Sunday, February 28, 2016

Random Former Prospect Sunday - Jose Peraza

During the season, Sundays are set aside to take a look at a prospect at random, but with the minor league season over, I wasn't sure what to do for my Sunday article until this nugget of an idea came my way. How about we look at players who ranked in Baseball America's Top 100 while part of the Braves' organization, yet never appeared for the Braves? Over the next few months, I'll take a look at the prospects that were traded or simply faded away and just to keep up with my theme, I randomized the players.

Prospects can blind you.

Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
Jose Peraza did for me when he came up through the ranks. I saw the speed (back-to-back 60 steal years), high batting average (especially for his age), and grew immediately fond of him. In fact, this will be the 44th blog post at Walk-Off Walk that has mentioned Peraza so he's received a good deal of press from just me. I loved him so much that I ignored that for a leadoff hitter, he was swing-happy and completely dependent on a high batting average and speed to be at all effective in the in that role. No, that didn't matter to me. He was going to be a star.

And he still might be. However, my expectations have decreased and I don't think I'm alone in that.

Signed during the summer of 2010 out of Venezuela, Peraza made his professional debut the following year in the Dominican Summer League. His numbers really didn't capture anyone's attention at that point. The next year, however, some of us took notice. Splitting time between Danville and the Gulf Coast League, Peraza posted a triple slash of .296/.350/.374 in 2012. He swiped 25 bases, but remember that was only in 53 games. He was at this point an interesting prospect, but not a guy jockeying for position in the top 20 prospects.

That changed in 2013. While his triple slash was remarkably similar with a 12 point drop in overall OPS, he swiped 64 bases in 79 attempts while showing a decent eye (34 walks/64 K's). He also had a knack for using his speed to turn doubles into triples, picking up eight of them. When, in 2014, he showed that it wasn't a fluke by hitting .339 with 60 steals in 110 games between Lynchburg and Mississippi, it became clear that the Braves had a great prospect on their hands. He had moved to second base, where nobody was blocking him, and he sat atop many Top Braves Prospects rankings.

But that was also part of what blinded us. Yes, he was the top Braves prospect, but at the time, that didn't say much on its own. The system was short on impact talent so whatever talent was there was propped up by how desperate things were. It reminds me of when Kyle Davies arrived in the majors. He was a decent prospect and all, but his value was made higher by being one of the few starting prospects that looked potentially good as the Braves transitioned into the post Big Three-era.

I'm not saying Peraza will have a similar career to Davies, but as we overlooked Davies' weaknesses, we overlooked Peraza's and they were damning. After walking 34 times in 2013, he walked 34 times TOTAL the next two seasons. He found a way to hit .293 at two different Triple-A stops in 2015 and manage just a .316 OBP. If you want to relate that to the majors, since 1990, only eight players who received at least 500 plate appearances hit at least .290 with an OBP below .320 and each reached double digits in homeruns, something that seems unlikely to happen with Peraza.

Now, of course we tell ourselves that prospects will improve and mature and many times, they do. Peraza has such great bat control that he can put the ball in play at a high frequency and if counting stats attract your attention, he has the potential to post 200-hit seasons with strong stolen base numbers. But his likelihood of success with such limitations are low.

Fans grew upset when he was included in the Hector Olivera trade last July and I wondered why. The Braves had replaced Peraza on the Future Leadoff Hitter depth chart with a player with more dynamic ability in Mallex Smith while having a better all-around player in Ozhaino Albies as an impact middle infield prospect. But then I remembered...our perception of Peraza might not match the reality of the situation. In over 2000 plate appearances as a professional, Peraza has walked just 98 times. As long as he hits .300, that's acceptable (though frustrating). But if that average drops, we start having the debate on whether Peraza is a suitable major league starter.

That's not exactly the kind of debate we should have on a guy who was once considered the top prospect in the system, but again, that's not to say that Peraza is a bust. He's got plenty of time to establish himself as a contributing major league player and/or improve certain flaws in his game. It wasn't fair to him that we overranked him and labeled him as the "next big thing" when his skillset was so limited. But as the 2016 season approaches and Peraza is with his third team since this time last year, it's important to remember that its his limitations that make him so available. Teams love what skills he does have, but he's never going to rank as untouchable. The Braves and Dodgers proved that.

Previous Random Former Prospects...
Tom Redington
Dennis Burlingame
J.R. Graham
Elvis Andrus
Bobby Smith
Bubba Nelson
Neftali Feliz
Gorkys Hernandez
Matt Belisle
Matt McClendon

Saturday, February 27, 2016

This Week at AtlantaBraves.About.com

I've posted a lot of articles at my AtlantaBraves.About.com link as things start to get more active with spring training beginning. Here's a comprehensive list of the articles over the last week or so. All article links open to a new tab/window.

Braves Plan to Spend Big, but Not On Veteran Players
...Instead of pooling their funds together for a big free agent splash, the Atlanta Braves might be in the act of simply waiting to go big this July. Kevin Maitan, the prize of the international signing class, has been a target of Atlanta's for a long time now, but he's probably just the tip of the iceberg in what will be a huge international showing by the Braves. Read more.

Are the Atlanta Braves Tanking? That All Depends
...Is it fair to label a rebuilding project "tanking?" And what really is tanking? Is it the systematic effort to be awful for future gains in draft picks and payroll because, if not, can we really say that's what the Braves are doing? My deeper look into the subject pushes me to come to this resolution - the Braves are just being smart. Read more.

Who Are the Atlanta Braves' Top 5 Prospects?
...I ranked prospects from #50 to #6 here, but with the Top 5, I jumped to the other blog with deeper analysis on all five. Process of elimination means that the Top 5 is some mix of Ozhaino Albies, Kolby Allard, Aaron Blair, Sean Newcomb, and Dansby Swanson - but where do they rank? Read more.

3 Things About Gordon Beckham
...In more cross promotional connections between here and AtlantaBraves.About.com, the 3 Things series is a more biographical component to the Scouting Report series here. A few days ago, I posted Beckham's Scouting Report here on the same day as I posted 3 Things. Relive his college days where Beckham looked like a world beater, his short minor league career, and a major league career in which his first major league experience was also his best. Read more.

Jeff Francoeur Serves as Cautionary Tale
...One of the more talked-about signings of the offseason for the Braves may have been their final one. This week, the Braves brought "Frenchy" back on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. His return gives us a moment to take stock in how prospects will break your heart and even when they don't, it takes time. Read more.

