A bit late, but here’s your weekly recap of moves the Braves made during the week. Of course, there were some big injuries, but also plenty of movement of players. We also saw one player get cut and replaced with another. Thanks for reading!
Promoted from GWI: Max Fried (#5)…After four games in the majors where his curveball was pretty much MIA, Fried was not burying it in the dirt so often that nobody swung at it against New York. He was starting the pitch higher and inducing swings on a pitch that disappeared. That’s the Fried that could be hell on hitters moving forward. He worked five innings against the Mets, allowing just one earned run and recorded six K’s. The four walks were iffy, but overall, the Braves got exactly what they needed from Fried.
…I’m still not sold that Fried will stick long-term as a starter, but as long as he has the curve we saw yesterday, he will find a spot on a major league roster.
…Peterson busted out in 2016 with a .356 wOBA in the Southern League despite being one of its youngest full-time players. It set him up to make some noise the following spring, but you know the story. A broken hamate bone in his wrist was difficult to recover from and sapped him of all his power. After a quiet offseason, he came to camp with a reworked swing and full health. He shocked some observers with long homers while looking like a changed hitter from the guy stinking up things in the International League the previous summer.
…The reworked swing, which sees Peterson carry his hands lower, has unlocked a lot of power. His previous HR/FB high was 8.2%. He’s doubled that this year. That might be a bit unsustainable, but he’s making better contact regardless. Would I like a higher walk rate? Sure. Is the increase in K% concerning? You bet. But a 23-year-old with a .347 wOBA in the International League is nothing to sneeze at.
…Historically, Peterson holds his own against righties, but punishes lefties. That should make him a good compliment for Preston Tucker, though I hope we don’t see a complete platoon. I’d like to see Peterson get some reps against right-handed starters as well.
Promoted from GWI: Matt Wisler…The Braves remain unsure what they want Wisler to be. Is he a spot starter/swingman? Is he a high-leverage arm, as Brian Snitker thought last weekend against the Red Sox? I think the former is much more likely. His slider is very good and when he condenses down to just his heater/slider, he has the ability to get righties out in droves. But he’s not an arm you can count on to get a big out of the pen. Not yet. Maybe never.
DL’d: Ronald Acuña Jr. (#1)…Exhale. After fears that the phenom was lost for the year, it looks like the Braves have avoided such a disaster. How long Acuña Jr. will miss remains a mystery, though the smart money is on the 2-4 week range that typically goes with such a diagnosis. That said, Acuña Jr. was lobbying hard to appear in the second game of last night’s doubleheader. The Braves will smartly rest the kid, let his knee and back respond to treatment, and try to get him 100% for the stretch run. That may only take the required ten days on the DL or a bit longer. Either way, it’s a better outcome than originally feared.
Bereavement: Luiz Gohara (#2)…After an up-and-down start against the Phillies, Gohara left to be with his ailing mother in Brazil. Hopefully, she’ll be okay. Gohara lost his father during the offseason.
…But let’s talk about Gohara for a second. Gohara threw 78 pitches in the start against the Phillies. Just six were his changeup, easily his least effective pitch. All came the second time through the order. Right now, Gohara has no confidence in the pitch and that is a problem. The bigger issue is that his arm is almost too good to keep in the minors. His fastball, which has triple-digit potential, is hard to deal with, but his slider is damn-near impossible when he’s throwing it where he wants it. Those two pitches make him a handful to deal with coming out of the pen.
…But what about being a starter? Ideally, that’s a future for him. And sure, you could hurt the speed of his development by moving him to the pen. He needs to develop that changeup and almost certainly won’t in medium-to-high leverage situations. But with the team competing and trying to get to the playoffs in 2018, being patient and not pushing a pitcher is no longer an option. They need their best 25-man roster and Gohara might be the best fit for that roster.
…It’s certainly questionable to turn a guy with ace starter potential into a reliever when he’s young and should be working on things. But the Braves have a legit shot at the playoffs. They owe it to the players on the team to try to do what they can to get there.
Demoted to MIS and promoted back: Wes Parsons…A 3.43 career ERA. Career 6.5% walk rate. Career 22.6% strikeout rate. Perhaps Wes Parsons deserves a bit more appreciation. Flashback to 2013 and a completely different farm system. The best Braves’ pitching prospects were guys like Jarret Miller, Aaron Northcraft, and Cody Martin. Oh, and Lucas Sims, who formed a solid 1-2 punch with Parsons. Injuries and an inability to stick in the starting rotation have limited Parsons ever since.
…But in 2018, we’re seeing a bit more success. Now, to be fair, his BABIP is unsustainably low. On the other hand, his K-an-inning strikeout rate is a new high and he’s still only 25. Is he a starter prospect? Probably not. Could he settle into the new hybrid of multi-inning relievers who exit before a hitter can see them twice? It’s quite possible.
