Hanson, Heyward and Freeman among latest cuts

If you’re in Myrtle Beach within the next couple of months, make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to view the Heyward and Freeman show.  Of course, if you don’t catch them there, they’ll likely be performing in Pearl, Miss. before the summer is complete. 

We’ve had the pleasure of watching this act in Disney over the past six weeks and I’d have to say they’re the best teenage duo in the country right now.  I’m sorry if I’ve offended any Jonas Brothers fans.  But I’d have to say the odds of  Heyward carrying a tune seem much greater than those of Nick Jonas routinely hitting 400-foot homers. 

OK. Now that I’ve referred to the Jonas Brothers without ever knowingly ever hearing anything they’ve ever recorded, we’ll return to Braves camp, which got a little roomier on Thursday morning, when Tommy Hanson, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman learned they were being sent to Minor League camp. 

Hanson lived up to his tremendous expectations and now will spend a month or two with Triple-A Gwinnett before getting the opportunity to bring his act to Atlanta.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, Hanson could certainly be the best member of the Atlanta rotation by the time this season is complete.  But it makes sense for him to get some more Minor League seasoning.  If he started the season as Atlanta’s big league starter, he’d be scheduled to make just two starts in April. 

In other words, barring injuries suffered by another starter, we knew that Hanson was going to eventually be cut.  We just didn’t know when.

With Hanson in Minor League camp, manager Bobbby Cox will now have the opportunity to ensure each of his projected starters and relievers can get their necessary work during the remainder of the exhibition season.  

As for Heyward and Freeman, they exceeded every expectation that I had.  Just two years ago they were facing high school opponents.  But that didn’t stop them from spendng the past six weeks making fans wonder if they might actually get a call to Atlanta this year.

Like I’ve said in the past, now that I’ve had the chance to see these two kids play,  I’ll never say never about that possibility.  But at the same time, I think it would be more appropriate to debate whether they’re Major Leauge-ready at this time next year.

While playing for Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach and  likely Double-A Mississippi this year, Heyward and Freeman will experience a natural maturation process.  They need to test themselves against they caliber and frequency of offspeed pitches that weren’t present when they dominated the South Atlantic League last year. 

From an offensive and defensive standpoint, Heyward and Freeman handled themselves admirably among the Major Leaguers.  Also it was refreshing to see the humility that they displayed throughout camp.  They were true professionals and I’m looking forward to watching them continue to make their trek toward Atlanta. 

In this business, you pull for good people and those two kids certainly fit that category.

TV Game:  Chip Caray and Brian Jordan will serve as the broadcasters for today’s game which will be on MLB.TV and CSS, for those of you who are still watching baseball on television.

Kotchman sick again:  Casey Kotchman said he felt great yesterday and planned to return to today’s lineup.  But the first baseman, who had battled the flu most of last week, started to feel sick again this morning.  He’s fearful that he might have eaten something and acquired food poisoning.

Today’s Lineup:

Kelly Johnson 2B
Yunel Escobar SS
Chipper Jones 3B
Brian McCann C
Jeff Francoeur  RF
Greg Norton  1B
Brandon Jones LF
Jordan Schafer CF
Derek Lowe P 


Food poisoning? Really Michael Vick?

Rother: Yes, I am becoming more a believer in Kawakami. Last night was the first time, I had the chance to see him work for an extended period. Consequently, I got to see all of his pitches and that competitive nature that we heard about when he was signed…I talked to Don Sutton about him this morning and he compared him to John Burkett with a little more velocity.

Has Kawakami thrown all of his pitches in ST? I’ve seen his fastball/curveball, but I’m yet to see a shuuto, cutter, or forkball from him.

Lowe worked a perfect first inning and Kelly began the bottom half with a double. He moved to third on Escobar’s groundout and scored on Chipper Jones’ sac fly…McCann and Francoeur also singled in the inning off Brad Mills, who threw 11 of his 21 pitches for strikes.

