Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Arrival of Terdo

With the news that Jordan Schafer was headed to the Disabled List, the Braves once-strong bench is now full of Gwinnett's starting lineup.  Evan Gattis is still on the DL, giving us the formidable bat of Tyler Pastornicky late in games.  Ramiro Pena is out for the season so we are blessed with Paul Janish's ability to play tremendous defense with absolutely no offense.  Now, with Schafer gone, the Braves will rely on Joey Terdoslavich.

Terdo, 24, entered the mind of several people's minds after a tremendous 2011 where he sat a Carolina League record for doubles that stood for some 1,000 years with 52 two-baggers for the Lynchburg Hillcats.  He also hit 20 homers that season, finishing with a .240 ISO, a .362 wOBA, and received several accolades. 

The Braves, who drafted Terdo in the sixth round in 2010 out of Cal-State Long Beach, were tasked with the job of finding him a spot to play.  Defensive metrics are fairly useless in the minors, but as a fan of the Hillcats who saw a number of games in 2011, I could have told you that Terdo truly lacked any defensive range at his usual position (first base).  The Braves, facing Chipper's retirement after 2012, wanted to increase their potential options and gave Terdo a big boost, moving him across the diamond and skipping Mississippi.  The experiment worked poorly as the Gwinnett Braves saw Terdo show absolutely no skills at third base, committing an abysmal 22 errors in just 130 chances.  His bat was also exposed with 23% strikeouts in 215 PA with just a .083 ISO.  The Braves finally called an end to the experiment in early June, demoting Terdo to Mississippi, where his bat caught on fire (.315/.372/.480) and he went back to his more comfortable first base position.

After a solid spring in 2013, Terdo again showed that he had a decent enough bat to get him to the bigs but continued to lack a position.  He has played mostly right field this season, notching nine assists in 66 games there, but that's likely due to runners taking liberties running on him.  He's also played a little first and left, but hasn't played third anymore (and the Gwinnett staff is grateful as their current 3B, Joe Leonard, plays the position as well as anyone in the minors).  Terdo has hit significantly better, slashing his way to a .318/.359/.567 clip with 18 homers.  Recently, he went 4-for-4 on June 21st and followed that with a two-homer game the next day and 10 total for the month of June. 

With that production, combined with an unfortunate amount of injuries to the major league bench, the Braves gave Terdo the call to replace Schafer on the bench.  It's unknown how long his butt will sit on the bench up in the majors.  Gattis is expected back eventually, though he has not been cleared for baseball activities.  Schafer, whose DL visit will be increased with his recent pinch-hitting appearances, might be back after spending the minimum on the DL. 

And plus...Terdo's call-up reeks of a showcase appearance for him.  Terdo's place long-term in the majors seems restricted to bench duty.  He's not going to unseat anyone at his primary positions so if there is a team out there that sees a switch-hitting extra-base-drilling youngster who is team-controlled for six years as an option for an expanded role, the Braves will likely part with Terdo if it improves their squad.  With bench help and bullpen arms the only things that seem in need in Atlanta, Terdo fulfills the trading adage - trade from a strength to improve a weakness. 

However...if he's not dealt and Gattis does take over as the everyday catcher in 2014, Terdo could provide a great bench bat for the Braves. 

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