Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recent Signings: An Overview

While the news dropped on three signings a couple of days ago for the Braves, Atlanta has actually signed seven players since the end of the season. Six of the seven were minor league signings as Gwinnett needs depth so there's not much to expect from this group.

LHP Greg Smith - 30 years old - Formerly of the Arizona, Oakland, New York (AL), Boston, Los Angeles of Anaheim, and Philadelphia organizations.

Smith has been around long enough to be included twice in trades with Carlos Gonzalez. First, he went to the A's with Cargo when the D'Backs overspent badly for Dan Haren. A year later, he went to the Rockies with Cargo when the A's overspent badly for Matt Holliday. Cargo would have a little bit more staying power than the lefty has had, though. Smith hasn't had much of a home since then except for the last two years in the Phillies organization. He hasn't been in the majors since eight starts with the Rockies in 2010. Two years before that, he started 32 games with the A's. That's the extent of his major league career. He makes for a good AAAA guy who can throw 150 or so innings and not absolutely suck, but that's about it.

LHP Donnie Veal - 30 years old - Formerly of the Chicago (NL), Pittsburgh, and Chicago (AL) organizations.

In 2005, Veal was a second rounder by the Cubs out of Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. After a monster 2006 season where he had a 10.1 K/9 and 1.21 WHIP in 154.1 ING, Veal was ranked as the #36th top prospect heading into 2007 according to Baseball Prospectus. His numbers would tumble from there and he quickly disappeared from the rankings. In 2009, he headed to the Pirates organization and appeared in 19 games with the lowly Pirates. Three years later, he would begin a string of appearing in the majors for three consecutive years with the White Sox, often as a LOOGY. He's not a terrible option, though he walks too many. A .311 OBP against lefties is not going to keep you in the bigs as a LOOGY.

RHP Sugar Ray Marimon - 26 years old - Formerly of the Royals organization.

That is his real name. If only his stuff matched up with his awesome name. In the low minor leagues, Marimon got by with command and guile. Hitters are better as you progress and Marimon doesn't have a plus pitch. His change-up is his best, but because his fastball and curve are both inconsistent in location and just not that good, Marimon gives up a lot of homers on "oops!" pitches.

RHP Chien-Ming Wang - 34 years old - Formerly of the New York (AL), Washington, Toronto, Cincinnatti, and Chicago (AL) organizations.

The year was 2006. Johan Santana won the American League Cy Young with 100% of the first place votes. Finishing second...a righty from Taiwan in his first full season. Two years later, the injuries began and culminated in Wang missing all of 2010. He tried to get his career back on track in Washington and he did appear in 21 games with the Nats between 2011-12, including 16 starts, but he was not very successful. Since then, he has started six games with the Blue Jays in 2013 and made a return trip to the Yankees minor league system along with stops with the Reds and ChiSox, but hasn't pitched in the majors since August 24th, 2013. He's always relied on a heavy fastball, but in his heyday, that fastball had mid-90's velocity. Not so much anymore.

C Eli Whiteside - 35 years old - Formerly of the Baltimore, San Francisco, Minnesota, Texas, and Chicago (NL) organizations.

The Delta State alum has been in professional ball since 2001. His defense is so respected that despite a career .285 OBP in the minors, he keeps getting work. He actually was San Francisco's primary catcher in 2011 following Buster Posey's injury THAT CHANGED BASEBALL. Gwinnett could use him.

IF Pedro Ciriaco - 29 years old - Formerly of the Arizona, Pittsburgh, Boston, San Diego, and Kansas City organizations.

How important is BABIP? It can turn a woeful ballplayer like Ciriaco into a super utility guy when it gets to .350. Ciriaco started 68 games for the Boston Red Sox in 2012, including ridiculously getting nine starts at DH. He fell on his face after that and has entered the journeyman portion of his career. He appeared in 25 games for the AL Champs last year, but became a free agent before the playoffs.

OF Zoilo Almonte - 25 years old - Formerly of the New York (AL) organization.

The only one to get a major league contract, Almonte would appear to have a good shot to open the year with the team if only for that reason. A switch-hitter who most often plays the corner outfield spots, Almonte is a veteran of nine minor league seasons, though the first three were still in rookie ball. He typically needed a couple of seasons to conquer a level in the minor leagues and that includes the last two in AAA where he played with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In addition to spending too much time at the Steamtown Mall with Kelly Kapour, Almonte has put up average offensive numbers. He does have some pop and some speed, but neither are plus skills. In 149 PA with the Yankees the last two years, he has posted a .523 OPS. It seems to me that the Braves must have liked him and badly wanted to convince him that he should sign with Atlanta, hence the major league contract offer. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt with that, but my expectations aren't high. Not sure how he is a better option than Joey Terdoslavich.

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