The hot stove continues to not live up to its name, but Braves do have something to celebrate.
Chipper Jones Elected To Baseball Hall of Fame
Thanks to Ryan Thibodaux’s ballot tracker and the greater transparency its engendered from many voters, it wasn’t that much of a surprise that Chipper Jones was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with 97.2% of the vote. This is the sixth Braves legend to be inducted in the last four years, following on the heals of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Bobby Cox in 2014, John Smoltz in 2015, and John Schuerholz in 2017.
In addition to Jones, the Baseball Writers Association of America voted in slugger Jim Thome, outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, and National League all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman. They will join with Veterans Committee honorees Alan Trammell and Jack Morris to form the largest class of inductees since 2006, when the final honorees from the Negro League were inducted.
Generating more suspense was if former Braves outfielder Andruw Jones would generate enough support to surpass the 5% of votes required to remain on the ballot. He ended up clearing that hurdle by several votes, ending with 7.3% of ballots. With defense becoming a more respected part of the game, Andruw Jones should have a strong Hall of Fame case, especially given the glove-first candidacies of Hall of Famers Ozzie Smith, Bill Mazeroski, and Richie Ashburn.
Braves Acquire Right-hander Shane Carle
For the third time this offseason, the Braves took advantage of another team needing to shuffle players off their 40-man roster in the wake of a bigger trade. The previous examples were getting right-hander Josh Ravin from the Dodgers and outfielder Preston Tucker from the Astros. On January 17, the Braves struck again, acquiring right-hander Shane Carle from the Pirates for cash (or a player-to-be-named-later).
Carle made his major league debut last season with the Colorado Rockies, getting into three games and pitching a total of four innings. His minor league career numbers (4.10 ERA/3.98 FIP) don’t jump out, but he has a lively fastball and throws strikes.
It’s unclear what impact Carle will make with Atlanta, if any, but GM Alex Anthopoulous seems to have brought with him from the Dodgers a philosophy of using his full roster to bring in players with one or two interesting tools to see what coaches can do with them.
Braves Prospects Figure Large in Baseball America and ESPN Prospect Lists
Major publications are starting to publish their prospect lists, and two of the biggest, Baseball America and ESPN prospects guru Keith Law have revealed theirs.
Eight Braves adorn the Baseball America list, the third straight time that has occurred. Even though mid-season prospects infielder Ozzie Albies and right-hander Sean Newcomb have matriculated off the list, and infielder Kevin Maitan is no longer with the organization, Baseball America had right-hander Kyle Wright, third baseman Austin Riley, and left-hander Max Fried on to replace them and join top 100 returners outfielder Ronald Acuna, lefties Luiz Gohara and Kolby Allard, and righties Mike Soroka and Ian Anderson.
Most impressively, Baseball America named Acuna the number one overall prospect in baseball, just ahead of Angels righty Shohei Ohtani and Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.
Not to be outdone, Keith Law placed nine Braves on his list. Although he didn’t have Austin Riley or Kolby Allard in his top 100, Law included right-handers Bryce Wilson and Touki Toussaint, left-hander Joey Wentz, and outfielder Cristian Pache in addition to Acuna, Gohara, Wright, and Anderson.
Braves Minor League Transactions
Since the last Hot Stove report, there has been a few more minor league free agents signed, one departure, and one suspension.
Infielder Nick King was signed as a free agent. A former Georgia Bulldog defensive standout at shortstop, King went undrafted after his senior year. He was picked up by the Pirates organization, and last season floated round the lower minor league levels, picking up 149 plate appearances between the Pirates’ Gulf Coast, New York-Penn, and South Atlantic League affiliates and hitting a combined .185/.297/.234. The 24-year-old can play all around the diamond and will be looked at as a possible bench player for Rome or Danville.
The Braves also signed infielder Daniel Lockhart, a former 10th-round pick of the Cubs. Lockhart is the oldest son of former Braves infielder Keith Lockhart, and like his father he plays primarily second base, though can play anywhere in a pinch. Lockhart spent the 2017 season in the Diamondbacks system, hitting .217/.280/.339 in 390 plate appearances spread between the high-A and AA levels.
