With September call-ups in full swing, I decided to do something a little different today and give you guys a super-sized transaction recap that includes today’s moves. Usually, I review the last week, but not include the day I publish the recap. However, with there likely being so few moves to go over for the next few weeks – and a big one in today’s recap – let’s dive into the last eight days.
*The moves covered in this edition of Transaction Tuesday cover August 29 to September 5. A number in parenthesis represents the player’s ranking in the midseason WOW Top 50.
Promoted from Gwinnett: Rex Brothers…I once made the FIP argument about Jim Johnson. I learned my lesson. Despite Brothers’ decent-enough FIP of 3.84 compared to his 6.88 ERA, I’m not buying Brothers as a good option for the bullpen.
SPOTLIGHT Promoted from Gwinnett: Luiz Gohara (#8)…I loved the trade to go get Gohara, but even I’m shocked by how much he cruised through the minors. This is a guy who had made 12 appearances at low-A coming into this season. My hope was that he would spend half of the year in Florida before a promotion up the ladder to Mississippi. That would put him on a trajectory for a midseason-2018 ETA, but the Braves said “hold my beer” and pushed him to the moon. To his credit, Gohara only responded to such an aggressive push.
In seven starts with Florida, Gohara dominated the Florida State League with a sub-2.00 ERA and over a K an inning. That got Gohara a call-up to Mississippi and despite leaving his first start and spending a week on the DL, Gohara kept rolling with a 2.60 ERA and 60 K’s in 52 innings before heading to Gwinnett. There, he logged 35.1 ING over seven starts with 48 K’s. Now, he’s in the majors. I forgot to say, “Hi, Jerry DiPoto!”
Gohara mixes easy mid-to-late 90 mph heat with a slider that is just a beautiful thing to watch. You can judge how much a slider bites on the kind of stats we get in the majors, but the best way of judging it in in the minors is to watch hitters look mystified and Gohara’s slider has that effect on hitters. The reason why Gohara is now in the majors, though, is the improvement we’ve seen with his changeup. It’s not near the other two pitches in effectiveness, but it’s good enough now for Gohara to throw with confidence. Without that improvement, we don’t see Gohara this year.
The biggest thing with Gohara, no pun intended, is the weight. Can he keep it a manageable level? One of the worst-kept secrets in baseball is that Gohara isn’t close to the 210 pounds his bio says he is. If he can’t keep his weight from becoming a problem, it could limit him long-term. That said, he’s going to have access to the best trainers and dietitians money can buy now that he’s reached the majors. If he keeps the weight at pudgy instead of fat, he could be a frontline arm in the major leagues.
Promoted from Gwinnett: David Freitas…If, before the season, you tried to come up with a group of Braves who would make their major league debut this season, Freitas would not be on your list. The former 2010 15th rounder out of Hawaii got his shot because of an injury and despite Sanchez’s acquisition, it’s Freitas who continues to receive some playing time as Kurt Suzuki‘s backup. Part of that is due to his familiarity with the young Braves’ arms. Nevertheless, Freitas may receive the Anthony Recker-treatment and stick around all offseason hoping the Braves don’t add another catcher via free agency.
Promoted from Gwinnett: Max Fried (#21)…Fried was used all kinds of wrong in his earlier promotion, but the Braves brought him back in a starter role and he did just fine against the defending World Champions, limiting the Cubs to one run on four hits over five innings. He struck out four and picked off a batter. Fried will continue to get looks in the rotation moving forward as the Braves search for answers for the 2018 staff.
Promoted from Gwinnett: Micah Johnson…What a crazy few days it’s been for Johnson. He was twitter designated for assignment on Friday. What’s that, you may ask? That’s when you find out via twitter of a transaction involving you. The Braves later said they weren’t DFAing Johnson, though it clearly was thought about. Instead, he was in the lineup for Gwinnett the next day and hit a homer. Now, on Tuesday, he received a promotion to the big leagues and looks like he’ll stick around for the rest of the season.