Atlanta Braves Looking for Answers in the Rotation
...After reading this article, you can name three different starting staffs the Braves could technically go with in 2016 and never repeat a name. Julio Teheran is at the front and Bud Norris and Matt Wisler seem like they will be joining him, but the rest of the rotation is completely up in the air. Manny Banuelos, Mike Foltynewicz, Ryan Weber, and Williams Perez lead returning starters while Blair, Newcomb, and Tyrell Jenkins lead youngsters looking for a shot. And then, there is the minor league free agents like Jhoulys Chacin and Kyle Kendrick. The list is seemingly never ending. Read more.

Babe Ruth Comes Back to Boston as a Brave
...Typically, I do Transactions of Today here (and did one today about Jack Quinn), but when it comes to the Great Bambino, things are always a wee bit different. 81 years ago, Ruth joined the Braves after a bitter end with the Yankees. While Boston had hoped Ruth would be a big boost at the ticket counter, he was just a shell of his former self at this point and aside from magical May day, people were no longer seeing the Sultan of Swat. Read more.

That's it. Hoping this week will continue to be free enough for me to write another group of articles.

TOT - Jack Quinn is One of Baseball's Strangest Stories

Transaction of Today...February 27, 1914 - Jack Quinn jumped from the Boston Braves to the Baltimore Terrapins.

Jack Quinn
Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images
If you have never heard of Jack Quinn before today, you're missing out considerably. We know for sure that wasn't his real name, though it's difficult to say what exactly was. We know he was born sometime in the 1880's, though his baseball-reference accepted birth date of July 1, 1883 might be the earliest I've seen (7/5/1883 is often cited). Where he was born...well, many would say he was born somewhere southwest of Wilkes-Barre, though B-R stands true with Stefurov, Slovakia (then part of Austria-Hungary). If that were true, which it probably isn't, he'd be the only player born from what is now Slovakia to play in the majors. Hard to say how Stefurov looked back in the 1880's, but today, it's a village with slightly more than 100 total people - which would make Quinn's arrival in the majors all the more amazing if he was born there. He probably wasn't. Maybe?

His name is probably John Quinn Picus, by the way. Possibly. He was of Welsh descent. Probably not. Or Polish, Irish, and Native American.  Maybe Greek? I've also read his name as Joannes Pajkos or Janos Pajkos, but John Quinn Picus is probably our closest bet. His father, Michael, and mother came to America either shortly before his birth or shortly after depending on what birthdate you believe. At some point, his mother passed and Michael remarried in 1887.

Quinn, or Picus, originally became, like his father, a coal worker at around the age of 12. He worked early shifts so that he could play baseball in the afternoon. Later in his teens, he joined a semipro league in Pennslyvania and incorporated the spitball into his repertoire. That spitball would be his ticket to baseball longevity as the ban on the spitball came with a grandfather clause, allowing Picus/Quinn to throw the pitch throughout his career. His travels in baseball brought him down to Virginia, where he was seen playing in a game between Richmond and Lynchburg, which both became minor league squads for the Braves in the future. The Yankees (then known as the Highlanders) signed Quinn, who made his major league debut at the age of 25 in 1909. He might have been younger, though.

He got off to a great start with a 2.74 ERA in his first three years, but struggled badly in 1912. Not only was he struggling on the mound, his troubles spilled out into confrontations. During a game in May, Quinn replaced Hippo Vaughn, who had walked four consecutive batters (much to the chagrin of New York fans). Quinn uncorked a wild pitch before getting a strikeout to end the inning. In the next inning, after striking out the first batter, he became so incensed with the umpire's strikezone while facing the next Tigers hitter that he threw his glove at the umpire. He was immediately ejected and bedlam took over Hilltop Park. Quinn's battery mate and manager were both tossed while fans threw bottles at the umpire.

Quinn was suspended indefinitely, but he pitched the next day. His numbers continue to tumble and he was sent packing to the minors. He would remain in the minors until his contract was purchased in August of 1913 by the Braves. He was excellent over 56.1 innings to finish the season and the Braves had plans for Quinn to become a figure for their 1914 team.

The righty from God knows where had other plans. On this date in 1914, he jumped to the Baltimore Terrapins of the new Federal League for a salary of $3500. Boston sued Baltimore, Quinn, and the Federal League for illegally tampering, seeking $25K in damages. Ultimately, the effort was unsuccessful and Quinn became a star for the Terrapins in 1914.

Of course, had he not left the Braves like he did, he would have been around for the 1914 Miracle Braves and maybe played a role for the team that would surprise baseball by becoming World Champs that fall. But that wasn't to be for Quinn, who had an excellent year for Baltimore before a less-than-excellent follow-up campaign in 1915 in which he led the Federal League in loses. Major league clubs passed on bringing back Quinn after the two-year Federal League folded so he languished with Vernon out in the Pacific Coast League, which at the time was a AA-league. He did quite well there until the league suspended operations because of World War I.

The shutdown brought him back to major league baseball as he joined the 1918 White Sox under the ownership of Charles Comiskey. Quinn would have stayed with them and became a member of the 1919 Black Sox, but avoided a second brush with one of the era's most notable teams because of a technicality. When the PCL shut down in 1918, players were free to sign with other teams during the emergency, but the original holding team had first rights. In the American League, that team for Quinn was the Yankees and Ben Johnson, the AL Commissioner, who was already at odds with Comiskey, sided with the Yankees.

Quinn spent 1919-21 with the Yankees and appeared in the 1921 World Series, which the Yankees lost. He was then traded to the Red Sox, returning to the city he spent a little more than a month with as a member of the Braves. His run with the Red Sox lasted 3.5 years before the Philadelphia Athletics claimed him on waivers during the summer of 1925. Playing for Connie Mack, Quinn found a second home. He remained a productive member of the club into 1929 when he returned to the World Series. At the age of 45 (maybe), Quinn finally tasted the glory of being a World Champion as the A's downed the Cubs in the World Series. Philly would repeat in 1930 and Quinn got a second title.

