October 3, 2009 at 4:37 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Farm System, Minor Leagues, Prospects
Number 40: J. J. Hoover- RHP (21) 6′3″ 215 LB
Hoover was, perhaps, the most valuable starter for the Rome Braves in 2009. Being the most valuable starter for any Atlanta Braves’ minor-league affiliate is usually an honor, but this one is particularly meaningful considering the rotation included, at some point, Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Brett DeVall, Zeke Spruill, Dimaster Delgado, Paul Clemens, Richard Sullivan, and Mike Minor. There was more pitching talent on the Rome Braves this year than any other Braves’ minor-league affiliate, and Hoover was their horse. Hoover posted a 3.35 ERA, a 1.191 WHIP, and a 148-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 134 and 1/3 innings for the Class Single-A Rome Braves. He also got a “cup of coffee” with the Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans and pitched 3 innings. He showed plenty of polish, as he should for a 22-year-old playing in the South Atlantic League. He’s one of those prospects who are difficult to gauge, but overall, with his excellent, yet un-astonishing, performance in 2009, he’s moved himself from the “fringe prospect/filler” category to “on the prospect map”. There’s a good chance he’ll crack the top-2o when I finalize my rankings.
Number 39: Michael Mehlich – RHP (21) 6′2″ 180 LB
It was a rough year, statistically speaking, for Michael Mehlich. He posted a 6.82 ERA, a 1.686 WHIP, and a 55-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 64 and 2/3 innings between Class-A Rome and Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach. His walk rate, HR/9, and H/9 all climbed this season while his K/9 dipped significantly. This, of course, resulted in overall ineffectiveness. For review, Mehlich is very raw and new to pitching. He was a 2-sport standout in high school and never pitched before he was drafted. I won’t know how to properly evaluate his season until I talk to some knowledgeable people about his progress, but the result likely isn’t good. Though with a good review, he could be top-30.
Number 38: Thomas Palica – LHP (21) 6′3″ 215 LB
Thomas Palica had another impressive season and has officially joined the ranks of the many relief prospects in the upper minors of the Braves’ system. Palica, in 61 and 1/3 innings between Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Class-AA Mississippi, posted a 3.23 ERA, a 1.288 WHIP, and a 68-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His strikeout rate is slightly down from last year and his walk rate is slightly up, though not enough to cause concern. Overall, a very good building season. If next season goes as well as 2009 did, Palica could find himself fighting for a big-league job out of Spring Training in 2011.
Number 37: Brett Oberholtzer – LHP (19) 6′2″ 190 LB
Brett Oberholtzer had an excellent season for the Danville Braves, pitching 67 innings in 12 starts with a 2.01 ERA, a 0.776 WHIP, and a 56-to-6(!) strikeout-to-walk ratio. He pitched well enough to be named Baseball America’s 20th best prospect in the Appalacian League. The control specialist allowed only 1 HR in his 12 starts. He showed that he may be capable of being more than just an innings-eater and certainly increased his prospect stock. He may rank in the top-20, but he’ll most likely miss the cut.
Number 36: Van Pope -3B (25) 6’0″ 200 LB
Sucked. In 368 PA’s with AAA-Gwinnett, he hit .202/.279/.286/.565. He played some great defensive 3B, but he’s 25 years old and he probably isn’t ever going to hit. Verdict: Bust.
Number 35: Diory Hernandez – 2B (25) 5’11″ 175 LB
Diory Hernandez led the minors in hitting for awhile, hitting .355 at AAA Gwinnett before he was called up to replace Omar Infante as the utility infielder with the big club. He was terrible with the Atlanta Braves, but posted a final line of .319/.399/.422 at AAA, which isn’t so bad. He’s 25 years old and will likely never be more than a spare part. He played horrible defense and hit .141/.198/.212 in 93 PA’s with the big club. His outlook would probably be better if he hadn’t exposed himself in MLB this year.
