Results tagged ‘ Julio Teheran ’

Odds and ends: Heyward, Teheran, etc.

Before I get married this weekend and enjoy both a Hawaiian honeymoon and Steelers Super Bowl victory next week, I’m providing this entry full of some things I’ve heard or discussed over the past week. 

Heyward update: There didn’t seem to be much reason for concern when Jason Heyward said Wednesday that he still doesn’t have full range of motion in the left thumb that he injured in May.

“I don’t have any pain in it, but I still don’t have the full range of motion in it,” Heyward said. “I still can’t bend it anywhere close to where it was before.  I don’t know if I ever will be able to do that.  But I know it’s not holding me back from hitting.”

If he were a professional thumb wrestler, there might be some concern about Heyward’s limited range of motion.  But given that he’s still happy with the career choice he’s made at the ripe age of 21, it should simply be comforting to hear him say he’s able to swing the bat in a pain-free manner. 

Teheran, a sleeper for fifth spot?:  Two weeks ago, the Braves informed Julio Teheran that he was invited to attend his first big league camp this year.  This wasn’t a surprise.  Nor was it surprising to see the 20-year-old right-hander listed among MLB.com’s 10 best prospects. 

Teheran is one of the finest pitching prospects to ever pass through the Braves organization and they certainly don’t have any plans to rush his development. 

But based on what they’ve seen from him, there are some members of the Braves organization who believe Teheran will make it difficult for them to determine when or maybe even if they should send him to back to Minor League camp. 

Given that Teheran has had one injury-free professional season, which consisted of just 142 innings, there is very little reason to believe the Braves would begin the season with him in the Majors.  But the fact that they are at least anticipating that he will make them debate the possibility gives you a better idea about how special this kid could be.

Wishing the best for Pete: It was nice to catch up with Pete Van Wieren this week and even better to hear him say that doctors are optimistic as he nears what is scheduled to be his final round of chemotherapy treatment.  His final treatment is scheduled for Feb. 7.  

Van Wieren has been undergoing these treatments once every three weeks since learning in October that he would have to once again battle against cutaneous B-Cell lymphoma.  He battled this same condition around this time last year. 

It was discouraging to hear Van Wieren say that he won’t make it down for any portion of Spring Training this year.  But it was encouraging to learn, the proud grandfather is planning to take the grandchildren to Disney during the early days of April.

The treatments have weakened him to some degree.  But it was still great to hear the excitement in his voice when he spoke about being able to play poker and watch baseball again some time soon. 

Wide-eyed Minor Leaguers: The Braves seemed quite pleased with how their first Rookie Development Program went last week.  It was cool to see how the Minor Leaguers reacted while listening to the motivational speeches delivered by John Schuerholz and then Bobby Cox. 

I just wish I would have been in the room when the young kids looked up and saw Hank Aaron just walking through the middle of the clubhouse.  It was an unplanned part of the program.  Aaron was simply making his exit after completing an early-morning workout.

It was nice to get to talk to some of these prospects and put a face to a name.  Matt Lipka had a stronger frame than I envisioned when the Braves took him with their first selection in June.  This probably had something to do with the tales about the success he enjoyed as an All-State wide receiver in Texas. 

Lipka has spent the past couple of months working out a gym owned by former Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson.  He has added some upper body mass and focused on maintaining the speed that proved so appealing to baseball scouts last year. 

Out of all the players the Braves worked out at Turner Field before last year’s Draft, there was just one that proved to be faster than Lipka. 

His name is Kyle Wren, the son of Braves general manager Frank Wren.  Kyle is projected to serve as Georgia Tech’s starting centerfielder as a true freshman this year. 

Catch you in a couple weeks.    
  

All is quiet on the Braves trade front

Saturday will mark the one-year anniversary of TheJeff Francoeur Trade.  The Braves will  commemorate the event by spending this weekend playing against Francoeur and his Mets teammates at Citi Field.

Here at Bowman’s Blog, we chose to recognize the event Thursday, when we drew a steady wave of page hits courtesy of a player, who has previously drawn comparisons to Francoeur.

