Morning Chop: Summary of Atlanta Braves’ News
Baseball Professor (Fantasy baseball)
Davis, Goldschmidt, and Freeman have established themselves as the next crop of fantasy superstars at 1B. The first two will likely both be top 10 picks while Freeman might wind up a Top 30 pick in 2014.
Early 2014 Rankings
Below are my early 2014 rankings on my own personal mock draft cheat sheet. Baseball Professor will be unveiling their official rankings in the next few weeks, so I’m sure these will jumble in the meantime. Comment below with your thoughts!
That’s what good managing looks like
Managers don’t win games, they lose them, say those who’ve watched Fredi pilot the Braves.
But tonight’s MVP may have been the Cards’ skipper. The double steal in the 7th was beautiful, but I was even more impressed by Mike Matheny’s decision to let Carlos Martinez complete the 8th. It’s common sense, really — if your pitcher is pitching well, leave him in. But most managers are slave to the match-up.
Best of all, Matheny’s moves came at the expense of the Sox.
Rehabbing prospect Graham setting sights on 2014
Right-hander appeared on track to Majors before suffering shoulder injury in May
ATLANTA — J.R. Graham‘s first big league Spring Training lived up to his loftiest expectations. Along with allowing the right-hander to spend a little more than a month interacting with childhood idol Tim Hudson, the experience afforded Graham the opportunity to give the Braves reason to believe he was quite close to being ready to pitch at the Major League level.
Nearly seven months later, Graham literally and figuratively finds himself in the same spot. The Braves’ Spring Training complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., has served as Graham’s home since he suffered a right shoulder strain while pitching for Double-A Mississippi in the middle of May.
However, much of the frustration he encountered during the summer months has faded, as he has spent the past few weeks throwing off the mound in pain-free fashion. While he has not regained all of the arm strength that enabled him to light up radar guns with triple-digit readings during Grapefruit League games, the 23-year-old has finally gained the confidence that his shoulder is healthy again.
“I thought this year was going to be my year,” Graham said. “I was doing good things. I showed what I could do in camp. I think the Braves have plans for me. But you’ve just kind of got to take it in stride. I don’t think anything has really changed for me. I just need to get healthy. I just had a little freak accident. If I come back healthy, there should be no reason I shouldn’t be up in Atlanta.”
If Graham remains healthy, there is certainly reason to believe he could be a part of Atlanta’s pitching staff as early as next year. MLB.com ranks the high-energy, hard-throwing hurler as the Braves’ second-best overall prospect, ranking only behind fellow right-handed hurler Lucas Sims.
“I feel like I’m ready,” Graham said. “It’s just a matter of when I’m going to be called.”
2013 Statistical Review: Lynchburg
There were few real standouts on the Lynchburg team. While there are a few “prospects” on the team, it just didn’t have many performances that stood out statistically.
Robby Hefflinger, OF: Hefflinger sure got some attention at the beginning of the season. At 23-years-old, Hefflinger had a breakout first half, hitting .286/.339/.579 with 21 home runs in 74 games. It definitely was nice to see, but it isn’t as impressive once you consider his age against the relative competition. When he was promoted to AA Mississippi, the strikeout rate went right back up to 30%, and the .170/.222/.319 line wasn’t impressive. Hefflinger still has some time to get to the majors and contribute, but he’s probably more of a lesson in not getting too excited over a good half.
Elmer Reyes, SS: The real glue in the Lynchburg order was Elmer Reyes, who had a nice bounceback season hitting .285/.321/.406 (101 wRC+). What makes that line a bit better is that he is a shortstop, and you can tolerate worse offense from guys at premium positions. Reyes still doesn’t walk or hit for much power, but he doesn’t strike out and continues to do well enough at each level. He’s not a top prospect, but he might find himself some MLB time at some point.
Kyle Kubitza, 3B: Kubitza gets some love around here for the 15% walk rate and .380 OBP, but he still has his obstacles. The first is squeezing past Edward Salcedo, who sits just ahead of him on the developmental ladder. The next is the 25% strikeout rate and low batting averages, and while he has some pop, he doesn’t have a lot of it. Kubitza might be a valuable player due to the OBP and ability to play third, and he can do a lot for his stock by continuing his good work against the upper minors.
Matt Lipka, OF: Another season goes by, and another season passes without a Lipka breakout. It’s hard to even see this as a good season for Lipka as he actually performed worse his second time around the Carolina League. .251/.305/.362 isn’t what we’re looking for from a former first-rounder, and his walk and strikeout rates went the wrong way as well. If you want a bright spot, he did steal 37 bases, but he also got caught 14 times.