Number 34: Jacob Thompson – RHP (22) 6′6″ 215 LB
Bad year for Jacob Thompson. He pitched 154 and 2/3 innings between Class-A Rome and Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach. In those 154 and 2/3 innings, Thompson posted a 4.25 ERA, a 1.409 WHIP, and a 119-to-56 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Strikeouts are down, walks are up, and hits are up. Basically, he took a step backwards in every important category this year. That doesn’t bode well for his ranking and he’ll most likely be off this year’s top-4o.
Number 33: Kyle Cofield – RHP (22) 6′5″ 190 LB
It amazes me how Kyle Cofield is able to prevent runs. This year he pitched 140 and 2/3 innings for the Class-AA Mississippi Braves and posted a 3.90 ERA despite a 1.500 WHIP and a 87-to-89(!) strikeout-to-walk ratio. A high strand rate and the fact that 13 of the 74 runs he surrendered were scored “unearned” deflates his ERA, but his phereprials tell the real story. He didn’t show much this year and his prospect stock is way down.
Number 32: Dimaster Delgado – RHP (20) 6′2″ 180 LB
Dimaster Delgado did an excellent job of building on his solid 2007 and 2008 campaigns, making 17 starts for the Class-A Rome Braves. In those starts, he posted a 3.61 ERA, a 1.154 WHIP, and a 104-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The solid across the board season has increased Delgado’s prospect stock and he’ll likely make the top-20 in the new rankings.
Number 31: Paul Clemens – RHP (21) 6′4″ 170 LB
Paul Clemens had a very bad 2009 season. In 85 and 1/3 innings for the Class-A Rome Braves, he posted a 5.91 ERA, a 1.805 WHIP, and a 64-to-49 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Every one of his phereprials took a step backwards. The 7th rounder isn’t off the prospect map, but his performance won’t warrant much consideration for anything beyond his current position in the rankings.
View the complete top 40 list here.
September 25, 2009 at 1:35 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Daily Post, Draft, Farm System, Minor Leagues, Series Preview
Elias Rankings Update
The new Elias Rankings are out courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors.
- Adam LaRoche remains a Type B and puts some distance between him and the “no-status” status.
- Garret Anderson, against all odds, remains a Type B by a fairly large margin.
- Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano remain in no jeopardy of falling out of Type A status.
- Tim Hudson may have an outside shot at achieving Type B status, but he’s a fairly large ways away (Tim’s at 53.333 points, Pelfrey, the highest on the list who isn’t a Type B, is at 58.409, and the lowest Type B, John Lannan (whom Kelly has a career 1.133 OPS against, gotta squeeze in the agenda!), is at 60.00).
We Swept ‘Em Back-to-Back
Two straight sweeps of the Mets. Not that this deserves any bragging, as it’s probably easy to beat the Mets without Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, J. J. Putz, and Johan Santana. But it still feels good to sweep the Mets. Always. Never gets old.
Right at 12%. That’s pretty much all wild-card at this point. Perhaps I just cursed the Braves who head into a 10-game stretch where they play 3 at Washington, 3 vs Florida, and 4 more vs Washington. We’ll hope the Braves don’t read this site and try to prove me wrong.
Getting down to it, though, the Braves need to win 10 of their last 10. Seriously, running the table is pretty much the only option. After Colorado lost last night*, they sit at 86-67 and the Braves 82-70. If the Braves go 10-0, they’ll be at 92-70, the inverse of last year’s record. All Colorado has to do is go 6-3 over their final 9 to force a 1-game playoff and 7-2 to win the wild-card. Perhaps the Braves have help on the way, though. Colorado’s final 9 games feature 3 vs. St. Louis, 3 vs. Milwaukee, and 3 @ Los Angeles. There’s a good chance that the Rockies win less than 5 of their final 9. So the Braves chances are still alive. You’ve just gotta run the table.
*Good lord, about time the Rockies lost**. It’s annoying. Earlier in the year, the Braves were on a huge streak and gained no ground on the Phillies. It’s the same story here. Every time the Braves go on their streak, seems like someone else ahead of them follows suit. The only option is to go on an unattainably long hot streak.
**I wrote this post yesterday and the Rockies had just lost their first to the Padres. The Rockies have since lost again, putting the Braves in an even better position.
And you’ve gotta start tonight in Washington.
