Very quiet week in transactions and a couple of major league pitchers start or continue rehab assignments while a major prospect is brought to the majors. Of course, things will get more active over the next few days as any waiver trades are completed before rosters expand for September and a number of DL’d players return.
*The moves covered in this edition of Transaction Tuesday cover August 21 to August 28. A number in parenthesis represents the player’s ranking in the midseason WOW Top 50.
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Promoted: A.J. Minter (#24)…I went over Minter’s actual promotion when it happened, but let’s look at his first two appearances. Unsurprisingly, they were spaced out with three off days in between outings. I expect the Braves to continue to bring him along slowly as they have never pushed him too hard. He averaged 96.7 mph with a high of 98.3. His slider was in the low 90’s range and already looks like it’s going to devastate major league hitters. I don’t think we’ll see too much from Minter this September as the Braves monitor his usage. That said, a good last month will put him in the driver’s seat for a big role on next year’s roster.
Optioned to Gwinnett: Max Fried (#20)…I was a fan of the call-up until I saw how he was utilized. He was basically another long reliever rather than a guy being given a chance to pitch meaningful innings. Because of that, I’m glad he was demoted to the minors and he made his first Triple-A start last week with a solid four-inning start where he struck out six, walked two, and allowed one hit. He’ll probably get a second shot in the majors and maybe even will get a start down the stretch. His chance to contribute for real comes next year when he’ll battle for a rotation spot with Lucas Sims, Sean Newcomb, and Luiz Gohara.
DFA’d: Jim Johnson…Oh, wait, this didn’t happen. I should erase this.
Activated: David Peterson…I mentioned Sims before and he’s one of three players left from the 2012 draft. Connor Lien, who has been abysmal this year also came from that class and as did David Peterson. Picked out of the College of Charleston, Peterson skipped rookie ball and over a half-dozen seasons, the righty has been fairly durable with questionable peripherals. He still has a year before minor league free agency and provides a bit of stability with nearly 80 games at Gwinnett the last three years.
SPOTLIGHT Activated: Dustin Peterson (#21)…It has been the season from hell for Peterson, who broke a hamate bone in his hand during spring training and has just never been able to get going. It’s good to see that his DL trip was short as he missed just a week, but his return was basically a microcosm of his entire season. He went 1-for-4 with a single. The injury this spring has sapped him of most of his power, which was a big reason Peterson became a prospect to watch last year.
It’s not all bad for Peterson. This is just his Age-22 season and he’s always played young for his level, which has muted his production. The raw potential that pushed the Padres to make him the 50th overall selection in the 2013 draft is still there and occasionally, like last year, we are able to witness what it could look like. That season, he hit .282/.343/.431 while setting career highs in a variety of categories. It was the kind of season talent evaluators has waited for since 2013, yet never saw. And more, the expectation was that Peterson was just scratching the surface of the kind of prospect he could be. Would a .295/.360/.475 season be next? Would he reach 20 homers for the first time in his career? Would he push his way onto the major league team?
Unfortunately, one errant pitch this spring and a slow recovery have made the answer to those three questions a resounding “no.” He’ll be ticketed for a return to Gwinnett in 2017 after being placed on the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5. Peterson still could end up being a nice little prospect capable of putting up David Peralta-type numbers or he might be a good bench/platoon guy. By the way, that still pays a good amount. Either way, with a crowded outfield situation in the majors and Ronald Acuna on his way up, Peterson looks lost in the shuffle for now.
Rehab: Luke Jackson…Just a short trip to the DL this season for Jackson, who last pitched in the majors on August 18. Ten days later, he worked two/third’s of an inning for Gwinnett and gave up a homer and a walk. The Braves had some high hopes for Jackson, but he’s been more-or-less forgetful this season for Atlanta. In 40.2 ING, he has a 16% K%, 9% BB%, a 4.36 FIP, and a 5.20 xFIP. He’s given up a lot of great contact, which in turn makes him unreliable out of the bullpen. He’ll be back next year, but he’ll need big-time improvement to stick around for very long with so many more intriguing arms on the way.
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DL’d: Evan Phillips…A 2015 pick, Phillips reached Triple-A this year for the first time and has struggled mightily with his control as his walk rate is 15%. I guess that’s not too much worse than the 11.7% he was pulling at Mississippi, but neither rate is good. Phillips gets a good amount of grounders from his heavy fastball/slider combo and if he can show more consistency, he could be a guy who pushes his way into the bullpen mix next season. One last note if you look at his stats is an 8.14 ERA at Mississippi before the promotion up the ladder. Most of that came in his first five outings, where he surrendered 14 runs. In his last 16 innings with the M-Braves, he gave up just five runs.