Franco broke Quinn's HR record
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Released after the 1930 season, Quinn continued his career with Brooklyn. Used as one of the few relief specialists of his time, Quinn led the NL in saves in both 1931 and 1932 with 22 total. The stat didn't exist at the time, but a study of box scores has retroactively awarded saves to pitchers. His 13 saves in '31 was a NL record until 1947. Released in 1933, Quinn briefly played for the Reds and added one more save, giving him 57 total. Again, the stat wasn't official back then, but at the time of his release by the Reds, Quinn only trailed Firpo Marberry. When he threw his last pitch with the Reds on July 7, 1933, Quinn was 50 years and six days old. He remained the oldest pitcher to ever throw a pitch in a major league game until Satchel Paige shattered the record. He still remains the oldest player to play in the postseason for both the 1929 and 1930 series.

Though he never pitched with another major league team, Quinn kept pitching until he was 52 (again, that's what we are told). Quinn returned to Pennslyvania after his retirement and took up the old sport of drinking until succumbing to a liver infection in 1946. He died a few months before what would have been his 63rd birthday.

One last interest stat regarding Quinn. He set the record as the oldest player to hit a homerun after smacking one on June 27, 1930. Julio Franco broke that record in 2006 as a member of the Mets. Regardless of the name you call him, Jack Quinn's career is the kind of stuff an entire episode of Ken Burns Baseball should have focused on. It's the true American (or Slovak?) Dream. Quinn was a very good player who took care of himself, loved baseball, and did everything he could to stay with the game.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thursday Throwback - Like Dexter Fowler, Rafael Furcal Looked Like a Done Deal

Typically, the Thursday Throwback is related to a random player and his time with the Braves. However, in light of Dexter Fowler's stunning decision to pass on the Baltimore Orioles and sign with the Chicago Cubs, I felt it was a perfect time to remember when a similar event kind of happened to the Braves. And bonus - it was far more ugly than just disagreeing about contract particulars.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
I've referenced Frank Wren's terrible 2008-09 offseason a few times here regarding the signings of Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami along with the desperate settling for Garret Anderson. At my other site, I also went deep into the time Ken Griffey Jr. nearly joined the Braves. Now, we focus on the biggest point of contention related to that offseason - the pursuit of Rafael Furcal.

You might recall that Furcal came to the majors as a not-19 year-old kid back in 2000. I say "not" because he was actually 21 years-old, but hey, who doesn't lie about their age so that they can sign with a major league franchise two years before they are legally able to? Furcal's 2000 was hyper-impressive even after you accept that he wasn't 19 years-old during the season. He stole 40 bases, walked nearly as often as he struck out, posted a .394 OBP, and played a pretty stout shortstop.

Fookie would spend five more years in Atlanta and though he only eclipsed the 40-steal mark once more, he was often a great leadoff hitter who some complained was vulnerable to the Omar Epps-played Willie Mays Hayes syndrome (not an official name). Furcal liked to display his power and overswing despite having the bat control and speed to turn grounders the other way into hits. He stopped bunting doubles (yes, he did that) and hit leadoff homers instead. Still, when your leadoff hitter posts a triple slash of .285/.348/.429 over his final three years with the team, you're kinda okay with the negatives.

A free agent in 2005, Furcal became the latest in a string of high-profile defections from a team no longer maintaining a bloated payroll. The Braves astutely replaced Furcal with Edgar Renteria in 2006 and didn't miss a beat. Renty didn't have the arm Furcal did, but he was a better all-around bat. After 2007, the Braves moved Yunel Escobar into the starting shortstop gig and continued their string of solid shortstop play.

Which was what made Atlanta's interest in bringing back Furcal so curious. Furcal had done quite well with the Dodgers after leaving Atlanta, but missed most of 2008 with back surgery. However, Atlanta wasn't interested in Furcal playing short - they wanted him at second base. That was also kind of curious because Kelly Johnson had posted a triple slash of .282/.362/.451 with 28 HR the previous two years as the starting second baseman (and part-time leadoff hitter). Presumably, Atlanta would have shifted Johnson back to left field (where he played briefly in '05), which would have saved us from the Griffey Jr and Anderson pursuits later that offseason. Though his agent later said it was an issue, Furcal commented on the prospect of shifting to second: "For me, it's no problem."

The Dodgers wanted Furcal back and as the calendar reached mid-December, the two clubs were the final two teams in the running for Furcal. Ned Colletti, the Dodgers GM, had been assured that they would get a final shot to re-sign Furcal, and both teams jockeyed for supremacy in bringing back the speedy middle infielder.

Los Angeles had initially promised just two seasons as they were concerned with Furcal's back. The Braves saw the opening and went for it, negotiating an offer of $30M over three years with a 2012 option that would vest based on plate appearances. Frank Wren felt even more confident that the offer was good enough to bring back Furcal after the shortstop's agent, Paul Kinzer, asked Wren to fax a signed term sheet. Wren was convinced that their efforts had been successful because, according to the Braves, agents don't ask for a term sheet unless an agreement is pending. News leaked that the Braves were a physical away from announcing the deal and even Kinzer said that Furcal "was close" to accepting the offer. He told his client to sleep on it.

Kinzer then began to "backpedal" and said the Dodgers were promised a last chance to sign Furcal. The Dodgers "suddenly" stepped up, matching the Braves' offer of $30M over three seasons with a vesting option. With Kinzer saying Furcal's preference was to stay in LA the whole time, along with staying at shortstop, the Dodgers and Furcal agreed to the contract pending a physical.

In Atlanta, both John Schuerholz and Wren were incensed. Schuerholz boldly stated that the Braves would never again work with Wasserman Media Group, who Kinzer was employed by. That was possibly a CBA violation, but the message was clear. Atlanta felt betrayed and Wren clarified their position by saying that faxing a signed term sheet was the equivalent of a handshake agreement and that Kinzer and his agency had acted unethically in bowing out at the last moment. Wren also accused Kinzer of taking the term sheet to the Dodgers and effectively giving the Dodgers the ammo to know exactly what they needed to do to retain Furcal.

Schuerholz went further. "Having been in this business for 40-some years, I've never seen anybody treated like that....It was disgusting and unprofessional. We're a proud organization, and we won't allow ourselves to be treated that way."

For their part, Kinzer said that there didn't even exist a verbal agreement between the two sides. "We had, 'Things look very good and Raffy's going to sleep on it.'" Colletti chose not to weigh in too much, but did say that faxing a signed term sheet was not the equivalent of an agreement between the two sides in his experience.