The Pitching match-ups include Javier Vazquez vs. John Lannan, Tommy Hanson vs. Garrett Mock, and Derek Lowe vs. Livan Hernandez. I like the Braves in all 3 of those. It’s important to take them 1 at a time, though. Meanwhile, the Rockies will be pitted against the likes of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Kyle Lohse this weekend. It’s a great opportunity to gain some ground.
The Braves have the best chance of any team of overtaking the Rockies. It’d take a trick they themselves have pulled to overtake them, though (the Braves have won 11 of 13. The Rockies won 21 of 22 to get to the World Series. The Braves need to win 20-21 of their final 23).
Earlier, Christian Bethancourt was named the GCL’s number 1 prospect. I didn’t report it because I don’t know anything about GCL players, usually. Baseball America followed up with their Appalachian League Top 20 Prospects. The Cartagena Kid was ranked number 1. Danville also won the Appy league, so it would stand to reason they would have a few in the top 20. Last year’s 2nd rounder, Tyler Stovall, ranked 16th on their list. 2009 4th rounder–Mycal Jones, a toolsy college SS, hit .258 with 19 SB (4 CS), 4 HR, and a .767 OPS, enough to rank 17th on the list. Brett Oberholtzer (LHP), a 2008 8th rounder, also cracked the top-20. The article also mentions two break-out performers who didn’t crack the list:
Two of Danville’s first-year pros made a huge impact in the Appy League but just missed the cut. First baseman and league MVP Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg, a 16th-round pick from Nova Southeastern (Fla.), hit .359 to win the batting title, and his strength and knowledge of the strike zone portend a bright future. Lefthander Chris Masters, an 11th-round pick from Western Carolina, led the league with 85 strikeouts in 70 innings and narrowly missed winning the ERA title at 1.42. He expertly spots an 87-92 mph fastball but needs to refine his secondary stuff.
Games Last Night
Even though the Braves didn’t play, I watched some baseball last night. First the Padres-Rockies. That game was pretty crazy. Then the Giants-Cubs, that one was even crazier. Let’s just take a look at the Win Probability Graphs. First Rockies-Padres:
And the Cubs-Giants:
It was a great day for Braves baseball even if they were off. The Rockies lose (and now have 9 games against tough opponents), the Cubs win (so the Cardinals have to play at least one meaningful game against the Rockies), and the Giants lost, putting them behind the Braves in the Wild Card standings. Great day.
Packers 34 at Rams 17
Redskins 21 at Lions 10
49ers 20 at Vikings 21
Falcons 34 at Patriots 35
Titans 10 at Jets 17
Chiefs 3 at Eagles 33
Giants 31 at Buccaneers 17
Browns 3 at Ravens 24
Jaguars 21 at Texans 38
Bears 17 at Seahawks 16
Saints 38 at Bills 35
Steelers 27 at Bengals 0
Broncos 9 at Raiders 10
Dolphins 17 at Chargers 34
Colts 27 at Cardinals 21
Panthers 35 at Cowboys 34
I’ve already done Kelly Johnson Fan Club for the upcoming series and I feel like I should be diverting more attention towards getting the Braves in the playoffs (like I can have any impact…) and less to my “KJ needs more playing time” agenda. Although I think the two would probably correlate. So that’s all I’ve got for now. Let’s beat the Nationals tonight, and tomorrow, and Sunday!
September 8, 2009 at 5:10 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Daily Post, Minor Leagues
When do the Braves ever have Labor Day off? Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed the holiday.
Thought of the Day
Every off-season, I feel like, has an approach. Every GM goes into an off-season not only with a set of goals, but also an idea about how he wants to accomplish the goals. The approach generally fits the goals and the style of the GM. For instance, Omar Minaya’s goals last off-season were to a) primarily, improve the bullpen and b) add a SP. His style is all about the big-name type acquisitions. So, what does he do? Goes out and signs the guy who just broke the saves record and pulled off a 4,486 player deal for another proven closer. Then, since he had burned all his energy and resources on those moves, to fill the secondary goal, he re-signed the company man, Oliver Perez. That approach fit his style and the goals he wanted to accomplish.
