Monday, May 16, 2016

Braves Monday Roundup - Rome Goes 19, Soroka, Youth Movement

Welcome to the second Braves Monday Roundup. This series was supposed to be a way to recap the week in short fashion while freeing up Monday for a more focused look at a player or whathaveyou at my other blog, where I used to post weekly 5 for Monday articles. However, as I mentioned a few times this week, my other blog will be no more. About.com has restructured and the About Sports department got the ax. It's unfortunate, but alas, it's business. The advantage to that development for this blog means more content. I'm going to be saving some of the articles from About and should it completely disappear, I will be republishing the best stuff here.

Speaking of content, I will continue to do my shameless plugs, but I will put them at the bottom of this post rather as a headliner like I did last week.

5 Stories You May Have Missed

Rome Plays 2. Counts for 1
-On Sunday, the Rome Braves visited Hickory with Ricardo Sanchez on the mound. It was a matchup between the team with the best record in the South Atlantic League and Rome, who entered Sunday tied with the worst record. Hictory would strike first, cashing in a Alejandro Salazar error in for a run. In the second, Rome tied it up on a double-steal on a Leudys Baez strikeout. And that's how it would remain for about four hours. Sanchez had struck out six in five innings, A.J. Minter had tossed another scoreless outing, Trevor Belicek went four scoreless, and Grayson Jones added a trio of scoreless frames of his own, but the Rome offense couldn't find a way to break through. Finally, in the 18th, Baez would lead off things with a single. After a bunt and walk, Salazar would benefit from an error this time as a throwing error brought home a run. Bladimir Matos couldn't make it stick, though. He hit a batter and walked one. A wild pitch pushed both into scoring position and with one out, a fielder's choice scored a run. Matos got out of it, though, setting the stage for a wild 19th inning.

After a single, flyout, and the fifth error of the day by both teams, another error off the bat of Baez scored Rome's third run. The next four batters all reaches safely with the seventh error of the day advancing Ray-Patrick Didder to third. He would score on a Luke Dykstra flyout. Finally, Yepez brought home a final runner with a double. Rome had plated SEVEN runs in the 19th. In the bottom half, Rome switched Yepez to third so that Yeudi Grullon could pitch. The infielder walked one, but had a quiet 19th to finish the game. There will be few games crazier this year at any level.

Soroka Impresses
-The blog "Notes from the Sally" is a must-read for any minor league baseball fan. This week, John Calvagno profiled right-hander Mike Soroka. Drafted 28th overall last season out of Calgary, Soroka impressed Calvagno with his fastball and curve. Calvagno's greatest compliment is one that I've heard a few times when Soroka's name has come up. "Hard to believe he's just 18 years old." Soroka is a guy who should only climb up midseason prospect charts.

Braves Rotation Gets Younger
-Many people looked at the roster that broke camp and saw a plethroa of veterans from Bud Norris to Eric O'Flaherty to Jeff Francoeur and wondered, "if this is a rebuild, why all the old fogies?" Well, the thing about all of those veterans is that they make nice placeholders. The starting rotation has especially went through a youth movement already. With Norris shifted to the pen and Jhoulys Chacin traded, it left Julio Teheran as the only starter with at least 25 starts in the majors, according to the AJC's Michael Cunningham. Not only that, but the Braves had five starters who have yet to celebrate their 26th birthday when no other team has three. Last year, the Braves became the first team in history with six pitchers logging at least 15 starts who were 25-and-under. 2016 is not looking any different.

Right Field at SunTrust Will Be "Signature Item"
-One of the complaints with Turner Field is how...boring it is. From foul pole to foul pole, there are no nooks and crannies. No oddities that is special to Turner Field. Instead, Turner Field was built to be as normal and basic as you get with a bigger focus on the team on the field than ivy in the outfield, a Green Monster, a stupid hill in center field, or any number of things that make other ballparks unique. Suntrust Park, on the other hand, is designed to be different. One of the "signature items" will be brick wall right above 10 feet of padding in right field. The wall will be in play so hitters will have to hit the ball over it for homeruns. Otherwise, if it hits the brick, the outfielders will have to play how it caroms off the brick. It should be something to keep an eye on early next year.