On a more offensive bent, the Braves picked up first baseman and former Angels prospect Michael Snyder. Snyder is a 23rd-round pick in 2012. He started appearing in the middle of some Angels prospects lists after a .280/.337/.506, 25 home run season at high-A Inland Empire in 2013, but what was described as a “deep bone contusion” on his foot limited him to only 47 disappointing games for the AA Arkansas Travelers the following season, and the Angels ended up releasing him. Snyder signed on with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League for the last two seasons, blasting 25 home runs each year. Snyder, now 27 years old, could be a first base option at AA Mississippi.
Leaving the organization is left-handed reliever Troy Conyers. Conyers was a 23rd-round pick out of the University of San Diego in the 2017 draft, and he pitched 28 innings for Rome last season to a 2.86 ERA. Conyers elected to retire from baseball, and is looking at a career utilizing his Marketing major in college.
In less pleasant news, left-hander Gabriel Noguera has been tagged with a 50-game suspension for his second positive drug test (non-PED). Noguera is 21 years old and signed out of Venezuela just before the end of the 2016 signing period. He split time in 2017 between the DSL and GCL Braves, pitching to a 1.58 ERA in 51.1 innings. Here’s hoping that Noguera gets the help he needs.
Aguilas Cibaenas, winter home of Braves Johan Camargo, Danny Santana, and Luis Valenzuela, has advanced into the finals of the Dominican Winter League round robin against Tigres del Licey, which counts former Brave Emilio Bonifacio among its star players.
In the first game of the series, Camargo shattered a 1-1 tie in the 8th inning with a three-run bomb. Aguilas would go on to put 4 more runs on in the top of the 9th to skate to a 8-1 win.
The winner of the seven-game series will go on to represent the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Series, scheduled for February 1-7.
Jonrón de tres de Johan Camargo @cargo1393.
— Águilas Cibaeñas (@aguilascibaenas) January 24, 2018
Neslony continues to hit well, and is now hitting .291/.385/.524 tied Cumberland with 7 home runs on the season with a 1st-inning solo shot to set the pace for Melbourne in route to a 4-3 win over Adelaide on Saturday.
Kennedy lowered his season ERA to 4.74 in 7 starts on the season with a 4-inning, 1-run, 6-strikeout performance on Sunday. Former Braves left-hander Matt Marksberry has also joined the team.
Criollos de Caguas concluded their regular season with a 5-4 loss to Mayaguez on Tuesday, though they still finished the season with the league’s best record at 11-7. Caguas’s roster includes catching prospect Jonathan Morales, former Royals prospect and recent Braves minor league signee Christian Colon, and former Braves Paco Rodriguez and Ruben Gotay.
The Puerto Rican Winter League had a delayed start and an abbreviated schedule due to the American territory’s continued slow recovery from Hurricane Maria.
Morales only hit .167/.306/.300, but has been a steady force behind the plate for Caguas, who start the postseason this evening.
News, Notes, and Innuendo
- Trade rumors between the Braves and the Miami Marlins got much quieter this week after MLB Network’s Peter Gammons reported that the Marlins have notified the Braves that any package for the All-Star outfielder must include #1 prospect in all the universe Ronald Acuna.
- ESPN’s Dan Szymborski released his annual ZiPS projections for the Braves, which were published today at Fangraphs. They anticipate an 80-win season for Atlanta. Most impressively, ZiPS foresees ~3 WAR seasons from three players 21 years old or younger: Acuna, Ozzie Albies, and left-hander Luiz Gohara.
- The annual Braves ChopFest is scheduled for this weekend at The Battery. Among the events scheduled is the induction of pitcher Tim Hudson and broadcaster Joe Simpson to the Braves Hall of Fame and the reveal of the Braves new mascot. The festival is free, but there will be fees to obtain autographs from Braves players and alumni, with proceeds going to the Atlanta Braves Foundation.