The Atlanta Braves have hit the All-Star Break, but transactions need no games to be made. This week, we look at continued rehab assignments and a LOT of releases/assignments in regards to the DSL roster as this year’s international signings quickly get into some action.
*The moves covered in this edition of Transaction Today follow July 4 to July 10. A number in parenthesis represents the player’s ranking in the preseason WOW Top 50.
Promoted: Akeel Morris (#30)…With this promotion, the Braves have now used three players who were once acquired for Kelly Johnson. Thanks, KJ! Morris is a talented arm out of the U.S. Virgin Islands who was rolling this season over 26 games between Mississippi and Gwinnett. The walks were a bit high in 29.2 innings with Gwinnett, but the strikeouts were a bit high, too (that’s a good thing). Morris combines a solid mid-90’s fastball with a plus-changeup. He changes speed, keeps his mechanics in line, and fields his position well. There is a chance here Morris becomes a high-leverage reliever. At worst, he should be able to hold down a bullpen spot and be relatively effective when called upon.
|Jeff Morris – Follow on Twitter|
Optioned and Promoted: Jace Peterson…Up-and-down goes the Jace. He was sent down for Freeman and later brought back after a bacterial infection opened up a roster spot. That sounds more sinister than I may have meant. It has been a terrible season at the plate for Peterson, who lost his second base job after logging over 200 starts there the last two seasons. Expected to be a super utility player, he hasn’t been able to hit well enough to stay in the majors. part of that is rotten luck. We aren’t surprised that he can’t hit lefthanders – he never has – but his woeful production against right-hand pitching has been surprising. It doesn’t help that his BABIP against them is .247, but the problem runs much deeper than that. He’s striking out nearly a quarter of the time, which doesn’t bold well for him considering he hits grounders 63% of the time. Grounders often turn into outs and strikeouts almost always are. Again, we can talk about the bad luck factor with a 10% line-drive rate, but what really surprises me is how often he’s pulling the ball. In 2015, Peterson sprayed the ball around and wasn’t an extreme groundball guy. This season, he’s the opposite. A number of things can explain this – difficult to hit your way out of a slump without consistent at-bats, transitioning away from a nearly everyday starter, bad luck (think I mentioned that), and so on. However, in a results-driven business, nobody cares about these excuses. Peterson is simply waiting for the next player to be activated before likely returning to the minors.
Promoted and Optioned: Matt Wisler…It was the fourth time Wisler has been promoted this season and the second consecutive time he spent just a day in the majors. The results just aren’t there for Wisler. He continues to show a superb ability to throw strikes but lacks the stuff to get batters out when he absolutely has to. With his recent placement on prospect lists before 2015 and experience, Wisler might make for a decent throw-in should the Braves entertain trade offers for him. Short of that, a switch to the bullpen might be advisable.
Signed to a minor league contract & assigned to Florida: Junior Rincon…Coming off the best season of his career, Rincon was released at some point by the Brewers. A righty who has had control problems in the past, Rincon originally debuted in the Marlins organization back in 2011. He was awful there and would miss the next season with an injury. He returned but didn’t impress enough in 2013 before getting his walking papers. He spent the next two seasons in The Pioneer League for the Brewers. It wasn’t until last year that he got out of rookie ball for good and split the season between the Florida State League and Southern League. He gets good K numbers, but the walks are hard to deal with – especially since when batters put the ball in play, they too often reach base.
DL: Danny Santana (bacterial infection in his leg)…Santana seems to get his hits in bunches and then disappear for a few weeks. Overall, he’s hitting .230/.287/.402 since his trade from the Twins – marks that, while bad, are an improvement over his time in Minnesota to begin the year. Hopefully, the infection is dealt with soon.
DL: Arodys Vizcaino (right index finger strain)…Vizcaino has not thrown over 50 innings in any season since 2011 but was on his way with 34 already tossed this season before his DL trip. I’ve been a little surprised by his results this season. He’s been inducing fewer ground balls and subsequently being hit harder. Only 30% of the balls put in play last year resulted in a fly ball. This year, it’s 43%. The biggest reason is a 20% decrease in groundballs coming from his curveball. This might be due to a lower release point, something that started last year and continues this season. In that regard, he’s lost nearly 0.7 inches in vertical movement and a little horizontal movement. All that means is his curveball is just not moving as much. None of that is a result of a finger and Vizcaino’s FIP, which is 1.50 runs higher than it was in 2015, could be due to an unusual amount of home runs surrendered. Either way, I really want to see him get the ball down more and find some more movement on his curve. Maybe some mechanical adjustments over the break will help.
Promoted from Mississippi: A.J. Minter (#19)…Over a dozen games spent at four different levels, Minter has allowed two runs (included the first homer of his career), walked four, and struck out 16 over 12 innings. He has yet to appear in back-to-back games which might be the only hurdle standing in his way from a promotion to the major leagues.
