Friday, June 20, 2014

Welcome to the Bigs, Juan Jaime

Sometimes, people want information on call-ups and this is a perfect time to start introducing myself to new prospects who will never read this.

Yesterday, the Braves placed Pedro Beato on the disabled list and called up Juan Jaime. Beato, an average pitcher with average stuff and an average career, had just been recalled after an injury to David Carpenter. When Beato originally got back to the bigs this week, some, including Gondeee, expressed their support for calling up Jaime instead because at least Jaime had potential to provide a plus-plus arm. Granted, he had to throw strikes.

Spoiler alert: Trouble throwing strikes will be a theme.

Jaime was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Nationals and made his debut down there in the summer league for the Nats in 2006. Two years later, he was brought to America for his debut here in the states and got into some action for the Gulf Coast League Nats where he struck out 23 in 19 innings, but walked 18. In 2009, he pitched 55.2 ING, mostly as a starter, for a pair of A-squads for the Nats. He K'd 76 and showed somewhat improved control with 31 walks. His potential was so good that he was ranked #17 in the Nats system by Baseball America.

However, the old Tommy John surgery propped up and killed both his 2010 and 2011 seasons. Between those seasons, the Nationals tried to pass Jaime through waivers and the Diamondbacks came calling. A year later, it was the Braves turn to poach Jaime away from the D'Backs after they tried to waive him and get him off the 40-man roster.

Jaime finally got back to the mound in 2012, saving 18 games for the Lynchburg Hillcats over 42 outings. He had a nice 3.16 ERA and his 12.8 K/9 in 51.1 ING showed signs of the old electric arm returning, but Jamie still walked 33 (though, in his defense, four were intentional). After the season, the Braves weren't about to expose Jaime to the Rule 5 draft and protected him by putting him on the 40-man roster.

2013 was shortened to just 42 innings, but Jaime struck out 70, which gave him a career high of 15 K/9. However, his 1.38 WHIP was distressing and the Braves weren't quite sure what they had with Jaime entering 2014. On the other hand, a 2.25 FIP is typically something to be excited about.

Now 26, Jaime came to spring training with a chance to secure a major league position, but control (surprise, surprise) was an issue. He walked seven in 5.1 ING, leading to four runs despite giving up just one hit. To put those seven walks into perspective, only one other player, David Hale, walked seven batters this spring and he pitched 12.1 more innings. Jaime was one of the early demotions for players still on the 40-man roster along with catcher Christian Bethancourt and Jaime was ticketed for his first trip to AAA.

Jaime has a 2.39 ERA at Gwinnett and only Louisville's Jumbo Diaz had more saves in the International League than Jaime's 13 when the latter got the call. His 40 K's are among the league leaders amongst relievers and only Norfolk's Brad Brach has a better K rate than Jaime's 13.7 K/9. However, no one has a worse BB/9 than Jaime's 6.8 BB/9. A 2 K/BB is okay, but it's nothing to write home about, no matter how hard you throw it. His FIP, however, was sitting pretty at 3.05.

But again, Jaime can throw it hard. Very hard. 100 mph heat is inticing, but an inability to locate his fastball or his slider is why Jaime has been stuck in the minors and passed over by the likes of Ian Thomas, Gus Schlosser, and even Beato. But when Beato went on the DL, the Braves were desperate for a fresh arm and Jaime was just that. What happens now is up for debate, though it appears unlikely Jaime will be an answer to the Braves most recent pitching woes. He's unlikely to have a Shae Simmons impact. Pressed, I would see him as a wilder Jorge Julio, who finished up 2008 with the Braves. Jaime might get more K's than Julio, but at this level, if you can't locate effectively, MLB hitters will often get into hitting counts where they can punish what strikes you do throw.

Wouldn't mind being wrong, though.

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