2017-02-02T08:00:05-05:00There is no such thing as a bad one-year deal....right? Braves News An interview with Braves prospect Kolby Allard Grant McCauley catches up with 2015 first round pick Kolby Allard where he discusses his successful 2016 campaign and how he hopes it is a springboard for 2017 and beyond. “Honestly, it’s just fun. Every day coming to the yard, we all just came out and did our thing. Obviously, everyone is on their separate programs during the day, but everyone was just excited to be there and happy to be there. That’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, baseball-wise. Even in high school and growing up, there’s the guys who don’t want to be there. They’re kind of a sour apple on the team, but last year, everyone just wanted to be there. Everyone had the same goal of winning. It was just such a winning atmosphere, something I’ve never been a part of before. I hope we can continue doing it for a very long time in Atlanta.” Honoring the Braves first African-American player Sam Jethroe Our own Eric Cole takes a closer look at Sam Jethroe who was the first African-American player to wear a Braves uniform. However, his impact on the game of baseball and the Braves organization cannot be accurately measured by counting stats and analytics...not even close. After baseball, he worked in a factory and eventually opened a bar in Pennsylvania that he was forced to live in due to financial issues. He began a legal fight for Negro League players to receive a MLB pension on the grounds that racism prevented himself and others in the Negro Leagues from being able to play major league baseball at an earlier age or, in far too many cases, at all. Shoddy Carpenters Aren’t the Only Bad Framers Baseball Prospectus’ Bryan Grosnick was not impressed by the signing of Kurt Suzuki and says “this is a stupid deal” for the Atlanta Braves. To all of you who say that there is no such thing as a bad one-year contract, I present to you the Braves’ signing of Suzuki. The last season Suzuki had that was above replacement level by WARP was 2011, thanks to defense that can only charitably be described as “bad.” Over his career, Suzuki had given back more than 10 wins on defense, owing to a combination of being a very bad pitch framer (-7.1 Framing Runs in 2016) and a below-average thrower (-1.9 Throwing Runs in 2016). Of course, you can cover these flaws by earning your keep at the plate, but Suzuki has undershot his .246 career True Average in each of the last two seasons. Given that he’s a below-average hitter and a well-below-average defender, he’d need to be an unbelievable clubhouse presence or at least a platoon partner for regular backstop Tyler Flowers to make this deal make sense. Bridges preparing Braves’ road map to Draft While we are still a week or so away from pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training, Atlanta Braves scouting director Brian Bridges is already busy in his preparation for the 2017 MLB Draft. As the Braves prepare to make three of the first 80 selections (No. 5, 41 and 80) in the 2017 Draft, which will unfold June 12-14, Bridges and his staff have already planned for the next few months. The collegiate and high school seasons will kick into full gear during the middle of February. "You try to maximize your time as best as you can," Bridges said. "Sometimes that means two flights a day, or possibly a third flight in order to get in position to watch a game the next day. There's a lot of flying, there's a lot of hotels and there's a lot of rental cars in my near future here." Bullpen could be Braves strength though questions remain The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien takes a closer look at Atlanta’s bullpen situation heading into 2017. The Braves have a number of bullpen options returning but there are a couple of holes that they will be looking to fill during spring training. MLB News Cardinals sign Carlos Martinez to 5-year, $51 million deal FanRag’s Jon Heyman reports that the Cardinals have locked up right hander Carlos Martinez on a[...]
2017-02-01T14:00:02-05:00Atlanta’s top pick in the 2015 draft made quite a splash last season. The Rome Braves were the toast of the organization in 2016. The club won the South Atlantic League title, and did it on the strength of a stellar starting rotation. Their exploits helped earn Rome the honor of being named Baseball America’s Minor League Team of the Year. I caught up with several members of that rotation at the team’s recent hot stove event. Among those on hand was 2015 first-rounder Kolby Allard. Though recovery from a back injury stalled him early, there was nothing that could slow him down in the second half last season. I discussed that and more with the talented young lefty. You can read all about Kolby Allard and the rest of the Rome rotation in my Braves’ Top 30 Prospects. Grant McAuley: It was a very exciting to finish to your first full season in professional baseball. How do you describe the run that the Rome team went on and the praise that comes from winning a championship? Kolby Allard: “Honestly, it’s just fun. Every day coming to the yard, we all just came out and did our thing. Obviously, everyone is on their separate programs during the day, but everyone was just excited to be there and happy to be there. That’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, baseball-wise. Even in high school and growing up, there’s the guys who don’t want to be there. They’re kind of a sour apple on the team, but last year, everyone just wanted to be there. Everyone had the same goal of winning. It was just such a winning atmosphere, something I’ve never been a part of before. I hope we can continue doing it for a very long time in Atlanta.” GM: You were in rotation with some talented arms last year. How much of a motivating factor was that to go out there and have that friendly competition every day to at least meet the bar or perhaps raise the bar for your teammates? KA: “It’s a lot of fun going out there with these guys. They’re all very talented people. To go out there and see Touki [Toussaint] shove one day and [Mike] Soroka shove the next, I wouldn’t call it pressure, but it’s like you said, a friendly competition. It’s just fun to go out and push each other every day to get better. I hope we can all stick together throughout the minor leagues and keep having success altogether.” GM: For you personally, I know 2016 was kind of a building process to get yourself back on the mound every fifth day and comfortable. How are you feeling physically after that first full year, even though in the early stages you had the brakes pumped just a bit? KA: “It was a little shaky in the first half, but once the training wheels came off a little bit, I started to throw the ball very well and continued to throw the ball very well. Coming into this year’s spring training, I feel very strong. I’ve put on almost 10 pounds, which I’m very excited about. I’ve been working hard this offseason and I feel like coming into spring training we can just hit it hard and hopefully start the year hot and keep it going.” GM: Let me ask you about a high school teammate of yours, Lucas Herbert. How fun has it been as you’ve begun your professional career to have the opportunity to be together like that and have a little something familiar on this journey? KA: “It’s been a lot of fun. He was one of my best friends all throughout high school. Obviously, not many people get to have their best friends be drafted with them, to the same team especially. It’s been a wild ride, but it’s been cool to have one of your best friends go through it with you. Of course, I’ve made some friends out of these clowns over here [his teammates crowded around him]. We’re all kind of best friends around here. Like I said earlier, every day going to the yard is a fun atmosphere and a winning atmosphere.” GM: I know guys don’t like to throw statistical goals out there, but a lot of pitchers just look at throwing X amount of innings to reach a certain next level. Is there anything in part[...]
