Welcome to this week’s Transaction Tuesday. If you’re new to the site, every week I try to gobble up every move the Braves make – big or small – and spit out some analysis to bring these moves into context. Sometimes, it’s complete crap, but I try to bring some facts to the table, darn it. This week, a few more players were cut from the system while a host of players went to the DL. There’s a curious DFA as well.
Promoted: Carlos Perez…I went over this trade the other day, but I wanted to mention that Perez has been promoted and was in uniform Monday night. His stay in Atlanta may not last long. When Kurt Suzuki is ready to swing a bat, the Braves will likely make another move. Perez will have to be designated for assignment to be removed from the roster.
Promoted: Anibal Sanchez…Though he hasn’t been decent since 2014, the Braves signed Sanchez and effectively handed him the open fifth starter job. The continued struggles of Aaron Blair and Matt Wisler helped. Most expected Sanchez to make a start, maybe two, in the minors before being brought to Atlanta. However, due to an array of moves, that didn’t happen. In fact, Sanchez was promoted Monday night and made his Braves debut with three scoreless innings. He struck out two but did walk three. He likely will make his first start either this weekend or early next week.
DL’d: Johan Camargo (Oblique)…This wasn’t surprising as camp came neared its end. Losing Camargo was expected to be a bigger deal than it has been so far. That’ll happen when Ryan Flaherty magically learns how to hit overnight. The expectation is Camargo is nearing a return, possibly as soon as this week or toward the beginning of next week. While Flaherty has done well, the Braves would be foolish to allow that to affect Camargo’s time.DL’d: Tyler Flowers (Oblique)…One swing and a wince. With that, Flowers landed on the DL. He had missed a lot of time during spring with a groin injury, which likely had him behind schedule. There’s no timetable for his return as, again, oblique strains are fickle. It’s not like a sprained ankle where we have pretty simple timetables for a return. Losing Flowers is a big blow for the team. While Suzuki will return soon, Flowers’ handling of pitchers and framing will be missed.
DL’d: Luiz Gohara (Ankle, #2 prospect)…Here’s the good news: Gohara looked good while throwing a simulated three-inning outing yesterday. With Gohara trying to go through his own private spring training, the lefty hopes to be ready by late April at the earliest. Of course, Gohara was coming back from a prior groin injury when he suffered the ankle issue in camp. With Gohara having a bit of a “robust” body type, it leads to (premature) concerns that he might be a long-term concern health-wise.
–It might have been those concerns that prompted Mark Bowman to question if Gohara would be dealt over the next year. Some people bag on Bowman – I don’t (anymore). He’s merely providing his opinion. Of course, his close connection to the Braves does make you wonder if something might be up.
DL’d: Jacob Lindgren (Tommy John Surgery, #18 prospect)…We knew it was a slow rehab. We now know why as Lindgren went under the knife again. Lindgren had already had one Tommy John surgery in August of 2016. Atlanta got him after the Yankees tried to sneak him off their 40-man by non-tendering him and resign him to a minor league deal. John Coppolella jumped at the opportunity to grab the guy nicknamed The Strikeout Factory. He was long considered an X-factor for this year, but that won’t happen obviously. But 2019 is definitely the year.
DL’d after Contract Purchased: Josh Ravin (Viral)…Two days after being surprisingly promoted and throwing an inning in relief, Ravin landed on the DL with a viral infection. Ravin’s always had tantalizing strikeout numbers and just as scary homeruns allowed totals. He’s out of options so the Braves will have to DFA him a second time since acquiring him last winter to retain his services.
DL’d: Chase Whitley (Staph Infection)…Expected to compete for a spot on the roster this spring, Whitley went down early with a heel injury. That later led to a staph infection, which is no fun to deal with at all. He’s expected to return around mid-April, though that certainly can be adjusted. A righty from Alabama, Whitley has thrown 166.2 innings in the majors with the Yankees and Rays and has a 3.93 FIP to show for it based on a solid K/BB rate and excellent control.
