As Braves fans, we are really spoiled when it comes to growing good players through the farm system. From Chipper Jones to Jason Heyward to Craig Kimbrel, the team always seems to grow from the bottom all the way to the majors. And guess what? They aren’t done yet. I had the opportunity to talk to some of the players on a solid core team in AA Mississippi recently and found that even though they might not be as deep as in the past, the Braves have little to worry about in the future.
I was able to catch Dominican third baseman Edward Salcedo before he warmed up before the game. You might remember Salcedo’s name from a few years back when the Cleveland Indians signed him to a 2+ million dollar contract, only to be voided by MLB for speculation that he wasn’t using his correct age. The Braves then aided Major League Baseball in funding the investigation, which proved to be successful for Salcedo and the Braves together. The investigation concluded that Salcedo was being honest with his age, and was signed to a 1.6 million dollar contract.
Salcedo is a pretty large 21 year old, standing at 6’3” and weighing 195 pounds (Even though he looks much bigger). He entered the organization at shortstop, but switched over the 3rd base soon after signing. The Braves expected him to be a power hitter, and while he hasn’t been an absolute bust, he hasn’t been hitting balls out every night. This season, he is slashing .258/..324/.414 while hitting 10 home runs and tallying 45 RBI in 93 games. He has also stolen 20+ bases the past two seasons and currently has 13 this season.
Salcedo’s problem has been simply defense. In 2011, he made 40 errors (.872 fielding %) and 42 in 2012 (.891 fielding %). This season he has 22 errors with an entire month left in the season. When I asked him about his defensive woes, he seemed confident: “You know, this season I’ve been working every day. I have to get myself to focus on every pitch and just not worry about it. I think I have made myself a much better defender this season.” He claimed one hard thing was balancing the work between his defense and offense: “I’m just trying to stay calm and see the ball right now. Sometimes I try to do too much when I’m struggling. I just have to focus on staying quiet at the plate and work every day.”
Braves fans, don’t worry. People all around the clubhouse see him getting better each day he steps onto the field, and he seems to be very confident in his abilities. As far as where will he be next season, he feels that he is close to making a jump: “I feel like I’m close (to AAA). I don’t want to say I’m ready to be in the big leagues, but I’m getting close. Let’s see what happens.” I feel AAA is where he will be very soon and no doubt be there this time next year.