Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Transaction Tuesday: Weigel, Acuna, Gohara, Seymour

As I try to do every week, here is your recap of organizational transactions for the Atlanta Braves. While the major league squad was quiet this week, others were quite active with a number of big prospects getting promotions.

A note on this report - moves referenced today took place between May 9 and May 15. Taxi Squad refers to a Braves minor league team "sending" a player to Danville just to get him off the active roster. In most cases, the player will stay with the team that just demoted him until he is brought back onto the active roster. Prospect Numbers are derived from my preseason Top 50.

Atlanta Braves
Surprisingly, none.

Gwinnett
Promoted from Mississippi: Patrick Weigel (#17)...It's been a meteoric rise for Weigel and it continues this week. After seven starts (and three last year) at Mississippi, Weigel had shown that Double-A simply did not have an answer for him. He's now in Triple-A and worked seven innings in his debut with 5 K's, a walk, and three runs allowed. Right now, the Gwinnett Braves rotation is stocked with current and former big-time prospects. Now, will their production match the hype? In Weigel's case, I'm betting it does.

Activated from DL: Joel De La Cruz...The best way to describe De La Cruz is he's just an arm. A year after making his major league debut at 27 and pitching 62.2 innings for the Braves, De La Cruz is back in the minors and looked bad before being placed on the DL. In his first game back, he threw two innings and despite allowing a pair of runners, he faced the minimum.

Placed on DL: Blake Lalli...Things haven't gone so well for Lalli, who's hit .182/.245/.295 over his first 49 PA.

Demoted to Mississippi: Jason Hursh...Hursh has played in Mississippi in every season aside from his first year. The guy may as well get a house there. He wasn't bad in Gwinnett. In fact, with 20 K's in 17.1 ING, he was flashing - by far - the best strikeout rate of his career. But in a numbers game, Hursh lost and De La Cruz continues on.

Mississippi
Promoted from Florida: Ronald Acuna (#9)...You know the fear that some Braves fans had that Acuna's solid, though injury-shortened 2016, and the huge run in the Aussie Winter League was hyping him up a bit too much? Well...so far...it looks like Acuna is proving that he might be one of the Top 20 prospects in baseball if not higher. After a .287/.336/.478 run in Florida, which included 11 extra base hits and 14 stolen bases, Acuna came up to Mississippi and had as impressive of a first week in the Southern League as one can have. He went 16-for-29 (.552) with five extra-base hits and five steals. It's times like this that we need to remember this is Acuna's Age-19 year. Contrary to what the Braves seem to think (other teenagers with Mississippi include Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka), it's just not normal to see this many teenagers in Double-A - especially this early in the season. But Acuna, Allard, and Soroka share one common feature - they are all uber-talented and among the elite prospects in baseball.

Promoted from Florida: Luiz Gohara (#7)...Alex Jackson and Gohara were two of Seattle's best prospects, which they basically gave to the Braves. Both were at Florida and both were performing at a high rate. Gohara's already earned a promotion after striking out 39 in 36.1 innings with a 1.98 ERA. Unfortunately, Gohara left his first start with Mississippi after just eight batters with a triceps injury. Hopefully, it won't be too worrisome for him moving forward.

Placed on Taxi Squad and Activated off Taxi Squad: Kade Scivicque (#45)...He received just a brief time away from the club - maybe it was a personal matter - and is already back on the team. Scivicque has continued to impress with a .344/.381/.433 start after nearly OPSing .900 in the Arizona Fall League. While I don't expect him to develop into a starting catcher in the majors, he could carve out some major league time as a decent-hitting backup catcher.

Promoted from Danville and Demoted to Danville: Carlos Martinez...Not much to say here. He was a backup catcher who was around for the day Scivicque wasn't with the team. He's hit .238/.303/.283 over a four-year career spent entirely at the rookie level.

Released: Adam Walker...I wonder what happened to the Adam Walker fan who frequented my blog a few months back - excited about the possibilities of Walker and disappointed with my lack of praise for the outfielder. Walker lasted 24 games in the Braves before being released. I'd say he wasn't hitting his weight, but at 225 pounds, it would be more fitting to say Walker was just barely hitting half of his weight. He hit five homers, though. He also struck out 39 times in 99 PA. I'm not great at math, but that seems excessive. He's since signed with the Orioles.