Last off-season, Frank Wren’s approach was to be very aggressive bringing in Starting Pitching. He pulled off a controversial trade for Javier Vazquez (one that made the critics look like idiots beyond a shadow of a doubt), and signed two free agents plus brought Tom Glavine back. The approach sort of fit his style and goals. He really wanted to improve the starting pitching. That’s what killed the Braves in 2008. And he didn’t go after big-names, but he didn’t make any gamble moves that he hope paid off, either*. He was like Brian Cashman Jr. Went about the business exactly the way Cashman would if Cashman had limited resources. Don’t think this is a bad thing. I think Cashman is an excellent GM and Frank Wren was correct for taking this approach last off-season. I believe, at least.
*Some people would argue Kawakami was a gamble and hasn’t paid off. Let me tell you, if 145 and 2/3 innings of 4.02 ERA and 1.6 WAR thus far is a bust to you, you’ve got unrealistic expectations. Kawakami is worth what the Braves paid. With the potential to be better, so he’s far from a bust. If this is the worst Frank Wren envisioned and this is all he paid, he came out on top of this one. Here’s a real bust: 3 years, $36 million for a pitcher who has posted a 6.82 ERA in 66 innings. I hate to harp on the Stem, but that’s Oliver Perez.
Well, here’s the thought of the day. This off-season, I recommend Frank Wren to take the opportunistic approach rather than the aggressive one. The club is in a different position. Instead of having multiple, glaring holes, the club is in a position where if they didn’t do anything, they would still field a very competitive team in 2010. I mean, just look at what the Braves could have if they picked up Hudson’s option, let all the other free agents leave, and did nothing else. Here’s the 25-man roster I came up with, estimating the arbitration raises to Kelly Johnson, Peter Moylan, Matt Diaz, and Ryan Church:
|SP -||Derek Lowe||$15,000,000.00|
|SP -||Javier Vazquez||$11,500,000.00|
|SP -||Tim Hudson||$12,000,000.00|
|SP -||Jair Jurrjens||$400,000.00|
|SP -||Tommy Hanson||$400,000.00|
|RP -||Peter Moylan||$1,500,000.00|
|RP -||Kenshin Kawakami||$7,333,333.00|
|RP -||Eric O’Flaherty||$400,000.00|
|RP -||Manny Acosta||$400,000.00|
|RP -||Kris Medlen||$400,000.00|
|RP -||Boone Logan||$400,000.00|
|RP -||Craig Kimbrel||$400,000.00|
|C -||Brian McCann||$5,666,666.00|
|1B -||Martin Prado||$400,000.00|
|2B -||Kelly Johnson||$3,750,000.00|
|SS -||Yunel Escobar||$400,000.00|
|3B -||Chipper Jones||$13,000,000.00|
|LF -||Nate McLouth||$5,000,000.00|
|CF -||Jordan Schafer||$400,000.00|
|RF -||Jason Heyward||$400,000.00|
|BC -||David Ross||$1,600,000.00|
|UT -||Omar Infante||$1,850,000.00|
|UT -||Brooks Conrad||$400,000.00|
|OF -||Matt Diaz||$3,000,000.00|
|OF -||Ryan Church||$3,750,000.00|
I think the Braves could compete with that roster. You’ve got a great defensive outfield, the pop is still missing, granted, but you’ve got flexibility and a butt-load of new draft picks thanks to the free agents that left. So, if you need to make a move mid-season, you can do that. The rotation is as strong as ever. Moylan, Kawakami, Medlen, and Kimbrel can handle the closing duties. The bullpen is slightly lacking in depth, but when has that never not been a problem? Maybe you switch Chipper and Prado defensively (something I believe would help the defense), but you’ve got plus defenders up the middle in Yunel and Schafer and average ones in McCann and KJ. Augmented by McLouth and Heyward in the outfield and Prado is plus at 3rd. Having a good defense to go along with this pitching staff is key.
You’re still lacking that run-producer, and maybe you see an opportunity to upgrade that position, but only if it makes sense. My point is this, since the Braves can compete with what they’ve got, be opportunistic. Only make a deal if you have the leverage. If you don’t need to make a deal and the other guy does, you’re going to get the better end of it. Since we don’t need to make a deal, build the off-season around this opportunistic approach.
