Not a lot of movement this week as the Braves play through the first few days of the minor league calendar. Just a head’s up – I categorize a player by where he finishes the week. For instance, if a player starts the week in Florida, but is demoted to Rome, he’ll be in the Rome section because that’s where he finished things. I don’t know why I just explained that.
Purchased Contract: Luke Jackson…Welcome back, Luke. He worked through a 19-pitch inning against the Nationals last night, utilizing a 94 mph four-seam fastball, an 88 mph slider, and an 82 mph curveball. Nothing new about that. Jackson has a reputation he needs to shake. That reputation is of a guy with a boring fastball. It’s great to have mid-90’s velocity, but if it doesn’t have much movement – and it didn’t last year – it doesn’t really matter how hard you throw it. When I see Jackson, I can’t help but think of Manny Acosta. Perhaps he changes that this year.
Traded to Angels: Akeel Morris (#23)…Deep breath. Here are the former Braves in the Angels’ system. This list may not be complete. Jim Johnson, Ryan Schimpf, Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton, Jose Briceno, Ian Krol, Akeel Morris, Eric Young Jr., Ryan Clark, Matt Custred, Carlos Salazar, Kevin Maitan, Livan Soto, and Juan Contreras. Breaking news – the Angels have changed their name to The Los Angeles Angels of Atlanta.
–As for Morris, the Braves will receive cash considerations or a player to be named later. I’m betting on the former. It closes the book on a weird run for Morris in the Atlanta organization. He was always pretty good but didn’t appear to have fans in the Braves’ front office. As a result, he barely was given a chance – much to the confusion of Braves’ fans. The most likely reason for this has to be non-baseball related, but I’m not going to guess what that might be. Morris made his Angels’ debut with 2.1 innings before being sent back down. He gave up a solo homer, walked two batters, and struck out one.
DFA’d and Outrighted: Chris Stewart…The Braves did a solid to Stewart by keeping him on the opening day roster, which means he gets the major league minimum promised his way. Stewart followed by doing a solid for the Braves by accepting an assignment to the minors. Stewart is your typical veteran catcher with a defense-first reputation. That said, I didn’t see much reason to be high on his defense in an, admittedly, short sample size.
Outrighted: Miguel Socolovich…Stewart and Socolovich join Rex Brothers as major league veterans who have both appeared in the majors this season and been sized up for some new Gwinnett Striper uniforms. And it’s just April 10th. Socolovich appeared in one game with the big league squad, striking out two in a pair of scoreless innings.
Promoted from GCL: Elian Leyva…So, here’s a name. Back in November of 2016, the Braves signed Leyva out of Cuba by way of Spain. What’s that? Leyva, who was 26 at the time, pitched in the Cuban National Series from 2007 to 2014 with very little success. He then left Cuba and played in Spain for CB Barcelona, where he put up some ridiculous video game numbers (64 innings, 92 K, 17 BB, 0.70 ERA). But he never pitched in 2017 and there didn’t seem to be a public reason for it. After Coppygate, Leyva was a name who some felt was signed as a way to funnel money under the table. Whatever the case, Leyva finally pitched for the Braves this weekend and picked up the win. He K’d two and allowed one earned run (three total) in 2.1 innings.
Temporarily Inactive: Tyler Pike (#27)…I have not seen a reason for this move. It was surprising considering Pike was due to start the third game of the year.
Florida Fire Frogs
Promoted from Rome: Thomas Burrows (#37)…”No placement with Rome is more surprising than Burrows, who pitched extremely well last year in the South Atlantic League.” Thankfully, that didn’t last long. Frankly, it was just unfair for SALLY hitters to have to face Burrows. In his first outing of the year, Burrows didn’t allow a person to reach safely – there was an error – and struck out four. This was against Hagerstown and Juan Soto, the best individual player in the opening series. Burrows set down Soto with some high cheese on his way to the save. He deserves to be in Florida. To be honest, he may deserve an even more aggressive promotion.
Promoted from Danville: Connor Johnstone…A 21st rounder last June out of Wake Forest, Johnstone had an injury-shortened run with Danville after the draft, appearing just three times. He gave up a bunch of runs but did strike out 12 batters compared to just one walk in ten innings. The Roswell, GA native made his 2018 debut last night, giving up a pair of runs in 2.1 ING. He’s already surrendered three home runs during his brief career. That might be something to watch moving forward.
Demoted to Danville and Promoted Back: Omar Obregon…Last year, Obregon opened the year with a .257/.315/.336 slash and was promoted to Mississippi. He’d appear just eight times before an injury ended his season. For the third consecutive year, the switch-hitting defender starts his season at High-A. He’s solid at second base, though stretched at shortstop and third base. As for the roster move, it likely was to get a pitcher on the roster for a day just to get a fresh arm.
DL’d: Justin Kelly…I will resist the urge to make yet another “From Justin to Kelly” reference. A 33rd-rounder by the Angels in 2016 out of UC-Santa Barbara – he also was a Virginia Tech Hokie – Kelly made his organizational debut with 2 innings, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts. Symmetry is nice. Unfortunately, he landed on the DL shortly after. After a rough debut season, Kelly pitched at five levels last year with a 3.53 ERA and nearly two K’s for every walk.
Demoted from Florida: Drew Harrington (#39)…The guy I still want to call Joey is at a bit of a crossroads. Picked in the third round back in 2016 out of Louisville, Harrington was solid in a limited run with Danville that summer. However, his injury-shortened 2017 was a step backward as he skipped Rome, but struggled in the process. Last week, he was lit up in a game out of the pen for the Fire Frogs before being demoted and making his Rome Braves debut by…being lit up pretty good. At least, that’s what the numbers say.
–When Harrington was drafted, it was coming off a spring where, on a loaded Cardinals roster that included Kyle Funkhouser, Harrington was their best pitcher. However, even then, the concern was that Harrington was more of a college pitcher than a professional one. To put it simply, the pitchability was there, but the stuff was lacking. That’s kind of what we’ve seen over his 89.1 innings so far. Good control, keeps the ball in the yard, but doesn’t have an out pitch. If he’s repackaged just right, he might develop into a left-hand specialist. Nobody likes to hear that when it comes to a third-round choice, but it’s better than nothing.
Promoted from Danville and Demoted Back: Enderson Franco…That didn’t take long. Last season, Franco was involved in six different transactions in April before sticking in Florida for the rest of the year. Last week, Franco made an appearance as a reliever for Mississippi during his brief run with the squad. Franco will likely appear here-and-there for minor league affiliates when they need a fresh arm unless a spot opens up for him for a longer stay.