If it means anything, this wouldn't be the last time Kinzer's integrity would be called into question. He was dismissed from Wasserman in 2012 for "unresolved issues involving the players, including fees." The biggest issue came in the form of Francisco Rodriguez, who settled for an unknown amount after seeking more than $5.5M in damages. Rodriguez had been traded to the Brewers in July of 2011 despite including Milwaukee on his list of teams that he couldn't be traded to. For some reason, the list was never filed.

Was the Furcal mess unethical? Possibly. It was definitely shady to say the least. The Braves ultimately went back on their "boycott of Wasserman" and later signed Ryan Lavarnway, Cristhian Martinez, Bud Norris, and others. Kinzer started Rep 1 Baseball after leaving Wasserman and Kelly Kinzer, Paul's son, represents Adonis Garcia.

In the end, Furcal went to the Dodgers and the Braves terrible offseason would continue. They wanted Jake Peavy and Furcal. They got Lowe, Kawakami, and Anderson. Their double play combo of Johnson and Escobar wouldn't last long either. But in their favor was that Furcal was only healthy for the 2009 season and hurt after that so they dodged the bullet of paying an injured Furcal. So, there are some silver linings to this.

Other Thursday Throwbacks...
Marquis Grissom (1995-96)
Terrell Wade (1995-97)
Tommy Gregg (1989-1992, 1997)
...or view ALL of them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

TOT: Braves Settle for Anderson

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Transaction of Today...February 24, 2009 - The Atlanta Braves signed Garret Anderson as a free agent.

Was my dislike of Project GAnderson (don't ask how he got that moniker) ever really rational? No, it wasn't. In any other offseason, Anderson's signing would have been a fine low-cost attempt at grabbing lightening in a bottle. But in the trying winter of 2009, Anderson was no consolation prize - he was the final nail in the coffin for Frank Wren's worst winter at the helm of the Braves.

2008-09 was the offseason of disappointment. Rafael Furcal? Oh, he was totally going to sign with the Braves until cold feet (and more money) changed his mind. The reported trade for Jake Peavy? Didn't happen. An elderly Ken Griffey Jr. following his father's footsteps to play in Atlanta? Oh, he said he wanted to come to Atlanta, but ultimately he, too, spurned the Braves. Instead, Atlanta spent too much money on Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami while praying that an outfield of Anderson, Jordan Schafer (or Josh Anderson (or Gregor Blanco)), and Jeff Francoeur would somehow be okay. It wasn't. It was the winter of our discontent and it never seemed to stop.

By late February, the Braves grew desperate. With Junior bailing, the Braves settled for Anderson. Formerly a two-time Silver Slugger winner, Anderson's power was a distant thought at this point. From 1994-2003, Anderson carried a respectable .180 ISO, but starting with his age-32 year in 2004, Anderson became a guy completely dependent on hitting for a high average. Over his final five years in Anaheim/Los Angeles, Anderson had a .155 ISO. If you ignore the .194 ISO in '07, his isolated slugging ranged from .140 to .153. But he hit .290 during this time frame, which hid some of declining skills. In his final year with the only organization he had ever played for, Anderson had a triple slash of .293/.325/.433.

Yet nobody wanted him. The problem with being a left-fielder is teams often expect some element of power from you. When Anderson was popping at least 28 homers, like he did between 2000-03, his value was very high. But at 36 years-old when the 2008 season ended, teams were looking for something a bit more dynamic from their outfield. After all, the prevailing wisdom is that you can find a cheap platoon that could produce as well (if not better) than Anderson had in 2008.

But once Junior signed, the Braves had little recourse because, clearly, they were not going to head into 2009 with Matt Diaz as their everyday guy in left field. Many fans were fine with a possible Brandon Jones/Diaz platoon. Still debatable if Anderson was a real improvement over that.

The sad thing about Anderson's 2009 was that considering Schafer's spectacular failure and Francoeur's complete ineptitude, Anderson became somewhat of a constant. He platooned with Diaz, but humorously hit better against lefties than he did righties. Not Diaz good, but Anderson had a higher OBP and SLG against lefties (and a higher BABIP, but ignore that). Worse than Anderson failing to provide the platoon advantage he was signed for, he sadly made Diaz look better in the field. Considering Diaz had earned the nickname by some fans of Magellan for the creative routes he took in the outfield, having a player who looked even more lost in the outfield was just sad.

How bad was it? Since 2000, only Melky Cabrera played a worse outfield for the Braves according to UZR/150.

Fortunately, like Melky, Anderson lasted just one season. His signing wasn't a mistake per say, but a seemingly unavoidable result of a depressing series of events. Anderson would head back west and played 80 extra-strength awful games with the Dodgers in 2010. His last at-bat came on August 6. Pinch hitting, he knocked the stuffing out of a Sean Burnett pitch by hitting a swinging bunt. He actually reached first after the catcher nailed a runner at second base for a forceout. The Dodgers designated him for assignment and cut Anderson, whose career was over.

Again, it's not his fault. He played exactly how a 36-37 year-old should play. But fans aren't known for being rational so watching him meander around left field while serving softly hit balls the other way was a near-constant reminder of how things had gone all wrong.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Scouting Report - Gordon Beckham

Jim McIssac/Getty Images
Player: Gordon Beckham
Date of Scouting Report: 2/23/16

Age: 29
How acquired: Free Agent, 12/2/15
Salary: $1.25M
Years Left: 1

Brief Bio: 
8th overall pick of the 2008 draft, Beckham has never lived up to the promise aside from his first year ,when he had a .190 ISO and 2.3 fWAR in 103 games. It still remains the only year he has posted a wRC+ above 90 and he has a triple slash of .238/.298/.358 over the last six years. So why does he still get paid? He's a competent defender, a good clubhouse guy, and does have some pop.

