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.