Sunday, March 13, 2016

Random Former Prospect Sunday - Brett Evert

During the season, Sundays are set aside to take a look at a prospect at random, but with the minor league season over, I wasn't sure what to do for my Sunday article until this nugget of an idea came my way. How about we look at players who ranked in Baseball America's Top 100 while part of the Braves' organization, yet never appeared for the Braves? Over the next few months, I'll take a look at the prospects that were traded or simply faded away and just to keep up with my theme, I randomized the players.

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The seventh round of the 1999 draft gave us just two major leaguers in 30 picks. Andy Philips, who had an entirely average existence after being the 27th pick of the round, and Coco Crisp, who has logged a nice career after the Cardinals took him with the 18th pick of the round. The final pick of the round was Brett Evert by the Braves. For eight years, he tried to rise the ladder, but finished his career with just shy of 800 minor league innings. But his time with the Braves doesn't end there.

Born in Salem, Oregon a week before Halloween in 1980, Evert was a tall righty who honed his craft with the North Salem High School Vikings. The school notably produced Jed Lowrie, who is about four years younger than Evert. As he finished his high school playing days, Evert was set to attend San Diego State on a scholarship, but when the Braves came calling, he took the $169,500 and postponed his college experience.

Evert joined the Braves in the Gulf Coast League after signing and was pretty impressive from the moment he showed up. Much more physically matured than some of his peers, Evert offset mid-90's velocity with a feel for a change-up and curveball. Over 48.2 innings with the GCL Braves, he walked just eight unintentionally and did not surrender a homerun while striking out 39. If anything, he was bit by the kind of thing that gets young pitchers - balks. He was called for a quartet of them in 1999. He would only be called on three more for the remainder of his career.

Opening 2000 with Jamestown in the New York-Penn League, Evert was way too hittable and that continued during a seven-start run with Macon to finish the season. He was a decent enough prospect at this time. Just 19 years-old during the 2000 season, he showed pretty good control and got a fair amount of strikeouts, but overall, Evert wasn't a Top 10 prospect. Maybe not even a Top 20 prospect. He was just a guy with a decent fastball and a chance.

Things changed after 2001. Returning to Macon to open the year, Evert overmatched the South Atlantic League over a half-dozen starts. He was no longer too hittable and over 36.1 innings, he struck out 34 and walked just three. It was night and day compared to the seven starts he logged with Macon the previous season. The Braves promoted the 20 year-old up the chain to Myrtle Beach and he continued to excel. He tossed his first shutout, increased his strikeout rate, and looked like one of the best prospects on a team that included Jung Bong, Trey Hodges, Wilson Betemit, Ryan Langerhans, and Adam LaRoche. The season received praise from Baseball America, who ranked Evert the #66th prospect in baseball.

He wouldn't stay in the Top 100 for long, though. 2002 saw Evert fail at AA and look considerably less dominant in a ten-start run with the Pelicans. His ERA climbed nearly three runs in one season and most of his prospect starpower eroded. In 2003, the Braves kept Evert in AA and even a run as a reliever did little to bring back the great numbers of '01. He would be cut from the organization after further struggles in 2004, including a horrid run with Richmond in his AAA debut. Hooking on with the Mariners, he showed no improvement to finish the year.

Opening 2005 with Tacoma, Evert was almost entirely a reliever during a small run with the team before being cut. Joining the Milwaukee Brewers organization, Evert bounced between levels, receiving time at Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. His numbers with Huntsville in the Southern League were both interesting (4.6 K/BB) and alarming (1.8 HR/9). 2006 brought similar results and also including his fourth and final organization - the Boston Red Sox. He made one start for Pawtucket, his final game at AAA, and appeared in nine games out of the bullpen for Double-A Portland. He was cut at the end of the year and joined Lancaster of the Atlantic League for a start. He returned in 2007, but pitched poorly.

That year was it for Evert. After eight years in organized ball, plus another on the independent scene, Evert's career came to a close with an overall ERA of 4.09. But it wasn't the end of his baseball journey. The following year, Evert caught on with the Colorado Rockies as a part-time Northwest scout for the Rockies. That lasted a year until the Braves came calling for a second time with an offer - full-time scout of the northwest. He took the position and is now one of Atlanta's top regional scouts, supervising the Northwest, Northern California, and Western Canada. He signed Brandon Drury and Cody Martin, players who made their major league debuts last season. Last June, he pushed the Braves to select Mike Soroka, the young Canadian right-hander selected at the tail end of the first round. He was also influential in Atlanta's fourth round pick of Josh Graham, the University of Oregon righty. When the 2016 draft comes, look for the locations of some of the prospects. If they come from the northwest and western Canada, Evert was likely one of the guys who convinced Atlanta to draft the guy.

Previous Random Former Prospects...
Rob Bell
Jose Peraza
Tom Redington
Dennis Burlingame
J.R. Graham
Elvis Andrus
Bobby Smith
Bubba Nelson
Neftali Feliz
Gorkys Hernandez
Matt Belisle
Matt McClendon

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