Once MLB.com’s Peter Gammons mentioned Mike Minor and Corey Hart in the same tweet yesterday, Braves fans buzzed with curiosity.  From all indications, Frank Wren and his lieutenants simply sat back and recognized the fact that we are indeed in the middle of July’s rumor season. 

If there is a group of untouchables within the Braves organization, Minor ranks near the top of that list.  The 22-year-old hurler will likely be projected to be part of the 2011 Atlanta rotation. 

Yes, somebody will likely have to be moved to create a spot for Minor next year.  But for now, we should just focus on the belief that he will stay with the organization unless the Braves are blown away by the offer of a young affordable position player that they could control for at least three years. 

In other words, Minor, Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado will be sticking with the Braves unless another club is willing to offer a Jason Heyward-type player.  Last time I checked, the Marlins (Mike Stanton) and Tigers (Brennan Boesch) aren’t going to be willing to do this. 

The direction the Braves take leading up to the July 31 deadline will be heavily influenced by what Heyward shows when he returns from the disabled list after the All-Star break.  If he proves to be healthy and capable of being as productive as he was during the season’s first two months, there will be less need for Wren to pursue and everyday outfielder.

If Heyward provides confidence about what he could provide down the stretch, the Braves may simply look to add a bat to a bench that has been recently weakened while Eric Hinske and Omar Infante have been in the lineup much more often than originally projected. 

Matt Diaz’s return has already solidified the outfield mix.  If Nate McLouth is able to return from his concussion and provide some indication that he will be much more productive during the season’s second half, the Braves would then have the option of using either Melky Cabrera or Gregor Blanco as a trade chip. 

Blanco obviously has more trade value than the more-expensive Cabrera.  But more importantly, his performance over the past couple of weeks has given every reason to believe he can capably handle the center field position if McLouth isn’t able to regain his health or show the promise that was expected when the Braves acquired him last year.

If the Braves reach a point where they are seeking an outfielder to play on an everyday basis, Hart won’t be high on their wish list.  While producing a career-best season this year, Hart is setting himself up to earn $7-8 million via arbitration next year. 

The Braves would be hesitant making this kind of commitment to a player, who combined to hit .265 with 32 homers and a .757 OPS during the 2007 and ’08 seasons.  But the primary reason they wouldn’t offer the Brewers a highly attractive packages stems from the fact that Hart will be eligible for free agency at the end of the 2011 season. 

The Brewers have spent the past couple of years attempting to get the Braves to trade for Hart. Right now, it appears they’re still not ready to bite. 

Still the odds of Hart landing in Atlanta might actually be higher than those surrounding the possibility that Yunel Escobar will be traded before the trade deadline.   The Braves simply aren’t willing to sell low on a guy, who they still view as the game’s top defensive shortstop.

Manager Bobby Cox complimented Omar Infante the other day by saying he could be an everyday shortstop.  But it’s quite obvious that Infante wouldn’t bring the same defensive value as Escobar, whose presence strengthens the value of Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe, who both rank among the top three NL starters in groundball/flyball ratio. 

While the Braves may not currently be major players on the trade market, they could see one of their former hurlers influenced if the Yankees conclude their current negotiations to land Cliff Lee. 

If the Yankees do land Lee (and it appears they will), they will likely trade Javier Vazquez. One scout told me this morning that he was hearing Vazquez would be dealt to the Phillies in exchange for Jayson Werth. 

But with Chase Utley sidelined until at least the latter portion of August, I find it hard to believe that the Phillies would be willing to trade another key piece of their lineup to strengthen their shaky rotation. 

NOTES: Julio Teheran was scratched from his latest start with Class A Myrtle Beach to allow him to be ready to pitch in this weekend’s Futures Game. Mike Minor is also scheduled to pitch for the U.S. team. The game will be shown live by MLB.TV and ESPN 2 at 6 p.m. ET Sunday…Highly-regarded, 18-year-old shortstop Edward Salcedo has hit .269 with two doubles and two triples in his first 26 at-bats since being promoted to Class A Rome. 

