Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Transaction Tuesday: Brothers, Albies, Winkler, and Four Releases

Busy week in moves for the minor league system, but the big league club was pretty quiet outside of that whole draft thing (for our review, click here). A pitcher goes on a rehab assignment while another gets his first shot in Gwinnett as he looks to return to the majors. Also, four players were officially released this week, including a recent third round pick. All this and more as I recap this week's transactions.

A note on this report - moves referenced today took place between June 13 and June 19. I no longer refer to Taxi Squad, but extended spring training which is what sending a player to Danville technically refers to this early in the year. Many of them don't actually head to extended spring, though. Prospect Numbers are derived from my preseason Top 50.

Outside of signing draft choices like Kyle Wright and Drew Waters, none.

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Promoted from Mississippi: Rex Brothers...Afer ten fairly dominant outings in Mississippi (18 K's in 9.2 ING), Brothers is closing in on another shot at the majors. He appeared in his first game with Gwinnett on Monday after replacing Kris Medlen in the sixth with one out and pair of runners on. He allowed one run to score on an infield single but ended the inning by inducing a double play. Brothers hasn't been good in the bigs since 2013, but the Braves are likely going to see about giving him a chance to rediscover his former magic fairly soon.

Activated: Ozzie Albies (#3)...After a short trip to the DL, Albies returned in full force last Tuesday with a two-hit game. He followed that up with multi-hit games in three of his next six games. Overall, he's 11-for-34 since his activation (.344) with six extra-base hits. He was also turning his season around before the DL trip. Over his last 33 games, going back to May 8, Albies has slashed .297/.358/.471 with 7 doubles, 4 triples, and 3 HR. Reports of his demise as an elite prospect were greatly exaggerated.

DL'd: Caleb Dirks (#34)...Dirks showed up last week in the temporary inactive list. After three days off (I assume for paternity, but not sure), Dirks appeared once on the 14th and tossed a scoreless frame with a walk and two K's. The outing gave him a 3.06 ERA over 35.1 ING with 42 Ks. I don't know why he hit the DL, but hopefully, it's not too serious and he'll be back in action before too long. Dirks has earned a great deal of consideration should the big league squad need an arm in the pen.

DL'd: Emerson Landoni...This is the fourth time Landoni has landed on the DL this year. He's only played in nine games overall. This seems more like a misuse of the DL, which the Braves often do with Braeden Schlehuber.

Promoted from Florida: Jonathan Morales (#42)...He blitzed the Gulf Coast League in 2015 and held his own in the SALLY League last year while sharing catching duties. A lot was hoped for when he arrived in Florida, but he hit just .253/.300/.304 over 209 PA with only six extra base hits. So, why did he get promoted? Because sometimes, you can have too many catchers. Morales probably isn't going to be better off in Double-A where he'll face even tougher pitchers, but he got the short end of the stick here with the Braves having four legitimate prospects at their two Class-A squads.

Promoted from Florida: Omar Obregon...Obregon came into 2016 looking like he might develop into something of a prospect. He hit .274 in 2015 with a .336 OBP and 31 steals while playing all over the infield. However, injuries and a stagnant bat have left him to stick in High-A over the last two years. This is his first shot to play in Double-A and he really didn't earn it so much as he's being given a chance to replace some older utility types.

Released: Reed Harper...A 25th rounder out of Austin Peay all the way back in 2013, Harper has never been able to hit. Over 1104 PA, he has a career OBP of .294 - which is shockingly better than his SLG. He was a utility guy who was on borrowed time as better prospects shuffle through the system.

Released: Levi Hyams...I recently likened Riley Delgado, drafted last week, to Levi Hyams among others as guys without much of a bat, but who simply go out and get the ball. Well, Hyams will have to do that for someone else now. After nearly 500 games and exactly 1800 PA, Hyams was cut from the organization. A 19th round selection out of the University of Georgia back in 2012, Hyams did a decent enough job getting on base between 2013 and 2015, but his bat completely disappeared the last two seasons spent mostly in Mississippi.