Demoted from Gwinnett: Sal Giardina…The catcher/corner infielder did okay in a three-game run through Gwinnett. He went 4-for-7, all singles, and reached base two more times via a walk and a hit-by-pitch. He returns to Mississippi, where he was hitting .248 with a homer over 119 PA earlier this season. Giardina screams “future coach” for some reason.
Rehab: Ian Krol…I was a big fan of Krol’s heading into 2017 as I saw a guy who made a huge step forward during last year. However, the wheels have come off in a big way (FIP up 2.43, xFIP up almost two whole runs). Seemingly overnight, he reverted back to the guy the Tigers traded at the end of 2015. Since coming back after a trip to the DL, Krol’s tossed four scoreless innings over three outings with the GCL club and Florida, but the arbitration-eligible southpaw will need to dominate in September if he has any hope of being a Brave in 2018 – and even if he did, the Braves may still pass.
Promoted from Danville: Bladimir Matos…More roster manipulation involving the same cast of characters I’ve written about numerous times in the past.
Demoted to Danville and Promoted Back: Troy Conyers…It was Conyers’ second demotion to Danville. He’s yet to pitch for them.
Demoted from Rome: Walter Borkovich…Yawn. Another move for roster management purposes.
Promoted from DSL: Jose Montilla…One of the few constants for a bad DSL staff, Montilla did just enough to keep his team in most games, though he had some truly uninspiring metrics (11% strikeout rate, 5% K-BB%). Hence the 90-point divide between his FIP and his 3.07 ERA. Nevertheless, Montilla deserved at least a shot at continuing to beat the metrics and his first start in the GCL went pretty well. He tossed five scoreless innings, giving up two hits, a walk, and striking out four – a new personal high. That last part had to be surprising because Montilla went seven appearances and 22.2 ING earlier this season with four total strikeouts.
Promoted from DSL: Filyer Sanchez…It’s been a long time coming for Sanchez, who made his professional debut shortly after signing at the end of May of 2015. Over three seasons in the DSL, he’s always maintained pretty solid numbers (2.48 ERA over 119.2 ING, 2.4 BB/9, no homers allowed), but because he doesn’t have the big strikeout numbers, the lefty has been slow to work himself into the Braves’ plans beyond the DSL. Finally, after 57 appearances in the DSL, Sanchez was brought stateside and appeared in his first game for the GCL Braves. It could not have gone any better. Following Krol in a rehab assignment, Sanchez tossed three scoreless innings with a K. Only an error by Braulio Vasquez kept the outing from being perfect. Vazquez would make up for it with a RBI double to break a 3-3 tie and the GCL club would hold on from there, giving Sanchez a win. Like I said, the rate stats aren’t tremendous, but three years with an FIP under 3.00 deserve at least a shot to sink-or-swim.
Promoted to Rome and Demoted Back: Hayden Deal…Undrafted out of Presbyterian College, Deal was a solid reliever in the Big South before finishing up his collegiate career as a starter during his senior year. Following the draft, Billy Best, one of the Braves scouts who keeps finding guys no one else wants, kept Deal from putting too many plans in place for a post-baseball life by signing Deal after a bullpen session. A fan of the Braves growing up. Deal’s staple is control – something that has continued professionally. He was hit up pretty good in the GCL prior to a promotion to Rome last week as the SALLY squad was desperate for a fresh arm. The outing couldn’t have gone better for Deal, who faced one over the minimum during a career-high four innings. He also struck out four, one off his career-best. Deal and the aforementioned Borkovich are easy to root for as undrafted free agents and to this point, both look like their professional dreams are hardly over.
Activated from the restricted list: Erick Abreu…A year after being suspended for Stanozolol, Abreu made his return just in time to get into one game for the Dominican Summer League Braves before their season came to a close. He went three scoreless innings and got the win in relief after the Braves plated 17 total runs from the third inning on. Signed in January of 2016 as an 18-year-old, Abreu pitched in 16 games in the DSL last year. He got plenty of K’s (31 in 31 innings) but also walked a small village (27 total). Seems to be another in the line of players who fit the “teach him some control before he kills someone” category. Will turn 20 on New Year’s Day so his spot in the organization is dicey, but it would appear that they kept him through a year-long suspension for a reason.