Minor among the many getting antsy for the start of camp

As the clubhouse staff moved boxes Thursday morning at Turner Field and players debated whether to travel to Florida next Thursday or Friday, it really started to feel like it is time to put an end to the offseason and welcome the start of Spring Training.

Braves pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex by Feb. 19.  After playing catch this morning, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor decided they will likely start driving to the Orlando area next Tuesday or Wednesday.   Yep, the single dudes can do whatever they want whenever they want without much plan.

“I’m much more excited to get down there than I was the past two years,” Minor said. “Last year at this time I was still relaxing, playing Xbox and that kind of stuff.  This year, I’m really excited to get going.”

Minor seems so much more comfortable and confident than he was a year ago.   The 24-year-old left-handed pitcher seemed a little  hesitant when he arrived at Spring Training last year to compete with Beachy for the fifth spot in the rotation.  He did not impress during the Grapefruit League season and looked like a deer in headlights when he made a spot start for Jair Jurrjens on April 6 in Milwaukee.

At the time it was not ridiculous to wonder if he would need an entire year at the Minor League level to build his confidence and give him time to find at least a hint of consistency with his breaking ball.

Looking back at where he was last year, Minor admits he came to Spring Training comfortable with the prospect of having to spend some more time in the Minors.   He had totaled just 29 professional starts at that point and four of those were made as he was rebuilding his arm strength in 2009, after the Braves took him with the seventh overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft.

To his credit Minor quickly took advantage of the opportunity to develop a little longer in the Minors.  He worked with talented Triple-A pitching coach Marty Reed and started to show promise when he returned to the Majors for a couple starts in late May.   He proved even more impressive as he posted a 3.83 ERA in the nine starts made for Atlanta in August and September.

Minor made tremendous strides last year and Braves fans should be encouraged to learn that he has found comfort with the feel of his breaking ball over the past few weeks.  He said Beachy has been providing him encouraging feedback while the two have been playing catch.

“It feels like it did at the end of last season,” Minor said. “Hopefully I don’t eat my words and struggle with it in Spring Training.  But it’s really been feeling good out of my hand.”

It will be interesting to see exactly who is in the Braves rotation at the beginning of this season.   I’ve been projecting Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Beachy and Minor.  But it’s starting to sound like Hudson knew what he was talking about back in early December when he was telling close friends that he did not think  he would be ready for the start of Spring Training.

Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell said last week that he would be prepared if Hudson needs some additional time to recover from the surgical procedure performed on his back (herniated disc) in late November.

“We’ll progress as the doctors say he can progress,” McDowell said. “Whether it’s the middle of April or first of May, we’ll probably be a little more cautious so that we can have him at the end. There’s no reason to rush things and then have a setback.”

Fortified with the depth Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado provide, the Braves will not be concerned if Hudson is limited to 25-30 starts this year.  It is more important to allow him to fully recover and be ready to stay healthy once he returns to action.

Had the Braves traded Jurrjens, Hudson might have felt greater pressure during his rehab.  But he can now go through the recovery process with the comfort of knowing Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson are both confident they will be at full strength at the start of the regular season.

Jurrjens’ troublesome right knee should benefit from a knee brace and Hanson has attempted to take stress off his shoulder by strengthening his back and refining his delivery.

Chipper Jones has produced the most interesting nugget over the past couple weeks.  Shocker, right?  Anyhow, I’ m referring to the comments he made about Jason Heyward last week.

“When the ball jumped off his bat [in 2010], there was a sound unlike you had ever heard,” Jones said. “I didn’t see that at all last year. It’s due to some of things he was doing mechanically. The ball is jumping off his bat now close to the way it was in 2010.”

It was obvious Heyward was committed to turning things around in November when he discussed the workout schedule and diet he had been sticking to since the end of the season.  Yes, he lost 20 pounds and gained a leaner frame.  But more important this commitment allowed him to stay focused and regain some of the confidence he lost last year.

