Morning Chop: A Summary of Braves’ News
Atlanta Braves’ Top 10 Prospects for 2014
The Atlanta Braves had a remarkable 2013 season, pacing the Major Leagues with a 3.18 ERA and leading all National League offenses with 181 home runs. More importantly, the Braves won their first NL East title since 2005.
However, the team’s regular-season success didn’t carry over into the postseason, as Atlanta dropped four consecutive games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series.
On a more positive note, the Braves received significant contributions from several rookies this past season.
Right-hander Julio Teheran finally realized his potential and emerged as the team’s most consistent starting pitcher, posting a 3.20 ERA with 170 strikeouts in 185.2 innings. Meanwhile, left-hander Alex Wood, a second-round draft pick in 2012 out of Georgia, reached the major leagues in May and went on to post a 3.13 ERA with 77 strikeouts in 77.2 innings while bouncing between the bullpen and starting rotation.
Then, of course, there’s Evan Gattis, everyone’s favorite professional hitter and one of the more feel-good stories of the 2013 season. After making the Opening Day roster, Gattis captured back-to-back NL Rookie of the Month honors by posting an .875 OPS with six home runs in April followed by a 1.045 OPS with another six bombs in May.
Atlanta Braves receiving little interest in Dan Uggla
Coming off the worst offensive season of his career and having been left off the team’s playoff roster, it came as no surprise to see Dan Uggla’s name being tossed around some early trade rumblings once the offseason began. There’s been little news since, however, and it seems as though the Atlanta Braves are receiving very little – if any – interest from teams looking to acquire the second baseman according to Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
— David O’Brien (@ajcbraves) December 31, 2013
Top Hot Stove Storylines Entering 2014
An impressive flurry of activity before the Winter Meetings left some feeling that there would be little left to tackle before the 2014 season kicks off. And yet, while just seven of MLBTR’s top fifty free agents were still available last time this year, fully twice that number remains this time around….
All of which is to say that there is plenty of time left for major decisions before the start of the 2014 season. Here are a few of the most impactful situations to watch as we enter the new year:
One team, in particular, faces an intricate set of decisions on its many viable extension candidates: the Braves. First baseman Freddie Freeman; shortstop Andrelton Simmons; outfielders Jason Heyward and Justin Upton; closer Craig Kimbrel; and starters like Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, and Julio Teheran. While each player comes with different service time and other considerations, there are arguments to be made for them all. Whether, when, and how Atlanta GM Frank Wren pursues extensions promises to have major long-term implications for the organization, especially given its budget constraints.
Inbox: Is B.J. or Uggla likely to bounce back?
Which player is bound to have a bounce-back year, Dan Uggla or B.J. Upton?
— Patrick S., Williamson, Ga.
Despite hitting .179 and becoming the fourth Major Leaguer to strike out at least 170 times in 540 or fewer plate appearances, Uggla’s miserable 2013 season was actually much more productive than Upton’s. He hit 13 more home runs and produced an OPS (.671) that was more than 100 points higher than Upton’s. With that in mind, it could be said Uggla has less ground to cover to produce what would be deemed a productive bounce-back season.
Regardless of which guess you make when attempting to answer this question, it’s safe to say it would be hard for either of these players to be any worse than they were while residing below the Mendoza Line throughout this past season.
Julio Teheran and Shelby Miller, Baseball BFFs
A look at the similarities between two of baseballs top young pitchers.
It was only three years ago that Julio Teheran and Cardinals RHP Shelby Miller rocketed up top prospect lists and were considered two of the best young right-handers in the minor leagues. They were lists that included the likes of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, two generational talents. Neither were in that category, but both pitchers found themselves entering their age 20 seasons as two top-20 talents. In the 2011 preseason lists, Teheran slightly edged out Miller after his breakout 2010 season across three different levels in the Braves system. From then on, the two essentially became baseball’s version of BFFs.
After both went on to post great 2011 seasons, they again inched their way up rankings.Rays left-handed phenom Matt Moore had leap-frogged them and was considered the top pitching prospect in the game, actually edging out guys like Trout and Harper on many 2012 rankings. Going back and looking across the major outlets that are publicly available, the two were almost neck-and-neck, cracking the top 10 on nearly every list.