2017-02-01T10:00:04-05:00Black History Month is here and in that spirit, we take a look at the first African-American player to play for the Braves The name Jackie Robinson inspires countless emotions amongst baseball fans of all ages. Tales of his courage in dealing with racism as he became the first player to play Major League baseball and his debut opened doors (albeit far too slowly) for African-American players to play the game we have all grown up loving. It is easy to forget that other players had to continue to break down barriers one by one, whether that was Larry Doby who was the American League’s first African-American player to Johnny Wright who played in the minor leagues for the same team at the same time as Robinson but failed to crack the major league roster. In the case of the Braves organization, the color barrier was broken by Sam “The Jet” Jethroe in 1950. Many of you have likely never heard of him and that is at the very least partially due to his abbreviated major league career of just 4 seasons including a very short stint in Pittsburgh in 1954. That would only tell part of his story as a professional baseball player, though. From 1942 to 1948, Jethroe played in the Negro American League where he gained the nickname “The Jet” for his impressive speed. By 1949, the color barrier had been broken and players like Jethroe started getting opportunities in the minor leagues. In that same year, The Jet stole 89 bases in AAA in 153 games with a .923 OPS which propelled him to the majors after being sold to the Boston Braves for $150,000 (even back then, the Braves were willing to deal from payroll flexibility in exchange for high upside prospects). Jethroe debuted for the Boston Braves in 1950, won the NL Rookie of the Year award at the age of 32 and posted a .273/.338/.442 line while hitting 18 home runs, stealing 35 bases, and putting up 2.9 fWAR. His next season would be even better as he posted a 4.0 fWAR with improvements in batting average, XBHs, and OBP to thank for that. Unfortunately, reported vision problems resulted in a swift decline for Jethroe and he played his last MLB game in 1954. He played at AAA for a few seasons before playing his final pro game in 1958. However, his impact on the game of baseball and the Braves organization cannot be accurately measured by counting stats and analytics...not even close. After baseball, he worked in a factory and eventually opened a bar in Pennsylvania that he was forced to live in due to financial issues. He began a legal fight for Negro League players to receive a MLB pension on the grounds that racism prevented himself and others in the Negro Leagues from being able to play major league baseball at an earlier age or, in far too many cases, at all. Jethroe was not successful with his class action lawsuit, but his advocacy for that cause helped spur Major League Baseball to begin paying surviving Negro League players pensions starting in 1997. Sadly, Sam Jethroe passed away in 2001 at the age of 83. Players like The Jet allowed players like Hank Aaron, Terry Pendleton, and Jason Heyward to play the game of baseball as Braves and for us fans to watch them. There have been times that this country regrets, but stories like Jethroe’s remind us that we cannot forget where we came from and those that came before us. The segregation of professional baseball may be a dark time in the sport’s and country’s history, but people like Sam Jethroe help give us hope and deserve our admiration. If you want more information on Jethroe, Mark Bowman of MLB.com wrote an outstanding article on him several years ago. It is definitely worth a read as we honor an important part of the Braves history. [...]
Dansby Swanson, Patrick Weigel, and the saga of Adam Walker are the focus of today’s news and links.
Just a few days after bringing him onto the 40-man roster, the Braves have decided to outright him to Gwinnett. For Walker, it’s a continuation of what’s been a wild offseason. He started it with the Twins and has been in the grasp of the Brewers and Orioles before coming to the Braves. He cleared waivers, though, so he’ll be staying in the minor league system, which means that the Braves get to keep him in the fold while also clearing a roster spot.
The Braves passed Walker through waivers. Nothing changes with his projected role to begin '17 as one of Gwinnett's outfielders https://t.co/s3FrmtmOdQ— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) January 31, 2017
These changes, however, do not effect the Braves’ draft position or pools. Basically, the pool money and picks went from the Cardinals to the Astros. The Braves have the 9th largest bonus pool in the draft with $9,409,600. The biggest chunk of that is the slot allotment for the 5th overall pick which is $5,435,000.
The Braves own the 5th, 41st, and 80th picks in the first three rounds of the draft. Keep in mind there are several supplemental draft picks in that range that the Braves could acquire which would affect their bonus pool as well. Knowing Coppy, he is already working the phones to try and get just such picks.