Kawakami threw more than two pitches last night.
Also, Mark, please refrain from John Burkett references that do not include bowling information.
I liked what I saw last night from Kawakami as well. He let them pound it as hard as they wanted to up into that wind, it was sort of funny. It was nice to get more than a box score update for a change.

What’d he throw besides a fastball and curveball?

Hey Mark have you heard anything going on with the Will Ohman situation? Any chance he returns to the Braves?

lewis, I really haven’t heard anything more on the Ohman front and from the Braves perspective I haven’t been given reason to believe that I will…My best guess is that he ends up with the Marlins…But that is definitely just a guess

That was a half-inning of oddities that ended with Francoeur striking out for just the second time this year….McCann grounded into a double play, despite the fact that Brad Mills looked Escobar back to third base before throwing to second. McCann did the right thing by taking it easy down the first base line. No need to pull any hammys…Also during Francoeur’s at-bat, he hit a foul ball that Escobar calmly barehanded. You don’t see that every day.

I saw some change of speed stuff that didn’t look like a curve to me, but hell, they don’t have me charting pitches, nor do I do it for fun. The announcers sure weren’t much help in that area. I heard cutter, I heard whirly ball or whatever they call his little backup pitch. Who knows.

I’m not going to compare him to both John Burkett and Greg Maddux in the same blog. But he’s the kind of pitcher, who has the ability to change speeds with his fastball and curveball, providing the look that he’s throwing a number of different pitches. In a nutshell, he’s a veteran, who knows what he’s doing on the mound.

Mark – any reason to look into the fact that both Jordan Schafer and Brandon Jones stayed around? Have they possibly earned a spot on this team? (the question is geared more towards Brandon since Schafer is pretty much a shoe-in)

bravo: I wouldn’t go as far to label Schafer a shoe-in. But we’ve definitely reached a point where I’d be surprised if he doesn’t start the year as the starting center fielder…At the same time, we’re still at the point where I’d be surprised if Jones made the Opening Day roster. With uncertainty about Garret Anderson, it obviously makes sense to keep him in camp until the final cuts are made.

How can Lowe be considered a legit ace if he goes around giving up a hit every 4 innings? Jeez.

I’m going to like that heavy sinker @Philly and @NY this season.

I would guess Brandon Jones may be in the line up for the same reason Charlie Morton pitched last night, what do you think Mark?

Why didnt Hanson stay in camp until the final cuts? Wouldnt he benefit more pitching against major leaguers until the start of the season?

They may be to the point of setting the rotation order, which would keep Hanson out of the mix at this stage.

Lewisjsl, the Braves want to give that work to their regular starters. Since Hanson needs innings and they can’t provide them here, he’ll go to minor league camp to get those innings.

Schafer took another step toward winning the CF job with a throw that nailed Jason Lane as he attempted to score on a sac fly hit to shallow right-center field…Schafer’s throw was strong and McCann’s sweeping tag every bit as impressive.

lewis, Rother and PW answered the question correctly…they’re running out of available innings for their starters. Hanson just needs to continue getting innings. He’s already provided indication that he can hold his own against big leaguers.

yeah, Rother from what I’ve heard that new park in New York could be another homer haven….like with all sinkerballers, there will be days when Lowe gets beat around…but when he’s on, he can simply dominate a game…i’ll go back to what we’ve been saying…there will be days when Lowe will be every bit as dominant as A.J. Burnett and there will be few years when Burnett will find the same amount of success that Lowe experiences.

Just received word that Dice-K will be making his first Grapefruit League start on Monday against the Braves and Kenshin Kawakami…I think it’s safe to assume this is going to be a big event for the Japanese media. And I have to admit, it will be pretty cool to see.