Florida
Promoted from Taxi Squad: J.B. Moss...A Texas A&M alum who the Braves grabbed in the seventh round last year, Moss had an up-and-down 2016. He owned the Appalachian League for 24 games before struggling badly in the Carolina League (while skipping the South Atlantic). Since his promotion, his High-A struggles have continued to the tune of a 2-for-17 run with no walks, extra bases hits, or really anything else to add to this sentence.

Promoted from Rome: Andres Santiago...It's becoming more and more difficult to see what the Braves are so enamored about when it comes to Santiago. He's a 27-year-old righty in his 11th year of baseball.

Promoted from Rome: Anfernee Seymour (#47)...I wasn't as big on Seymour as others heading into this year, but the results have been tremendous. After slashing .287/.345/.352 during a return trip to the South Atlantic League, Seymour earned a promotion and has gone 10-for-25 since. No longer a middle infielder, Seymour's path to the bigs is reliant on a solid hit tool and plus-plus speed.

Placed on DL: Carlos Castro (#49)...One day, he's hitting three homers in a game. The next, he gets blasted in the face and is headed to the DL. That was Castro's week. The three-homer barrage occurred last Wednesday and was part of a 5-for-5 day. He came out of nowhere to hit 17 homers last year in just 84 games and Wednesday's effort gave him six on the young season. Now, he's out for an undetermined amount of time as he suffered a facial fracture when Lakeland's Endrys Briceno came high-and-tight against him.

Rome 
Promoted from Danville: Justin Ellison...This is the first of five new additions from Danville/Extended Spring Training to fill spots that were opened up mostly from the string of promotions that occurred last week. Ellison was a regular for Rome last year and played in 121 games. He was horrid early, but over the season's final four months, he improved. Still, that only meant he slashed .265/.322/.388 over his final 89 games with 20 doubles, seven triples, and two homers. Ellison has a quick, though long swing, and plus speed both on the basepaths and in the field. If he can add a bit more muscle without sacrificing his speed, there's potential pop in his bat. He's 1-for-8 so far after the callup with a triple.

Promoted from Danville: Matt Gonzalez...A sixth rounder last June out of Georgia Tech, Gonzalez was a late bloomer who flashed an intriguing bat in his senior season. He continued that with an impressing switch to wood bats (.302/.327/.397). The Braves have effectively moved him from 2B/3B to LF so far since his callup and he's struggled with the bat early, but it's just six games so both of these findings are premature. Gonzalez was a guy who signed well under slot ($281.K less than his draft slot) so his value to the team was more about helping them sign better prospects. Anything they get now will be bonus.

Promoted from Danville: Yeudi Grullon...This is already Year 5 of Grullon's professional journey. That includes 57 games with Rome last year in which he hit .219/.287/.244 - and pitched twice in blowout efforts. He's a utility guy who will move runners and has a fairly decent understanding of the strikezone.

Promoted from Danville: Jaret Hellinger...In the 2015 draft, the Braves took Hellinger and gave him a sixth-round-like $300K despite picking him in the 20th round. He's spent the last two years with fairly average numbers, but the Braves definitely saw something in him. 20 years-old now, the former Ola High School (McDonough, GA) southpaw will try use low-90's heat and developing secondary pitches to try to keep batters at bay. Don't expect big K numbers, but if he's flashing some of the potential Atlanta saw in him, expect some positive numbers.

Promoted from Danville: Luis Mora...Mora's got to get moving. He'll turn 22 a month from now and finally got into his first two games above rookie ball. Now, he's just in his fourth year after spending two in the Dominican Summer League, but the Braves need to see something quick because in June, they plan to add some more pitchers in the draft and Mora has yet to stand out. He's got a good fastball, but control is an issue. That's not just a walks problem, but also his inability to spot his pitches, which allows hitters to tee off on the ones that do slip into the strikezone.

Placed on Taxi Squad: Thomas Burrows (#37)...Looks like a bit of a break for Burrows, who already has appeared ten times for Rome this season. The K's (23%) are looking good and I have to believe some of those hits will quick falling as frequently.

Placed on Taxi Squad: Tucker Davidson...A 19th rounder out of Amarillo, Texas, Davidson skipped Danville on his way to Rome to open the year. Over 10 games, the lefty K'd 25 in 20.1 innings, though he continues to be a bit hit-prone. I expect him back in Rome before too long.

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