Activated and Optioned: Micah Johnson…Johnson was off to a 5-for-14 start with five steals while playing five games combined with the GCL and Rome squads. He played only in the outfield during his rehab assignment and now will continue with Gwinnett. A bit of a confusing move in that the Braves optioned him well before they needed to and had to put him on the 40-man roster to do so. If he plays 20 days in the minors, he’ll exhaust his last option.
|Jeff Morris – Follow on Twitter|
Rehab: Sean Rodriguez…Rodriguez’s rehab had already taken him to Gwinnett, but with the team headed into the All-Star Break, S-Rod went to Mississippi to continue his rehab. He hasn’t shown much with the bat just yet during six games (2-for-18, 3 walks, a K) while playing second base and shortstop. That might influence the Braves to keep him on a rehab assignment after the All-Star Break concludes, but a couple of good games will likely get Rodriguez activated and promoted to the majors.
Promoted from GCL and DL’d: Guillermo Zuniga…Credit to the Outfield Fly Rule guys for some info related to Zuniga here. Zuniga was part of the monster international class last July and an intriguing one at that. Nevertheless, his placement with the Mississippi Braves after just 13.1 innings in rookie ball – including three innings this year – was met with some confusion. The OFR guys, specifically Chris Jervis, got to the bottom of it. The Mississippi Braves roster had room for Zuniga to go to the DL. Double-A rosters have two more total roster spots than rookie league rosters do. Both have a 25-man roster, but the Mississippi roster includes room for 12 extra players while the GCL roster only has room for ten. The more you know.
Activated: Joey Meneses…After missing two weeks, Meneses returned for the July 4th game in Mobile. The 2017 Southern League All-Star can be a solid hitter at the plate but typically needs prolonged stays at a level to show much offense. That’s going to limit him moving forward. In addition, while he does have pop, it’s not going to be enough to keep him in the mix as a potential first baseman in reserve should the big league club need him. Still, he helps his minor league teams win and isn’t blocking anyone.
DL: Omar Obregon…Recently promoted from Florida, where he was repeating a level, Obregon had a hot stick to begin his Double-A run before hitting the DL. In eight games, he hit .320/.393/.400. A middle infielder out of Nicaragua, Obregon has – at times – flashed a decent hit tool from both sides of the plate. He has no power, though.
DL: Joseph Odom…Four games. That’s all Odom got after returning off the DL, which had sidelined him all season. He looked good with a three-hit game shortly before hitting the DL and will hopefully not be out of action as long this time as he was to open the season.
Demoted from Gwinnett: Stephen Gaylor…A non-drafted free agent back in 2014, Gaylor wasn’t embarrassing himself in Gwinnett, but the Braves needed his spot and demoted him to make room for Johnson. It came a month after his promotion to Gwinnett. Gaylor can lead off in a pinch, but is more properly utilized as a fourth outfielder who does a lot of the little things, including steal a few bags, for the team.
Demoted from Gwinnett: Emerson Landoni…My Name is Landoni and I just play when asked. Guys like Landoni typically land coaching or other jobs with the organization once they decide to give up on the dream. He’s been with the Braves since 2012 and he keeps returning to the organization every time he comes up for free agency. His demotion to Mississippi makes it five consecutive seasons he’s played for the Braves’ Southern League squad. He won’t ever hit for much, but when you need a fill-in player, he’ll do it. When you need him to magically appear on the DL because of roster constraints, he’ll do that, too.
DL: Drew Harrington…Am I the only one who has to constantly erase “Joey” and type “Drew?” Probably. Picked with the 80th overall selection last June, Harrington has had an uneven season with Florida after skipping Rome. The control is there and he doesn’t give up homers, but he also doesn’t miss too many bats in the process. A lefty who was dominant with Louisville in 2016, Harrington is one of the high floor guys with a limited ceiling who the Braves are trying to turn into a major league caliber pitcher. He’ll take his lumps, but still could be a bottom-of-the-rotation guy or a decent swingman if he reaches what potential he does have.
Some rehab stints were continued with Rome for Johnson and Rodriguez, but neither player is still with the team now.
Assigned: Bruce Zimmerman…Atlanta’s fifth-round pick, Zimmerman played for both Towson and Mount Olive College. He displayed tremendous control and struck out a lot of batters last season (albeit against a weaker slate than the CAA-affiliated Towson would have faced). Another lefty – the Braves drafted about six thousand of them in June – Zimmerman started a pair of games for the D-Braves last week and struck out six in three innings. He also allowed a run.