With the New Look Braves Outfield™–featuring McLouth, Schafer, and Heyward–around the corner, the Braves will probably turn to 1B if they want to add a run-producer, either mid-season or during the off-season. Let’s take a look at every relevant 1B’s wOBA thus far in 2009:
I would say it’s not worth upgrading if you’re not getting someone at least as good as Adam LaRoche, so we’re cutting it off there. Adam LaRoche represents the youngest and probably best 1B on the FA market this off-season. It’s also his first time hitting the Free Agent market, so I imagine he’ll want more than a 1-2 year deal, which is all the Braves will want to give anyone. One or two years. Any more than that and it’s an annoying contract with Freeman upcoming. So, looking up the list of Free Agents or players who are signed through 2011 at most, we come up with a few possibilities.
Paul Konerko, a right-handed hitter with one year left on his contract at $12,000,000, makes a ton of sense. He has full no-trade protection as a 10-and-5 player, though. Russell Branyan is scheduled to become a free agent, but I strongly believe he will sign an extension with Seattle. Lyle Overbay is a slightly better version of Casey Kotchman who wouldn’t be that middle-of-the-order bat the Braves seek. Nick Johnson isn’t ideal for the Braves for the same reasons Adam LaRoche and Lyle Overbay aren’t. Carlos Pena, who recently broke 2 fingers ending his season, is signed through 2010 for $10,125,000, and I think he’d be pretty close to perfect. If he were right-handed, he would be. Derrek Lee, signed through 2010 at $13,000,000, would be perfect, but I don’t believe the Cubs would part with him. Plus, he has a full no-trade clause. If the Cubs and Lee are mutually interested in parting ways*, he would be a perfect fit for Atlanta in 2010. Prince Fielder, signed for $10,500,000 in 2010 and again arbitration eligible in 2011, would represent a significant and uncertain financial commitment and a whole bag full of prospects, so I don’t believe he is a realistic option. Adam Dunn, who is signed for $12 million in 2010, would be a good fit, though his defense sucks and he bats left-handed. Plus, the Nationals are reportedly asking for a rather large haul for him.
*Perhaps the emergence of Jake Fox, who is hitting .282/.328/.520 with 10 HR in just under 200 PA’s, will motivate the Cubs to move Derrek Lee. Fox could save the Cubs $13 million at 1B and they could spend the money elsewhere. They’ve got some bad contracts on that team (I’m looking at you, Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano) and the opportunity to move just one not-so-bad contract should seem appealing to them. But they’re the Cubs, so who knows what they’ll do.
Overall, this is how I’d stack up my 1B wish list: 1. Derrek Lee, 2. Paul Konerko, 3. Carlos Pena, 4. Prince Fielder, 5. Adam Dunn, 6. Adam LaRoche, 7. Lyle Overbay, 8. Nick Johnson.
Off To Houston
While I’m spitting about off-season approach and potential 1B acquisitions, baseball is still being played. The Braves are off to play a 3-game series with the Astros in Houston. Tonight it’ll be Javier Vazquez vs. Felipe Paulino. Wednesday night it’ll be Derek Lowe vs. Wandy Rodriguez. Remember when Wandy Rodriguez got off to a fast start? Well, it’s September, and he still has a 2.82 ERA. Didn’t see that coming. Thursday it’ll be some unannounced starter–presumably Tommy Hanson–vs. Roy Oswalt. I don’t really care, it’ll be some good baseball to watch, I guess. Hunter Pence is a pretty fun player to watch. I’ll hardly be paying tons of attention to this series. Especially when the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets take on the Clemson Tigers on Thursday night.
Did you know?
2003 was the last year that the Braves didn’t end their season against the Houston Astros? In 2004 and 2005 the Astros eliminated the Braves from the playoffs and in 2006-2008, the Braves finished their regular season against the Astros. 2009 won’t continue the tradition. Houston isn’t making the playoffs, even if the Braves do (and there’s a slim chance that happens), and the Braves don’t end their regular season against Houston. It was a good, 5-year run though. Speaking of which.
