For the first time this season, the Braves have all seven minor league squads up-and-running. No longer will players get “demoted” to Danville just to get them off the active roster for a few days. I don’t include all the moves to set the Danville and GCL rosters, but did include a few that correlated with promotions/demotions. Further, we have a release and a retirement in this week’s recap. Let’s dive in.
*Prospect Rankings come from the WOW Preseason Top 50.
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Promoted from Gwinnett: Jace Peterson…Hopefully, the minor league assignment did him well. Peterson was on fire over 17 games with Gwinnett with a .338/.450/.477 slash. He also played all over, logging time at three infield positions and all three outfield spots. As I mentioned last week, the Braves nearly avoided burning Peterson’s final option this year but were a day late in bringing him back.
In addition, the Braves officially signed a number of their draft choices along with three undrafted free agents (RHP Hayden Deal and Walter Borkovich, IF Carlos Baerga Jr.). For more on them, check out Outfield Fly Rule.
Demoted from Atlanta: Rio Ruiz (#20)…He got 31 games to prove himself, but Ruiz fell on his face after a promising start after arriving in the majors to replace an injured Adonis Garcia. He struck out too much and simply wasn’t able to get on base enough. With the emergence of Johan Camargo, Ruiz was riding the bench, which isn’t a good fit for a position-limited player on a short four-man bench. Ruiz has taken the demotion in stride, banging out six hits in 16 AB with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts.
Activated: Emerson Landoni…After four trips to the DL this year, Landoni has logged just eleven games. He’s depth and his trips to the DL are likely not injury-related.
Retired: Braeden Schlehuber…He’s been around forever, but his career finally came to a close last week. Originally drafted back in 2008 out of Southern Nevada, Schlehuber struggled with the bat in every season outside of 2012. That year, he hit .270/.328/.439 with Lynchburg and appeared in his only All-Star Game. Since 2015, he’s spent most of his time with on the Gwinnett roster or on the Gwinnett DL. This year alone, he was on the DL three times and played just six games. But the DL is used often for “phantom injuries” at the minor league level – especially for catchers who provide depth. I imagine Schlehuber will stick with the organization in a different role, but maybe he just wants to get away from the game for a little while. Added note…Schlehuber was the first Random Prospect I profiled. Reading that post, it’s clear this blog has come a long way.
DL’d: Patrick Weigel (#17)…Well, this is unfortunate. Last week, he showed up on the DL with the scariest sentence relating to a pitcher in baseball as he was scheduled for a meeting with Dr. James Andrews. Nothing has been released in regards to that so we are just waiting and preparing. Weigel got off to a dominant start with Mississippi and after a bad second start with Gwinnett (eight runs in one inning), he had settled had settled into a very solid five starts before his June 18th game where he gave up nine runs. There was talk of decreased velocity in that go-around.
Promoted from Florida: Devan Watts…Another find for the scouting department. He was picked in the 17th round out of Tusculum College last year. You know Tusculum, right? The school that produced Dale Alexander, who finished 11th in the MVP balloting back in 1932? Watts gave up two runs in 23.2 innings last year between Danville and Rome. This season, he’s allowed a few more. Six, to be exact. Still, his ERA is just 1.95 and he’s striking out over a batter an inning with great control. He made his Double-A debut last week with a one-walk, one-strikeout frame. He’s one to watch.
Activated: Joseph Odom…Last week marked the first time Odom has been activated this season. He was coming off a mixed bag last year where he hit well during his third year in the Carolina League but struggled after a midseason promotion to Mississippi. He’s a solid defensive option behind the plate, but the bat is unlikely to be better than below-average.
DL’d: Joey Meneses…In a way, Meneses reminds me of Adam LaRoche. Not in the sense that’ll develop into a pretty good option at first base, but that he often needs repeat assignments to get his bat going at a level. He debuted with Rome in 2013 but struggled. Returning to Rome, he bashed the SALLY League during an injury-shortened 2014. He headed to Carolina next and again struggled. He returned in 2016 and blitzed the league to earn a spot with Mississippi, where he struggled over the season’s final two-and-a-half months. Wouldn’t ya know it that he’s doing well this year? At his current rate, he should be figuring out Triple-A pitching in 2019.
Promoted from Rome: Oriel Caicedo…This is Year 7 of Caicedo’s career (though he lost one year due to injury). Last week, he made his debut at High-A. He has tremendous control and generally posts good numbers, but is just a guy.
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Promoted from Rome: Brett Cumberland (#25)…After a slow start, Cumberland exploded in Rome for a .263/.432/.531 slash. He bashed 10 homers to go along with 15 doubles over 55 games and was hit by a pitch 25 times. Typically, Atlanta lets its minor leaguers spend a year in low-A, but as a college draftee, Cumberland earned a promotion up the chain. Pairing him with Alex Jackson gives Florida two big-hitting prospects who both need to get better behind the plate. In his first three games with Florida, Cumberland has a single, a double, and yes, he’s been hit-by-a-pitch.
Promoted from Rome: Adam McCreery…Acquired last season as a project for Jhoulys Chacin, the former Angels’ 22nd rounder has shown much-improved control with the Braves. Another tall pitcher in a system of gigantic pitchers, the lefty cut his walk rate nearly in half in terms of BB/9 last season and this season, he’s brought back his strikeout rate which slumped last year. McCreery was one of the oldest pitchers at Rome so a new challenge will be good for the southpaw. He gave up a run in two innings during his Florida debut.