Offensive Observations and Grades:
Historically, Beckham shows little difference whether he has the platoon advantage or not. Handles finesse pitchers better than power pitchers (.713 OPS to .636 OPS) if you accept that the power/finesse labels can be based on number of strikeouts. His pitch value stats are terrible against fastball stats as well. Handles the bat well and carries a higher-than-average foul-ball rate. Also has below-average rates in swinging and looking strikes, giving the impression that Beckham knows the strikezone well. Still, he is very aggressive and swings at about 3% more than the league average. Part of that is likely due to pitchers having little fear in throwing to him, which means he sees more "hittable pitches." Sprays the ball around, but makes too much soft contact and too little hard contact. Does show a high rate in the productive out metric, as you might expect from a player with so many offensive flaws. Just 3 pinch hits in 22 AB so far in his career. Overall, the impression is that Beckham can occasionally swing into a homerun, but mostly will serve weak liners and grounders where the pitch is thrown while being vulnerable to high velocity offerings. Baserunning-wise, he doesn't give you much. A couple of steals and little ability to take the extra base.
Grades from a 20-80 Scale...Contact (50), Power (35), Speed (40), Baserunning (35), Eye (55), Discipline (45)

Pitching Observations and Grades:
N/A

Defensive Observations and Grades:
His defense is a mixed bag. You won't get spectacular plays very often, but he does play a competent second base. He's smooth at double play transfers and generally does everything rather well when it comes to defense. He's not a great defender, but he's always good. At third base, he might be better suited because range is less of a concern. In a pinch, he can revert back to shortstop for a game or a few late innings, but that's probably all you want to see out of him playing short.
Grades from a 20-80 scale...Range (40), Arm (55), Arm Accuracy (55), Hands (60)

Future Projection:
Steamer only projects 37 games for him - a number he has always exceeded by a large amount. The rates are pretty reasonable, though. 6% BB%, 17% K%, .110 ISO, .275 wOBA. They're under his career norms, but not significantly so. Marcels gives him a bit more love with a .237/.293/.369 slash. Again, PECOTA is still a couple of months from being updated, but last year's projection had his 2016 numbers similar to Marcels with a minor fall in slugging. Regardless of which projection you want to throw your weight behind, they all tell the same story. Beckham is a decent defender with gross offensive stats. Some might recall the Georgia Bulldog phenom he once was, but at 29, it would be a monster surprise to see Beckham do much more than struggle with the bat in 2016.

I want to know your opinion/scouting report. Add it below and I might altar mine and give credit to you.

Monday, February 22, 2016

TOT - Braves Bring Back Avery

Transaction Of Today...February 22, 2000 - The Atlanta Braves signed Steve Avery as a free agent.

Long before the name Steve Avery was synonymous with a Netflix show, the name brought up visions of a lefthander with the kind of potential we only dream of. It may also make you think of how quick that potential can disappear into disappointment.

Credit: Harry How/Getty
That looks uncomfortable
The third overall selection of the 1988 draft, Avery was pushed to the majors quickly. His first start came on June 13, 1990 - two months after turning 20 years-old. Given the chance to "learn on the job" the baby-faced southpaw pitched a lot better (3.64 FIP) than his 5.64 ERA indicated, but that's what happens when you surround young pitchers with bad defenders. Nevertheless, Avery showed flashes of what was to come despite losing 11 of his 14 decisions.

The following season, 1991, Avery was instrumental in the Braves rise from the bottom of the National League. Just old enough to legally drink, Avery threw 210.1 innings and started 35 games. He would throw another 29.1 innings in the postseason when he grabbed the attention of baseball by throwing 16.1 scoreless innings in the NLCS. That MVP effort helped the baseball world know that Tom Glavine wasn't the only world-class lefty the Braves had in their staff.

1992 was a minor step back in terms of production, but he made up for it in 1993. In his only All-Star season, Avery finished with a 2.94 ERA and a 2.9 K/BB rate over 223.1 innings. There's that innings thing again. Between 1991 and '93, Avery started 105 games and tossed 667.1 innings. It was the 18th most in baseball, but Avery was only 23 years-old. Later on, it would be theorized that Avery's fall from grace was a direct result of over-usage by Bobby Cox and Leo Mazzone. That might not be fair and it might not even be accurate, but the wheels came off quickly.

His FIP climbed to a new high of 3.97 during the strike-shortened season of 1994. It climbed a bit higher the following year and even though Avery was "healthy," he was no longer an excellent stud but an average rotation filler. He would still have some big moments along the way, including shutting down the Indians over six innings in Game 4 of the World Series to push the Braves to the brink of a championship. Three nights later, Glavine did his thing in Game 6.

But those big moments were few and far between. In 1996, he missed a couple of months and the Braves proactively moved on, acquiring Denny Neagle to effectively replace Avery in the rotation. Avery finished the year before moving to the bullpen for the playoffs. He was on the mound when the '96 NLCS ended, but his only appearance in the World Series was a disaster. With the score tied 6-6 in Game 4, Avery replaced Mark Wohlers (who had somehow survived a ninth inning after Jim Leyritz killed him in the 8th). With two outs, Avery walked Tim Raines (who should be in the Hall - just sayin'). A base hit by Derek Jeter led to the curious decision to intentionally walk Bernie Williams to face Andy Fox. Curious because the Yankees had a Hall of Fame bat on the bench in the form of Wade Boggs, who the Yankees unsurprisingly replaced Fox with. Avery walked Boggs - which scored Raines - and was replaced. An error led to a second run - unearned but charged to Avery - and the Yankees tied up the series. They would take Game 5 and 6. Avery's appearance was the final of his Braves career. Well, in games that count anyway.

With a 3.83 ERA and 201 starts on his record, Avery hit a free agency market that was not kind to him. A bad Boston Red Sox organization led by a bad GM in Dan Duquette signed him next. It reunited Avery with Jimy Williams, who had been on Cox's staff in Atlanta. In a rotation with Aaron Sele and Jeff Suppan, Avery was the worst. He had a 6.42 ERA over 22 games, including 18 starts, and failed to reach 100 innings for the first time since his rookie year. He returned in 1998 and was better. He was still pretty bad, but it was better than the previous year. The Reds brought him aboard to provide a veteran presence in 1999 and his ERA remained north of 5 until he was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff that August. Well before that, on April 30, Avery faced off against John Smoltz at Turner Field. It was not only the one time he faced the Braves, but also the only time he pitched at Turner Field. Avery pitched into the 8th inning of a 1-0 game before Smoltz doubled off him. Avery was removed, but Smoltz later scored and finished a 1-hitter with a perfect ninth. It was one of Avery's finest games of the seasons.

That brings us to February of 2000 when the Braves brought back Avery. They were looking for answers in the five-spot in their rotation. Neagle was long gone - replaced by Kevin Millwood in importance - and the Braves had brought John Burkett on to provide stability to the bottom of the rotation. Behind Burkett was Bruce Chen, Jason Marquis, and pickoff specialist Terry Mulholland. So, adding Avery to the fray was hardly just out of doing the lefty a favor. If they could bring him all the way back, Avery would be only 30 year-old and a potentially productive piece in the rotation.