As an avid North Carolina fan, Braves head trainer Jeff Porter has long had a great appreciation for Roy Williams.  That appreciation now extends beyond the basketball court.

Porter was touched a few weeks ago when Williams sent him a letter to express his condolences regarding the tragic passing of Porter’s wife, Kathy, who was killed in an auto accident on  Dec. 31.

Williams is just one of the many who have reached out to help Porter in some way.  But one individual who really deserves to be recognized is Dr. Joe Chandler, who stayed with Porter and his 19-year-old son, David, the night of the accident and remained by their side for much of the next week.

Chandler will  always be recognized as the man who helped keep Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and so many other Braves on the field as they battled aches and pains.  But the man has proven to be so much more over the past year while selflessly providing support to Porter and Luis Salazar as they dealt with traumatic experiences.

Starting next week this blog will once again be updated with multiple entries on a weekly basis.  I figured it was time to produce a new entry when within a span of 12 hours, my mother and Chipper Jones both pointed out that I had been slacking.

32 Comments

Where is the Kris Medlen discussion in this list of potential starters? Among Minor, Beachy, Delgado and Teheran only Delgado and Beachy have had comparable success and Delgado’s is in very limited playing time. Medlen is tough as nails and wins ball games. I think he is constantly overlooked because of his ht. Wren is moronic enough to judge that way and probably would have overlooked a young Greg Maddux. Not saying Kris is Mad Dog but he has a similar mound temperament.Minor has ML ERA of 4.74 and Teheran’s is over 5. I would feel a lot more confident with Meds as my starter than either one of those QTip project kids.

Oh yeah, the basketball school guy is the first one to jump in about Medlen. I don’t think USF has had this kind of hoops team since Bill Russell. Sorry wrong one, huh? Missed you Bill.

Look if those two kids prove they’re not ready, Medlen will be ready to be used as a starter. He’ll stretch out like a starter in Spring Training. But his greatest value is in that pen. His presence should lessen the wear and tear placed on O’Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrel.

Fredi had zero confidence in Linebrink from day one. That factored into the fatigue as much as the close games, extra-inning games, etc.

Oh yeah. and those Eers have a game in the St Pete snake pit to close the season. Would be a real shame if that one knocked you out of the dance. It’s pay back time from FB season. We will miss you guys, but it looks like we will both be playing a lot west of the Mississippi, I wonder how they view the environmental ramifications of burning couches out on the lone prairie. “Basketball guy” in the Big East, who woulda thunk it? We are still trying to figure out how this happened.
As to Medlen, I don’t think anyone minimizes his value out of the pen. I just think he has done everything asked to earn a starter role. After all, top flight starters earn bank, long relievers, not so much.

The key to this season is going to be how deep these guys can get into the games. All of them can throw, and all of them can get people out. We need to see who can get into the 7th inning regularly (or who is allowed to). A bunch of 5+ inning pitchers will exhaust any hopes of a playoff run by the end of August, no matter how talented the bullpen is.

If we can score a few more runs then Fredi can let the starters go longer. It was tough last year with the bases loaded and no outs to have Gonz, Nate and the pitcher failing many times to get at least one runner to score.

“One of those QTip project kids”? Ugh.

I agree that Kris Medlin should be given the chance to start. He showed that he was really tough, very much like Greg Maddox and Tom Glavine. He is young and I think has a really big future ahead of him.

Waddya mean Minor didn’t impress in Grapefruit League last year? His numbers were almost as good as Beachy’s….

Minor had a 0.90 ERA over 10 IP,…Beachy had a 0.90 ERA over 20 IP…

Beachy had 21 K over 20, to Minor’s 7 K over 10….Minor walked 4 in 10 IP, to Beachy’s 4 over 20….Beachy had a .167 BAA, and Minor .189….

Very impressive if you ask me…sometimes, Mark, i feel like you don’t put in the work….sorry, but your facts are often off…with Baseball, there is an abundance of statistical info at your disposal, all you need to do is reference it.