As I mentioned, they’re not looking good. Baseball Prospectus has the Braves at 2.1% and the PECOTA-adjusted version has them at 4.4%. As if you need that to tell you that looking at this picture isn’t a pretty proposition. NL Wild-Card Standings:
Not looking too good. Notice I added the Cubs this time, because the Braves are half a game away from being out of fourth place and into fifth place in the wild-card hunt. The good news? The Braves are 1 game out of having a protected 1st-round draft pick. The season’s playoff hopes are over, really. I mean, teams have come back from 7 and 1/2 out before (I hate to keep picking on the Mets), but the Rockies aren’t collapsing. It’s toast. There’s a lot of things I want to accomplish for this site during the off-season, and a lot of it has to do with prospects. And while the Atlanta Braves’ season may figuratively be over.
Minor League Baseball is Over
What a sad day. Minor league baseball ended yesterday. Of course, we’ve got the playoffs. The only Braves full-season affiliate to make the playoffs is the AAA club, the Gwinnett Braves. So we’ll be cheering them (along with Jason Heyward) along. It’s been a great season of minor-league baseball. The club I witnessed directly, the Rome Braves, had some very interesting players come through, including 2009 1st rounder–Mike Minor, The Cartagena Kid–Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill, J. J. Hover, Adam Milligan, Luis Sumoza, and Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel is playing with the Gwinnett Braves and will join Mike Minor this fall in the Arizona Fall League. Other Braves participants include Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Brandon Hicks, Jeff Lyman, and Lee Hyde. I can’t wait. You’ll be hearing a lot in this space about these and other young players in the system over the next few months.
That’s all I got.
July 20, 2009 at 8:48 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Draft, Farm System, Minor Leagues, Prospects, Q&A, Quotes
What can you tell us about this Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg character who is currently tearing up Appy League pitching for the Danville Braves? He was a blogger favorite from the get-go because of his name, but after his first 23 games, he’s hitting .402/.452/.620. Is he a legitimate prospect? Or is he just having an extremely fluky start to his professional career?
Callis responded by publishing the answer on his Ask BA segment. Here’s his response:
Spanjer-Furstenburg might have the coolest name in pro ball. But at this point, he’s more of a player off to a sizzling start than a real prospect.
A South African, Spanjer-Furstenburg was on his nation’s provisional 2009 World Baseball Classic roster but didn’t make the team. He began his college career at Florida Atlantic but transferred to NCAA Division II Nova Southeastern (Fla.) this year. He set a school record by hitting three homers in one game, and he batted .393 with 15 homers before signing with the Braves as a 16th-round pick.
A 6-foot-2, 235-pound righthanded hitter, Spanjer-Furstenburg played a variety of positions as an amateur but fits best at first base in pro ball. He’s old for the Appy League at 21 and his bat will really have to carry him, but he does have above-average power potential.
And Kevin responded in an email:
Names I want to see on backs of jerseys
He’s not really a prospect yet. Every team has these guys, and it usually means nothing.
Well, he’s still a blogger favorite even if the prospect guys don’t think he’s a legit prospect yet. They’re not wrong, nobody in the Appy League is really a prospect. Especially not those drafted in the 16th round. Anyway, thanks to Callis and Goldstein for keeping us informed about the blogging community’s favorite Appy Leaguer, Riaan-Spanjer Furstenburg.
May 1, 2009 at 7:20 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Injuries, Minor Leagues, NL East News
I previously noted that I’m concerned about McCann’s vision problems. More troubling news surfaced today. To summarize the events that lead to this, since Opening Day, McCann has been battling blurry vision in his left eye which led to an 8 for 41 slump. After sitting for a couple of days and trying a variety of eye drops and contact lenses per the recommendation of various vision specialists, McCann was diagnosed with an “infected eye”. I don’t believe for 1 second that there was actually an infection in his eye, but certain language has to be used in order to place someone on the DL. It’s funny how blurry vision isn’t an acceptable reason to put someone on the DL, but an anxiety disorder is. Anyway, McCann was placed on the 15-day Disabled List. Hoping to work through the problem through finding the correct combination of contact lenses and eye drops, McCann tried a new set of lenses and began a rehab assignment with the Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The results were not encouraging.