Promoted from Rome: Alan Rangel...A bit surprising here. Rangel just made it to A-ball after starting the year in extended spring training. He threw 8.2 innings over his two starts and was hit up a good deal (17 hits seems excessive). Rangel was an international signing back in 2014 and looked decent last year in his second go-around with the GCL squad.

Sent on Rehab Assignment to Rome and then Florida: Daniel Winkler...It's been a long road back for Winkler after he fractured his elbow throwing a pitch last April. The 2014 Rule 5 selection had looked really impressive at the time, too. Finally, he began the road back to the majors - or at least forcing the Braves to make a decision - by giving up a run in one inning for Rome last week. Three days later, on Monday, he followed that up by throwing a hitless inning. He's walked a batter in each frame and hasn't struck out anyone, which is mildly surprising for the 2013 Minor League Strikeout Champion (175 K's). Winkler still falls under the Rule 5 rules for another 57 days so when his rehab stint is over, the Braves will have to decide whether to keep him or lose him. He'll likely use the full 30 days - or close to it - available for rehab assignments as the Braves try to make a decision on him.

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Activated: Alex Jackson (#21)...Wonderful news as Jackson lost a month of action after being red-hot to open the year with an OPS over .900 and ten homers. Considering he was coming off a career-high 11 homers last year, that was great to see. Jackson has been re-born since the Braves brought him back behind the plate after the Mariners shifted him to the outfield full-time after drafting the California native.

Activated: Wigberto Nevarez...A 20th round pick back in 2014, Nevarez hasn't shown much of a stick since he was drafted (career .259 OBP), but the Braves like him and despite having a lot of catchers in the mix, Nevarez has stuck around.

Assigned to Extended Spring and Brought Back: Tanner Murphy...Playing time has been difficult to come by for Murphy since being promoted from Rome. Minus six days spent "with Danville," Murphy has been with Florida for nearly a month and has played just six times. Murphy finished strong last year with Carolina, but with Jackson, Morales, and others in the picture, catching has suddenly become very crowded.

Demoted to Rome and Promoted to Florida: A.J. Minter (#19)...This happened because Florida was bombarded with rain last week and had nearly an entire series with Daytona canceled To avoid having Minter's schedule altered, the Braves brought him up to Rome where he tossed a scoreless frame while allowing a hit and picking up a K. He quickly returned to the Fire Frogs and appeared in Monday's game to stick with his current schedule. On the year, Minter has appeared four times while striking out eight over four frames.

Promoted from Danville: Jaret Hellinger...I wondered if Hellinger was going to be a part of the Danville rotation when their season began, but he was promoted back to Rome. The southpaw struggled in six outings for Rome after a mid-May promotion. He started once and overall, he surrendered 14 runs (13 earned) in 12.1 innings with nine walks. Hopefully, his second stint in Rome will go much better.

Released: Gabe Howell...A 20th rounder last June, Howell hit a buck-50 for the GCL squad last year with a steal. Howell was about to arrive in spring training when he was slapped with a 68-game suspension for testing positive for Hydrochlorothiazide, which sounds exactly how you might think it does. The PED had Howell on thin ice and the Braves decided to move on.

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Released: Anthony Guardado...Sometimes, things just don't work out. Not even ranked by the Minor League Ball Top 400 or MLB.com Top 200 before the 2015 draft, the Braves took Guardado in the third round with the 89th overall selection. They were able to convince him to come to the Braves rather than attend Long Beach State, though they still got Guardado at about a hundred grand under slot. He was coming off a football-related shoulder injury which wiped out most of his senior year of high school. He appeared once in 2015 and eight more times last year (for a total of 8.2 innings), but simply couldn't stay healthy enough to warrant the high selection.

Signed and Assigned: Brando Hernandez...He came from the east to do battle. His name...is Brando. Actually, I don't know a thing about this signing, but I was a little surprised to see (1) a signing this late in the 2016-17 period and (2) the near-immediate assignment in the DSL. Brando is a bit on the older side at 19 so he must have impressed a scout somewhere.

I again want to give a special shoutout and thanks to Jeff Morris. All three pictures used in this entry come from him and he does a great job attaching faces to the Braves' bevy of prospects. Make sure you follow him on Twitter @AtlBravesJeff.

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