Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Once a Brave, Always a Brave - AL Central (Part 2 of 2)

Last Tuesday, I began to look at the AL Central and its ex-Braves ties. The article kind of ballooned on me due to some interesting stories so I cut the article basically in half and held releasing it all until today. Hope you guys enjoy.

Kansas City Royals
P Francisley Bueno - A childhood friend of former Braves Yunel Escobar and Brayan Pena, the Braves inked the Cuban defector in 2006. Two years later, the left-hander got into a game with the big league club against the Cubs. In the first game of double header, Bueno entered with the Braves already down 8-2. In the second inning of his outing, Bueno gave up a single to Alfonso Soriano. It went a little deeper as Soriano hit the ball high toward left and started to celebrate what he thought would be a homer. An inning later and two batters after Bueno gave up a two-run homer, Bueno threw a ball behind Soriano's head, earning an ejection and eventual suspension. However, Bueno was demoted before he could serve the demotion. After a year playing in the Korean and Mexican Leagues, Bueno landed in KC and has been on the Omaha/KC commute the last three years.

P Bruce Chen - It's been nearly 21 years since the Braves signed Chen to his first professional contract. Almost 37 now, Chen has thrown a shade under 1500 innings in the majors, including almost 700 of those innings with the Royals over the last six seasons. But getting to the Royals was a journey. After being unable to establish himself, the Braves traded the Panamanian left-hander to the Phillies for Andy Ashby. Eight different franchises gave Chen a chance between the Phillies and Royals, but once he got to KC, he became a fixture for the Royals in their rotation, throwing his first shutout and picking up his first professional save. Currently on the DL with back issues, Chen has made over $20M during his long and crazy journey through the bigs.

P Tim Collins - After spending just two weeks in the Braves organization, Collins was moved to the Royals at the deadline in 2010 and has found a home in KC, though his career WHIP of 1.41 won't impress anyone. Collins had been acquired from the Blue Jays along with Tyler Pastornicky in the Yunel Escobar trade.

C Max Ramirez - Recently brought back after the Reds organization cut bait, Max has been around for sometime since being a hot hitting prospect in the Braves organization. His time with the Braves was minimal and he was sent to the Indians in his third professional season in a trade that brought Bob Wickman to the Braves in 2006. The next trade deadline, he was shifted to the Rangers for former Brave Kenny Lofton and got to the majors in 2008 for a 17-game run. Two years later, he played in 28 games with the Rangers. Outside of that, he has been a fixture in AAA.

2B Omar Infante - The super utility player spent three years in Atlanta between 2008 and 2010, slashing .309/.353/.411. That production culminated in his 2010 season where he OPS'd .775 in 506 PA, which included a trip to the All-Stat Game. After the season, the Braves packaged Infante in a deal to the Marlins that brought Dan Uggla to Atlanta. Infante quickly moved on to the Tigers after the woeful Marlins spent heavy and failed. He struggled to stay healthy last year, but was highly productive for the Tigers, including a career-best .795 OPS. He signed a four-year deal that would take him through his mid-30's with the Royals. This season has been a disappointment so far and he spent time on the DL after a Heath Bell pitch struck him in the face.

Minnesota Twins
P Scott Diamond (AAA) - In the winter of 2010, the Twins selected Diamond in the Rule 5 draft. Some that report extensively on the Braves minor leagues were disappointed that Diamond was left unprotected after the 23 year-old had reached Gwinnett the previous season. Since selected, Diamond has spent the last four years with the Twins and the control artist turned in a very good 2012 season where he led the AL in fewest walks per nine innings. However, he struggled badly last year and has been even worse this season in Rochester.

P Sean Gilmartin (AA) - Selected with Atlanta's first selection in the 2011 draft, Gilmartin was expected to have a high floor, but a low ceiling. So far, that appears to be right. Gilmartin made it to Gwinnett to end 2012 and entered the following spring training as the only real competition Julio Teheran would face. Well, Teheran blew him out of the water and Gilmartin struggled with both his health and ability to get outs. After the season, the Braves sent him to Minnesota in exchange for Ryan Doumit, essentially saying that other young pitchers had moved ahead of him and they believed Gilmartin was not going to ever be more than a bottom-of-the-rotation guy. While Gilmartin has been successful this season, his achievements have been muted by pitching back at AA.

OF Wilkin Ramirez (AAA) - A former rising prospect in the Tigers organization with five-tool potential, Ramirez first made it to the majors as a 23 year-old in 2009 for Detroit. The Braves added him at the trading deadline the following season by buying him from the Tigers. He would post a .766 OPS for Gwinnett in 2011 and also got to the majors for the Braves for twenty games in mostly bench action. Atlanta let him go following season and he has landed in Minnesota over the last three seasons, including a 35 game stint in 2013.

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