Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Transaction Tuesday: Gant, Lien, Sobotka

I'm going to try something new this season and that's keeping up with minor league transactions. Every Tuesday, I'll take a look at each level to go over some of the moves and provide analysis. If this is the kind of thing that interest you, let me know. For this week, I am going to ignore the moves to set the opening day roster and simply focus on releases and moves because of injuries/promotions.

Signed: Emilio Bonifacio...Cut at the end of spring training, Bonifacio looked around, but ultimately returned to Atlanta to try to get back to the majors. The signing of Bonifacio was strange during the offseason as Atlanta gave the utility player $1.25M despite being cut last year because of a .390 OPS with the White Sox. With the promotion of Mallex Smith, you have to imagine Bonifacio will jump right into the lineup near the top. He's a decent 25th man option for NL teams who can utilize his speed and versatility, but if you need at-bats from him, you've already lost.

Demoted: John Gant...The crazy delivery ultimately did little to confuse major league hitters, who battered Gant for six hits, including two homers, in three innings. He was likely to head to the minors anyway so his early demotion was more of a sign of how badly the Braves bullpen needed a fresh arm. Gant has never played at Triple-A and presumably will head back to a starting role, replacing Jhoulys Chacin, who moved up to the majors to start tonight's game.

DL'd: Connor Lien...Things were going to be difficult enough for Lien handling Double-A pitching without a hand injury sidelining him. Lien's bat has improved in increments each year after beginning his career in the Gulf Coast League in 2012. Defensively, he's a tremendous fielder whose range is a gift to the corner outfielders. Hopefully, he is able to get back into the lineup soon.

Promoted: Sean Godfrey...It took Godfrey 62 games last year to get to Mississippi from the Carolina. This year, just one. After pretty much hitting since he was drafted in the 2014 22nd rounder, Godfrey met his match in Southern League pitching last season (.194/.232/.272 over 194 PA). At his best, he hits for a high average and sprinkles in some extra base hits with a few steals. At his worst, he's the Godfrey from last summer.

Promoted: Stephen Gaylor...It's fitting that he was promoted to place Godfrey because it's difficult to differentiate between the pair for yours truly. Like Godfrey, Gaylor's value is that he's a high-effort guy with guile. The problem is that's not too much of a compliment, but a nice way of saying "he tries real hard."

DL'd: Chad Sobotka...after one game in which he gave up a hit, a walk, and uncorked a wild pitch, Sobotka's career is back on pause. Drafted with the knowledge that he'd miss 2014 because of injury, Sobotka was a sneaky sleeper in 2015, but struggled badly. Already 22, the hope was that he would pitch well enough to progress up to Carolina this year, though a DL trip was not in the cards.

Promoted: Bradley Keller...An outfielder out of Shelby, NC, the former Crest High School standout was promoted to fill Gaylor's spot. He slashed .245/.321/.350 last year with 9 EBH, 7 steals, and an ugly 50 K's in 162 PA.

Promoted: Oriel Caicedo...Replacing Sobotka on the roster is a player with a good amount of experience in the South Atlantic League already. Caicedo has actually been around since 2011, when he made his debut in the DSL. He flashes great control, but that's about it to this point. He's already made an appearance for Rome and has extensive time as a starter, though the Rome staff is considerably more stacked than it was in 2015 when he made 15 starts.

Nothing to report.

GCL Braves
Released: Franklin Azuaje...there was some minor hope that Azuaje would develop into a decent third base prospect when the Braves signed him out of Venezuela, but after a decent debut in the DSL during 2013, he rarely saw the field over the last two seasons. Part of that was due to a suspension that ended his 2014 season.

Released: Kevin Reiher...A 24th rounder in 2014 who missed last season, Reiher barely played during his career with the Braves.

DSL Braves
Nothing to report.

Need more Braves material to read? Check out my column from yesterday at my other blog. I looked at the first week of the season and more.

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