      

Odds and ends from a rainy Saturday

Rain prevented the Braves from doing the fielding and baserunning drills today.  But Mother Nature wasn’t able to prevent Jair Jurrjens from taking another step in the right direction with the 20-minute long toss session he completed in the soggy outfield grass. 

Jurrjens said he felt good after throwing from a distance of 120 feet, but more importantly he truly looked like he was comfortable with his throwing motion by the time this session was completed. 

After throwing for five or 10 minutes, Jurrjens walked back toward Braves catcher Brian McCann, who was located along the left field foul line.  While standing next to the team’s trainer Jeff Porter, Jurrjens stretched his arm and spun it around in a helicopter motion multiple times. 

When he resumed throwing a few minutes later, Jurrjens’ throwing motion was looser and he seemed to have a little more life on his throws. 

Dating back to Feb. 17, when he learned his right shoulder discomfort was a product of inflammation, Jurrjens has said he would have to do more stretching than usual to get his shoulder to cooperate. 

Now it appears Jurrjens will get his next test on Monday, when he will likely begin throwing on a downward plane again off the mound.  If all goes well, he will likely need to complete three or four side sessions before being cleared to make his first Grapefruit League start. 

This puts him on schedule to make this start during March’s second week and be in position complete at least one five-inning appearance before the regular season begins.

In other words, there’s still a good chance Jurrjens will take his first turn through the rotation during the regular season’s first week.  But for now, the Braves can only show patience as their prized 23-year-old hurler does everything he can to make sure the shoulder doesn’t prove to be a lingering problem throughout the season.

Quick hits:  Bobby Cox said that he’s currently leaning toward starting the year with Nate McLouth as his leadoff hitter.  This shouldn’t be too surprising.  Yunel Escobar seems to be only other legit option and he’s too valuable in a run-producing role.    

Tom Glavine is expected to arrive in camp around March 17 or 18.  When asked what Glavine would do, Cox said the 300-game winner would take in the Spring Training environment and spend some time helping with some of the young pitchers. 

“Tommy can do whatever he wants,” Cox said and I don’t think he was necessarily kidding.  Glavine will have the opportunity to see how Jason Heyward is progressing and take a look at some of the organization’s top Minor League pitchers. 

When the club’s top young pitchers are discussed, Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino, the prized return from the Yankees in the Javy Vazquez trade, immediately come to mind.  But Frank Wren provided the reminder that right-hander Randall Delgado should also be placed in this advanced category. 

Wren indicated that a couple of these top pitching prospects could begin the season with Class A Rome.  But he added that they all will likely spend some time together this year in Class A -Advanced Myrtle Beach’s rotation.

Cox said that he will announce the Grapefruit League rotation on Monday.  The team’s first game will be played on Tuesday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie.   

MLB.com set to reveal latest list of Top 50 prospects

Before getting into a discussion about top prospects, let’s just verify that the Braves aren’t interested in Jim Edmonds.  In related news, they also aren’t pursuing Garret Anderson or  B.J. Surhoff to fill a roster spot.

OK, now that he’s spent the past couple weeks and months talking to scouts, scouting directors and other talent evaluators, Jonathan Mayo is ready to reveal MLB.com’s 2010 Top 50 prospect list.

When this year’s list is revealed tonight (Wednesday) at 8 p.m. ET on MLB.com and MLB Network, you’ll see Mayo’s shiny dome and gain a better sense about how stressful this selection process can be.

Seriously though, these lists stand as just another entertaining highlight to promote the future of the game.  Of course right now in Atlanta the future seems to be quite bright. 

When Mayo made his midseason selections on July 31 last year, he had Jason Heyward at the top of his list.  There’s no doubt the big outfielder will once again be at the top of these rankings.

But we’ll have to wait until tonight to see if MLB.com still considers Heyward to be the game’s top prospect.  Last year, the 20-year-old outfielder ranked third on this list and some kid named Tommy Hanson ranked 24th.

Because he has expired his rookie-eligible status, Hanson wasn’t eligible to be listed among this year’s top prospects. 

