Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Transaction Tuesday - Braves Finish Busy Week With Waiver Claim

I skipped last week's Transaction Tuesday recap because I only had a couple of items to cover (David Hale reappearing, Christian Walker's brief run with the Braves concluding). This week, I have quite a lot more to analyze, including a waiver pickup last night. Let's dive deep into a busy week.

Atlanta Braves
Claimed: LHP Kevin Chapman (Astros)...A fourth-round pick by the Royals back in 2010 out of the University of Florida, Chapman moved to the Astros in a trade before the 2012 season. He took off in the Astros' system, earning a promotion in 2013. Since then, he's been a regular on the Fresno-to-Houston flight. Despite parts of four seasons in the bigs, he's only appeared in 58 games and logged 55 innings. The results aren't too exciting. Capable of excellent strikeout numbers in the minors, (23%-to-25%), Chapman's K numbers are down under 20% in the majors while his walk totals remain pretty substandard (12.5%). He's prone to leaving the ball high or over the plate and has a 0.82 HR/9 rate in the bigs. All of those numbers lead to a FIP/xFIP/SIERA split of 4.29/4.60/4.35. Basically, he's not horrid, but he's not too good, either. As a left-hand specialist, he's difficult to square up against (zero HR allowed) and he strikes out a quarter of all lefties, but his control is still problematic. Against righties, he's been pretty abysmal (6.34 FIP in a limited sample). Chapman is a rare breed in that he throws five different pitches out of the pen, though his 92-93 mph sinker will be, by far, his most common choice. That said, it's more of a hard fastball with some sink to it and that's why Chapman doesn't get a huge amount of grounders. Chapman will also throw a slider and changeup along with a four-seam fastball and curve that he's added the last two seasons to the mix. None of his pitches look to be more than average. My impression is that Chapman is depth for the time being and a guy the Braves might try to sneak off their 40-man roster as he's out of options. Such a move led to Christian Walker's exit from the organization, but the Braves were able to move Adam Walker off the roster that way.

Disabled: RHP Daniel Winkler (60-day)...No timetable has been set on Winkler as he returns from a fractured elbow while throwing a pitch last April. However, the 60-days gives us an idea of where the Braves see Winkler right now. At the very least, we won't see Winkler throw a meaningful pitch until possibly May as he begins a rehab assignment and tries to get back to the bigs. If successful, Atlanta will have to keep him on the roster for at least 57 days (hat tip to Braves Options Guy).

Gwinnett
Optioned: RHP Jason Hursh (2nd option)...Despite making it to the majors last year for the first time, there was little chance that Hursh would make the opening day roster. The former starter and 2013 first-round selection didn't have much success this spring in his very limited showings and continues to serve as an example of bad high-floor drafting from the Frank Wren years.

Mississippi
Optioned: LHP Jesse Biddle (2nd option)...This surprised no one. A former top prospect in the Phillies' system, Biddle missed last season with Tommy John surgery and will return to Double-A, where he's already logged 31 starts between 2014-15. However, it's a good spot for Biddle as it allows him to work on his game without the pressures of jockeying for position on what remains a talented Gwinnett rotation. Biddle made his return to live ball last week with an inning against his former Phillie mates. For more on Biddle, check out my scouting report.

Released: LHP Matt Marksberry...Though this is not official, Marksberry himself tweeted last week about his release as he thanked the Braves organization for an opportunity and changed his Twitter description to "Free Agent Believer." Marksberry appeared in 35 games for the Braves the last two years and despite little success, was a fan favorite due to his approachable nature on Twitter. Early in the offseason, Marksberry suffered from a seizure and dehydration after suffering some side effects from medicine he was taking. He was placed in an induced coma for a few days as doctors worked to bring up his shockingly low sodium levels. Marksberry was in the minor league camp after being removed from the 40-man roster last year.

Reassigned to Minor League Camp (Team To Be Determined)
LHP Sam Freeman...With 142 games already in the major leagues, Freeman looked like a strong contender for a bullpen spot after being one of the earliest free agents signed by the Braves this offseason. However, subsequent moves and Freeman's limitations on the mound - notably his failure to dominate lefties - put Freeman as a distant option heading into camp. He did little to impress, allowing six hits and six runs over one inning of work with a pair of walks. Freeman is still may find it hard to make Gwinnett or Mississippi's roster so don't be surprised if you see him cut later in camp.

LHP Adam Kolarek...A former long-time Mets product, Kolarek has struggled to stick in Triple-A and has logged just 36 games there since 2013. Kolarek has looked good in a specialist role, but most left-hand specialists rarely don't start that way. Typically, they hold their own against righties in the minors, which Kolarek rarely has done. Like Freeman, he'll compete for a spot at Gwinnett or possibly Mississippi.

By Sports Crazy on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop)
[CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
RHP Rhiner Cruz...Signed out of the Mexican League, Cruz has tossed three scoreless innings this spring for the Braves. A Rule 5 selection in 2012, Cruz struggled tremendously while spending the year in the majors. He saw action in the bigs again in 2013, but soon pitched himself out of the Astros' plans as they cut him in 2014 so that he could head to Japan. He works off a funky delivery with good velocity and a hit-or-miss slurve. Like many of the minor league free agents the Braves signed, he was added to compete for a spot with Mississippi or Gwinnett, but his solid work with the big league club will only help him find a job come opening day.

C Joseph Odom...In 52 games with Carolina last year, Odom came into his own with a .292/.349/.500 slash that included a .379 wOBA. A callup to Mississippi, however, took away most of Odom's power and hurt his chances of pushing his way up the prospect charts. A good defender, Odom is likely ticketed for a return trip to Mississippi with...

C Kade Scivicque...Acquired from the Tigers late during the 2016 season for Erick Aybar, Scivicque had a strong - and limited - showing in the Arizona Fall League and some solid numbers with the Tigers' top A-ball team before the trade (.282/.324/.379). Scivicque made my Top 50 rankings at #45 based on his potential plus his progression along with some defensive skills as a pitch framer and caller. While I doubt he'll ever hit enough to earn a full-time starting nod in the majors, Scivicque has the look of a decent backup catcher at some point.

OF Dustin Peterson...Being reassigned is more of a procedural move for Peterson, who broke his hamate bone in his left hand facing the Yankees on March 1. Peterson is coming off a year where he won the organization's Player of the Year award and set new personal-highs in a number of offensive categories. Just as important was his progression as a fielder in his second year after being moved away from third base. Peterson's breakout campaign still masked how young he is as this is his Age-22 season. Once healthy and after proving his timing is back, Peterson will head to Gwinnett where he will try to keep his name firmly in place as the first outfielder called up if an injury opens a spot. For more on Peterson, here is a small report on him from my offseason Top 50 prospects.

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