Lots of moves to report this week in this recap. A top prospect is promoted to the bigs, a former prospect works his way up the ladder, and a non-prospect continues his wayward journey to never spend too much time in one city. Hope you enjoy!
A note on this report – moves referenced today took place between June 6 and June 12. I no longer refer to Taxi Squad, but extended spring training which is what sending a player to Danville technically refers to this early in the year. Many of them don’t actually head to extended spring, though. Prospect Numbers are derived from my preseason Top 50.
|Hursh (3rd across) | Jeff Morris – Follow on Twitter|
Recalled from Mississippi, Optioned to Gwinnett, and Recalled Again: Jason Hursh…Don’t look now, but Hursh has added some velocity to his heater and hit 96.18 mph last week. If he can throw that heavy fastball with that kind of velocity and location, the Braves may have themselves a prospect after all. He was dealing for both Mississippi and Gwinnett this year. At 25, it’s time to see if he can stick in the majors for good now.
Recalled: Lane Adams…Most players are kind of boring to follow on twitter. They retweet generic inspirational posts, reach out to their hometown buddies, or say “let’s go get ’em” each time there is a game. Lane Adams, though, is a joy to follow. Recent tweets include him taking someone to task for being a “true fan,” his endorsement of the Minute Maid soft-frozen lemonade (which he says is the “bomb dot com”), and advising women to stop bedazzling their capris. His twitter feed was major league quality long before he was brought back to the majors.
Recalled and Optioned to Gwinnett: Matt Wisler…Hitters in general show improvement the more times in a game they see a pitcher so I don’t want you to fall in love with these splits, but opposing OPS from the first appearance against Wisler in a game to the fourth appearance ranges from .741 to .795 to .837 to .925. He’s got a good slider and likely would add a few ticks to his heater (currently in the 93 mph range) if he was in a relief role. Is it time to consider that?
Called Up: Sean Newcomb (#2)…I wrote a blurb about Newcomb yesterday so I don’t want to repeat myself much. What I didn’t mention yesterday is the news that dropped about Newcomb. He’ll get at least a second start. Are you hyped yet?
DL’d: Bartolo Colon (left oblique/general awfulness)…Colon’s greatest contribution to the Braves this year has been hitting the DL so Newcomb could be promoted. That’s just a sad fact. He has a 5.09 FIP, his highest walk rate since Barrack Obama’s first year, and an xFIP of 4.83 – which would be a new high (the stat goes back to 2002). But hey, we got plenty of fat jokes along the way.
DL’d: Adonis Garcia (left finger/general awfulness)…The nearly everyday third baseman (for reasons) is back on the DL for a second time this season. He has a .282 OBP this year which is just 20 points below his career average so…yay for a regression to the norm at some point…
DL’d: Eric O’Flaherty (left shoulder/general awfulness)…My daughter was given a gobstopper and immediately tried to bite it down and crunch it. I told her that she needs to suck it first because it’s too hard to bite. She said she understood and wouldn’t ya know it? She kept trying to bite it. I took it away from her because she wouldn’t eat the candy properly. At some point, John Coppolella has to take away O’Flaherty from Brian Snitker because Snit won’t use O’Flaherty properly. Over the last two seasons, lefties have a .292 wOBA against O’Flaherty with a 20% strikeout rate. Righties? They brutalize O’Flaherty to the tune of a .461 wOBA (not a typo). Yet, he’s faced just one more lefty than he has a righty during that time. This season, he’s faced five more righties than he has lefties! Coppy, take the gobstopper away from Snit. He’s just going to use it wrong.
Released: Emilio Bonifacio…Could this be the end of the Braves/Boni relationship? One can hope. You have to give it up for Boni’s consistency, though. In 2015, in 82 PA, he had a -0.7 fWAR. Last year, in 43 PA, he had -0.6 fWAR. This season, in 44 PA, he had a -0.6 fWAR. Only nine major league players were able to amass more than -1.5 fWAR over the last three years and to his credit, nobody did it more efficiently than Bonifacio (just 169 PA). It took Casey McGehee nearly 200 more PA to be that inept.
|Gaylor | Barry College|
Promoted from Mississippi: Stephen Gaylor…This is actually Gaylor’s second assignment in Gwinnett – he played there one game last year. Gaylor has some fans in the front office who keep promoting him despite some fairly un-noteworthy numbers. He was hitting just .118 in 13 games before joining Gwinnett after all and has a career .646 OPS, but the undrafted outfielder out of Berry College continues to climb the ladder.
