Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Once a Brave, Always a Brave - AL Central

It's another Tuesday which means it's another look around the league at former Braves and how they are doing. The quirky thing about this week's article is twice I have had to edit because of a retirement of a player that was mentioned. I'm going to get this thing posted before more players from this cursed list retire. As usual, this list should not be considered exhaustive as I am sure I am missing players - both ex-farmhands and ex-major leaguers - so if you notice a guy that should be on here, feel free to drop a comment below telling me I'm stupid.

Chicago White Sox
P Jairo Asencio (AAA)...Remember when he was Luis Valdez? He looked like a possible 2010 option before VISA issues held him back. All in all, he pitched in nine forgettable games for the Braves in 2009 and 2010 and has since played for the Indians, Cubs, and O's and spent some time in Korea.

C Tyler Flowers...In 345 games in the majors, Flowers has a .662 OPS. There was a time where we worried about the Braves giving up a good catching prospect for Javier Vazquez.

1B Adam LaRoche...Old Sleepy's getting a lot of work as a DH considering the ChiSox have a pretty good first baseman. He's hit four homers and walked a lot so far. Doesn't seem like that long ago that LaRoche was a Brave, but this marks an half-dozen years.

OF Melky Cabrera...I rarely wish for a player to fail, but when Melky's OPSing .620, I am pretty pleased.

UT Emilio Bonifacio...Boner Face is hitting a robust .222/263/.222 with zero steals so far and the White Sox are paying him $4M. Hard to believe that there were people who wondered what the Braves were thinking letting him go.

Cleveland Indians
P Bruce Chen...Actually, Bruce Chen announced his retirement yesterday after two super ugly starts in Cleveland. Chen pitched in 400 games while playing in eleven different cities. He even pitched in Montreal.

P Gavin Floyd...So much potential for a good story in back-to-back errors derailed by one horrifying elbow injury and now surgery on the same elbow. He'll miss 2015 and it's questionable whether Floyd will ever play in the majors again.

OF Michael Bourn...For all of the crap we gave Melvin Upton Jr., Bourn sucked balls after leaving the Braves so at least we didn't have to watch him excel. In 269 games with the Indians, Bourn has slashed a miserable .257/.315/.354 with 35 steals (or seven fewer than his one full season in Atlanta).

Detroit Tigers
1B Mike Hessman (AAA)...He's now 37 years old and hasn't played in the majors since 2010, but he's still plugging along. He's belted four homers on the season, giving him 421 in his minor league career. He's 63 homers short of the overall minor league number, though he already set the International League record last season.

Kansas City Royals
P Kris Medlen (DL)...Though he hasn't yet thrown a pitch this season, Medlen looks on pace for a return to the mound for live action shortly. The 29 year-old will only add to what is already one of the AL's best teams.

P Benino Pruneda (AA)...There was a time where Pruneda was mentioned as maybe the next great reliever coming through the system after Craig Kimbrel arrived, but arm injuries derailed him. After saving 11 games with a 9.9 K/9 in Mississippi in 2011, Pruneda missed the next two seasons before appearing in 31 games with Lynchburg last year. He was part of the back-to-back no-hitters, but was released before this season and is now in AA after five more games in the Carolina League to begin the year.

C J.C. Boscan (AAA)...Boscan began his career in the Gulf Coast League for the Braves back in 1997. Thirteen years later, he made it to the majors for a game. He walked and scored. Over the next three years, he played in the majors for the Braves and Cubs for 16 more games. He went 7-for-28. He played last season with the Dodgers' AA team and is now with Omaha for the Royals. 19 years in the minors for Boscan.

1B Casey Kotchman (AAA)...It's not Kotchy's fault he was all the Braves could get for two months of Mark Teixeira. Once one of the best prospects in baseball, Kotchy never hit more than 14 homers in a season and last got serious action in the majors with the Indians in 2012.

2B Rafael Furcal (AA)...Furcal is 37 years-old which is making some of us that vividly recall him jumping from A-ball to the majors in the spring of 2000 feel pretty old. He was in the middle of a rehab assignment as he tried to get back to the majors, but decided today that he, like Chen, was ready to call it quits.

2B Omar Infante...A 2010 All-Star when he became the best super utility dude in baseball, Infante has slashed .277/.309/.394 since the Braves traded him for Dan Uggla. Good, but not the .321/.359/.416 numbers that made him an All-Star while playing five positions.

Minnesota Twins
P Blaine Boyer...Not only does he have a kitchen appliance name, he also has a second chance in the majors and so far, so good for Boyer. One of the Baby Braves, arm injuries and bad pitching ended his run in Atlanta early in 2009. He pitched for the Cards, D'Backs, and Mets to pretty poor results before coming back to the game in 2013 with a run in the minors for Omaha where he looked good. He parlayed that into a season with the Padres where he pitched 32 times in the majors. He's appeared in 18 early-season games with the Twins and though his K rate is ugly, he's done a solid job keeping the ball in the park and not walking batters.

P J.R. Graham...Though he depends on groundball outs, Graham has been hurt badly by the homer ball. Three long flies in 14.1 ING is unacceptable. He's been coddled and used largely in garbage time which has allowed him to finish nine of the 12 games he's been called upon to pitch in. So far, so ugly. But things could change.

OF Wilkin Ramirez (AAA)...The Braves picked him up from the Tigers in 2010 and he got a twenty-game look with the big league club in 2011.

OF Jordan Schafer...True story. Had a guy on Twitter last year tell me that the Braves would basically rue the day they let Schafer go. He had a nice little run down the stretch, but sucked before getting hurt this year.

Recently profiled in Once a Brave, Always a Brave...
AL East
Japan and Korea
Independent Leagues

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