You’re right though, he looked unimpressive in his reg season debut…he definitely used his time in Gwinnett to improve…he’ll be ready to pitch 32x if he wins a job this year.

Uh-oh, Mark, Chuck – probably Chuck James – doesn’t think you put in the work.

Minor wasn’t horrible last spring training, but let’s not pretend grapefruit league is about numbers at all. It’s about stuff. He was getting outs but couldn’t keep the ball on the ground. Of the 35 Braves pitchers in the spring he had the 34th worst ground out to fly out ratio.

That doesn’t mean that much either. His stuff didn’t impress, at least not as much as Beachy’s and at least not enough to get him a major league job. I don’t think he was bad, but I also don’t think anybody can have a “very impressive” 10 inning grapefruit league season.

Oh so you want to flame me, huh? At least i use my real first name…no need for me to hide when i engage in debate with simpletons who are just looking for a little tussle. Glad you remember Chuck James though, he actually resurfaced last year…guy was once our #3, show a little respect, huh?

Do you find Minor’s grapefruit league stats unimpressive? The fact he allowed 1 ER, kept opponents to under .200…suppose you could do better. The only reason he pitched 10 innings is because we put him in minor league camp relatively early so he could get to work. He probably could have thrown another 10 “unimpressive” innings, and still wouldn’t have gotten the job….any other rotation in baseball and he’s got a slot.

The only thing that kept Minor in the Minors was lack of control on his off speed stuff….that much is true, Beachy was better, and there wasn’t room in the rotation because of ‘Tross and his $15MM/yr pricetag, and Wren’s neck was potentially on the line for the signing (and even moreso because he’d already cut the cord with KK)…

Minor in the rotation in place of Lowe as early as July 1 ensures that we earn the WC, regardless of Hanson and Jurrjen’s health….just think, if Wren had had the guts to put Lowe in the pen or try to put him thru waivers, we could’ve earned a couple million back that was sunk into him in the first place, because we would’ve had home playoff dates to offset the worst salary in all of baseball (outside of Vernon Wells)

I think Minor’s gonna be a great pitcher…a solid #2 quality starter. I am still raw over last year, and take issue with the wording in Mark’s piece. He was plenty impressive, just as JT, AV, and RD all will be this year, and only one (if not Minor) will get the chance to replace Lowe…

I just happen to think Mark would’ve worded it differently if he’d gone back and refreshed himself with what actually occurred during the Spring last year…he probably remembers Minor’s debut in Milwaulkee more vividly, and thought it justification for a poor decision following a subpar Spring, when it was more of an anomaly and nerves…like Mark said he pitched without pressure in the Spring knowing he was not going to earn a job pretty much no matter what, and was not ready to deal with the abrupt call-up and pressure that occurred in May….i find little errors and misrememberings all the time in Mark’s work, which i appreciate by the way…i just think he needs to self-edit a little better. I took umbrage with the “fail to impress” comment….i was at Dark Star and i left there thinking we were in great shape going forward with either him or Beachy (and preferably both, with one eliminating the need for Lowe)….

So, in summation, *&#@ you.

Beachy has a good chance to be the best starter in the rotation this season if he can start to consistently get into and out of the 7th inning. He’s a strikeout machine.

Chuck, the only thing I would add to the mix about Minor is a caution about numbers. Glavine did not allow a run in his rehab work leading up to him being cut by the Braves, yet there wasn’t a scout around that thought he still had major league stuff. To make it in the Major Leagues you have to be able to get hitters out In the strike zone. Until Minor got command of the off speed pitches, that wasn’t going to happen, and he was going to be a 5+ inning pitcher. That is no longer the case, and he is going to be a big factor this season. Nibblers do not win in the Bigs. KK and Dice-K are good examples. So was Glavine at the end.

