Sep 10, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) laughs prior to a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Atlanta Braves News 2/11


Braves announce three promotions in business office

The Braves on Monday announced promotions for three people involved in the business dealings of the organization.

Larry Bowman, who has worked for the club since 1992, was named vice president of stadium operations and security. Kim Childress, with the Braves since 1997, was elevated to vice president and controller. Lara Juras, part of the organization since 2006, was promoted to vice president of human resources.

“We congratulate these three fine members of our organization,” Braves president John Schuerholz said in a release. “Their hard work and continuing contributions to our organization elevated them to this prestigious position of leadership.”



Braves Bullpen Building Blocks: Non-Roster Invitees

Today I take a look at the pitchers who are non-roster invitees to 2014 Atlanta Braves spring training. Every year there seems to be someone from this group who challenges for a role on the team. This year there are a few pitchers who could work their way into the bullpen picture, though many of these guys are the up-and-coming pitching prospects for Atlanta — who are actually all talked about as bullpen options.

This is part four of my five part preview of Braves bullpen building blocks. Earlier posts include:  Core Hold-OversStarters who could Relieve, and Other Relievers on the 40-Man. In the coming days I’ll look at relief prospects further down on the farm, but today there is a mix of prospects (both starting and relieving) and a few minor league free agents with some Major League experience. I have presented them alphabetically.

Lay Batista: A minor league free agent from the Angles system. He completed double-A last year, his highest level, and is still just 24-years-old. Baseball America says that Batista has a plus mid-90s fastball as well as a plus changeup. The Braves will likely move him up to triple-A and see how he fares. Even with a strong spring I doubt he makes the club, but he has a chance to help the Braves pen during the season if needed.

J.R. Graham: One of Atlanta’s top young starting pitching prospects, Graham was shut down in mid-May last year after just eight starts because of shoulder soreness. The Braves were extra cautious with him and he didn’t pitch the rest of the year. He has a max effort delivery in a short 5’10″ frame. Because of his small size many evaluators have said he will eventually end up in the bullpen. He has a mid-90s fastball as a starter, but as a reliever he can reach up into the high-90s, touching 100. Because he missed so much time last year the organization may need to move him to the pen to limit the innings on his arm. That move could actually speed up his ascendance to the Majors. We’ll have to wait and see how the Braves manage his workload before we know if his future is going to be in the bullpen or the rotation. He will likely start the year in Gwinnett, regardless of his role.


NBC Sports

Tommy Hanson agrees to minor league deal with Rangers

Jul 28, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tommy Hanson (48) prepares to deliver a pitch against the Oakland Athletics in the third inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Not so long ago Tommy Hanson was one of the best young pitchers in baseball, but after back-to-back rough seasons the 27-year-old right-hander has had to settle for a minor-league contract from the Rangers.

Hanson has struggled to stay healthy since mid-2011 and last season he posted an ugly 5.42 ERA in 73 innings for the Angels, missing time with a forearm injury and a death in the family. He’s still young, but Hanson’s raw stuff has declined significantly and his strikeouts per nine innings plummeted from 9.8 in 2011 to 8.3 in 2012 to 6.9 in 2013.

Combined during Hanson’s first three seasons in Atlanta, from ages 22 to 24, he posted a 3.28 ERA and 431 strikeouts in 460 innings, so even the slim chance of a career-saving recovery is definitely worth the minimal investment for Texas.


Sports On Earth


A lot can happen in eight years. Consider the Atlanta Braves. In the eight years before Freddie Freeman arrived in 2011, six different men handled primary duties at first base for Atlanta, from Adam LaRoche, Mark Teixeira and Troy Glaus to Casey Kotchman, Scott Thorman and Robert Fick, the Braves have seen widespread turnover at the first base position over the past decade.

Such turnover is rare from the Braves organization, which is a club built on continuity from team president John Schuerholz (with the team since he was hired as general manager in 1990) on down the line. Last week, the Braves signed Freeman, now a three-year veteran, to an eight-year, $135 million extension, the longest and richest in club history. Uncertainty at first base no more.

Nobody should be surprised that the Braves were willing and eager to spend to keep Freeman around. After merely decent contributions in his first two years in the majors, Freeman broke out in 2013, hitting .319/.396/.501 with 23 home runs and 109 RBIs en route to his first All-Star appearance. Freeman’s 144 OPS+ made him just the 71st player to cross the 140 OPS+ mark at age 23 or younger, and just the second for the Braves since they moved to Atlanta (Dusty Baker, 1972).





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