Did the D'Backs win the Upton Trade?
-ArizonaSports.com's John Gambadoro wrote last week something that I felt had long ago been decided and was not up for debate. Except, Gambadoro came to the opposite conclusion as conventional wisdom. His position - the Diamondbacks won the Justin Upton trade. The mega deal completed in the 2012-13 offseason sent Upton and Chris Johnson to the Braves for Randall Delgado, Martin Prado, Nick AhmedZeke Spruill and Brandon Drury. At the time, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers was criticized for the move, but Gambadoro looks at the deal with a fresh perspective and comes away with the idea that the D'Backs got the better end of the deal. Now, there is something to be said that the D'Backs didn't do as badly as many felt they did with this trade, but it's short-sighted to come to the conclusion that Arizona won it. While the writer focuses solely on Upton, he misses the trade that sent Upton to the Padres for Max Fried, Mallex Smith, Dustin Peterson, and Jace Peterson. While Jace is back in the minors, Mallex looks like a potential starter, Dustin is raking, and Fried is back on the mound and showcasing his knee-buckling curveball. Those four players should be mentioned - especially since the writer mentions what the Diamondbacks got in the Prado exchange. Ultimately, like I said, the deal doesn't look nearly as bad now as it did when it happened, but it's still not looking good for Arizona.

Trivia Question
-Last week, I asked the question - "Since 2000, what pitcher had the most scoreless games to begin his career." The answer was not Hunter Cervenka, but Brad Ziegler, who began his career with with 29 games (and 39.1 innings) of scoreless ball out of the Oakland Athletics bullpen. It was Melvin Upton who ended the streak with a go-ahead double off Ziegler in a tie game. This week's question focuses on the fact the Braves have just four players who have a hit a homerun this year. "In the expansion era (1961-to-present), and excluding the streak-shortened 1981, what three teams have tied for the fewest players on the team to hit at least one homerun?" I'll give you a hint on one of the teams. Let's Play Two. Tweet at me if you know the answer.

Birthdays
-Billy Martin would have been 88 today. Martin, best known for being George Steinbrenner's favorite toy, played in six games with the Milwaukee Braves during the 1961 season. Also celebrating a birthday today is Sean McLaughlin, a right-hander with Carolina, who turns 22. Tomorrow, Pascual Perez would have been 59. Jordy Lara, an infielder for Mississippi, also has a May 17th birthday and turns 25. The following day, Marcus Giles turns 38. The powerful player made my Favorites Braves squad. Current righty Williams Perez will turn 25 on Saturday. On Sunday, Rio Ruiz will be just 22.

Shameless Plugs
Transaction Tuesday - Recapping a pair of trades, Adonis Garcia's demotion, and the promotion of A.J. Minter and Juan Yepez.

Braves Cash in Chacin - Atlanta traded pitcher Jhoulys Chacin last week as a means to sell high on the righty. My impression is that they may have sold too soon, but I understood the impulse.

Have any Braves Pitchers Hit Two Homers in the Same Game? - After Noah Syndergaard went yard twice last week, I fired up the Baseball-Reference Play Index and sought to answer that question.

Cherishing Cervenka - Unfortunately for Hunter Cervenka, I completely jinxed him as he surrendered his first runs later that day.

Worst 5 Braves Drafts Since 2000 - In the first of a ten part series where I alternate between the Worst and Best drafts since 2000, I started last week with the fifth worst.

Braves Saturday Stats Pack - Topics included hitting fewer homers than games won, Nick Markakis not hitting any homers, Julio Teheran's durability, and how awesome Arodys Vizcaino's advanced metrics are.

Minor League Saturday Stats Pack - Dustin Peterson, Dansby Swanson, and Ray-Patrick Didder among others were keyed on for this week.

Random Prospect Sunday - This week, I focused on Steve Janas, a righty who nearly threw a Perfect Game last season.

Thanks for reading and remember to follow me on Twitter.

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