Braves keep adding prospects and draft picks

Yesterday I wrote about the reasons for the shocking trade of Craig Kimbrel from the Atlanta Braves to the San Diego Padres. Today I’ll take a more detailed look at the players the Braves received in return. I’ll also examine another small trade the Braves made today.

mwislerThe most prized player the Braves got in exchange for Kimbrel was the Padres top prospect, right-handed starting pitcher Matt Wisler. He was a seventh-round pick in 2011, whom the Fathers lured away from a college commitment with a large bonus. Baseball America, in their 2015 Prospect Handbook, projects that had Wisler gone to college, he would have been a first round pick last year.

Wisler dominated competition in the lower minors in his first couple of years as a pro, but struggled last year upon his initial promotion to triple-A. While his 5.01 ERA in 22 starts at triple-A looks bad, he figured out the league as the year went on, posting a 3.60 ERA in his final six starts.

Wisler is a four-pitch pitcher with a steady low-90s fastball and wipe-out slider. His change and curve are behind his other pitches, but at only 22-years of age this season, he’s still learning the finer points of pitching.

With a sinking fastball Wisler pitches to contact and offers good durability in his 6-foot-3 frame. The Braves will work with him on his changeup and help him refine his command at triple-A. He enters a healthy competition with fellow Gwinnett rotation mates Mike Foltynewicz, Manny Banuelos and Williams Perez to be the first starting pitcher promoted should the Braves need help in Atlanta.

Wisler now becomes the top prospect on my 2015 Braves prospect list.

jparoubeckAlso coming over from San Diego is outfield prospect Jordan Paroubeck. He was a second-round pick (69th overall) out of high school from the 2013 draft. He profiles as a five-tool outfielder who is still very raw in the field and in the batters box. He’s more of a long-term project, but with considerable upside, he’s a risk worth taking.

The Braves also received a major league outfielder in Cameron Maybin. He was a top-10 prospect from 2007 to 2009, a top-10 overall pick in the 2005 draft, and he was one of the key prospects the Marlins acquired from the Tigers in exchange for Miguel Cabrera. He arrived in the majors with quite a prospect pedigree, and his manager from 2008 to 2010 with the Marlins was Fredi Gonzalez.

Maybin didn’t really get going in the majors until he was traded to the Padres after the 2010 season. After two decent years in San Diego the team gave him a five year, $25 million extension that was heavily back-loaded. The Braves now assume that deal, which includes $7 million this season and $8 million next season with a $1 million buyout of his 2017 $9 million mutual option.

Maybin isn’t the difference maker or game changer that many thought he would be when he was a prospect, but he’s a good defensive center fielder and still has speed that can be an asset to a team if he hits in the lower third of the order. He’s been injured the last two years, so it’s hard to gauge what kind of player he can be if healthy. More than likely he’ll be sort of a B.J. Upton-like player, but one who is a bit younger than B.J. and still with some hope that he can post league average stats. He’s likely a placeholder in center field until the Braves can find or develop someone better.

The Braves also acquired a draft pick from the Padres. The No. 41 pick is a competitive balance pick assigned to lower-payrolled teams, and those picks can be traded. The importance of this pick should not be overlooked, and can be used by the Braves to select a high-end prospect. This pick has huge value and carries a projected $1.5 million bonus value — which would rank among the top-10 largest bonuses ever given to draft picks by Atlanta.

More picks and more trades…

vreyesIn a minor league trade on opening day, Atlanta sent outfield prospect Victor Reyes to the Diamondbacks in exchange for the 75th overall pick in this year’s draft, another competitive balance pick. Reyes was the team’s top international signing in 2011 out of Venezuela. He appeared on most Braves prospect lists from 2013 to present, ranking as high as just outside the top-10. I ranked him at the back-end of my top-30 list this year.

He fell down prospect lists this past year because of his struggles at low-A Rome, and especially his alarming lack of power. In 190 minor league games in three seasons he has not hit a home run.

While he is still just 20-years-old, it was looking more and more like Reyes was a bit of a bust. At this point in his career his prospect stock is only about projection and scouting, and not results. For Atlanta to have gotten the 75th pick for him seems like a very good return, and a big win for the Braves.

A busy first draft day to come…

By acquiring two draft picks in the past 24 hours, the Braves will now have five selections on the first day of the draft, and five selections among the first 75 picks. Here’s how they got them:

No. 14 — Their pick for finishing where they finished, though it’s a spot higher thanks to the Mets losing their pick when they signed Michael Cuddyer.
No. 28 — As compensation for losing free agent Ervin Santana.
No. 41 — Acquired from Padres as part of the Craig Kimbrel trade.
No. 54 — Normal second-round pick.
No. 75 — Acquired from Diamondbacks in the Victor Reyes trade.

Atlanta also has the No. 89 pick in the third round as part of their normal picks. That’s six picks among the top-100. (Atlanta hasn’t had six pick among the top-100 in any single draft since 2006.) That’s also a lot of money added to their draft spending cap, which they can play around with if they choose — meaning they could sandbag one of those million dollar bonus slots and use that money further down in the draft to sign players away from college commitments who may not have been selected where they thought they would be.

If the Braves use any of these picks on college players, there’s a very good chance they could be big contributors in Atlanta by the time the new stadium opens in 2017.

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