Monday, June 6, 2016

Braves Monday Roundup - Fort Bragg, Sims, Trades

Welcome to the return of the Monday Roundup. Haven't been able to do this in a couple of weeks, but glad to be getting back into my regular posting schedule. For returnee fans, I plan to post the rest of my Best/Worst Draft series over the next few days leading up to the MLB Draft on Thursday. I hope you guys are enjoying the series - I know I enjoy writing about it. Once it's completed, I will look for another series of posts to focus on. I'm thinking of looking at who the Braves could trade and what kind of package they might seek. After all, the Braves will likely be busy on that front.

In the meantime, here are 5 stories you may have missed...

By Fish Cop. (Blashfield Sign Company) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Fort Bragg's "Pop-Up Stadium" Nearly Completion
-One of the most interesting things related to the Braves during this lost season will come next month when they play host to the Miami Marlins at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Crews are putting the final touches on the stadium, including installing bleachers, fencing, a broadcast booth for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, and more. The "pop-up stadium" appears to be an experiment of sorts for baseball as they try to host a game five months after announcing the venture. You have to believe if the event is a success - and it has every reason to be - MLB will continue to attempt similar events. While much of the stadium will be removed after the game, the field will be donated to Fort Bragg, who hope to expand the location into a "larger athletic complex."

Sims Gets Crushed
-After Shae Simmons threw a scoreless inning to open Sunday's tilt with Durham, Gwinnett went with regular starter Lucas Sims. The results were awful. Sims went just 2.2 innings in the loss as he struggled greatly with his control, walking six batters and throwing a wild pitch. He also yielded a pair of homeruns when he did find the strikezone. Sims has given up six or more runs in four of his last seven games for Gwinnett. Suffice it to say, it's a learning experience for Sims, who turned just 22 last month and opened the year with three starts in Double-A. While no one should get too disappointed with Sims so far, it's a sign that one of Atlanta's star prospects is not close to being ready for prime time.

Mock Draft Brings in Number of Bats
-Tomahawk Take's Benjamin Chase was tasked with the role of playing the Braves General Manager at minorleagueball.com's mock draft. Of the six players drafted, Chase took four bats - which would be a stark change from last year's pitching shopping spree. It will be interesting to see if something like that happens. Clearly, the Braves need more offense in the system, but I'm of the belief that they won't make an effort to go bat or arm at any point in the draft. Instead, they will focus on best player available. That might be a bat like Kyle Lewis at #3 as it was for Chase. Or it might be an arm like Jason Groome or Riley Pint. Regardless of which way they go with that pick or any pick after it, I am convinced Atlanta will only go with the player that is on top of their Big Board at that time.

Jon Heyman: "Everyone can be had"
-In his recent Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman mentioned a variety of Braves' notes, many with a a common theme - trades. According to Heyman, "a few teams have checked in on Nick Markakis," which I wrote about recently with the hope that - if true - Atlanta jumps on a possible trade. Heyman also mentioned Kelly Johnson and Alexi Ogando as possible trade targets, though neither have played well this year and have shown little sign of turning the corner. 2016 was supposed to be bad for the Braves, but the under-performance of so many veterans who appeared likely to attract trade interest hasn't helped.

Teheran Might be a Fit for the Red Sox
-The Braves have little reason to trade Julio Teheran. He's in just year 3 of a 6-year, $32.4M contract extension that also has a very manageable $12M club option for 2020. He's an effective pitcher who could be on his way to a 3 WAR season regardless of what his win-loss record may say. It's for all of those reasons that Teheran makes for such an attractive option for many teams in need of a dependable cog to add to their rotation. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe thinks the Red Sox could be one of those teams, especially with their collection of major-league ready (or nearly ready) talent. Cafardo mentions Blake Swihart, though that took a hit when Swihart hurt his left ankle playing left field (because reasons). Over 383 PA in the majors, Swihart has hit .271/.328/.386 with the Sox and was a Top 20 prospect heading into 2015. A switch-hitting option, Swihart definitely could help the Braves in terms of giving them a catcher-of-the-future option in the majors. Another name might be a better fit, though, and that's Andrew Benintendi. The 7th overall pick of the 2015 draft, Benintendi is already in Double-A, though his numbers have taken a bit of a fall through a couple dozen games there. In 458 PA since joining the Sox organization, Benintendi has a .206 ISO. A lefty masher who still might have room to grow, the Braves would be hard pressed to refuse an offer centering around Benintendi.

