Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Shae Simmons should be part of the Atlanta Braves, not Mississippi

Shae Simmons, the Braves’ Kraken 2.0

In my opinion, the most intriguing success story from the Braves’ affiliates of the early Minor League season has not been Ernesto Mejia and his 6 home runs, nor J.R. Graham and his 9 innings with a flawless ERA, or Phillip Gosselin and his .452 batting average, or even Jason Hursh, skipping a league but not missing a beat throwing 10 innings of 1.80 ERA baseball.  It has been Mississippi Braves’ closer, Shae Simmons.

Drafted out of Southeast Missouri State in 2012, Simmons has been nothing short of dominant.  He’s very much like Craig Kimbrel, small in height guy, stocky-strong frame, with a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a devastating slider. In fact, here are their career Minor League numbers, side by side (1st being Kimbrel):

ERA: 1.85 vs. 1.51

WHIP: 1.12 vs. 1.04

K/9: 14.4 vs. 13.6

It’s hard to believe that anyone can be equally as dominant as Craig Kimbrel, and while I’m not saying he is or will be, the pre-Major league numbers are remarkably similar.  His numbers in 2014 thus far are MIND-BLOWING:

5.1 innings pitched, 0.00 ERA  2H oBB  5K  and a ridiculous 0.35 WHIP.

So, why is he not in the Majors?  Every year, I feel that the Braves put a bit too much weight on early Spring Training numbers and pull the plug on some guys too early.  Shae was roughed up his first 2 outings of spring, giving up 3 runs and 5 hits, and only striking out 1 in 2.2 innings of work.  His next 5 appearances were a different story as he struck out 5 in 5 innings of work, walking none, and giving up only 1 run.  His last appearance in spring was very early; March 12th.

In my opinion, Shae is the most dominant reliever in our Minor League system and giving up on him that early while letting walk-prone pitchers such as Juan Jaime and Luis Vasquez pitch until the final days of spring for the last spot was a poor decision by the front office, and doesn’t take into account trends from previous years of work. Look for Shae to make some noise for a bullpen spot very soon, especially if our other right-handed pitchers continue to struggle.

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Shae Simmons

  • fireboss

    There are other reasons for not including Simmons, Graham, or anyone else now; most of them monetary. Staring the major league time clock early without a very very good reason makes them eligible for arbitration a year earlier and that means higher payroll sooner than necessary. Right now we don’t need to do that

    • Ryan Cothran

      He’s a superior pitcher to others of which the Braves started their clock, and he’s going to be career reliever. While I agree on Graham, I do not agree that’s the reasoning on Shae.

      • fireboss

        The others they started the clock on won;t be nearly as expensive at Simmons and as you describe his skill set he’s wasted in a sixth inning role. They have Carpenter, Avilan and Walden for 7 and 8 they have Varvaro for the multi-inning role and they’re using Thomas and Schlosser as lefty specialist and roogy. They have no need to fill now particularly with Minor and Floyd coming on board and two pitchers having to be moved down. If as I expect they trade Walden next off season or something happens where they need his closer skills they’ll break the seal on him right now they have neither the need or the desire to make any move. The business side of the game is important as well and payroll control is part of that. He has 71 total appearances and rushing him up to sit isn’t productive or needed.

        • Ryan Cothran

          We’ll argue ’til the cows come home on this one. The Braves treated camp this year as bullpen auditions for final spots and left Jaime and Vasquez their until the last few days, both of which can burn a hole through a barn with their fastballs, neither of which can hit the barn to burn that hole. Leaving the competition open until spring’s end with Schlosser, Jaime, and Vasquez competing for the spot tells me that the Braves were looking for the best option, money or arb-clock be damned. There’s been talk by the front office of this “window” for a championship and I don’t believe that they’re worried about any relievers arbitration clock, especially considering said reliever will never close ballgames in a Braves uniform.

          I value your opinion, Fred. I just don’t agree with it on this particular issue.

          • Sealift67

            Why rush a kid with his future when he has played largely
            rookie level and low A Rome, with 11 innings last year at Miss.
            The talent and poise is there. Heir apparent in future if
            Kimbrel is too pricey to extend. He would be sharing time with
            Carpenter and Walden. Clock, maybe, development I think so.

          • Ryan Cothran

            Kimbrel was already extended for 4 years with a club option for a 5th, therefore, if healthy, no other reliever aside from Kimbrel will require a vast amount of money through arbitration. If Kimbrel weren’t extended, I’d agree with you and Fred. However, since he has been and the closers role is locked down for the next half decade, the best relievers should be the 6 in the ‘pen with #7 being a mop-up man. My pen would have Kimbrel, walden, carpenter, Simmons, Avilan, Thomas, and one of Hale/Harang/Varvaro.

            I was hoping schlosser to be useful but this far seems very vulnerable to both lefties and righties.

          • Matt Talbert

            Harang can remain in the rotation he’s our #5 starter, innings eater, and solid veteran presence. Hale probably best served us out of the pen along with Floyd who IMO isn’t better than what we have starting now. Plus don’t forget Venters as well due back around the ASB. Some of our current options have been shaky so far (Avilan especially since he got hurt and Carp earlier on) don’t really need to knee-jerk to a shaky start by one or two of guys in our pen. Walden is a cost-controlled solid reliever in his prime, I don’t see us moving him except to restock our farm system with some position players.

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

    Replying to all, but I’m nonetheless gonna start a new top-level comment here :)

    > I believe that Shae needs this year to get ready for the Majors. That’s simply because of the acclimation necessary for the leaps he’s been taking in levels. I would anticipate that he’ll be in AA for about half the year and AAA for the rest, with a cup of coffee possible in Atlanta in September depending on how things go on both ends.

    > My observation of his progress is that whenever starting a new league/level/team, Shae seems to have had the jitters for a couple of appearances before settling in. That was the case in Spring, but I honestly don’t think he had a real shot at the bullpen anyway – though the attrition process probably made it close at the end. A reliever who strikes out guys while walking next-to-none is _clearly_ of significant value.

    > Arbitration Clock. This is truly not an issue at all. Relievers are the bottom feeders in the arbitration process unless you’re elite. O’Flaherty was one of those non-closer elites and was at $4.32m in 2013 (last arb year). Walden was at $1.49m (Arb1) this year; Venters $1.625m (Arb1) in 2013. Those are “noise level” numbers in the grand scheme.

    Kimbrel, of course, is off the charts, but if he stays healthy, he’s the closer and will remain such through at least 2017… meaning that Simmons won’t be. That alone will limit Shae’s arb value.

    One typo from above: Shae actually has EIGHT K’s in that first 5 innings of work.

    • Sealift67

      I stand corrected about extending Kimbrel, the coffee hadn’t kicked in
      yet. Shae has a great future and it’s a credit to the scouts and FO to have
      this kind of ‘problem’. Lot of teams likely look right past a 5’9″ guy from SE MO State.

      • Matt Talbert

        The same way they did with Tim Collins when they practicalyl gave him away :(. He’s been very solid for the Royals. Size isn’t everything. Kimbrel’s not a big guy, neither is Medlen, Maddux, Tim Hudson…I think the point is proven. You don’t have to big as built as say a Broxton or as tall as a JJ or Unit to be a successful major leaguer.

        • Benjamin Chase

          Collins really hasn’t been that good, outside of 2012. He was sent down to the minors this season even because of ineffectiveness (4 walks, 0 strikeouts).