It will also be interesting to see if this Top 50 list includes Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino, who will likely stand as the key return in the December trade that sent Javy Vazquez to the Yankees. 

Some scouts say that Teheran is the better prospect and others think Vizcaino has the greater upside. Regardless of where you might rank them, you can’t argue that the Braves are in pretty good position to have a pair of 19-year-old hurlers with this kind of talent.

ESPN’s Keith Law ranks the Braves farm system as the game’s fifth-best in his just-released organizational rankings.  He mentions that the ranking would have been higher if not for the results of this past summer’s Draft.

It’s interesting to go back to some of these prospects list to see how the guys fared.  Here is a selection of previous MLB.com lists:  2009 ,   20082007 and 2006.

You’ll be able to find plenty of selections that make you, “what ever happened to that guy.”  Just to give you one example that will make you laugh, look at the 2006 list and see that the terribly over-hyped Andy Marte ranked four spots ahead of Prince Fielder and 14 spots ahead of Hanley Ramirez.

This is just the nature of these kinds of selections.   I had to laugh earlier this week when I looked back at Baseball America’s list of prospects at the end of the 2007 season.  They had Tommy Hanson ranked as the ninth-best prospect in the Braves system.

Here are the guys who ranked ahead of him:

1. Jordan Schafer — potentially bright future
2. Heyward —  bright future
3. Jurrjens —  on his way toward stardom
4. Brandon Jones — claimed by Pirates off waivers
5. Gorkys Hernandez  — traded to Pirates
6. Brent Lillibridge — traded to White Sox
7.Cole Rohrbough  — no longer considered a top prospect
8. Jeff Locke  — traded to Pirates

BA’s list of the organization’s top prospects heading into the 2007 season provides an even greater feeling of nostalgia.  It could also be confused as a list of young Rangers players.

1. Jarrod Saltalamacchia  — traded to Rangers
2. Elvis Andrus —  traded to Rangers
3. Matt Harrison — traded to Rangers
4. Brandon Jones — Pirates
5. Van Pope —  no longer considered a prospect
6. Eric Campbell — makes you wonder if Pete Babcock made this draft selection
7. Scott Thorman —  Brewers Minor Leaguer
8. Jo-Jo Reyes —  hanging on in the Braves system
9. Joey Devine —  the reason you still recognize Chris Burke’s name.
10. Yunel Escobar —   Hey one out of 10 isn’t bad.

Before sending this into cyberspace, I will tell you that I had lunch with Pete Van Wieren last week.  The Professor’s book, which should be a very interesting read, will go on sale on April 1.     

Braves look to end horrors at Nationals Park

So you’re saying they’ve got a chance? Yeah, I know Mathew McConaughey also sounded a lot  better when he said something similar in Dazed and Confused.

The Braves have gained four games on the Rockies over the course of the past 10 games played by both teams and if they can gain this same margin over the course of their final 10 games, they’ll enter the postseason with a survivalist’s momentum for the first time since 1993.

While winning their 14 consecutive division titles from 1991-2005, the Braves often cruised into the the first round of the playoffs.  During the 2000 and ’01 seasons, they didn’t clinch until the season’s final weekend. 

But this year, like in 1991 and ’93,  it looks like there will be a chance for them to actually enter the 162nd game of the season in must-win mode. Currently scheduled to start the season finale against the Nationals at Turner Field, Tim Hudson may have a chance to truly make his mark after spending the majority of this year rehabbing from elbow reconstruction surgery.

Obviously, the Braves are  going to need a little assistance from the Rockies to gain this opportunity.  But when you look at the remaining schedules that both teams will have to navigate, you have to think we’ll at least go into next weekend still feeling like the Braves have a chance.

Of course if the Braves were to continue their struggles at Nationals Park this weekend, they may just want to walk down the street to the Smithsonian and place their season among their other items that are now tagged as “history”. 

The struggles the Braves have experienced in D.C. the past two years are absolutely mind-boggling.  They’ve gone 4-11 at Nationals Park and won just two of their past 12 games there.