And Mark, really Chuck is right, don’t just talk to every expert there is to get the actual real story, read the stats page for your info. Just because pure fastball hitters get off to great starts in ST every season when the pitchers haven’t started working on their breaking stuff yet doesn’t mean they aren’t ready for the show, a stat is a stat, even when they always fade in the 2nd half of March. Besides, our “Old Fashioned” stats don’t mean anything anyways. Only the SABR crap with all the objective stuff means anything. I miss Pete spouting off about stats like “Hits we could have stopped if we wanted to”, and defensive stats that equate to “Guys who play out of position are better than guys who field every ball being where they are supposed to be”. I think he was spotted in a dark theater sitting next to Pee Wee Herman watching Money Ball.

Well, Rother’s Rant is ready for the regular season. :>)

How did anything Chuck say have to do with advanced statistics? All the statistics listed were as basic as they get. IP, K, BB.

Just went over to CAC to see what the stat whacks were saying. Try this on. The SABR nonsense says having Jack Wilson play 3B when Chip sits is better than a platoon of Diaz/Hinske when Martin takes over 3rd, OMFG. It just goes to show how bad crap stats really are. Nice movie, nothing to do with reality. it’s just a way for the pimple faced teens who have never slid into 3rd to get involved in the game. This really used to be a game run by and watched by people who had actually played baseball. SMHTIFO

Do you ever read articles or just look at the headlines and sub-headlines? Jack Wilson at 3B was listed as a defensive minded OPTION. If you actually read what was written–assuming you have any reading comprehension abilities–you will see a paragraph at the bottom titles “Optimal Decision” which does not include Wilson.

I would look… but I think I’m still blocked from CAC because I was a little too opinionated. Apparently you have to agree with everything in order to be a commenter. He even shut the commenting off for a period of time. Looks like that didn’t last long.

Glad to hear that Hanson has altered his pitching motion. As everyone here knows, I predicted his injury because of the unnatural stress that “hitch” of his was putting on his shoulder. Why no one in the minors corrected that long ago, I do not understand. Now the issue becomes, will he be as effective without it? Can he keep from reverting back, if he struggles early? Will the damage already done keep showing up as he puts more innings on that shoulder?

It definitely makes me nervous. It sounds like a huge transformation to his delivery. One he has been accustomed to for years. It sounds like he is using more of his legs, which is always a good thing. I just hope it doesn’t mess with his stuff.

You should get in touch with John Schuerholz about taking over his job as president of the team and use “everyone here” as a reference on your curriculum vitae.

Damn Viva, wrong time of the month?

Don’t worry. It’s always the wrong time in here.

viva, it just seems you always have these moments right before ST starts. Must be baseball withdrawal. You just need to get to FL for a game.I am making St Paddy’s day my Mets excursion. What could be better than a bunch of drunk Mets fans getting hammered by Braves bats. Last year i sat and talked BB with Carl Bernstein. Made my day.

I always wondered if you were “deep throat” Bill.

BTW – really nice catch on the Kris Medlen issue.

Why hasn’t Wren just given Bill his job yet?

Damn, new pimples, from Brandie. You really could have spared us, bDan

If Wren checked this blog we’d have 5 WS titles in the past 3 years.

Big question…are the Braves spring training practice sessions in Orlando open to the public?

Did any of you read the interview with Terry McGuirk concerning the local tv contract the Braves signed before Liberty Mutual took over? Or any of the articles about it? We signed a pretty awful 30 year deal that is pretty much going to handicap the team through most of our best years (and Bill’s twilight years). For the same reason the Rangers, Yankees, Angels, etc can sign any free agent they want, the Braves will probably never be able to even extend our homegrown talent. It also puts incredible pressure on player development to be flawless. We’re like the Roman empire in slow decline. It has more or less been the icing on my sports shitcake following the September collapse (and the following last minute ass-a-thon by my Ravens).

Yeah I read it. I was pretty shocked…but it does explain a lot. I forget how much longer we have under that contract…25 more years? I assume (hope) that in the next decade that watching baseball via the internet will surpass watching it on TV and we could possibly reap some benefits of that if each team set up their own deal. If TV remains the king for the entire 25 years, the Braves may be the new Pirates/Royals very soon :/

when can we watch a practice larry

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