He was back on the mound by the end of spring training, throwing simulated games at Turner Field. Now, the fun part began. He headed to the minor leagues to reclaim his glory. After a pair of starts with Macon, he headed to Myrtle Beach where the wind can make anyone's ERA look great. Despite a 1.3 K/BB rate and a 1.38 WHIP, he carried a 1.53 ERA over seven starts. Included in his successful run with the Pelicans was his final professional complete game. Next came Greenville and Richmond. His numbers flat-lined and the comeback bid was called a bust. He made 19 starts in the minor leagues during 2000 and had as many unintentional walks as he did strikeouts.

The Braves did bring him back in 2001, but Avery never made it out of camp before being released. He wouldn't throw a pitch in organized ball during either 2001 or 2002 before trying to make a comeback with the Detroit Tigers in '03. Yes, the 2003 version of the Tigers that went 43-119. He began and ended the season with Toledo, but there was a 19-game run in Detroit mixed in. On May 11, he made his first appearance since July of 1999 by throwing a scoreless inning against the Devil Rays. Three nights later, he struck out Scott Hatteberg with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth. It was the only batter he faced and he got the win after the Tigers scored off Ricardo Rincon in the bottom of the ninth. I'm having so many Moneyball moments in my head.

His final outing came in a 10-1 thumping the White Sox gave the Tigers. After giving up three runs - two earned - Avery's final pitch was a 1-2 delivery to Paul Konerko. The White Sox great lined right toward Avery, who caught it and gunned down Magglio Ordonez trying to retreat back to first.

2003 was the final comeback bid for Avery. Since retiring, Avery has helped raise his two boys while also taking being a guest instructor with the Atlanta Braves during spring training. A career of promise might have become an example in the end of how to take it easier with young arms so that they can pitch effectively deeper into their careers so that's something to be proud about.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Random Former Prospect Sunday - Tom Redington

During the season, Sundays are set aside to take a look at a prospect at random, but with the minor league season over, I wasn't sure what to do for my Sunday article until this nugget of an idea came my way. How about we look at players who ranked in Baseball America's Top 100 while part of the Braves' organization, yet never appeared for the Braves? Over the next few months, I'll take a look at the prospects that were traded or simply faded away and just to keep up with my theme, I randomized the players.

Greatest21Days.com
Only two players on my list of former Top 100 Braves prospects who never played for the Braves also played in the 80's. Two weeks ago, I looked at Dennis Burlingame, a right-handed pitcher who was expected to join his former minor league roommate Steve Avery in the majors but ultimately fell short. This Sunday, we look at the other player from the 80's. Ranked as the #58th best prospect in baseball in 1990, Tom Redington was expected to be a power bat that could join the Braves' lineup and become a star. Instead, his career would end before the second half of the 90's and he would never play AAA.

Before he was a third round pick in 1987, Redington was a star for Esperanza High School in Anaheim, California. The school has produced such stars like Mike Simms, Jonathan Pettibone, and David Newhan so you know it's a haven for baseball players. I kid, but Redington did fit the bill as a future big-time asset for the Braves. An University of Arizona recruit, his many accolades included the LA Times' 1987 Orange County Player of the Year for a season in which he hit .366 with 9 HR. His 22 career homers tied the Orange County record. He was considered a very advanced player with Bob Wadsworth, the Braves scout who signed Redington, commenting that his ability at the moment of signing was comparable to a "college junior." Then-Braves general manager Bobby Cox said that Redington's "bat will carry him to the major leagues."

After inking a contract that included a $100,000 bonus two months after the draft, Redington played about three weeks of ball for Sumter in which he was impressive. Still just 19 in 1988, the Braves wanted to see Redington do it over a full year so they returned him to Sumter, but this time, things just didn't go right. He hit just .196 with a .627 OPS. Now, it should be noted that he walked more than he struck out and still maintained a .320 OBP, but the Braves expected more. Redington blamed his swing for the problems and his manager, Ned Yost, also pointed out that he had to improve his attitude. "He had never experienced any adversity before. He has been used to his whole life being regular Tom Redington, not having to work hard and still being able to excel."

In 1989, Redington's work started to pay off. Beginning the year in Burlington, Redington slashed .299/.412/.517 with 17 homers and again, more walks than strikeouts. Named the Midwest League's MVP, the third baseman outclassed future major leaguers on the roster like Keith Mitchell and Mike Mordecai and it looked like Cox's premonition that Redington's bat would get him moving up the ladder finally was going to be realized. He would spend the last month in Greenville, though he would struggle there. Nevertheless, it was the kind of promising season that gets a player noticed and Baseball America gave him a Top 100 ranking before the 1990 season.

Unfortunately, 1990 was another year of stagnation and would also be Redington's final season with the organization. He would spend the entire year with Greenville, but slashed just .252/.354/.377. If he had been a second baseman, those numbers would have been acceptable, but he was a third baseman and not a terribly good one at that. In a system that was bursting with talent, Redington was losing steam and the Braves felt no need to protect themselves from losing him. In the minor league portion of the 1991 Rule 5 draft, the Padres grabbed him.

His numbers didn't improve much during a second season at AA with his average increasing, but his power dissipating. The next season, he jumped to the White Sox's AA squad in Birmingham and his numbers got even worse. He would miss 1993 likely because of injury before returning to organized ball with his hometown California Angels. Over the next two seasons where he played largely for A+ Lake Elsinore, he showed an excellent bat while hitting against pitchers younger than him. The Angels only gave him 38 PA above A+ during that time. After the 1995 season, his career was over.

Cox missed on Redington, but that's the nature of prospects. Even the ones you are convinced will one day be a major leaguer fail. It's what makes the success stories all the more sweet.

Previous Random Former Prospects...
Dennis Burlingame
J.R. Graham
Elvis Andrus
Bobby Smith
Bubba Nelson
Neftali Feliz
Gorkys Hernandez
Matt Belisle
Matt McClendon

Saturday, February 13, 2016

2016 Top 50 Prospects - #15-#6

For the past couple of weeks, I have looked at the start of the Top 50 list. I've ranked prospects #50 down to #16 so far and now you really start to see the elite prospects of this system. The next ten includes a pair of outfielders, two third basemen, and six pitchers. This section also includes my first grades better than a C+.