Demoted from Mississippi: Chad Sobotka (#40)…The Random Prospect generator picked the wrong week to spit out Sobotka. Just days before I published my profile on him, Sobotka got the heave-ho to Florida. He had struggled badly with Mississippi with just about all his metrics heading in the wrong direction. The Braves are hoping a demotion will clear his head and jumpstart his season. He looked pretty good in his first outing with Florida, striking out two over one scoreless inning.
DL’d: Chase Johnson-Mullins…The tall lefty out of Shelton State Community College (go Bucs!), CJM has been impressive this year as his walk rate is down and his strikeout rate has climbed a bit. On the other hand, he’s basically repeating Class A+. Hopefully, the injury is minor and the 6’8, 270-pound behemoth will get back on the mound soon.
DL’d: Wigberto Nevarez…The Braves use the DL for catchers like they use Danville’s roster before the APPY season opens. These assignments rarely mean anything. I just want to say, though, if Florida put “Wigberto” on the back of the jersey, I think it would sell pretty well.
Assigned: Austin Bush…Picked in the 15th round of this year’s draft, Bush is a big boy. He’s listed at 6’6″ and 265 pounds. Obviously, he’s Rome’s defensive end/first baseman/power forward. He bashed his first professional homerun in his second game and has gone 8-for-19 to begin his career. He’s also struck out eight times. Basically, if he puts the ball in play, good things are happening so far.
Assigned: Jordan Rodgers…Another advanced college draftee from earlier this month, Rodgers was a quick sign. In five games with Rome, he’s already played three positions. There’s some pop here and the potential for a solid utility player.
Activated: Matt Custred…With a logjam of relievers ahead of him, Custred was one of the guys who returned to Rome despite some solid work with last year’s squad. Custred spent two months on the DL after an appearance on April 25 before his recent activation. He’s been dominant for Rome when he has stayed on the mound, though, striking out 16 over 12.2 innings and has been charged with just one earned run. He picked up 64 K’s last year with Rome in 56.2 innings with a 3.18 ERA.
Demoted to Danville and Returned: Alan Rangel…The Braves can no longer use Danville’s roster as an extended spring training so it looks like Rangel has impressed enough people to stick with Rome. Still just 19, Rangel’s in his third season out of Mexico and has flashed big K numbers with good control in the past. He’s struggled through a trio of starts with Rome to this point, but the Braves are buying in for now.
Demoted from Florida: Taylor Lewis…A ninth-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Florida, Lewis rolled last year as he climbed from Rome to Mississippi (with a 19-game dominant stretch with Carolina mixed in). However, the righty was returned to High-A to open this season nd has been a dumpster fire. He walked just 14 batters (2 were intentional) in 66 innings last year, but has given just as many free passes (all unintentional) in 23.1 ING with Florida this year. He also matched his career total in homeruns given up in half-a-season. The Braves are hopeful a return to Rome will get him going, though he gave up a run and uncorked three pitches in his first outing with the team.
Released: Yeudi Grullon (6/19)…I either missed this one for last year’s transaction recap or it wasn’t posted. Either way, Grullon was sent packing during his fifth year in the system. He never showed much of a stick and hit just one homerun during his 721 PA. He was in his second season as a utility guy for Rome when he was released. He was known more for his pitching the with Rome (three outings to close games) than his hitting.
(Lots of moves as the Braves set the roster with draft choices and callups from last year’s GCL roster. Too many moves to list.)
Demoted from Rome: Jaret Hellinger…Hellinger’s struggles in Rome kept the lefty from potentially avoiding a second year in Danville. He allowed 13 ER in 12.1 ING with more walks (9) than strikeouts (6). After iffy campaigns the last two years following his 20th-round selection back in 2015, Hellinger’s not too much of a prospect at the moment.
Promoted from DSL: Kelvin Rodriguez…One of the few players who opens his career state-side before heading to the DSL, this is Rodriguez’s third season of professional ball. After spending 2016 in the Dominican Republic, he opened this season down there as well before a promotion up the chain to Danville. To this point, he hasn’t done much to attract much attention and looks more like a veteran innings guy.
(Roster finalized this week. I’ll include a list of players jumping from DSL to start this season to the GCL.)
Promoted from DSL: Alger Hodgson, Miguel Jerez, Deyvis Julian, Yoeli Lopez (#50), Juan Morales, Luidemid Rojas, Yefri Del Rosario, Yunior Severino (#44), Albinson Volquez…Obviously, Severino is the biggest name here. A switch-hitter with power to spare, Severino was ranked as the 8th best prospect of last year’s signing class by Baseball America. He only hit .189 in 10 games in the DSL, but the Braves think he’s ready for a more aggressive assignment. Del Roasario was also a J2 signing last year and got a bonus in the high six figures. He’s a project pitcher with questionable mechanics but could be a star with big velocity and a nice breaking ball.
DL’d: Jackson Pokorney…Not sure what landed last year’s 29th rounder on the DL, but it was a 60-day DL assignment so it looks to be a severe injury. Pokorney was not expected to sign after blitzing his high school competition with a better than .500 average during his senior season, but he put college aside for a chance to join the Braves and hit .259/.340/.318 as an 18 year-old in the GCL last year. A switch-hitter, Pokorney has a projectable frame. For more on Pokorney, here’s a profile from USA Today.