play much of a role for the Braves, the time is now.
Promoted: Trevor Belicek…Some are really high on Belicek, who spent a day with Mississippi last week before Mateo was activated. He pitched three innings in the one game he saw with three K’s before being returned back to Rome. He’s got some pitches, but I see him more fringey than others. I want to see the success be sustained especially in the K department before getting too excited.
DL’d: Sean Godfrey…As I wrote about last week, Godfrey had just arrived in Mississippi following Connor Lien‘s injury. He went 0-for-5 with 4 K before going on the DL himself. He’s still trying to find success at Double-A and sitting on the DL won’t aid in that.
DL’d: Kyle Kinman…After attracting some attention this spring and impressing many who saw him in 2015, the expectations were on the rise for Kinman, but much like another DL’d Mississippi Brave in Lien, Kinman’s season has been railroaded by injury. He was struggling before the trip to the DL (5 ING, 4 ER, HR, 5 BB, 7 K, 3 wild pitches). Hopefully, the injury isn’t serious and he can get back on the mound soon.
Promoted: Jon Kennedy…It’s one of the more interesting stories. Kennedy, who has one pretty impressive name (even if it’s not spelled John), joined the Braves after four years with Melbourne in the Australia Baseball League. The southpaw, just 20, is the nephew of former minor league pitcher and coach, Phil Dale, who also served as pitching coach with Melbourne and helped to get Kennedy signed with the Braves. He doesn’t have blow-you-away velocity, but the ball seems to jump off his hand and understands that his path to the majors is as a LOOGY, so he plays up deception in his delivery.
Demoted: Trevor Belicek
Demoted and re-Promoted: Dalton Geekie…A 22nd rounder out of a Georgia Highlands College, Geekie was able to start this year in the city he finished his college education. For a few days last week, he was demoted to Danville (which, of course, isn’t even playing) but was brought back Monday night. He was used frequently early by Rome, but a numbers crunch sent him packing. In 8 innings with Rome, Geekie allowed four runs, walked nobody, and struck out four. He pitched just six innings with Danville last year.
Demoted: Oriel Caicedo…He made this section last week as a promotion. The Panama lefty was roughed up twice surrounding a save in a 12-inning affair against Asheville. He’s basically on Rome’s reserve roster for right now in that he’s probably not very far away should they need his arm again.