Not a huge week in quantity of transactions this week, but plenty of interesting ones as three players begin rehab assignments and three others continue theirs. In addition, a draft pick from 2016 gets released while a former football player decides baseball is tough.
Prospect Rankings reflect the preseason WOW list.
This does not include the July 2nd international class. I hope to do some legwork on that class in the following days. In addition, I already went over the Bartolo Colon/Rex Brothers transaction.
Signed: Andrew Daniel…An 11th rounder in 2014, Daniel opened some eyes in the Pioneer League (Rookie) shortly after being drafted with a .340/.408/.510 run with six homers and 13 steals. The seasons that have followed have not been nearly as noteworthy. In his second season at Double-A, he was hitting .225 with a .659 OPS before being released by the Angels. Being that he was in the Southern League, the Braves saw plenty of him and less than two weeks later, inked Daniel to a deal. He plays second and third base and seems like a decent enough defender with good athleticism, but he’s more of a guy at this point than someone to keep a watchful eye on with Mississippi.
Signed: Kevin Matthews…This one is a bit more interesting. Selected with the 33rd pick of the 2011 draft, Matthews went to the Rangers’ organization. A bit undersized at 5’11,” Matthews never shined with Texas. He often posted decent strikeout numbers with little-to-no control. Shoulder injuries also led to a lost 2013 season. In 2015, the Rangers switched Matthews to the bullpen hoping to jumpstart his career in the South Atlantic League, but he continued to struggle to find the strikezone. A DUI in early May convinced the Rangers to give up on him. He kept the baseball dream alive this season in the United Shore Professional Baseball League with the Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers. In five starts (25 ING), Matthews cruised through this opponents while striking out 43. Matthews, who calls Richmond Hill, GA home, heads to Rome to begin his Braves’ career and already logged a two-inning, two-K scoreless outing with no walks.
Optioned from Atlanta: Jason Hursh…The 2013 first-rounder has been up with the team three times and I’m becoming more-and-more convinced that he’s worth a longer look. He’s throwing harder out of the bullpen than ever and getting improved movement on his slider. We know that he has pretty good control and the ability to induce a lot of weak contact that his infielders gobble up. But he’s been flashing some better swing-and-miss skills of late and that is what I’m getting excited about. He may never be a high-leverage reliever, but could he fill Cristhian Martinez‘s old role with the team? Quite possibly.
|Jeff Morris – Follow on Twitter|
Rehab: Freddie Freeman…I write these things to cover the week that was in Braves’ transactions, but this rehab assignment is already finished by the time you read this as the Braves announced Freeman’s return to the majors for their game on July 4th. He logged one attempt at third base during the rehab assignment.
Rehab: Dan Winkler…After an appearance in Rome and three with Florida, Winkler landed in Gwinnett to begin the week. His first three outings there have been steadily worse. He worked around a pair of hits against Toledo before Charlotte roughed him up for six runs over two outings. The good news is that those two outings came in back-to-back appearances, a hurdle the Braves would like to see Winkler cross before considering him for a promotion back to the majors where he still needs to finish off his Rule 5 requirements. The former University of Central Florida standout still has about a week-and-a-half remaining that the Braves can use during this rehab assignment to evaluate him.
Promoted from Florida: A.J. Minter (#19)…It’s been a frustrating run for Minter, who looked, with a strong spring, like he might jump from Mississippi to the majors less than two years after being drafted in the ’15 draft. Injuries – that’s plural – have limited him along the way. He’s finally amping up for a possible promotion to the majors and it included a return to Mississippi last week. He pitched three times and allowed a hit, two walks, and K’d three. There are reports he’s headed up to Gwinnett, though they are unconfirmed for now. He’s yet to pitch in back-to-back games, but his last three appearances came over a six-day period.
Rehab: Chaz Roe…Sidelined with a right lat strain, which has already stopped one rehab stint in its tracks, Roe is back in action for Florida. Quietly a solid arm over the last two seasons (25% K-rate, 3.52 FIP, 3.67 xFIP), Roe hit the DL very early on for the Braves, but there is no promise that this rehab stint will end with a return to the majors. With Winkler and Minter also moving up the ladder, Roe might have a tough time getting back on the roster even if some trades open up things. That said, he’s better than many people think and the Braves might not be anxious to lose him.
Promoted from Rome: Joe Rogers…Somebody must like Rogers. After flaming out of the Tigers’ system and getting cut late in camp, the Braves pounced and Rogers has logged a total of 14 games between Rome, Florida, and Mississippi. The results are abysmal, but the 26 year-old keeps getting assignments. In his defense, he’s riding the best K/9 of his career at 11.3, but his walks are also a career-high. Like I said, somebody must like him. He’s probably going to have to get going, though.
