The Braves announced this morning that Reed Johnson’s injury was not responding as hoped and he had been placed on the DL back dated to Monday. In Johnson the Braves lost their most dependable pinch hitter against left handed pitchers. However, Joey Terdoslavich has shown himself to be a quick learner and has produced good results in his last two appearances. Taking Johnson’s place on the Braves bench is Todd Cunningham.
Cunningham was the Braves organizational player of the year in 2012, putting up a .309/.364/.403 line for Double-A Mississippi. That performance led to him starting the year as one of the Braves top prospects; #8 by ML #12 by Baseball America. Rather than reinvent the wheel by trying to summarize the kind of player he is I’ll allow others to do that for me.
…Cunningham understands what his game is, making consistent contact, spraying line drives with a little gap power, while using his speed to make things happen. He has very good speed and his instincts on the basepaths make him even better. That speed works well in the outfield, where he’s capable of playing all three spots well defensively. His lack of power may mean he’s never going to be an everyday corner outfielder, but a career as a top-of-the-order catalyst in center or as a valuable fourth outfielder seems a distinct possibility. MLB.com
Versatile grinder that can handle all three outfield spots and swing a good stick with secondary skills. Cunningham isn’t set up to be an impact player, but he’s a future major-league contributor, either as a bench outfielder or perhaps a second-division starter. Baseball Prospectus – subscription required
Cunningham . . .has a smooth swing from both sides of the plate and drives the ball from gap to gap despite having limited power. He has strong hands and makes good contact but doesn’t accumulate many walks. . .has made progress in getting better reads and jumps on stolen-base attempts, and he’s an intelligent and productive runner with plus speed. . . has good first-step quickness and moves well on balls hit in all directions in center field. His arm strength is fringy, but he makes accurate throws, hits the cutoff man and makes the right decisions. . .should be ready for a major league opportunity soon. Baseball America – Subscription Required
That’s A Wrap
Cunningham’s progressed quickly through the Braves system. He was drafted out of Jacksonville State as a compensation pick (Mike Gonzalez) in the 2010 draft and started 2013 at Gwinnett. A quick look at his numbers shows that he’s shown the ability to get on base at all levels. His lowest OBP so far was a .341 in rookie ball (2010). He seems to be a stereotypical center fielder leadoff man in the making. A switch hitter who can play all outfield positions, Cunningham adds an extra dimension to the Braves bench. If like Joey Terdoslavich he shows he can stick at the the major league level he poses some interesting problems for Braves management. For now he’s likely a stopgap until Jordan Schafer or Johnson returns but it isn’t unreasonable to consider that he makes Schafer expendable and therefore a valuable trade chip with teams like the Giants, Cubs, White Sox, and Reds. Life becomes more complicated an interesting in Atlanta.