McCann has endured a vicious cycle of contacts clearing his vision and feeling encouraged by the results only for them to cease working shortly thereafter. To quote:
“The contacts didn’t work,” McCann said. “They made my eyes too dry. I tried using drops and it would be fine for a while, but then it would be blurred again.”
So, in a last ditch effort to correct his blurry vision before resorting to a second round of Lasik surgery (he had a Lasik procedure done in 2007), McCann will try wearing glasses on the field. He’s ordered a pair of Oakley brand prescription glasses and will have another go-round with the rehab assignment thing to see if it works.
My thoughts, and I’ll preface this by telling you I have never worn contacts, glasses, etc.. I’ve rarely ever even put eye drops in my eye so I’m far from an expert on the subject and I could be 100% off base. I’m really just talking out of my rear, so don’t consider this expert analysis, or even good analysis (don’t automatically assume it’s bad, though (smiley face)):
I don’t hate the idea of trying glasses, but do you need a whole rehab assignment? It is probably a good decision to schedule a minor league rehab assignment, but he’ll probably be able to tell if it isn’t going to work within hours of trying the glasses, on or off the field. If they DO end up working off field, the next test would be a minor league rehab assignment to make sure they work on-field, but he’s probably going to have a pretty good idea right after he puts them on. I’m shaky on the decision to order Oakley glasses. Personally I’d like to see a pair of New Wayfarers as a tribute to Bob Dylan’s latest album. Oakleys? Pretty weak. Then again Oakley is the preferred sunglass of pretty much every baseball player, and they’re probably paying him a ton of money to wear them.
If this doesn’t go well, he’ll apparently have to have a second round of Lasik surgery, a risky procedure that would sideline him for at least 2 weeks and something he’d like to avoid at all costs. I understand the desire to avoid surgery. I would want to explore every other possible option before I assumed that risk if I were McCann. Likewise if I’m the Braves organization. His long term health is the most important thing in the organization right now. Whatever happens, the Braves can not afford to lose Brian McCann forever. In addition to having $24 million committed to him from 2009-2012, you’re talking about losing, for his prime, possibly the best position player that the Braves have developed since Rafael Furcal, and arguably since Chipper Jones. Any Brian McCann is better than no Brian McCann, so taking your time to figure out a solution that doesn’t involve a potentially career-ending surgery is a good organizational move.
The worst part is the wait. Waiting to see McCann in the line-up. If this is the solution we could see him in the line-up in a week. If not, we’re looking at 3 weeks. Fortunately, as I previously noted, we have a more than adequate back-up in David Ross, and if the Twins can survivie without Joe Mauer, the Braves can too. Mainly because there’s a bigger differential between Joe Mauer and the rest of the Twins hitters than there is between Brian McCann and the rest of the Braves hitters and the Braves have a better back-up catcher. Don’t get me wrong, production will suffer, but we still have a chance to win every night.
The bottom line is, while we need McCann to compete for the division title, we can afford to lose him for a few weeks right now. We can’t afford to lose him forever. And if we want to compete for the division this year, we need McCann at 100% when he does play, so taking extra time to work it out is a good move. I previously expressed displeasure with how the organization has handled the situation, but they’ve righted the ship and they’re currently handling it in the most appropriate manner.
We’ll see how it works out. I home this is the solution and he’ll be back on the 8th of May.
Update: David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says McCann has hit with his glasses today and there is reason to be encouraged, but we’ve heard that before, haven’t we? Here’s what he says:
McCann hit with the glasses, said it felt good, that he thinks this will be the solution, at least until offseason. Docs have told him surgery should be last resort in-season, but it is an option if glasses doesn’t work out.
He hit in the regular glasses today, but the Oakley sports glasses should be here in a day or two. Said he doesn’t want to make any “this is the solution” pronouncements, because he’s said twice that he was doing better with contacts, only to have that change quickly.
But he said if he gets used to the glasses and the depth perception thing, this should work. Doesn’t know if he’ll have to wear them under the hockey mask, but if he does it should work because he would just leave the mask on when catching popups, taking throws, etc.
