If the Beatles say there can be eight days a week, who am I to argue? Here’s your Atlanta Braves week (plus a day) in review.
Atlanta Braves Add Former Cardinals Starter Garcia
Feeding the Braves’ seemingly insatiable appetite for starting pitchers on short-term deals, the Braves traded for left-hander Jaime Garcia from the Cardinals in exchanges for right-handed pitching prospects John Gant and Chris Ellis along with Rome second baseman Luke Dykstra.
After undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome during the 2015 season, Garcia looked to bounce back last season but ended up having a bit of an off-year. Garcia started strong, but flagged in the middle months of the season as he was pitching through a groin strain. With prospect Alex Reyes ready for the rotation, Garcia was the odd man out. When healthy, Garcia has been a fine pitcher and will give Atlanta only its sixth left-handed starter in the last five years, the last being Manny Banuelos in 2015.
If all goes well for them, Gant and Ellis could become back-end starters, but at least for now seem ticketed as relievers. Dykstra had a reputation as one of the best teammates at Rome and has exceptional bat control. Unfortunately, he also had little speed, no power, rarely walked, and was essentially confined to the second base position. I had Gant, Ellis, and Dykstra ranked #22, #35, and #57 on my prospect ranking list.
Atlanta Braves Trade Whalen, Povse to Seattle for Jackson
If there’s one thing John Coppolella seems to like more than starting pitchers on short deals, it’s former first-round draft picks. Last Tuesday, the Braves acquired their fourth first rounder of the 2014 draft class in the form of talented but so-far disappointing outfielder Alex Jackson. Seattle had expected Jackson to be a fast riser after moving him off catcher and into the outfield, but after three pro seasons he was still mired at the class-A level. The Braves will try to clean up Jackson’s hitting mechanics and light a fire under the former prep star.
Schuerholz Voted Into Baseball Hall of Fame
Former Braves General Manager and current team President John Schuerholz was voted in unanimously by the
Veteran’s Committee Today’s Game Era Committee on Sunday. Schuerholtz joins former Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig as executive inductees.
Schuerholz guided six teams to the World Series as a general manager (’85 Royals; ’91, ’92, ’95, ’96, and ’99 Braves), winning with the ’85 Royals and ’95 Braves. He was also one of the chief architects of the Braves long, sustained run of success, garnering 14 consecutive division titles from 1991 though 2005.
A slate of players that were not voted in by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America were also considered, but none achieved the 12-of-15 voting standard required for enshrinement. The slate this year included former Braves great Dale Murphy.
We here at Outfield Fly Rule congratulate John Schuerholz on his amazing and well-deserved honor.
Braves Nab Lefty Lindgren
The New York Yankees designated left-handed prospect Jacob Lindgren for assignment and allowed him to become a free agent as they faced a 40-man roster crunch. The Atlanta Braves swooped and and signed Lindgren to $600,000 deal, with a $450,000 signing bonus.
Lindgren was a top relief prospect for the Yankees after being drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft. The man nicknamed “The Strikeout Factory” rapidly ascended the minor league ranks and made his major league debut in 2015. Unfortunately bone spurs ended the season prematurely. While on a rehab assignment in 2016 Lindgren tore his UCL, which required season-ending Tommy John surgery. Lindgren is not expected to pitch in 2017, but has five years of team control. If Lindgren can successfully rehab his shoulder, he could be a major bullpen piece in 2018.
Castillo Becomes a Free Agent and a Braves Target
Despite a strong offensive season, the Arizona Diamondbacks non-tendered veteran catcher Welington Castillo on Friday, adding a quality option to this off-season’s thin catching pool.
Castillo hit .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs this past season. Castillo also has a tremendous arm, last season throwing out 32% of would-be basestealers. On the other hand, Castillo has consistently rated poorly as a pitch framer,though he did show improvement in that category last season.
The Rays and Orioles are also reportedly interested.
Atlanta Braves Come To Terms With Recker, Gosewisch, Rodriguez but Non-Tender Withrow
December 2nd was the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. Before the deadline, the Braves reached agreements on one-year deals with catchers Anthony Recker, Tuffy Gosewisch, and left-handed reliever Paco Rodriguez and will avoid arbitration with each of them.
As expected, the Braves tendered contracts to outfielder Ender Inciarte and relievers Ian Krol and Arodys Vizcaino. Unless they come to agreement on a contract beforehand, the Braves and these players will exhange salary arbitration numbers on January 13. As a “file and trial” team, the Braves will not negotiate one-year deals with those players after that date.
Acuna Stays Hot For Melbourne
Braves outfield prospect Ronald Acuna is continuing to do good work for the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League. The teenager is batting .319/.347/.511 after a weekend in which he hit home runs in back-to-back games and stole three more bases to put him first in the league in that category.
Back in the Western Hemisphere, Mississippi left-hander Michael Mader has been pitching well for Criollos de Caguas of the Roberto Clemente League. In 10.1 innings pitched so far, Mader has only allowed 1 run for a 0.84 ERA. Gwinnett lefty Brian Moran is pitching for the same team and has only allowed 2 runs in 9.2 IP.
— Braves Prospects (@ProspectsBraves) December 3, 2016
Shameless Plug: come back later this week for Get to Know a Prospect: Ronald Acuna! Learn more about this talented Venezuelan that is taking Australia by storm.