Sunday, June 29, 2014

Random Prospect Sunday: Joey Terdoslavich

Every Sunday, I look at a random prospect in the Braves system, but this week is a little different, at least as far as definitions go. With 88 days of service, Joey Terdoslavich is technically not a rookie and therefore, he will be left off most "prospect lists." If that wasn't enough, being over 25 would push him off. But I make the rules here and Terdo can stay.

Born on September 8th, 1988 in Sarasota, Florida, Terdo was born on a day the Braves would lose, like many other future Braves whose birthday falls during the season during the 80's.  In San Francisco, Dale Murphy had three hits, but the Braves fell 3-2 after John Smoltz couldn't hold an early 2-0 lead. After growing up in the Sarasota area and attending high school there, Terdo was the #87th prospect in Florida and a second-team Louisville Slugger All-American. The success prompted the Devil Rays to draft him in the 35th round, but he didn't sign. Maybe if the Red Sox had drafted him, he could have been influenced to follow in his uncle Mike Greenwell's steps.

Instead, Terdo attended Miami in the ACC starting in 2008. He received immediate playing time and slashed .293/.371/.472 as a freshman with 5 HR. For whatever reason, though, Terdo decided to transfer after the season and left for the other side of the country and Long Beach State, who have the most amazing moniker. The Long Beach State Dirtbags! "Come to Long Beach State. Be a Dirtbag!" Seriously, if anyone wants the Braves to change their name because they feel its demeaning to Native Americans, I am starting the movement to rename them the Atlanta Dirtbags.

After sitting out a season because of transfer rules, Terdo had an even better season with the D'Bags in 2010, slashing .326/.384/.491 with 7 HR. The buzz was out on the switch-hitter and the Braves spent their sixth round selection and 194th overall pick of 2010 on him, inking him to $125,000 bonus ten days later. Terdo would begin his professional career with Danville shortly thereafter and with a .296/.351/.402 slash in 49 games, the Braves had to be thrilled with their immediate return on investment. Terdo was even better after being promoted to Rome to finish the season for a 21-game run.

The quick success prompted the Braves to promote Terdo to Atlanta's new Carolina League team, the Lynchburg Hillcats. He not only became a massive fan favorite for his hustle and timely hitting, but made it an historic year by breaking a 65-year old Carolina League record with 52 doubles. Terdo added a .286/.341/.526 slash and 20 homers as a 'Cat. My favorite moment watching Terdo was after he drilled a single to drive in a key run and he tried to take second on the throw home. Though clearly safe (not even being a homer, he was safe by a mile), Terdo was called out. He slammed his helmet down and was immediately ejected. He didn't argue the call, but gathered his helmet and walked back to the dugout. Sitting on the third base side with my future wife, we were part of a crowd that gave him a standing ovation.

Not only was 2011 historic, it also gave the Braves the idea to move Terdo across the infield to play third base for 2012. With the knowledge that Chipper Jones was likely retiring, the Braves wanted to see if Terdo could handle third so that they could use his bat in the lineup. It wasn't exactly alien to Terdo, who had played third in college and played 36 games at third in the half-season after being drafted. However, for us who watched him awkwardly try to play first at Lynchburg, we were bemused by the prospect.

If that wasn't difficult enough for Terdo, the Braves sent him to Gwinnett to start 2012, bypassing Double-A. The results were very ugly. He hit .180 with a .515 OPS in 53 games. He also committed 22 errors at third base. After slightly more than two months of this experiment, the Braves admitted defeat and sent Terdo to Mississippi, where he would DH and play first base while rarely getting time at third. His bat returned and he posted a .852 OPS.

He would completely stowaway his third baseman glove for 2013 and would instead get time at the corner outfield spots. After hitting well in spring, Terdo reasserted himself as a prospect by slashing .318/.359/.567 with Gwinnett as a 24 year-old. The success got him to the majors and he was often used as a primary pinch hitter off Fredi Gonzalez's bench, though he did play a decent amount of 1B and the OF. As a pinch hitter, he was 4-for-30, but did walk five times. His numbers took a massive dive after August 28th when he went 0-for-19 with 3 BB. Overall, he hit .215/.315/.266 in 92 PA and didn't play in the NLDS against the Dodgers.

After the Braves acquired Ryan Doumit to essentially perform the same duties, Terdo was a longshot in camp. Unfortunately, after going to Gwinnett, his production has continue to fall. Part of his problem can be attributed to a .267 BABIP, but his .225/.309/.330 slash is miserable at any level for a corner outfielder/part-time first baseman. At those positions, you are expected to hit.

Terdo is easily likable and that goes beyond his nickname. By all appearances, his teammates generally like him and I've never seen him not bust his butt trying to make a play, even if hits athletic limitations made it difficult. While his future might be brighter in the AL as a flexible player who can DH or rest players at 1B, LF, and RF, I still think the Braves will benefit for having Terdo around, provided he can start hitting again and I think he will. Once he gets going, the Braves would be smart to find room on the team for Terdo, even if Doumit is around. A switch-hitter with pinch-hitting ability is a rare find.

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