Since moving out of RFK, which stood for “The Only NL East Stadium worse than Shea”,  the Nationals have gone 64-91 at home. Take away those 15 games against the Braves and they’ve compiled a .379 winning percentage at their new park.

The Nationals opened Nationals Park on March 30, 2008 with Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off homer off Peter Moylan.  Over the course of the next two weeks, this would also be the site where Moylan would blow out his elbow and Tom Glavine would incur the hamstring injury that forced him to the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Well this should be enough info to provide you the reminder that Nationals Park has essentially been a house of horrors for the Braves. 

If you’re looking for some encouragement, the three worst batting averages produced by Braves players who have had at least 40 plate appearances in D.C. over the past two years are owned by Kelly Johnson (.217), Jeff Francoeur (.184) and Gregor Blanco (.167). 

Martin Prado, who scored the ninth-inning, game-tying run as a pinch runner during that March 30, 2008 game, has hit .484 (15-for-31) at Nationals Park.  Prado is back in the lineup tonight after missing Wednesday’s game in New York because of a bruised left leg that he suffered courtesy of a batting practice liner off Johnson’s bat. 

While the Braves are spending this weekend in D.C., the Rockies will be hosting the Cardinals for a three-game series.  In other words, by the time Sunday evening concludes, you have to think there’s a good chance the Braves could be even closer than the 3 1/2 games that seperate them and the front-running Rockies in the National League Wild Card chase.

After attempting to separate themselves from the Marlins during the early portion of next week, the Braves will stay at Turner Field to end their season with a four-game series against the Nationals.

The Rockies will stay at home after this weekend’s series to host the Brewers for a three-game set.  They will then travel to Los Angeles for a season-ending, three-game series against a Dodgers club that the Braves can only hope will still be motivated by the opportunity to secure home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

There are still a number of things that have to go right for the Braves.  But it’s still nice to know that we may all be able to enjoy the tension and excitement that tight postseason races bring during the season’s final week.

Right move:  It will be interesting to see the emotions that Bobby Cox is feeling as we end the 2010 season and he finds himself staring at his approaching retirement.  But when the Braves announced Wednesday that next year will be the last of his storied career, Cox seemed to respond with a sense of relief.

Part of his relief stemmed from the fact that he would no longer have to answer our questions about his future.  But at the same time, through his words he admitted that he wasn’t going to ever let himself seriously think about retirement until somebody basically talked him into it.

Cox is going to miss the daily stresses that he’s felt as a manager and we’re all going to dearly miss the opportunity to interact on a daily basis with one of the game’s true legends. 

But this arrangement will certainly benefit his health and likely provide us all many more years to be enriched by the knowlege of a man who has been the most influential figure in the long history of the Braves organization.

Prospect Watch: This week Baseball America has started revealing the top prospects from each of the leagues in the Minors.  Two of their first three selections have been Braves.

Christian Bethancourt, a 17-year-old catcher from Panama, was named the Gulf Coast League’s top prospect.  Bethancourt, who you may remamber from the 2004 Little League World Series, was signed for the Braves for $600,000 last year.  He’s still developing offensive power, but scouts have been impressed with his arm, which has regularly gotten the ball to second base at a rate of 1.8 seconds.

Highly-regarded right-hander Julio Teheran was named the Appalachian League’s top prospect.  Teheran, who signed for $850,000 in 2007, proved he was no longer bothered by the shoulder tendinitis that limited him to 15 innings last year.

During his 14 combined starts with Rookie Level Danville and Class A Rome this year, Teheran worked 96 1/3 innings, registered 84 strikeouts and issued just five walks.  The 18-year-old right-hander possess a fastball that rests between 92-96 mph and a plus changeup.

BA will continue to unveil its top prospects from each league over the
next couple of weeks and obviously we’ll soon see Jason Heyward’s name
atop yet another of their lists.

I’m not with the club this weekend.  But I’ll check in periodically over the next couple of days.

TONIGHT’S LINEUP

McLouth 8
Prado 4
Chipper 5
McCann 2
Escobar 6
Anderson 7
Diaz 9
LaRoche 3
Vazquez 1

  
   

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