Tuesday, October 4, 2016

2016 Player Reviews: Jed Bradley, Mauricio Cabrera, Daniel Castro

Yesterday, I began a new series in my return to active writing. Over the next several weeks, I will continue to review a number of players who have been on the roster this season for the Braves and could continue with the team in 2017.

Read the previous set of player reviews or click here for the entire series.

Jed Bradley, LHP, 26 years-old

2016 Review: Sometimes, things just sort of work out. After languishing with an ERA near 6.00 since the beginning of the 2015 season with the Brewers organization,Bradley was quietly picked up by the Braves in early June for "future considerations." Bradley came from good stock as he was the 15th pick of the 2011 Draft out of Georgia Tech, but had never lived up to the hype. After changing Southern League squads to Mississippi, Bradley came into his own with over a strikeout an inning while inducing a decent diet of groundballs. After a great run in Double-A, he received a promotion up the ladder to Gwinnett before earning a big league assignment in September. In a half-dozen games out of the pen, he struggled to throw strikes (just a 52% rate), though it should be noted that his walk total (6) is a little inflated by two intentional passes.

2017 Projection: Was it good luck? Better coaching? Change of scenery to an area where he was successful as a Yellow Jacket all those years ago? Whatever the case, Bradley went from roster fodder to decent performer in short order for the Braves after the trade. Now, the real challenge begins - can he repeat his success? He throws a quartet of pitches beginning with a 90 mph fastball that has good sinking action. None of his secondary pitches are graded as plus options, but he can throw his slider, curve, and change for strikes. Bradley is unlikely to reach his mid-rotation ceiling that he had when drafted, but could be an effective swingman in the majors - especially if he shows some ability to get lefties out at a nice clip. The Braves like Bradley, but he's unlikely to place high on the depth chart right now and could be primed to be designated for assignment if a need should arise, which would expose him to the rest of the league.

Mauricio Cabrera, RHP, 22 years-old

2016 Review: I love this description of Cabrera's fastball from Brooks Baseball. The pitch "is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers and is thrown at a speed that's borderline unfair." You can fall in love with Cabrera's fastball (he actually throws two), but don't ignore his 91 mph change-up or his 85 mph slider. He's not a one trick pony and major league hitters can attest to that because they simply could not figure him out after his late June callup. Expected to continue his control issues that have plagued him in the minors, Cabrera threw strikes with more frequency than he ever had before.

2017 Projection: Cabrera's sudden discovery of the strikezone is not that abnormal. Catchers frame pitches better in the majors, umpires call strikes better, and pitchers have more resources to help them succeed. Plus, arriving in the majors is part of the maturation process. We saw it with Craig Kimbrel after the man with the sketchy hat (it's a joke!) struggled greatly with his control in the minors (2009 BB/9 of 6.8 per nine), but once he settled in the bigs, he found his footing. A similar fireballer like Cabrera could have similar luck and continue to throw a lot of strikes - though I am not predicting the kind of success Kimbrel had. Cabrera is part of a glut of talent in the later innings with Arodys Vizcaino (presumably) and the returning Jim Johnson that should make things difficult on the opposition in 2017 if everything works out like the Braves hope. Which it won't, but it's October and we can dream.

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as
"Daniel Castro") [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Daniel Castro, SS, 24 years-old

2016 Review: In the slightly-altered immortal words of the late Dennis Green, Daniel Castro is who we thought he was. That's okay, too. Castro plays a solid shortstop that has included 115 errorless chances over the last two years in the majors. He's great at second base and good enough at third base. However, he simply has no bat. Well, that's not accurate. He has one, but it's more for decoration than anything. I'm not being harsh on him because, like I said, it's okay that he's a strong defender. He gives you a very capable late inning replacement should you be forced to carry him on your roster, but you have to limit his at-bats better than Atlanta was able to do this season pre-Dansby Swanson.

2017 Projection: Castro has another option year remaining, though his limited skill set means that his stranglehold on a 40-man roster spot is tenuous at best. If he lasts the offseason, Castro will enter spring training as a long shot to join the 2017 roster, but that's the way it ought to be. The Braves just don't have room to carry a Rafael Belliard in today's game for the full season. That leaves Castro at Triple-A providing depth in case of injury. In all likelihood, provided Castro lasts the offseason, the less we see him in 2017, the better the Braves' luck has been.

Thanks for reading and feel free to hit me in the comment section or on Twitter if you have any questions or comments.

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