Braves Lines from the Weekend

No win for the Braves yet this spring… but there was a scoreless tie.

Good Wood: I love quotes about a player’s makeup. Bench coach Carlos Tosca had a good one as he watched Alex Wood pitch on Sunday:

“It seems like he steps his game up, the tougher the situation he gets himself into,” Tosca said. “He doesn’t panic. He competes and his stuff is good enough to get them out.”

Now if he could just avoid getting himself into tough situations… well, at least we know he doesn’t panic.

Good La Stella: Quotes from players are even better. I can see the beat writer asking second base prospect Tommy La Stella if he’s concerned about showing the Braves what he can do. And this was his response:

“I really don’t concern myself with showing too much,” La Stella said. “I think that is kind of the wrong mindset for me. It’s not about showing, it’s about improving every day.”

He’s good at baseball, and smart at baseball.

Wait, he’s on the Braves?: Split squad games, like the two the Braves played on Sunday, usually involve a lot of “additional” players from the minor league complex. They are also a time when players appear in box scores that make me say, “wait, he’s on the Braves?” These guys are mainly minor league free agents that didn’t make it into a minor league transaction report (or I just missed it… or forgot). Three such players got that response from me on Sunday.

  • RHP David Bromberg – Eight minor league seasons, mostly with Minnesota. He’s now two years removed from a broken forearm. Was the 2009 minor league pitcher of the year for the Twins, but as a prospect he generally fell just outside of the top-10.
  • C Steven Lerud – Your typical minor league journeyman backup catcher with a couple of cups of coffee (for Philly).
  • OF Cedric Hunter – An Atlanta kid who was San Diego’s top prospect for a few years, he never developed into the hitter that some folks thought he could be. He kinda reminds me of Lipka.

Heyward on track for big payday in 2016: ESPN has a solid article up about how much value Jason Heyward has amassed at such a young age. They note that when (if?) he becomes a free agent after 2015, he is in for a big payday:

Through his age-23 season, Heyward has collected the 10th-most value of any player in the past five decades. With two more good seasons — and note that 2013 featured a career-low strikeout percentage (16.6, under 20 for the first time) and a career-high line-drive rate (21.4, topping 20 for the first time) — Heyward will reach a likely barren market at a younger-than-usual age with a solid track record. It sets him up for a huge payday.

I guess there’s still an “if” in there. By the way, Justin Upton will be a free agent that same year, highlighting the next two seasons as the window for the Braves to go deep into the postseason before likely losing two very important pieces of their core.

Lipka gushing: MLB has a piece up about prospect Matt Lipka impressing folks in camp, and his potential, yada yada yada. They bring up a hamstring injury he suffered and overcame in 2012, and seem to point to that as a reason for his slow progress. Indeed it did delay him, but it only hid his lack of any plus tool. He’ll be in double-A this year, so we’ll get to see if he’s got more than he’s shown in the past. I have to remind myself that he was drafted out of high school and is only 22-years-old this year, so perhaps he’ll grow into more of his expected ability this season.

Braves sign Cuban: The Braves signed Cuban catcher Yenier Bello. He’s older at 29-years-old, so this is just a flyer on a guy who used to have some pop, and he should not be considered a prospect. He was apparently suspended in 2012 from the Cuban team because he tried to defect, so I wonder how much high-level baseball he’s played since then. He received an invite to spring training, so I guess we’ll find out.

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