Promoted from Gwinnett: Rio Ruiz (#25)…On one side, Ruiz had a worse 2017 than he did 2016 with Gwinnett as his AVG and OBP were quite a bit lower. On the other hand, his ISO was much improved and in the end, it left him with a .341 wOBA compared to the .342 wOBA he posted with the G-Braves the previous season. Ruiz received some playing time with the major league team earlier this year and now, he seems poised to receive the lion-share of playing time for the rest of the season. The .270 BABIP will climb and with it, his batting average. He’s walking at a nice rate and has flashed some renewed power since rejoining the team last week. The Braves are looking for a reason not to spend a lot of money or prospects on a third baseman this winter. Whatever Ruiz does this month will help them in deciding which way they go.
Activated: Johan Camargo (#23)…Camargo, Take 2 begins with the cannon-armed youngster having lost his shortstop gig following Dansby Swanson‘s resurgence. He’s not even being handed the third base job after Phillips was traded as the Braves appear committed to getting a long look at Ruiz. And that’s probably for the best. Camargo was off to a great start, but the league re-wrote the scouting report during the All-Star Break and since, Camargo was hitting .247/.291/.395. True, that’s a small sample size of 86 PA. As was his successful run of 111 PA. Somewhere in the middle of these two distinct splits is the actual Camargo and that’s not to slight the player. He’s improved quite a lot since last year and looks to be a major league player. However, do I think he’s an everyday starter, even at third where I do believe his defense is much better suited? Not really, but I also wouldn’t be too upset if the Braves go with Ruiz/Camargo heading into 2018 because I believe the duo can work out for Atlanta.
Activated: Adonis Garcia…He’s hitting .245/.280/.348. The other day, someone tried to argue that keeping Garcia over Micah Johnson was the better move because of options. Foolishly, I failed to reply, “He’s hitting .245/.280/.348. That’s not an option.” Granted, it’s a little trolling because he was speaking of minor league options, but still. Joke. Landed.
Activated: Luke Jackson…The best thing about Jackson this season has been his sitcom-worthy bromance with Lane Adams. That’s probably not something you should say about a major league pitcher. He’s still only 26, but Jackson throws one of the most boring 95 mph fastballs in the league.
Activated and put on 60-day DL: Danny Santana…Apparently, Santana is still struggling with a quad injury and after being activated off the disabled list, the Braves thought better and placed Santana on the 60-day DL. That’s just fine in my book as Santana has played too much since joining the Braves. Since being acquired, Santana has a .245 OBP and over a month of action before hitting the DL, he played in 27 games (10 starts) while slashing .161/.175/.286. That was 58 PA of essentially a pitcher who occasionally pops a homer. Sometimes, you have to Snit-proof the roster and giving Brian Snitker a player like Santana is asking for trouble.
DL’d: Tyler Flowers…The expectation after the trade and subsequent activation of Sanchez was that Flowers might miss significant time – potentially the rest of the year – but he’s expected back by this weekend. So, there’s that. Flowers has significantly cooled off after his tremendous start, hitting .208/.311/.426 since July 4, but he still has the inside track on beginning 2018 as the starting catcher.
DL’d: Jason Motte…The way Brian Snitker was using his bullpen, it was Arodys Vizcaino, Jim Johnson, and Jose Ramirez from the 7th to 9th innings with the lead and before that, Snitker went to his B-Team of Jackson, Krol, and Motte. That sounds like the worst law firm ever. Despite a FIP climbing to 6, Motte kept getting crunch time games while other younger and more talented arms pitched for Gwinnett. Fortunately, that looks to have stopped as the Braves decided his oblique was strained after giving up his sixth homer of the year last week. Funny how that happens. Motte had walked a batter in eight straight contests and he’s likely thrown his last pitch for the Braves.
Promoted from Mississippi: Sal Giardina…It seems like Giardina has been around for eight years, but it’s actually only been half that. He made both his Double-A and Triple-A debuts this season and hit .264/.348/.329 over 161 PA. He’s an organizational guy who can play the infield corners in a pinch.