A couple of notes. My list does not include Derian Cruz or Christian Pache, the top prospects from last year's international class. Other blogs will include them, but unless the player has actually suited up, they don't make my list. If they did, Cruz would have been in the #10-#20 range with Pache likely in the Top 25 as well. Further, Hector Olivera and Dian Toscano are also not on my list. Even if they were young enough, so many years spent in Cuba's premier league would have kept them off. Finally, I am not a scout so take my rankings and grading system with the largest grain of salt. I believe in them, but acknowledge that other experts could disagree.

Previously Ranked: #50-#26, #25-#16

15. Rio Ruiz, 3B, Grade: C+

It wasn't exactly the season that either Ruiz or the Braves had in mind after he was acquired in the Evan Gattis trade last January. He was coming off a .293/.387/.436 slash with Lancaster (A+) as a 20 year-old and more power was expected. However, the Southern League is a bit tougher to hit in than the California League and Ruiz struggled to the tune of .233/.333/.324. It's worth noting that like many Braves prospects - especially hitters - Ruiz was pushed aggressively and had just eight plate appearances against pitchers younger than him. He also finished strong, hitting nearly .300 with 4 of his 5 HR after August 1. Another trip to Mississippi is likely in his future, though a strong spring could change things. I'm still a believer.

14. Chris Ellis, RHP, Grade: C+

Of the top prospects acquired this offseason, it's easy to forget about Ellis. A stout right-hander who was drafted in the 2014 third round out of Mississippi, Ellis has already started 15 games at AA and held his own. While he lacks the high-end talent of Sean Newcomb, who the Braves also acquired for Andrelton Simmons, Ellis had an impressive first full season of professional ball. Ellis is a breaking pitch away from being a prospect that could climb into the top 10 in no time. It's still amazing that the Angels gave up so much for Simmons. A great player, no doubt, but when you have so few prospects, surrendering Ellis and Newcomb remains a head scratcher.

13. Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, Grade: B-

Two things happened for Jenkins in 2015 that has never happened before in his previous three years since graduating rookie ball - he pitched above A-ball and he stayed pretty healthy. However, while there are things to like about the results, I am a bit slow to get too excited because the K/9 rate was the worst of his career and his walk rate went up. On the other hand, just staying healthy and on the mound was an accomplishment and could give us hope for better things to come. I'm still grading him on his potential and youth is on his side. Jenkins could be a breakthrough player in 2016.

12. Braxton Davidson, OF, Grade: B-

"But he only hit .242." Yes, random person, he did. At the age of 19 in the South Atlantic League. He also on-based .381 with the help of 84 walks and hit ten homers. Davidson will need to make more contact to avoid being a Cody Johnson, but I think he won't have that problem. Though he's only belted ten homers to this point, he has the raw power that could help him cruise past that total in 2016. The big question following Davidson has been whether or not he'll be able to stay in the outfield and while he probably won't be a world beater, he did enough to stick in right field last year and not completely embarrass himself. This is a good sign because his bat has more value in right field than at first base, which is considered his fallback destination. A challenge in Carolina awaits him and he won't turn 20 until June so struggles should be expected. Still...if he is able to turn it on, Davidson could be a difference maker in any lineup.

11. Austin Riley, 3B, Grade: B-

From intriguing prep pitching arm to one of the best hitting prospects in the system in a blink of an eye. After the draft, Riley spent 30 games each at the GCL level and with Danville and hammered 12 homers along the way with a .304/.389/.544 composite slash. Yes, it was only 252 PA and yeah, he struck out 65 times...but we're talking about a kid who doesn't turn 19 until April 2. It's difficult to rank Riley considering his relative inexperience, but it's hard not to push him toward the Top 10 with that kind of start. Now, the fun part begins - can he repeat his success in 2016? He joins a talent-rich Rome squad that should be exciting to watch and more eyeballs than normal will be on him. If he continues to hit, the sky is the limit for this kid.

10. Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade: B

Is the clock starting to run out on Manny as a prospect? To a degree. He'll turn 25 in a month and started just professional career eight years ago. Injuries limited him considerably with 2016 marking the first season since 2011 that he threw at least a 100 innings. He also picked up his first shutout since 2011 as well while with Gwinnett, where he was excellent before earning a promotion to the majors. The results once promoted to the bigs started well, but the production declined before he was hurt and couldn't stay on the mound. Since injuries have taken some of his velocity, he's been relegated to a change-of-speed guy who will need to improve his location to be effective as a starter at the major league level. Still a shot he transitions into a decent LOOGY option down the line, but Atlanta will give him plenty of opportunity to be a rotation fixture first.

9. Mallex Smith, OF, Grade: B

It's easy to become overly excited about Mallex. The speed stands out at first, but its value increases when you look at Mallex's on-base skills. Over four seasons, he has a .380 OBP in the minors. But then you look at the power numbers and it's just as easy to be a bit discouraged. He had an .080 ISO last season, which is about his career norm so far. That gives him very little margin for error. It's difficult for an outfielder to post 4 WAR seasons without a .100 or better ISO. The walks help Mallex in this case and if he's able to improve his defense, which has only garnered okayish grades so far, he could definitely do that. In the end, Mallex needs all the things that he currently does to translate - hit for average, get walks, steal bases, stay in center. If any of these fade, his value is closer to 4th outfielder than the guy many are convinced will shift Ender Inciarte to left when he arrives this summer. Still, I like his chances to become a leadoff hitter in the majors much higher than Jose Peraza.

8. Max Fried, LHP, Grade: B+

At 22, Fried has just 147 innings of professional ball since the Padres made him the 7th overall pick of the 2012 draft. Even with that in mind, there are likely a few organizations out there where Fried would be their top pitching prospect right now. With a major-league quality curveball and great velocity, Fried has drawn comparisons to Cole Hamels. While the Braves will certainly baby him in 2016, the hope is that if Fried can get a hundred of innings in and pitch at AA, he'll be on a path that will get him into the major league picture before the end of 2017.

