Monday, February 27, 2006

Real funny

I was reading the latest post over at The Baseball Analysts (which is a really great baseball blog by the way). It doesn't have anything to do with the Braves but it is about college players which is somewhat relevant to the farm system. I just had to post something about it because it has a couple of cool names on it.

Bryan Smith lists his top 20 college prospects and there are a few notable names in the bunch. Number 9 on the list is Evan Longoria. Wow! Take away the "n" and you have, that's right, Eva Longoria. I wonder how much crap that guys gets with that name. Unbelievable.

The other name is not nearly as funny but it is worth mentioning. Number 18 is Chad Tracy. Not the Chad Tracy of the Arizona Diamondbacks of course. The funniest thing about the entire article is that he never even mentions anything about the names of these two guys. He even writes a paragraph about Longoria and doesn't even mention anything about the guy's name.
Either it was an unacceptable oversight or, more likely, he just wanted to stick with baseball. I don't care what you are writing about; if you're writing about a guy named Evan Longoria, you have to at least mention it.

In actual baseball news, sources from camp indicate that Lerew, Devine, and McBride are impressing and making a strong push for a bullpen spot. I think McBride is all but assured a spot while Lerew and Devine have a little more work to do. Also, it looks like Foster is fighting an uphill battle to gain a spot over Remlinger and McBride. That is good news for the Braves' bullpen.

Friday, February 24, 2006


I remember a few years ago when the Braves decided to make a concerted effort to improve the barren state of their system in regards to catchers. Lopez was holding down the major league job but beyond him they had absolutely nobody. I think they've done a pretty good job in drafting/signing and developing some pretty good catchers. Actually, they have done too good of a job. The system is overflowing with great young backstops. Let's take a look at each of them.

1. I'll start at the top with Brian McCann. He was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2002 draft out of a Georgia high school. He showed some good power potential in his first few years before making a surprise trip to Atlanta last year. He played so well that Atlanta traded incumbent starter, Johnny Estrada, to the Diamondbacks for a couple of relievers. He is penciled in as the starting catcher at least until Salty arrives.

2. Brayan Pena was born in Cuba and signed with Atlanta in 2000. He does not get as much publicity as McCann or Saltalamacchia, nor is it warranted. However, he is a solid player who could probably start for some major league teams right now. His bat is great although he lacks power. His defense is ok but he has trouble controlling the running game. But he continues to put up really good numbers in the minors. He would make a really good backup.

3. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was drafted in the 1st round of the 2003 draft out of a Florida high school. Salty, because I don't want to type his full last name, burst onto the scene last year with a tremendous year in Myrtle Beach. He is getting rave reviews in camp this year from Bobby Cox and his is listed as the #23 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball Prospectus. I don't expect him to be in the minors much longer. He will start '06 in Mississippi and end it in either Richmond or Atlanta.

4. Clint Sammons was drafted out of the University of Georgia in 2004. He is somewhat different from the first three in that his top quality is his defense and handling of pitchers. With defense as his top quality, he also has hit .288 and .286 in his first two seasons in the minors so his offense is not bad at all. He also shows a lot of plate discipline which is usually lacking in Braves' hitting prospects.

5. Max Ramirez was born in Venezuela and signed as a free agent in 2002. He played alongside Eric Campell in Danville and nearly matched Eric's numbers. It will be interesting to see him catch a full season at Rome next year but expectations are high after his great offensive season in 2005. He is a sleeper candidate according to John Sickels.

Obviously the Braves did a great job in stockpiling talent at catcher. It is interesting to note that the top trait for most of these guys is offense. Usually, offense is the one thing that a catcher lacks. I am looking forward to seeing each one of these guys progress and hopefully contribute in Atlanta at some point.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A few links

I was reading Tomahawk, a great Braves blog over at the Most Valuable Network, when I came across a few stories involving minor leaguers. Here is a link to a post about a couple of Cuban defectors the Braves have signed to fill out some minor league rosters.

Braves add 2 more players

There is also a nice piece on Anthony Lerew. He has improved his split-finger pitch and is now vying for the closer role. Cox seems to be impressed thus far. I have always thought that Lerew would make a nice addition to our bullpen this year. My only knock against him as our closer would be his somewhat lacking strikeout numbers considering his power "stuff". Maybe a split-finger can help with his strikeouts. If so he looks like a real sleeper to claim the closer job this spring.