Hey Mark what will happen to Josh Anderson if Schafer is given the starting job…I honestly think it would be a mistake to not give Schafer the starting job on opening day he deserves it and has proven himself all spring training long

Lowe recorded seven strikeouts, allowed one run and surrendered five hits in six innings. He threw 62 of his 91 pitches for strikes and didn’t issue a walk…His final exhibition start will come Tuesday night in Lakeland against the Tigers.

The circus will definitely be in town. And I won’t be able to get that “Big Papi” commercial out of my head the whole time.
“Your no big Paaaaaapi”

Heyward and Freeman are going to destroy High A pitching in Myrtle Beach.

What’s going on with our relief pitching the last few days, Boyer and Moylan notwithstanding?

O’Flaherty, Soriano, Bennett, Gonzalez, and now Logan? I hope this is just a blip.

The Carolina League (the league in which the Myrtle Beach Pelicans play), is a very pitcher-friendly league. If Heyward and Freeman do, in fact, tear up Carolina League pitching, they’ll be on a fast track to jobs with the big club.

emarc: you can only hope…i was talking to Lowe when Logan was pitching…Obviously the line is ugly and from I understand it might have been uglier had he not benefited from an overaggressive two-strike swing by one of the Blue Jays…ok, now I’ll ask myself the question, “When is Ohman expected to arrive?”

What troubles me is that the quality of our opponents recently have been wanting. Maybe it’s because I could care less about the AL, but I don’t know of these Blue Jays. Can we still sign Ohman for $1.0 million this year?

Here is the official cut info:

Left-handed pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes, catcher Clint Sammons and infielder Diory Hernandez were optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Right-handed pitcher Tommy Hanson, catcher Alvin Colina, outfielder Jason Heyward and infielders Brandon Hicks and Freddie Freeman were re-assigned to Minor League camp.

Ohman is at least going to cost somewhere between 1.5 to 2 million and at this point I think it would be worth it. Do we have any money left to sign him? I figured it would be hard for O’Flaherty or logan to mach the success that Ohman had last year. Last year could have been a lot worse without him, he logged a lot of innings for a lefty specialist.

Bobby decided to delay announcing Lowe as his Opening Day starter at least one more day.

Mark, is Bobby still deciding or has he already made the decision and he’s just waiting to announce it?

man — i’d love to catch some games in Gwinett this year…

He’s made his decision. He’s just traditionally delayed making an announcement. One of the few years, he made an early announcement was 2004 and from what I remember Kaz Matsui drilled Russ Ortiz’s first pitch that season over the right field wall…In the past he’s made announcements earlier than this one…But you can expect to see Lowe on the mound when they face the Phillies next weekend…that’s nice being able to talk about the regular season and refer to it as occurring next weekend.

In fact, I’ll take it a step further and say that you can expect to see Lowe also as the starter for the April 10 home opener. Kawakami would then slip into the rotation the next day.

Mark, I know yourself and the AJC last week were discussing possible trades with the number of pitchers we have in camp….anything new on that front? Additionally, and this is pure speculation by me, it really seems to me that Schafer “should” win the CF job. Last week there were rumors attaching names like Pierre and Matthews Jr. to the White Sox but their price, salary speaking, was too high. Have you heard anything possibly linking Josh Anderson with a White Sox deal? He seems like a good fit….inexpensive, centerfielder, can lead off…

I think that if a trade isn’t made before the regular season, Anderson will be in center until one is made. And not for pierre or Matthews jr or any other major league ready outfielder.

jmooney25, try http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/ for any hot-stove related news. Nothing is brewing that we’re aware of, though.

Looking ahead toward the start of the regular season, it appears Anderson and Bennett would be the most likely players to be traded. The Braves are still talking to a number of teams and trying to find the right fit…This is the time of year when you constantly change your mind while evaluating rosters. In fact, I’m starting to think there is a chance that Blanco could start the season in center. Earlier this evening, a scout reminded me that it’s easier to bring a player up than it is to send him down. In other words, there’s still a chance the Braves will choose to have Schafer begin the season with Gwinnett.