Good news, I think.
Let’s get to Hampton early tonight!
April 26, 2009 at 1:28 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Farm System, Minor Leagues
Building a successful organization starts with scouting and player development. The player development part takes place in the farm system. The evolution of farm systems is one of the most important developments in the history of MLB and having a strong farm system is crucial to the long-term success of any MLB club. The Braves have always had a strong foundation of scouting and player development and it could be argued that the farm system has never been stronger. Let’s take a look at the minor league affiliates of the Atlanta Braves.
The GCL Braves play in the Gulf Coast League. I bet you can guess what GCL stands for. The GCL teams are all named “GCL <Parent Club’s Mascot>” and they all operate out of their parent club’s spring training facility. The Braves’ facility is currently located in Lake Buena Vista, FL at Disney World’s Wide World of Sports. The GCL is classified as a Rookie league, meaning it a) operates for a shortened season (around late-June to September) and b) is generally a destination for 1st year players only, usually recent draftees or international signings. Like most of the Braves’ Minor League Affiliates, they own the GCL Braves. In fact, no GCL team operates independently of a MLB organization, they’re all directly owned by their parent club.
The Danville Braves play in the Appalachian League, also know as the “Appy League” for short. The league is based in the Appalacian Mountains in West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Again, like the GCL, the Appy League teams are all owned and operated by their parent club and they’re named “<Home City> <Parent Club’s Mascot>”. The Appy League is classified as a Rookie Advanced league. They also play a shortened season and Danville is generally the destination for college draftees, 2nd year players who had a lost rookie season, or more advanced rookies. It is a stiffer competition and a more prestigious league than the GCL, but the stadium is crappy compared to the beautiful stadium at the Braves’ Spring Training facility. Not that anyone really comes to either teams’ games.
The Rome Braves compete in the South Atlantaic League (Sally League for short), the least competitive full-season league the Braves have a stake in. The Sally League is a Class A league and players are generally sent here for their first full season, usually their 2nd or 3rd year in professional baseball, though it is not un-heard of for a more experienced rookie to begin his professional career at Class A. Unlike the Braves’ rookie ball leagues, in the Sally League, the Braves are the only team that directly owns the minor league affiliate. The rest of the teams are linked to their parent club through a Player Development Contract, but the actual minor league club is owned and operated by a separate party. After a full season at Class A, a players’ minor league numbers start to become statistically meaningful.
They Myrtle Beach Pelicans compete in the Carolina League, a Class A Advanced league. Class A Advanced represents the highest rung of the “lower minor leagues”. A promotion to Class A Advanced generally happens for a players’ second full season. Because the Carolina League is always loaded with pitching prospects and the Myrtle Beach stadium is such a pitchers’ park, Myrtle Beach is regarded as a very difficult place to hit and a very easy place to pitch, which should be taken into account when looking at numbers from Myrtle Beach. Most position player prospects have their statistically least impressive season at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are the only minor league affiliate of the Atlanta Braves that the parent club does not directly own.
The Mississippi Braves play in the Southern League, a very competitive league loaded with nearly MLB-ready prospects. The Southern League is a Class AA league and the Braves use it as a bridge to the majors. It is the first rung of the “upper minor leagues” and players are assigned to Class AA Mississippi usually after they’ve completed at least a full season in the lower minor leagues (generally more). Having a productive season at Class AA Mississippi is key to earning a promotion to the big club. Like all of the affiliates apart from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Mississippi Braves are directly owned and operated by the Atlanta Braves.
The Gwinnett Braves play in the International League, one of the three Class AAA leagues. The Braves treat their Class AAA team as sort of a “holding tank” for MLB-ready players. A lot of the players on the Gwinnett Braves’ roster will also be on the Atlanta Braves’ 40-man roster and will also have previous big-league experience. From 1966 to 2008 this team was located in Richmond, Virginia and was named the Richmond Braves. 2009 represents the inagural season of the Gwinnett Braves. Players are assigned to AAA if they don’t make the big-league club out of camp or they’ve played a complete season at AA but there’s no place for them on the big club. It is also used to season players before their mid-season call-ups.