Activated: Rob Brantly…Pretty impressive for Brantly to be back after taking a ball off a spot that makes every man buckle over in pain just thinking about it. Ouch. He’s been a solid minor league hitter over the last three years but has struggled tremendously in 2018. You have to expect that his .524 OPS will improve with more reps.
Activated: David Peterson…Not the best return from the temporarily inactive list for the other D-Petey. He gave up three runs while recording just two outs against Columbus. Peterson has been a middle relief guy for Gwinnett all season and has had next to no luck (.426 BABIP). Peterson, in his seventh season after being an 8th rounder back in 2012, has been playing with Gwinnett since 2015.
DL’d: Philip Gosselin…Of course, this is just a guess, but Goose may have been the guy getting a promotion had he not hit the DL before Acuña Jr. went down. Goose was hitting .224/.345/.388 in 16 games since joining the Stripers after the Braves claimed him off waivers. While noted for his work as a utility player, he was effectively the everyday second baseman. With Goose on the mend, we’ll see more at-bats at second for Danny Santana and Tyler Smith.
DL’d: Jonathan Morales…That didn’t last long. Morales was 1-for-9 over four games before landing on the DL after a recent promotion from Mississippi. There’s not much more I can add to last week’s report on him. He showed a bit of a bat after he was drafted, but not really since and wasn’t setting the world on fire with the M-Braves before his promotion either.
DL’d: Chase Whitley…Last week, I wrote, “At this point, Whitley just wants to stay on the mound.” Well, that didn’t stick. Whitley has been placed on the DL three times already this season, including a long run on the DL due to an infection in his heel. He appeared twice during his recent run, throwing 2.1 innings of one-run ball with two K’s. On the year, he has a 3.45 ERA in 15.2 innings in the minors with two runs allowed in an inning of work in the majors.
Signed: Luis Marte…Marte was a regular fixture in the Rangers’ organization though he has a career .262 OBP. That doesn’t happen if one, you aren’t a good defender, and two, you’re not well-liked off the field. Guys like Marte are “glue guys.” They play all over and do a pretty impressive job of it, but their true value is as a mentor and clubhouse leader. I can’t prove any of this, but years of watching minor league baseball have shown this to be accurate.
Assigned: Dan Lietz…Signed at the beginning of May after the Jays released him, Lietz will likely make his Double-A debut this week. A former fifth-rounder of Anthopoulos, Lietz has never really looked like a notable prospect, but he is left-handed. Kids, that helps.
Promoted from Rome: Carlos Martinez…He had some of the funniest numbers last year – 28 consecutive singles at one point. He hasn’t been quite as noteworthy this year as he already has four doubles. That’s twice as many as he had last year! A good gloveman with a bat heavily dependant on BABIP, Martinez gets a promotion here because the Braves like to carry three catchers on their minor league squads.
Promoted to GWI and demoted back: Enderson Franco…The nine-year veteran has had amazing success in Triple-A with a 1.23 ERA and a 2 K/BB. Of course, that’s just over 14.2 innings so there’s that. Franco is one of the organizational arms that’s always ready to make a spot start here and there. He’s spent most of the year with Mississippi as a swingman with over a K an inning, but also too many walks and homers surrendered. Like Rudy, his only value to the organization is that they don’t care if he gets beat up.
Promoted to GWI and demoted back: Michael Mader…Making his Triple-A debut last week was Mader, who went six innings in a spot start that went about as well as he could have hoped. The southpaw allowed just three hits, walked nobody, and struck out three. Mader, who the Braves acquired with Anfernee Seymour in the Hunter Cervenka trade, struggled in 2017. A move to the bullpen was combined with awful control. He’s looked much better this season and his spot start against Durham may lead to a more permanent attempt at the rotation.
Released: Cleuluis Rondon…After Marte was signed, the Braves have a surplus of can’t-hit middle infielders so Rondon got his walking papers. In his eighth season, Rondon has made just one cameo above Double-A because he’s a lifetime .206/.281/.267 hitter. He was even worse in his 84 PA with Rome this year. It’s not crazy to think he’ll still get another job elsewhere because he can play a pretty decent shortstop, but there’s a reason the Braves were his fourth organization.
Florida Fire Frogs
Activated: Alan Crowley…With all the catcher movement, a spot on the Rome roster was opened for Crowley, who has been on the DL all season. He followed that up with starts on Sunday and Monday, contributing a homer. Crowley has rarely played since he was picked as a 26th rounder back in 2016. With 7 more PA, he’s up to 134 total. Crowley will likely not get too many at-bats behind William Contreras and Drew Lugbauer, though the latter is really scuffling.