Monday, December 19, 2016

Six-Pack of Minor League Signings

For the third time this offseason, I try to catch up on some under-the-radar minor league signings the Braves have announced. Previous reviews can be found here and here. For a frequently updated list of comings-and-goings related to minor league signings, check out this page.

Ramon Morla, RHP, 27 years-old

A product of the Mariners' organization, Morla began his career as an infielder who reached Double-A in both 2013 and 2014. He had some decent power years, but struck out a quarter of the time and only carried a .769 OPS. In 2014, the Mariners shifted him to pitcher in the second half of the season. After a five-game cameo in the Arizona Summer League shortened by a torn UCL, Morla spent the next two seasons trying to gain traction and earn a return trip to Double-A, which never happened. Over 41 games since the switch to reliever, Morla has 62 K's in 52.1 innings, but also walked 24 and allowed four homers. He has great velocity in the upper 90's, which makes this converted infielder one to watch as he tries to make the Mississippi roster.

Dan Reynolds, RHP, 25 years-old

The 2009 draft turned out pretty good for the Angels. Mike Trout and Garrett Richards stand out, of course, but both Randal Grichuk and Patrick Corbin were also picked that year. In the sixth round, the Angels picked Reynolds out of Durango High School. That selection didn't really pan out, though. After initially being used as a reliever, Reynolds was moved to the rotation in 2012, but that lasted just two years. Over the last three years, Reynolds climbed all the way to Triple-A for a game, but was cut last year after a woeful start with Double-A Arkansas. He signed with Laredo of the independent American Association and blitzed the league by striking out 27 of the 64 he faced while only allowing 17 to reach base. Reynolds was formerly so well-thought of that the Angels protected him from the Rule 5 draft. With a upper-90's fastball and high-80's off-speed delivery, Reynolds is a nice project for the Braves as they try to get him back on track control-wise.

Isaac Sanchez, RHP, 24 years-old

A teammate of Morla's last year with Bakersfield, Sanchez began his career in the Dominican Summer League despite being born in the Bronx. For six years, Sanchez failed to earn a promotion to Double-A, but started to put it together in 2015 with a 43-game season in which he had a 2.67 ERA out of the pen. That garnered some attention from the Mariners' organization, who selected him in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft last winter. He reached new strikeout highs with Bakersfield and spent five games in Double-A. Overall, Sanchez lacks the high velocity on his heater that Morla and Reynolds possess, but has been a durable sleeper arm for a few years now. The Braves initially placed him in Triple-A, but I think that was to protect him from being picked in the Rule 5's AAA portion for a second consecutive year. I do expect an assignment with Mississippi to begin 2017 if he makes the roster.

Braeden Schlehuber, C, 28 years-old

What more really needs to be said about Schlehuber? This upcoming season will mark a decade in the game after being picked in the 4th round of the '08 draft. His entire career has been spent with the Braves' organiation and he's been around long enough to play for both Myrtle beach and Lynchburg. Career-wise, Schlehuber has hit just .219/.281/.318 with 28 homers in over 2100 plate appearances. The fact that the Braves keep bringing him back speaks to his chances of getting a coaching job once he decides to hang 'em up.

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as
"20130601-0223") [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Matt Tuiasosopo, OF, 30 years-old

Selected in the third round all the way back in 2004, Tuiasosopo has played for 18 teams during his professional career. I did the math. Last year, he spent most of the year posting some good numbers in Gwinnett with a week where he was used three times to zero success as a pinch hitter in Atlanta. Tuiasosopo is a nice option to have in Triple-A. He has 155 games of major league experience so there's little he hasn't seen. He's also been in the International League since 2012 so he knows the league inside-and-out and can help newcomers get situated. Do you want to rely on Tuiasosopo for much longer than a week in the majors? Of course not, but do you like having guys like Tuiasosopo at Triple-A? Absolutely.

Because I'm feeling generous and a six-pack is an actual thing, let's go for one more.

Colin Walsh, UTIL, 27 years-old

Last year was a big deal for Walsh. The Brewers selected him in the Rule 5 draft and he appeared in 38 games in the majors as a result. Those 38 games were fairly abysmal as the switch-hitter hit just .085 (4-for-47) including just one single in 17 at-bats as a pinch hitter. If there were any silver linings, Walsh did walk 15 times to up his on-base into the .317 range with 10 of those walks coming as a pinch hitter (.407 OBP). He was returned to the A's organization and spent the rest of the year in the Pacific Coast League. Walsh takes his walks and has a bit of pop. He also can play second-and-third along with the corner outfield positions. Unlike many switch-hitters, he hits lefties better than righties. In the end, Walsh reminds me of Joey Terdoslavich with better positional flexibility (and a little less pop). In the right situation with the right coaching, Walsh could be a fairly productive situational bat in a pinch-hitting role.

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