Loaned to Tijuana: Manny Barreda…The Braves signed Barreda as a minor league free agent in the winter of 2016, but he spent most of 2017 with Tijuana. That’s a second home for him as he’s pitched for them in each of the last three seasons. Barreda did look good in seven starts with Gwinnett last summer after they brought him back from the Mexican League, but with so few innings available, Barreda is back on the move. He has a former Braves farmhand as a teammate in Tijuana – Aaron Kurcz.
DFA’d: Akeel Morris (#23)…What did Morris do? That’s a common question Braves fans have had since the summer of 2017. That question became even louder this week as he was DFA’d. Morris has been nothing but be impressive since he was acquired from the Mets in one of the 23 Kelly Johnson-to-Flushing deals. A 2.28 FIP in 35.2 innings with Mississippi in 2016? I’m good with that. Strikeout 27% of batters in 2017? Sounds good to me. Allow just one run in 7.1 major league innings? That works, too.
–But despite all the good things Morris has done, he can’t seem to break through in Atlanta and that goes back to the John Coppolella regime. That implies potential attitude issues we aren’t privy to, but that’s wild speculation on my part. To be fair, Morris does have control issues that have dogged him his whole career. That said, the Braves have Jason Hursh on the roster and he hasn’t been nearly as impressive as Morris.
DFA’d after Contract Purchased: Miguel Socolovich…A surprising addition to the roster last week after Flowers was DL’d, Socolovich made his Braves debut with two perfect innings and two K’s. In a slightly ironic twist, it was a catcher’s injury that got him to Atlanta. In some ways, it was another catcher’s injury that got him DFA’d. When Suzuki was hit, the Braves needed another catcher and ran out of room. Socolovich was outrighted in 2017 so if he passes waivers, he can elect free agency.
Gwinnett StripersOptioned from Atlanta: Rio Ruiz…The additions of Peter Bourjos and Ryan Flaherty, combined with the fortunate decision to keep Chris Stewart, squeezed Ruiz out of Atlanta. He got off to a rotten start in camp but showed signs of improvement. Everybody with the organization seems to love Rio’s work ethic and determination. This is the second consecutive spring he’s made an impression – more for his attitude and effort than his numbers. But this is a results-based business.
Demoted from Gwinnett: Max Fried (#5)…I don’t know what to make of this move except that the Braves are struggling to find enough innings. Fried struggled for most of his 19-game run in Mississippi last year, but still landed a 26-inning run in Atlanta. I guess we’ll learn more when rosters are announced.
Released: Dylan Moore (#46)…I’m shocked about Moore’s release mainly because there is so little depth up the middle for the Braves. The Braves grabbed Moore from the Rangers’ organization in 2016 in a nutty three-team deal that sent Jeff Francoeur to Miami. Moore had a nice ten-game run before the season ended and looked great in the Arizona Fall League. The Braves pushed him to Double-A despite 27 games at High-A and he fell on his face. While he picked it up a little at the end of the season, he finished with a .584 OPS. A bit range-limited at shortstop, he is sure-handed and can play all over the infield. That made me think he was safe. Nope!
Released: Bradley Keller…In our first post for the 2018 Preseason Top 50 Braves Prospect list, I asked Ryan and Stephen to pick a guy who didn’t make our Top 50, but who they liked a lot. Ryan went with Phil Pfeifer, who has a great story of redemption to go with his amazing stuff. Stephen thought of Dilmer Mejia, a southpaw who has been in the system for a few years. I went with a guy I saw in 2017 – Bradley Keller. Sorry, Brad. Yep, Keller was cut this week and while I liked him, this one didn’t hit me nearly as hard as last week’s release of Leudys Baez. After all, Keller had been horrid professionally outside of a 33-game run in Danville last summer (with a .395 BABIP). I still liked his tools and thought he could surprise some people in 2018. That won’t happen with this organization.
The minor league seasons are about to begin. Want a cheat sheet to help you know who Rome has on the mound or who is pinch hitting for Mississippi? Consider the 2018 Atlanta Baseball Preview. I worked with three of the guys from Outfield Fly Rule to help profile nearly every player in the organization. You can find it on Amazon!