Bonus Link - Leudys Baez Reviewed
-A few weeks ago, I pointed you to a review on Mike Soroka by notesfromthesally.com. Over the weekend, John Calvagno posted another review on a current Rome Brave in Leudys Baez. The article quickly stands out as Calvagno says, "He (Baez) has some of the loudest tools in the league and no one is talking about him." Give the link a read.

Trivia Question
-The last time I did this, I asked, "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?" No one ventured a guess even though I gave a hint. 10 players is the answer and it has been accomplished three times by the Cubs in 1967, the Royals in 1972, and the New York Mets in 1980. With Brandon Snyder's homer Sunday, the Braves reached ten. Here's today's trivia question. Freddie Freeman now has six intentional walks. What is the franchise record for walks in a single season? If you know the answer, send me a tweet.

Birthdays
Happy birthday today to Tony Graffanio, who began his 13-year major league career with the Braves in 1996 and turns 44 today. Wednesday is Pete Orr's 37th birthday. The Canadian utility guy last played in the majors in 2013 and is currently a free agent. On Thursday, Joel De La Cruz, who has been promoted to the majors twice and never used, turns 27. Not-a-Brave Zoilo Almonte turns 27 on June 10 (Friday). Atlanta had hoped Almonte would earn a platoon job last spring, but he ultimately was cut and didn't play organized ball again until last winter. He's currently doing well in the Mexican League. Also celebrating their birthday Friday will be Jeff Bennett (36 years-old), who I profiled awhile back. Rick Camp would have been 63 on Friday as well. Odalis Perez turns 38 on Saturday while Ryan Klesko celebrates his 45th birthday on Sunday.

Shameless Plugs 
Worst 5 Drafts Since 2000 - #4 ...The fourth worst draft might be one of the worst drafts in just talent for the Braves since the draft's inception. It was that ugly.

Transaction Tuesday: Thayer, Shae, Parsons, McCreery ...Weekly recap of the minor league moves. Analysis includes the recent addition of Dale Thayer, Shae Simmons' setback, Wes Parsons inability to stay healthy, and Adam McCreery getting his first taste of minor league ball as a Brave.

Braves Throw Away the Grill(i) ...Atlanta deals away Jason Grilli as they continue to add potential pieces for the future.

By EricEnfermero (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Braves Shift Tyrell to the Pen ...Last week, the Braves made the choice to move right-hander Tyrell Jenkins out of the rotation and into the bullpen. In my article, I looked at how the move could mimic a similar move to the pen in 2010 for Jonny Venters.

Freddie Freeman's Power Numbers are Fine ...Where does Freeman rank among power hitters in the game and at his position? Certainly not with the elite, but his numbers are better than many give him credit for.

Braves Saturday Stats Pack ...Some of the topics discussed include Mallex Smith's odd stolen base success rate, Tyler Flowers' hard-hit rate, and Arodys Vizcaino's heat.

Minor League Saturday Stats Pack ...Sean Newcomb might be turning the corner and so might Braxton Davidson. See the column for more.

Best 5 Drafts Since 2000 - #4 ...As aggressive as the Braves were in last year's draft, my ranking of the draft in context with every draft since 2000 might be more aggressive.

Worst 5 Drafts Since 2000 - #3 ...Three years ago, the Braves struck out on nearly every pick. Let's hope for better luck Thursday as you review how it all went wrong in 2013.

Thanks for reading and remember to follow me on Twitter.

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