Looking at Vizcaino’s arrival and Proctor’s departure
Once Scott Proctor nearly cost the Braves a game within which he did not even throw a pitch, it was obvious that it was time to finally cut ties with the veteran reliever. Thus there wasn’t any reason for surprise this morning when it was revealed Proctor had been given his unconditional release.
However it was somewhat surprising to learn his roster spot would be filled by Arodys Vizcaino, who is considered the organization’s second-best prospect. The 20-year-old right-hander’s ascension to the Majors has understandably generated excitement among Braves fans.
Those who have seen him display his above-average fastball and knee-buckling curveball understand why he is considered to have so much potential. Those who have simply seen that he has recorded 100 strikeouts and issued just 28 walks in 97 innings this year are looking forward to getting their first glimpse of how he will fare at the Major League level.
Vizcaino is every bit as impressive as Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado, the organization’s other prized young pitching prospects and there is little doubt that he has a bright future as a starter or reliever (I’m sticking with reliever) at the Major League level. He certainly has the stuff to serve as closer or top setup man.
But there’s still reason to wonder if he has been rushed to the Majors. He began this season in Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach’s rotation and did not start working in Double-A Mississippi’s bullpen until about a month ago. He was promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett about a week later and two more weeks later he finds himself at the Major League level.
It won’t surprise me if Vizcaino proves to be a key ingredient and the valuable extra right-handed reliever the Braves have needed for more than a month. But given that he has made just 17 appearances (nine as reliever) and completed 56 2/3 innings above the Class A level is he ready for the Majors?
The answer will be revealed over the next couple weeks. Regardless, the Braves definitely needed to add another fresh arm for tonight’s series finale against the Marlins. Craig Kimbrel will be unavailable and if possible manager Fredi Gonzalez wouldn’t mind having a chance to stay away from using Jonny Venters.
Of course Gonzalez likely wouldn’t have as many concerns about his bullpen had Proctor simply cruised while trying to protect a five-run lead in the ninth-inning of Monday’s series opener. Once he allowed the Marlins to cut the deficit to three runs, Gonzalez had to call upon Kimbrel to record the final two outs.
This led Gonzalez to want to stay away Kimbrel Tuesday night and use Eric O’Flaherty and Venters in the final two innings. Thus he asked Anthony Varvaro to get the final out of the seventh inning and paid the price when the rookie reliever allowed a game-tying three-run homer that eventually forced Kimbrel to return for a third straight day in the 11th inning.
Proctor proved effective during his first month with the Braves this year. But he struggled in almost each of the final 18 appearances he made dating back to June 16. He posted a 9.16 ERA and allowed opponents to hit .329 with a .422 on-base percentage during this span.
Proctor’s finest moments with the Braves came July 26, when he tossed three scoreless innings and produced the decisive grounder that ended a 19-inning win over the Pirates in controversial fashion.
It’s unknown what the future holds for Proctor. But I think you can guarantee he won’t be getting any sympathy cards from veteran umpire Jerry Meals any time soon.