Promoted from Mississippi: Kris Medlen…The comeback continued into its third different assignment as Medlen graduates from Florida and Mississippi on his way back to the majors. His first start in Gwinnett since 2012 wasn’t great, though he did strike out six, a season high. The pinpoint control just isn’t there yet and he’ll need a bit more time, but the 31-year-old has looked strong in his five outings.
Activated: Aaron Blair…Following a short stint on the DL, Blair returned last week to make two starts. One was pretty ugly, but his Sunday start against Charlotte was superb with 6.1 innings, four hits, no runs, two walks, and five K’s. Blair’s control has been suspect all season and a pitcher with his limitations needs to be able to hit his spots much better.
Activated: Braeden Schlehuber…A fourth rounder in Frank Wren’s first draft class (2008), Schlehuber is an organizational guy who I would be shocked to see not get a coaching assignment in the organization once he retires. He’s been on the DL nearly as many times (three) this year as games played (four). On the plus side, on May 31, he hit his first home run since 2014.
Temporary Inactive: Caleb Dirks (#34)…I’m not real sure what this is about for Dirks. Likely, this is related to paternity leave, but in general, a temporary inactive placement is just a way to say the player in on paid leave. A placement like this requires at least three days away from the team. Dirks was placed on the list last Friday. He’s struck out 40 over 34.1 innings compared to just ten unintentional walks. He has matched his career-high by surrendering three home runs and has an FIP of 3.29.
Released: Mel Rojas Jr….Rojas was a big minor league pickup last year and logged significant time this spring with the Dominican Republic squad this spring for the World Baseball Classic. That potentially was to his detriment as he missed out on an opportunity to compete for a spot on the Braves bench with Bonifacio. After a slow start with Gwinnett, Rojas was ready to try his luck elsewhere and asked for his release to sign with a team in Korea. The Braves obliged and Rojas will have a shot to make some good money in Asia.
Promoted from Florida: Tyler Pike…Otherwise known as the other guy the Braves got in the Alex Jackson trade, Pike left a minor league system that does some questionable things to their arms to a system that gives more reasonable assignments and rewards performance. Lucky for all of us. Pike’s improvement with his control that really began last year continued for Florida and he upped his groundball rate in the process. He carried a 2.94 FIP over nearly 70 innings with the Fire Frogs before the promotion. Pike was a former #126th overall pick so he’s got some talent. If the Braves are able to develop that talent into an exciting prospect, they will show once more that sometimes, it’s not the prospects who disappoint, but the scouting-and-development team that doesn’t bring out the best of the prospect.
|Parsons | Jeff Morris – Follow on Twitter|
Activated with Gwinnett from extended spring, demoted from Gwinnett: Wes Parsons…For us that have watched Parsons struggle to stay on the mound, his promotion to Gwinnett was a nice moment. However, he got bashed around in his 8.1 innings and will return back to Mississippi, where he was impressive over 30.1 innings.
Activated: Bradley Roney (#38)…Roney has spent much of the season sidelined. He’s only appeared in eleven games. His walk rate continues to be an issue (14% at Mississippi), which negates his very impressive strikeout numbers. Roney pitched 27 games in Gwinnett last season and has closer stuff. Will he ever hit the strike zone enough, though?
DL’d: Matt Withrow (#29)…After a tremendous beginning to the season, Withrow’s numbers had really come back to Earth over his last four starts (18 ER in 17.1 ING with 10 BB and 15 K’s). He now heads to the DL for the first time for the 2015 sixth rounder. The Texas Tech alum has a nice fastball with good sink, but doesn’t get many grounders out of it. Withrow has a classic fastball/slider combination that might serve him well as a reliever or the Braves might keep him as a starter as he tries to develop his offspeed stuff because that makes him a better trade asset.