Lerew impressive

I also read an article this morning which confirms something every Braves fan already knows. Jeff Francoeur has a cannon for an arm. This article at The Hardball Times examines some pretty detailed analysis of outfield arms. It particularly focuses on right field arms. Anyways, Francoeur comes out on top of pretty much every list.

Cannons and Popguns -- Rating Outfield Arms

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

World Baseball Classic

The World Baseball Classic starts on March 3rd. Will it be a success? Does anybody care? I have heard a lot of people say that they don't care about it. Initially, those were my feelings as well. But I have warmed up to the idea somewhat. I am at least interested in how the tournament comes out now.

Players from the Braves' system
Chris Reitsma, Canada
Pete Orr, Canada
Scott Thorman, Canada
(former Brave) Adam Stern, Canada
Chipper Jones, USA
Jeff Francoeur, USA
Oscar Villareal, Mexico
Andruw Jones, Netherlands
Ardley Jansen, Netherlands
Jorge Sosa, Dominican

Sosa and Villareal are on rosters that have not been completely trimmed down, so they might not compete in the World Baseball Classic.

Canada will definitely be well represented by Atlanta Braves' players. We must have a really good scouting team up there or something. Reitsma and Villareal will probably be closing so they might get some early training for the same job in Atlanta.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Top 20 prospects

Here is the top 20 prospects in Atlanta's system according to John Sickels. They were posted on his website, Minor League Ball, on Tuesday.

Atlanta Braves Top 20 Prospects

  1. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Grade A-
  2. Chuck James, LHP, B+
  3. Elvis Andrus, SS, B
  4. Joey Devine, RHP, B
  5. Yunel Escobar, SS, B
  6. Max Ramirez, C, B
  7. Eric Campbell, 3B, B
  8. Brandon Jones, OF, B
  9. Beau Jones, LHP, B
  10. Anthony Lerew, RHP, B-
  11. Jairo Cuevas, RHP, B-
  12. Macay McBride, LHP, C+
  13. Jake Stevens, LHP, C+
  14. Scott Thorman, 1B, C+
  15. Martin Prado, 2B, C+
  16. James Parr, RHP, C+
  17. Brayan Pena, C, C+
  18. Will Startup, LHP, C+
  19. Matt Harrison, LHP, C+
  20. Jeff Lyman, RHP, C+
Breakout candidates include Max Ramirez, Jairo Cuevas, and James Parr. Max played with Eric Campbell last year and posted similar numbers. Cuevas and Parr, according to Sickels, are candidates to make a push to the top of the prospect list with a good 2007 season.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Non-roster Invitees

I just got John Sickel's prospect handbook in the mail so I will be talking about some little known prospects in future entries.

Camp Roger began yesterday and a few interesting quotes came from both Hudson and Thomson. You can read them here. Just like everybody else, I hope Roger McDowell does a great job but let's not forget that Mazonne is the best in the business.

I thought I would take a moment to look at our non-roster invitees. The non-roster invitees list includes right-handers Kevin Barry, Wes Obermueller, Chad Paronto, Travis Smith and Sean White; lefty Mike Remlinger; catchers Eddie Perez, Steve Pyzik, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Clint Sammons; outfielders Brian Jordan, David Kelton and Michael Ryan, and infielders Cesar Crespo and Jonathan Schuerholz.

Barry, Jordan, Remlinger, and Kelton are really the only players who have much of a chance to make the 25 man roster out of spring. Kevin Barry has toiled in the minors for years and is 27 now. He has had a lot of success in the minors and I would love to see the Braves give him a shot in the big show.

Brian Jordan will be battling Matt Diaz, James Jurries and David Kelton for the final position player spot. Jordan says he played on one leg last year and that he can contribute more this year. He would provide some leadership but I doubt he could contribute to the team. Diaz does not have much experience at first base but can play there which increases his value. He has dominated AAA for a few years so I think he has the inside track at getting the final spot. Jurries most likely will get another year of seasoning in the minors.

Remlinger is "sleeper" to make the team. Many people wrote him off as too old and ineffective. The Braves hope that the familiar surroundings will allow him to recapture some of his old form which made him an all-star middle reliever for Atlanta. I would compare him to Chris Hammond of a couple of years ago when he made the team out of spring. He was very old but he pitched some very valuable innings for Atlanta that year. I'm not predicting that will happen, but it would be great if it did.
My Photo
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Powered by Blogger

Listed on the ArmchairGM Sports Blog Index