March 3, 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Juan Jaime (63) throws a pitch against the Detroit Tigers at ESPN Disney Wide World of Sports complex, Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves Send Five Back To Minors

The Atlanta Braves have said goodbye to five invitees to Spring Training, and only one of them comes as any surprise.  Righty relievers Juan Jaime and Luis Vasquez, along with catcher Christian Bethancourt and outfielder Todd Cunningham will be headed to Triple-A Gwinnett, and shortstop Elmer Reyes is being sent back to Double-A Mississippi.

You might think I’d say that Christian Bethancourt is the surprise here, but no.  I’ve made no secret I think that Bethancourt could well be the future of catching in Atlanta, but with the position deep for the Braves, and the potential offensively of Evan Gattis, Bethancourt will have to wait.  No, the surprise for me was the optioning of right-handed reliever Luis Vasquez.  As Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter, David O’Brien put it…

Vasquez was considered a strong candidate for a bullpen spot after the Braves signed him as a minor league free agent during his impressive winter-ball season in the Dominican Republic. But he got off to a late start because of visa issues and a strained lat muscle, and his command wasn’t sharp when he began pitching in Grapefruit League games.

Our own Ryan Cothran gave Vasquez just a 40% chance to make the club, so some of us on the Tomahawk Take staff (including myself), bow and give the nod to Ryan for the call on this one.  Well played, sir! Those same people (including myself) who gave Vasquez better odds at making the club, have also been bullish and bullish on Gus Schlosser making the team, and with Jaime and Vasquez optioned now, his chances certainly increase.  Of course, Gus is a side-arm thrower, can work from the pen or start, and arguably has a larger skill set as a potential ROOGY.

Clearly, Fredi Gonzalez was not at all happy with the too frequent walks he was seeing from Juan Jaime in particular.  When Jaime walked seven recently, Gonzalez had the following comment:

Too late in camp to be walking people.  You can live with that early in camp, when some of these guys haven’t pitched. But some of these guys now have eight, nine, 10 appearances. You can’t be doing that.  You want to see a lot of consistency coming out of that bullpen.

That’s hard to argue with, and certainly with the starting rotation woes the Braves have experienced this Spring, it’s more important than ever that the Braves see some excellence from their relief core.  Is it possible the Braves still have the shopping cart out searching the aisles vehemently for more help in the bullpen?  Possibly, but time, as they say, is a wastin’.

Stay tuned to Tomahawk Take as we keep you updated on the roster headed into the regular 2014 season.  Personally, I believe the Braves are handling their unexpected setbacks quite admirably, and it should be interesting to see if they can weather some storms that will no doubt be headed their way.

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Tags: Atlanta Braves

  • carpengui

    Color me even more shocked – I called it 80% for Vasquez… that it, until his forgettable outing yesterday.

    Until then, he’d been walking some batters, but keeping it relatively in check. No so vs. the Yankees, and Fredi Gonzalez was clearly not happy about that. So long, Luis… and I was wrong, though it was certainly an earned demotion.

    Of note: Vasquez was not ‘outrighted’ – thus he remains on the 40-man roster… for now.

    • Chris Headrick

      Good point I neglected to mention. Thanks Alan.

  • fireboss

    Jaime has always had a problem with the strike zone that’s why he’s in the Braves system now. This could mean they’ve decided to keep both out of options pitchers and see if they can get enough out of them to trade at least one of them. Worst case they release one late and call up Vasquez after he gets enough outings and regains his control. Bethancourt doesn’t surprise me nor any of the rest actually. The next group will be telling

  • Ryan Cothran

    Vasquez has really only showed control this year in the Winter Leagues and many (including myself before I wrote his piece) drank the Lemon-lime hyped up Kool-aid. His WHIP, even with the new 3/4 arm slot was still above 1.5…and yes, that’s the Minors. There’s nothing about that that can be looked over. I’m disappointed that he hasn’t pitched well, but stubbornly satisfied that I picked this one correctly. Thanks for the shoutout, Chris!

  • BJ

    Excellent point. I think there going about this well. If there is a steal out there. The scouting department will find it. A little worried about the rotation thou