Activated from DL: A.J. Minter (#19)…It’s been a tough season for Minter, who carried a great deal of hype into spring training. There was thought he might even jump to the majors and why not? He jumped from Rome to Mississippi in 13 games with a stop in Carolina last year. But he was slowed by injury this spring and when he finally got into a game on April 11th, he strained his groin. But on Sunday, he made his return and struck out all three batters he faced. Kids, time to get hyped again.
Promoted to Mississippi and demoted back: Andres Santiago…So, this is Santiago’s season. He spent a week to open the year with Florida, was “sent” to Danville for three days, brought back to Florida for a dozen, “back” to Danville for four, and was added to Rome for nearly two weeks before returning to Florida on May 10. I’m not done. Ten days later, he “returned” to Danville for a week before coming back to Florida for about five days. He then went to Gwinnett for two days, back to Florida for four days, up to Mississippi for three days, and two days ago, he was demoted back to Florida. In two months, he’s moved around more than I have in nearly 35 years on this planet. I need to do more with my life.
Promoted from extended spring: Alan Rangel…Plucked out of Mexico back in 2014 during Frank Wren’s last international class, Rangel has spent his first two professional seasons in the Gulf Coast League. He struggled badly through his first run, but turned the corner a bit last year with 46.2 solid innings. Rangel works off his control, which is superb and gets some good downward movement on his pitches. He fit the mold that the Wren-era scouting team was looking for in that way. He was expected to be on the Danville roster when the season opened, but received a shot with Rome to show what he has. He scattered seven hits over 4.2 innings, but only one, a homer, led to a run. He also walked a batter and struck out four. Just 19, he might get an extended stay with the Danville pitching staff likely to be stacked from the draft.
Activated: Oriel Caicedo…An extreme control artist, Caicedo has walked just four in 43.1 innings this year for Rome. Overall, he has a mere 73 walks in 412.2 career innings. He’ll never strikeout a lot and doesn’t get a ridiculous amount of grounders, which is why he won’t show up on your prospect lists, but he’s a solid dependable arm who can start when needed.
DL’d: Ryan Lawlor…Selected in 2015 with the #240th overall pick, Lawlor skipped Rome last year on his way to Carolina. He struggled there with an ERA and FIP near 5.00 before being demoted to Rome for this season. Though his ERA has been pedestrian (4.37), his peripherals have been wonderful (31% K-rate, 8% walk rate, no homeruns, 48% groundball rate, 2.03 FIP). I have not seen any report as to why he hit the DL, but he last pitched on May 31 and went 5.2 innings that day while matching his season and career-high in strikeouts with nine.
Demoted from Rome: Jaret Hellinger…A 2015 20th rounder out of McDonough, GA, Hellinger has some good sinking stuff, but the southpaw struggled to put it together with Danville last year (4.42 FIP). He opened this season in extended spring training before getting a call-up in mid-May. His first outing was solid, but he struggled from there with a four-run four-inning start mixed in during his six-appearance run with Rome. Short of an injury, Hellinger might be stuck in Danville until their season begins.
|Severino | Jeff Morris – Follow on Twitter|
Assigned: Yenci Pena…Another one of the seven-figure prospects the Braves added last July, Pena us expected to add power as he ages (he’s still just 16). A capable defender at shortstop, there is concern whether he’ll stay there long-term, but for now, the Braves will roll with him at the position. He’s gotten off to a 4-for-18 start with a pair of doubles, five strikeouts, and a steal.
Assigned: Yunior Severino (#44)…Signed for $1.9 million last July, Severino is one of the crown jewels of a massive class that also included Kevin Maitan, Abrahan Guiterrez, and the aforementioned Pena. He was ranked as the eighth-best prospect of last year’s class and is a switch-hitting power hitter who may – and I stress may – be able to stay on the middle of the infield. Atlanta has decided for now to shift him over to second base, though opinions were split about whether he’d be able to stay at shortstop should the Braves had tried that. Severino is off to a 2-for-15 start with a double, three walks, and five strikeouts.