New faces in new places, Braves sign four from Independent League teams

While I was away the past five days on my most recent baseball road trip, the Braves added a few minor league players to the organization from the independent leagues, and promoted several players. Below are the new faces, as well as some of the key promotions within the minor league system.

New faces…
RHP Joe Bisenius, a free agent out of the independent American Association, was assigned to Gwinnett. He has Major League experience with Philly (2007) and Washington (2010) totaling 7 games. He was pitching well in the rotation for the Lincoln Saltdogs (I love independent league team names): 37IP, 25H, 43SO, and only 9BB. He’s probably just minor league rotation filler.

LHP Cole Nelson joins the Rome Braves as a free agent from the St. Paul Saints of the American Association Independent League. He was a 10th-round pick by the Tigers out of Auburn in 2010. He has the distinction of having been traded, in 2011, to the Twins in exchange for Delmon Young. Nelson never made it out of A+ ball, and the Twins gave up on him after last year.

INF Omar Luna joins the Mississippi Braves as a free agent from El Paso Diablos of the American Association Independent League. He was originally a Rays farmhand, earning honors in their system, including being named the best utility infielder in the Southern League last year. He’s a scrappy little utility infielder, who started the year out in the Dodgers system, before being released and joining the independent league team. He’s a lesser version of Ramiro Pena, but guys like this sometimes take a while to find their niche in pro ball, and he could have some use as a utility player down the line.

RHP Brandon Cunniff has had his contract purchased from the Frontier Independent League and added to the Lynchburg roster. He was a 27th-round pick by the Marlins in 2010, but even after putting up good numbers that year and reaching A-ball, the Fish released him. He has been in the Frontier League ever since. He’s a hard-throwing power reliever, and could follow the same path taken by…

A few promotions…
Speaking of former independent league players, RHP James Hoyt earned a promotion to Mississippi after a good job in Lynchburg this year. He signed this past off-season as a free agent who had been toiling away in the independent leagues for years. He’s a tall 6’6″ reliever with a 13K/9 rate this year, thanks to a mid-90s fastball and a plus late-breaking change-up. His command has improved this year, and is almost to the point where he could be considered as a bullpen option in the Majors.

Infielders Levi Hyams and Eric Garcia got rewarded for their solid work at Rome with promotions to Lynchburg. Both have gotten off to rough starts in their first few games with their new team. I saw Hyams’ first game in Lynchburg on Friday, and it was rough — two strikeouts, a double-play, and an error. He looked like he was pressing after the call-up, as he looked more fluid when I saw him earlier in the year at Rome.

Infielder Trenton Moses earned a promotion to Lynchburg a few days after Hyams and Garcia. Moses had destroyed the Sally League for the past month, hitting .364/.447/.523. Solid first full year for last year’s 26th-round pick.

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