Ohman’s still looking for a $2MM salary, take a look at http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/

So if we start Blanco, what happens with J. Anderson? We can’t keep him on the bench, although it would be nice to have some speed off of the bench for pinch runner situations. IMO he still has too much value to just release. I doubt he’ll pass through waivers. Then we have about ten days to find a trade partner. Hmm what to do, what to do?

Mark, I understand what the scout was saying to you, but I have to say, if Schafer hasn’t made the major league team I don’t know what a player would have to do. It seems obvious that Anderson is a better option to start the year in CF than Gregor. And Schafer has clearly shown he is a better option than Anderson. He has won the job. It would be ashamed if the Braves did not reward that. I’m just saying…. If Schafer had a mediocre spring, I could see that being entertained. It has been anything but mediocre, it has been sterling. And what a difference a year makes. I remember seeing Schafer in a game in Orlando last spring. He is a different MAN this year.

wis, the Braves would certainly carry Anderson if they’re not able to trade him. I guess I should have clarified that I was saying Blanco might get the nod if they are able to find a suitor for Anderson.

barrys: I’m with you. What I’ve seen from Schafer is a difference maker. To me he’s done everything and more to win the job. He’s undoubtedly the future in center and because of this the Braves might want to make sure they do everything to preserve that future…I’m not saying I would agree with the decision. I’m just saying that would be the primary reason they might send him to the Minors to start the season.

PWH – Well aware of mlbtraderumors….but thanks, as I do really like that site. Was checking with Mark because I’ve found him to be a really good and non-jumpy source of information in the past, which is the one thing that mlbtraderumors tends to suffer from. Should be fun though. Really happy the regular season is only a week away.

A LEFT-HANDED RELIEVER PLEASE!!! We really need to sign Wil Ohman. He was reliable last year and we need a left handed reliever we can count on in the worst way. He is still a free agent for some reason. I wonder why?

barefoot…hes not being signed because he still thinks this is the old market which it is not even close to being haha…I agree that we might want to think of signing him but if from what DOB said yesterday is that they have not even TRIED talking to the Braves so I think there must be some kind of conflict with the front office and him…Mark are thany other left handers on the market right now that the Braves could afford to take a chance on, kind of like what we did with remlinger a few years back?

Barrys, what makes Anderson the better option than Gregor Blanco? Gregor Blanco’s minor league line is 274/371/377 and Anderson’s is 294/340/378. Anderson has more speed and plays better defense, but his inability to get on base makes him my least favorite to win the CF job.

There’s no conflict with Ohman and the Braves. Signing Will Ohman would just be a very inefficient way to spend money. 2 million for a LOOGY when they grow on trees and you can get one for 20% of that cost just doesn’t make sense. Granted, he’d be the best LOOGY in the league, but we don’t need him and spending 2 million would be stupid.

hey, we all know that by June Hanson is in the rotation and Glavine will be our lefty in the bullpen. Just kidding. But wouldn’t it be hilarious if Glavine became our closer like Smoltz was?

And then we’ll have Hudson back too – by September our rotation is:
with Kawakami as long reliever and Glavine closing. And JoJo Reyes… i don’t know, playing for the Thrashers or something.

Yeah, we probably should have signed Smoltz… our rotation looks a little thin.

You want a 43 year old that throws 85 miles per hour closing in the midst of a playoff push? You’re CRAZY. Though I thought the Reyes playing for the Thrashers thing was funny. Maybe Glavine can play for the Thrashers, he was drafted as a hockey player and baseball player originally.

I know, Glavine would be an awful closer. I was only joking. But the Thrashers definitely could use him.

Heyward and Freeman will certainly be back with the Braves (if they are not traded). It is always good to give these future stars some time in the minors. I see that teams will bring up a “utility” player to sit on the bench rather than their future superstar players for that reason. They need to play everyday.

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