Promoted from Mississippi: Dan Reynolds…Signed out of the independent leagues last winter, Reynolds was a solid, though unspectacular pitcher for Mississippi before a late-season promotion to Gwinnett. A veteran of six minor league seasons in the Angels’ system before 2016, Reynolds still walks a few too many hitters and he’d probably get a pass on that if he threw with his left arm instead of his right arm. A minor league free agent, the Braves may not have room for Reynolds in 2018.
|Phillips | Jeff Morris – Follow on Twitter|
Activated: Evan Phillips…Sadly, some struggles late in the season have pushed Phillips’ full-season numbers back up to ugly after he worked so hard to make them respectable. Phillips started the year much like he ended it – by giving up a bunch of runs. He surrendered 14 in his first five games (5 ING) but rebounded with a 3.35 ERA and a strikeout an inning over his next 32 games and 43 innings. Mixed in there was a promotion to Gwinnett at the end of May. However, he gave up five runs over his final 3.1 innings, which also includes a trip to the DL. Overall, give him a 6.14 ERA on the year.
Recalled and Optioned: Jason Hursh…Cheer up, Jason. This was the seventh and probably the last time you will be optioned to the minors this season. Hursh was the 26th man during a recent doubleheader and will probably rejoin the Braves once he completes his mandatory 10 days in the minors following a demotion. Hursh has a 4.30 ERA in the minors this year with nearly a strikeout an inning. He’s allowed six runs in 10.2 ING over nine games in the majors.
DFA and Outrighted: Enrique Burgos…There was a time this year where it looked like Burgos was on the fast track for a promotion, but things went real bad over his last eight outings. In 5.2 innings, he gave up 11 runs, walked seven, and struck out eight. The Braves may have brought him down to Atlanta for a September look before his August stumbles. Now, he’s likely thrown his last pitch as a Brave.
Promoted from Florida: Raymar Navarro…He never pitched for Mississippi and the Cuban-born right-hander finishes his second year much like his first – with underwhelming numbers. With Danville, Rome, and Florida, Navarro has a 4.56 ERA in 51.1 innings. We’ll see if he stays around for 2018.
Promoted from Danville: Jaret Hellinger…A 20th rounder with some hype two years ago, Hellinger received a brief run in Rome before the D-Braves’ season began, but did little with it. He became one of Danville’s most consistent arms after that, though, and finished the year with a two-inning appearance in Florida. Hellinger was a decent “get” out of Ola High School in McDonough, GA in 2015, but it’s time we see some results. I imagine he’ll receive an assignment with Rome to open 2018.
Promoted from Danville: Gary Schwartz…I’ve only seen him referred to as “Garrison,” but either way, Schwartz had a big August for Danville and was awarded a three-game tryout in Florida to end the year. He didn’t do so hot there with a 1-for-9 showing with a steal, a walk, and five K’s. I imagine he’ll head down to Rome to open 2018 and the former Grand Canyon University standout will get a shot to get back on track.
DL’d: Kevin Mathews…The former Texas first rounder only logged 24.1 innings after joining the organization in early July. He gave up 22 hits, struck out 22, and walked 22. Somewhere, Jayson Stark just got excited. After a great start in Rome and a decent spot start at the end of July in Gwinnett, things kind of went bad in Florida for Matthews. The lefty has long has had a high-projection arm, but has had very few positive results with it. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s back in 2018.
Promoted from Danville: Walter Borkovich…A Walk-Off Walk favorite, The Bork’s first season after being undrafted out of Michigan State went rather well. Over 27.1 ING spread across three minor league stops, Borkovich finished with a 2.30 ERA, over a strikeout an inning, and just three walks. That comes out to a 10 strikeout per walk ratio, which is amazing. Now, can he do it again in 2018? That’ll be fun to watch.
Promoted from Danville: Riley Delgado…This year’s Marcus Mooney (i.e. high work ethic, grit, short on projection) is Delgado, a middle infielder out of Middle Tennessee State. He was picked in the ninth round to save money and in 22 games in Danville, hit just .232/.299/.246. He’s a smooth fielder, both at second and shortstop, but you’re simply not going to get much out of his bat. Probably will stick around in the system for a few years as a bench player.
Demoted from Rome: Bladimir Matos…This was the third time Matos was demoted to Danville. The number of times he pitched for the D-Braves? Zero. Roster manipulation FTW!
Nothing doing for the GCL and DSL rosters, whose seasons are over.