The Atlanta Braves signed another speedy, veteran centerfielder Thursday, but this one has fewer plate appearances than Max Fried.
Thursday afternoon was a busy one for the Atlanta Braves. In addition to extending manager Brian Snitker, the club continued to hoard speedy outfielders when they signed Terrance Gore to a minor league deal. Those of you who watched the 2014 AL playoffs and World Series will remember Gore as the Royals designated pinch-runner.
Gore recorded his first hit in his 16th plate appearance and 54th major league game, playing for the Cubs in 2018. Nothing unusual in that, except that he’s already won a World Series ring and stolen 22 bases in 25 attempts over parts of five seasons.
He’s now 15-67 with 23 strikeouts and seven walks, and 40 stolen bases in 49 attempts. Max Fried is 12-71 with six walks and 22 strikeouts in 82 PA over three seasons.
Gore is out of options and signed a minor league deal. He joins Abraham Almonte, Guillermo Heredia, and Ender Inciarte as speedy veteran outfield options with questionable bats. Gwinnett should see a plethora of stolen bases this year if all of these players remain on board.
In addition to the Gore signing, the Atlanta Braves also returned Travis Demeritte to the fold on a minor league deal and announced that lefty Phil Pfeifer cleared waivers and will play at Gwinnett.
It’s game time… well, almost.
Well, that’s Sunday, but the good news is we’ll have Atlanta Braves baseball at Cool Today field signaling that the regular season is only a month away.
Newly-extended manager Brian Snitker said today that Kyle Wright will start the game, and he plans to use Sean Newcomb, Grant Dayton, Carl Edwards Jr., Chad Sobotka, Patrick Weigel in the opener against the Rays.
Snitker told David O’Brien he expects about half of the regulars to play in the first game, with the rest playing on Monday against the Red Sox.
Freddie Freeman arrived at North Port and had intake testing Thursday, He won’t play until sometime next week, but that shouldn’t affect last year’s NL MVP.
In other Atlanta Braves news
Pfeifer’s an interesting pitcher; a third-round pick of the Dodgers out of Vanderbilt in 2015, he played in one Rookie League game for LA in 2015. He came the Atlanta Braves, along with Caleb Dirks, in the Bud Norris deal at the deadline.
The 2017 season saw Pfeifer appear in 30 games for the M-Braves before joining Gwinnett and appearing in 11 games there. He finished the season with a combined 3.64 ERA and 11.7 K/9. At that point, he looked like he was on the fast track to Atlanta. However, 2018 wasn’t as kind to Pfeifer.
Like many minor league pitchers, control was the issue. He’s always depended on his strikeouts to overcome a high (6.4/9) walk rate, but in 2018 his K-rate dropped, and his ERA soared.
Whatever was causing his issues, he cured them in the offseason and finished 2019 with a 3.44 ERA in 1331/3 IP over 30 appearances, including 18 starts. His K-rate jumped to a career-high 10.7, and his walk rate plummeted to 2.97 per nine IP.
He didn’t pitch in 2020, and needing roster space, the Braves outrighted him last week. Fortunately, he’s back and could well join the Braves at some point this season.
That’s a wrap
On a sad note, Juan Pizarro died last week at 84-years-old. Many of you won’t know Pizzaro from Adam, but I remember him pitching for the Milwaukee Braves from 1957 through 1960.
Pizzaro was a flame-throwing lefty with a nasty screwball who posted a 23-6 record in A-ball in 1956, joining Milwaukee in 1957. Over the next three+ seasons, “Terín” threw 444-1/3 innings over 90 games, including 51 starts, 19 complete games, and three shutouts, with a 3.93 ERA. He posted a 23-19 record and recorded one save with Milwaukee.
Pizzaro is one of the most successful Puerto Rican pitchers to play the game. The Ebony Whip was one of the first ten players inducted into the Puerto Rican Baseball Hall of Fame when it opened in 1991. Our thoughts go out to his family; rest well El Látigo de Ébano.