Promoted from Danville: Alan Crowley…The release of one 2016 draftee opens up a spot for Crowley, who was 0-for-7 with Danville prior to the promotion. A catcher from Reedley College (California, obviously), Crowley did have a hot stick in the GCL last year (.327/.375/.385). Most catchers drafted that late in the draft are projects – catchers with a good glove, but no bat or vice versa. With two of their most-used catchers now in Florida (Brett Cumberland and Tanner Murphy), Rome needs someone to pair with Lucas Herbert and why not Crowley?
Released: Ramon Osuna…A 14th rounder out of Walters State Community College last year, Osuna had some nice numbers with Danville (.276/.342/.423, 16 EBH in 184 PA), but struggled greatly after his late May placement in Rome. With no room down in Danville and Osuna limited to first base, the Braves moved on from their recent draftee. He hit just .164 over 72 PA with three doubles and 35 K’s before being cut.
Promoted from GCL: Jose Bermudez…This is interesting. The last we saw of Bermudez, he was playing outfield in the Dominican Republic. He hit .258 with eleven steals. However, the switch-hitting soon-to-be 20 year old is listed as a pitcher now.
Promoted from GCL: Shaen Michel…With a full name like Raysheandall Juliandru Vernon Michel, it’s nice of him to shorten it to Shaen. The outfield from Curacao has some good speed and a little bit of pop in his bat, but the results are fairly meh to this point. He spent 2015 in the Dominican started there again in 2016 before a midseason promotion to the GCL to finish the year, where he struggled badly. A little surprised to see him promoted to Danville, but the problem with having so many good players is that it can be tough to find time for the guys who aren’t highly-rated prospects.
Released: Sanders Commings…Well, that didn’t last long. The former Kansas City Chief and Georgia Bulldog gridiron standout had a much quieter switch to baseball than Tim Tebow, but it was a little surprising to see him give up on the dream so quickly. Commings appeared in just six games with the D-Braves and K’d in 9-of-15 PA. When I saw him last week, his swing did look wonky, but the Braves seemed content to give him time in the D-Braves outfield with Isranel Wilson, Bradley Keller, Justin Smith, and company.
Promoted from DSL: Juan Contreras…One of their top pitching targets last July, Contreras is one of many of that J2 class to skip an assignment in the Dominican and jump to GCL instead. Signed for $1.2M and ranked #41 in Baseball America’s Top 50 international prospects, Contreras has a mid-90’s fastball and a really nasty slider. He might end up as a reliever if he can’t develop something offspeed, but that’s what the Braves’ development team is for. He doesn’t turn 18 until September, by the way. In his first professional start, he set down all three batters he faced and struck out one.
Rehab: Micah Johnson…Part of the reason Emilio Bonifacio was on the roster when the season opened was an injury Johnson suffered on a defensive play near the end of spring training. He fractured his left wrist on the play and finally got back into action over the weekend with some time in CF. I’ve written about Johnson before and like his swing when he’s not so focused on slapping the ball. Things have changed in Atlanta since the release of Bonifacio and with the guy below Johnson also ramping up to return, it could be tough for Johnson to find a place in the majors, but a big rehab run could help.
|Jeff Morris – Follow on Twitter|
Rehab: Sean Rodriguez…The initial fear after Rodriguez underwent shoulder surgery following his scary car accident before spring training was that he would miss the entire season. However, as the calendar switched to July, there he was getting some time with the GCL club. Rodriguez was coming off a career-year in 2016 with 18 homers and a .859 OPS. He’s best used in platoon situations where he can bash left-hand pitching, but his other value – especially in the NL – is that of a super utility player who played all but catcher and pitcher last season. So far, he’s already played both 2B and SS during his rehab.
Released: Bredio Vega…Vega had not impressed many people after two years of rookie ball coming out of Panama. Last year, his only year stateside, Vega had a 6.35 ERA over 22.2 innings with the GCL club – an improvement of 0.35 from his 2015 ERA in the Dominican. He was a project pitcher who was a bit too old at 21 to be taking time from other project pitchers who can’t legally drink yet.
Demoted from GCL: Luidemid Rojas…A day after being assigned to the GCL roster in last week’s update, Rojas was demoted back to the DSL roster and that’s where he’ll begin his career. This is either a mistake or the Braves found themselves pushed to the roster limit in the DSL and needing to make a move. Rojas was signed in last year’s J2 class our of Venezuela. Another switch-hitting infielder (the Braves have scores of them), Rojas was a depth guy coming out of that group.