Saturday, December 17, 2016

Braves Cut 8 Minor Leaguers

They often don't make much news unless it's a particularly significant cut, but teams do release minor league players during the offseason even though they aren't usually forced to do so. Many of the cuts are minor role players who the team deems expendable. Possibly releasing them now rather than at the end of spring camp builds some goodwill with other players as they know the team will give young guys a chance to find a new organization where they might be more valued.

I counted eight releases just looking at transaction pages from last week. There may have been more because publicly available transaction pages aren't always as informative as we would like. Still, there are some interesting players here who were once carried prospect status in the organization.

OF Elias Arias - In 2014, Arias was old for the Dominican Summer League, but garnered some attention by slashing .297/.406/.366 with 8 2B, 2 HR, 21 steals, and a nearly equal BB/K rate. He played center field for that roster, which only helped his value. However, he missed most of 2015 and was not able to stand out while playing in Danville last summer (.641 OPS). Arias is an example of the value of good numbers when you're older than everyone you are facing.

RHP Caleb Beech - A 13th round pick in 2014, Beech was excellent to begin 2015 before injuries ended his season. In 11 games, including ten starts, Beech had a 2.87 ERA and a 2.5 K/BB rate. Now, he only had a 3.44 FIP because he didn't strike out many batters, but the solid start was enough for Beech to be included in Top Prospect lists. I know I included him as the #41st best prospect in the system last January. However, Beech would go on to struggle in Carolina last summer and with so many higher-rated pitchers, the Braves felt the 23 year-old was expendable.

3B Jordan Edgerton - Speaking of guys I included in last year's Top 50, Edgerton was not only a personal favorite of mine, but an early favorite of the front office. Former Fangraphs prospect guru (and current Braves employee) mentioned two years ago that "ATL LOVES the early returns on 9th rounder Jordan Edgerton." Now, he's looking for work. What happened? Well, as we often see, Edgerton's early returns were fleeting. After slashing .275/.347/.385 in 2014, each of those averages came down in 2015 and simply reached a level of putrid last year. The UNC-Pembroke product simply never found it and with third base getting increasingly crowded in the system, Edgerton's time in the system was done.

RHP Tyler Greene - Well, that little story comes to a close. Not to be confused with the infielder Tyler Greene, who spent time in the system in 2013-14, this Tyler Greene signed out of tiny Southwestern Illinois Community College. He had pitched in just 5.1 innings with the Generals at the time, but the 21 year-old joined the Braves and pitched ten times out of the pen for the GCL squad. It was difficult to get a handle on his nearly two-month stay in the organization, but he kind of was lost with so many higher rated pitchers deserving more innings, it appears the Braves were just clearing the way by cutting Greene rather than bring back the now 22 year-old.

C Trey Keegan - Picked in the 14th round out of Bowling Green in 2015, Keegan was coming off Tommy John surgery. In college, he was lauded for his defense and baseball IQ at the plate. Two years with Danville showed a willingness to take walks, but not a lot else. Sadly, Keegan had just announced that he was going to be a dad. Best of luck to him.

C Ruben Perez - Like Arias, Perez looked like an intriguing offensive threat when he played for the 2014 Dominican Summer League squad. He slashed .329/.385/.445 that season while playing mostly catcher and DH. At 18, he didn't carry the same age concerns related to production that Arias did. However, follow-up campaigns in in the Gulf Coast League were miserable (.157/.275/.231) and he wasn't active for the final month-plus last year. There are only so many catcher slots available in this system and if the production isn't there, you won't last long.

RHP Britt Robertshaw - A former product of Tarleton State (go fightin' Texans!), Robertshaw began his career playing for Southern Illinois in the independent Frontier League in 2014. He flashed some mid-90's velocity and some developing secondary pitches. In his short time with the Miners, Robertshaw K'd a batter an inning and kept the ball in the yard. Already 25, the Braves signed him and sent him to Carolina in 2015 to work out of the pen. He struck out a lot of batters, but was often roughed up and by late July, Robertshaw was headed to the DL. He would eventually need surgery (Tommy John?) which ended his 2015 and wiped out his 2016 as well.

C Collin Yelich - The younger brother of the Marlins star, Collin attended Sam Houston State where he showed a knack for handling pitchers. In many ways, his pick mirrored Keegan's selection. In 2015, Yelich didn't hit a lot with the GCL Braves, but did walk 23 times to just 15 K's to help him reach a .369 OBP. That's not too shabby, but an assignment to Danville last year was met with just four hits in 36 PA. He spent the final month back in the Gulf Coast League. Again, there is just not a lot of room for catchers in this system right now and Yelich probably didn't strike Braves management as a guy ready to jump into A-ball.

Any of these guys you wish the Braves were keeping? Let me know in the comments and keep up with the minor league signings and releases by clicking here.

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