Assigned: Tanner Allison…A 19th round pick out of Western Michigan, Allison signed a few weeks ago. Assigned on the fourth, he’s yet to appear for the GCL squad. The lefty was a Third-Team All-American this year while spending less time on the mound than he did his first two years on campus. Despite the .356/.432/.576 split in the MAC as the Broncos star outfielder, the Braves like him better as a pitcher. His numbers…were miserable as a pitcher, though he did strikeout a lot of batters. Trouble is he walked one more batter than he K’d during his career.
Demoted from Danville: Jose Bermudez…He spent just over a week in Danville and never got into a game. A switch-hitting outfielder who the Braves signed all the way back in July of 2015, Bermudez was listed as a pitcher in a recent transaction, but that might have been MILB.com confusing him with a player in the Twins’ organization with the same name. Since his return to the GCL, he’s appeared twice – both in the outfield. Darn it. That was an interesting move in last week’s update.
Assigned: Eudi Asencio…Okay, there were a lot of moves with the Dominican Summer League squad last week and pretty much all of them are associated with the July 2nd signings. While the Braves were limited in terms of how large of a bonus they could throw out, they weren’t limited in the number of players they could acquire. This seems like a lot of players to immediately get into action – and it is. Most J2 guys spend a year training and scrimmaging with the Braves rather than immediately get an assignment with the DSL squad, but Atlanta and their development team are aggressive and felt many of these players needed to get an immediate look. If I find much information related to these guys, I’ll mention it. There isn’t much, though. In regards to Asencio, he’s a Dominican 18-year-old righthander who might have some room to grow into his 6’3″ frame. He tossed two scoreless innings in his professional debut while hitting a batter, walking a batter, striking out a batter, and also allowing a hit.
Assigned: Edwin Jimenez…The Braves must like this lefty. Just 16 (he turns 17 in eleven days), Jimenez was quickly assigned to the DSL roster and threw a perfect inning over the weekend with a strikeout. He’s 6’1″ and 170 pounds out of the Dominican.
Assigned: Eric Jimenez…Undersized, but already 20 years old, the Braves need to see what they have in Jimenez while they can. In his first two games, Jimenez has three hits, a walk, and two steals in 8 PA.
Assigned: Oscar Nunez…One of the few guys whose bonus we do know, Nunez got a $185K sum to join the Braves. I pulled a picture of what he may look like. Of all of the players the Braves signed this July, Nunez is the guy I want badly to succeed. First, Ryan Howard and now the guy who played Oscar on The Office? Un-be-lievable.
Assigned: Henry Quintero…A Cuban-born outfielder, Quintero needs to progress quickly because he’s very old for the DSL at 23. He’s off to a 4-for-8 start with three doubles and a triple. If there are no VISA problems, Quintero could be a guy we see in the GCL before the end of the season just to get him moving. He played briefly in the Cuban National Series in the ’13-’14 and ’14-’15 seasons, hitting .223/.274/.325 over 181 PA.
Assigned: Joel Reyes…An outfielder out of the DR, Reyes has good measurements at 6’0″ and 200 pounds at the age of 17.
Assigned: Estarlin Rodriguez…A Dominican right-hander, Rodriguez is another Age-17 guy who has already played for DSL since signing. In his first outing, he gave up an unearned run with a walk and strikeout over one frame.
Assigned: Gerardo Santana…17 years old and an outfielder, Santana has a big frame and could potentially flash some power.
Released: Andres Adrianza…All of these new additions to the DSL roster required a number of cuts. Adrianza was one of two players who signed as part of last year’s J2 class. The first baseman/sometimes catcher was quickly assigned to the DSL roster last year and hit .219/.300/.271 as a 17-year-old. He remained a regular player in the lineup this year but looked a bit worse than he did in 2016 and will be moving on.
Released: Carlos Centeno…A defense-first catcher, Centeno was a regular fixture in the lineup last season for the DSL squad after playing in 14 games with them in 2015. He only hit .225 with 6 extra-base knocks, though. He was off to a .152 start this season with a higher OBP than SLG. That’s pretty impressive (?) considering his OBP was a miserable .200. As he was part of the three-men platoon behind the plate, his release could help Encarnacion get into the lineup.
Released: Franger Carrillo…He got nearly a year in the system before getting kicked to the curb. The Venezuelan hit .178 over 45 professional at-bats – most of which came this year. He was hitting notably better this year, but that’s easy to do when you go 0-for-14 in your first taste of organized ball.
Released: Emmanuel Isea…Signed at the tail end of the 2015-16 signing period, Isea hit just .205/.271/.244 over 24 games nearly split between this year and last. The outfielder didn’t flash much speed either.
Released: Danyer Salazar…Salazar’s fate was likely sealed when he didn’t come state-side for the 2017 GCL season. Last year, his second season in the DSL, he improved his OPS by about 120 points to .731, but that wasn’t enough for a corner infielder who turned 19 back in February. He was off to a 3-for-21 start before being cut.