7. Lucas Sims, LHP, Grade: B+

Selected 13 picks after Fried in 2012, Sims has experienced a much healthier climb, but was bogged down by struggles in the Carolina League. That's a bit surprising because the Carolina League is typically forgiving for pitchers, but Sims was also very young for the level. He got off to a poor start in a return trip in 2015, but had back-to-back good performances before the Carolina bus accident sidelined him. After missing over a month, he came back for a brief run in Carolina before moving up to Mississippi. Outside of one bad outing against Birmingham, he was very stout with the M-Braves, striking out a season-high 10 against Pensacola and pitching into the sixth inning in each of his final six starts. He finished with an impressive 11-inning run in Arizona where he struck out 11 and walked just three. After coming off a disappointing season in 2014, Sims has momentum back on his side.

6. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Grade: B+

With Toussaint, there are few pitchers with more raw stuff. His curveball can be absolutely lethal and his fastball has amazing movement. The problem is getting Toussaint to throw strikes consistently and that can come with more experience. Cleaning up his mechanics will help considerably and at 19, he has plenty of time to get there. The Braves will likely keep the kid gloves on him for the next few seasons and progress him through the system with care. Very few pitchers have the best case scenario as a #2 - maybe even #1 - but Toussaint has that if he can develop an off-speed delivery to compliment his fastball/curve combo (plus mechanics and control, of course). It's going to be fun to watch him try to put it all together and if you can see him pitch this year, you better go. You might see a stinker or you might see him throw six hitless innings like he did against Lakewood last July 20th. That was just his 24th career game.

Next week, I'll post the Top 5 Braves prospects at my other website, atlantabraves.about.com.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Random Former Prospect Sunday - Dennis Burlingame

During the season, Sundays are set aside to take a look at a prospect at random, but with the minor league season over, I wasn't sure what to do for my Sunday article until this nugget of an idea came my way. How about we look at players who ranked in Baseball America's Top 100 while part of the Braves' organization, yet never appeared for the Braves? Over the next few months, I'll take a look at the prospects that were traded or simply faded away and just to keep up with my theme, I randomized the players.

Of the many players on this list, Dennis Burlingame stands out. He's the oldest pitcher - by far - of the collection of former prospects who both appeared on the Baseball America Top 100 as a Braves prospect and failed to appear for the Atlanta Braves. A Phillies fan as a kid from south New Jersey, Burlingame was expected to be part of the new Braves of the 90's. Instead, he would play seven years in the minors before his career came to an abrupt and disappointing end.

http://www.tradingcarddb.com/
The 1987 draft was an example of how little Atlanta actually got out of their drafts in the 80's. For every Tom Glavine and Steve Avery, there was a draft like 1987 where the Braves picked Derek Lilliquist with the sixth overall pick. Three picks later, the Royals selected Kevin Appier. While Appier was rarely excellent, he still had a career worth about 50 bWAR better than Lilliquist. But at least Lilliquist made it to the majors. Only Keith Mitchell (4th round), Brian Hunter (8th), Mike Stanton (13th), and David Nied (14th) joined him out of the 50 players selected by the Braves. Burlingame was picked with the 116th overall selection out of Kingsway Regional High School. The only player ever picked out of that school was his brother, Greg, who originally went in the 15th round five years before but didn't sign. Greg went to community college before transferring to the University of Hawaii where the Mariners selected him 18 rounds after Dennis in 1987.

The younger Burlingame didn't start his career until 1988, when he showed some excellent control as a 19 year-old in the South Atlantic League. He didn't strike out many, but walked just 2.4 BB/9 and with an ERA of 2.49, it was a successful first season. Elbow troubles would limit him over the next years. He was great when he was on the mound and his 0.50 ERA in 54.1 ING during 1989 caught the eye of Baseball America, who ranked him as the 50th best prospect heading into 1990. That made him the fourth-best prospect in the system behind lefthanders Avery, Stanton, and Kent Mercker. His biggest moment of those two injury-shortened years came on Opening Day of the 1989 season. Avery and Burlingame, who were also roommates, both were tabbed to start the two games of a double header for the Durham Bulls. Burlingame got the first start and set down all 21 batters he faced in a seven-inning perfect game. In the minors, double header games are shortened to seven innings a piece. Avery came in for the night cap and tossed six scoreless himself while allowing two hits. By the end of the day, the Frederick Keys only found solace in saying "well, they can't pitch tomorrow."

Once Burlingame finally returned in 1991 to full-time action, something was lacking. He still maintained a solid ERA, but his control took a nosedive. Elbow surgeries back in that era didn't come with the success rate you see today. Instead, a guy who had walked under 2 batters per 9 during his career walked 80 in 161.1 ING (4.5 per nine). On the bright side, the innings was nice to see after pitching 90 total the previous two seasons and his ERA still looked nice at 3.01, but the control was definitely an issue. The following season, 1992, was pretty similar to his previous year. A good ERA at 3.09, a workhouse quality 151.2 innings, and a mediocre 1.4 K/BB. On one hand, he was now a graduate of AA. On the other, his numbers told the story of organizational filler rather than the potential high-value prospect of 1989.

It seemed to all come apart for Burlingame in 1993. He got six games, including one start, for the Richmond Braves, but walked a small village of 14 in 14.2 ING. He struck out just five. He also walked more batters than he struck out during 66.2 innings with Greenville. In an effort to get him going, Atlanta gave him six starts in Macon and while his control looked better there, he still didn't pitch that well (his 2.02 ERA doesn't match his deeper numbers).

Before heading to spring training in 1994, Burlingame did a baseball clinic for 12 and 13 year-olds. It was a nice opportunity for him to try to give back to his local community where he attempted to give kids an inside look on the path to the bigs. He then went to camp in Florida and tried to get back on that path himself through any means at his disposal. A month later, the Braves gave Burlingame a new task. He would head to the California League to work as a knuckleballer for a team the Braves had a working relationship with. In light of the success of Tim Wakefield for the Pirates, teams were interested in using the knuckler as a way to give project pitchers a shot to find themselves again. Burlingame's one year as a professional knuckleballer was atrocious. He paced the league in runs allowed and walked 104 batters, also a league-high. He was cut after the season.

Burlingame had an opportunity to continue his professional career. At least eight teams offered him a chance to join their spring camp as a replacement player if the Strike didn't come to a close heading into the 1995 season. Burlingame, who pumped gas as an offseason job, had to be tempted - but ultimately said no. Either he was going to be a major leaguer by earning it or not. Instead, he went to Mexico and tried to keep the dream alive, but soon retired after just two games. He returned home and began a high school coaching career in 2001. In addition, he is a pitching coach for the South Jersey Bulpen, a baseball academy where he is a colleague of former Brave Dwayne Henry.