We're done licking our wounds. It's time to start up the season recap pieces. I'm going to start with the minors, and then get into the major league roster. Today, we're going to start with the
Despite not having a prospect-laden roster, Gwinnett finished 78-65, just a game and a half behind wild card winner Lehigh Valley (another team without many top prospects). All three members of the holy trinity of pitching prospects got playing time in Gwinnett, with Julio Teheran
spending the majority of his season there. His season was excellent, as Julio won a host of awards, including IL Most Valuable Pitcher, IL Rookie of the Year, IL Mid and Post Season All-Star, BA AAA All-Star, and BA Minor League All-Star. Pretty much....Teheran was one of the best pitchers in the minor league game in 2011, and he did it as a 20 year-old in AAA. His stats backed up the accolades, as he went 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA, five homers allowed, 48 walks, and 122 strikeouts in 144 2/3 innings. His FIP was 2.96, so this wasn't some sort of mirage. I firmly believe he's ready for a spot in the major league rotation next season, even if he'll only be 21.Arodys Vizcaino
and Randall Delgado
spent small parts of the season in Gwinnett, so for right now, I'll just talk about their time in Gwinnett. Vizcaino worked out of the bullpen, and only got seven innings of work before getting called up to Atlanta. He struck out eight, didn't walk a batter, and the one earned run he allowed came off a homer. As for Delgado, he got four starts with Gwinnett, going 21 2/3 innings, allowing four homers, walking 11, and striking out 25. Unlike Teheran, I think he's still a work in progress, despite his "success" in Atlanta. I put success in quotation marks because despite a low ERA, his walks and strikeouts were all out of whack. Vizcaino will be 21 when next season starts, while Delgado would be 22....it's odd that the oldest of the three is the one I think still needs to spend time in the minors, but here we are.Mike Minor
also spent some time with Gwinnett, and likely won't be back there next year. In 100 2/3 innings, he struck out 99 and walked 27. The worst part of his game in Gwinnett was the 12 homers he allowed, but that seemed to get in order once he was promoted to Atlanta. Yohan Flande
looked like a solid minor league arm with no future in the majors, striking out 104 and walking 38 in 137 innings in the bullpen and rotation. Todd Redmond
also looks like a guy who could make the major league rotation of an inferior team, striking out 142 and walking 47 in 169 2/3 innings. Like Minor, homers are a problem: he allowed 18 this year. He could easily catch on with a team looking for pitching depth this offseason.
Gwinnett had many options in the bullpen that could have seen use in Atlanta, that didn't for a variety of reasons. Jairo Asencio
didn't pitch at all in 2010 after some visa issues, and came back with a vengeance in 2011. In 54 2/3 innings, he struck out 70, walked 22, and allowed just three homers en route to a 1.81 ERA and 2.56 FIP. Yet, he didn't get a callup in September when the major pieces of the bullpen were gassed. He got just 10 1/3 innings of work in Atlanta, allowing one homer, walking five, and striking out eight while posting a 6.97 ERA. But here's the thing: four of his runs came in one outing against the Giants in April, and three came in a blowout loss to the Padres in June. In his other four appearances, he allowed just one run in nine innings, going multiple innings in each one, striking out seven with two walks. His lack of use in the majors was embarrassing when someone like Scott Proctor was allowed to throw 29 1/3 innings of hideous baseball.
Another guy who got some time in Atlanta, but wasn't given a September callup, was Cory Gearrin
. Gearrin didn't spend any time in Atlanta after the middle of July, and his overall Atlanta results were skewed by allowing ten runs in 1 1/3 innings in two of his last three appearances, which were blowouts. With the bullpen needing a groundball specialist after Peter Moylan's myriad of injuries, Gearrin could have been a good hand, but alas. He was damn good in Gwinnett:: 50 innings, 60 strikeouts, 20 walks, no homers, and a good groundball rate. But the Braves let him rot at Gwinnett for a second straight year. Questionable management.
Those were the top two relievers in Gwinnett's bullpen, but there were other guys that were solid. Anthony Varvaro
struck out 69 and walked 35 in 59 innings with two homers, and earned some innings in Atlanta over the course of his season. He's in contention for a spot in the 2012 bullpen due to his strikeout ability and ability to pitch multiple innings, despite his questionable control. One of my favorite relievers, Jaye Chapman
, struck out 77 and walked 31 in 68 1/3 innings with Mississippi and Gwinnet, while also getting a ton of ground balls. Last season, his ERA was hideous despite only two homers allowed and a strikeout an inning. Hopefully this season proved that he can succeed at higher levels. JJ Hoover
had been a starter for his entire minor league career, but after being called up to Gwinnett and put in the bullpen in August, he struck out 26 and walked six in 13 2/3 innings. I'll talk about his tenure as a starter when I do the Mississippi recap tomorrow. And finally, there's Stephen Marek
, who looked to be on a track to the majors, but blew his elbow out in the beginning of May after just ten appearances.
Gwinnett's offseason was a wasteland for prospects. Their best hitter was Stefan Gartrell
, the 27 year old acquired from the White Sox in early April. He had a .262/.338/.504 line overall, hitting 28 doubles and 25 homers. He had nearly as many strikeouts as hits (118 strikeouts, 119 hits) and looked like a career minor league masher to the end. Mauro Gomez
, who turned 27 after the season, is much like Gartrell. His line was .304/.356/.522, with 34 doubles and 24 homers. He was signed this past offseason as a replacement for Barbaro Canizares, who the team let walk to the Mexican League. This was his first year in AAA, but at the end of the day....he's a career minor leaguer. With Freddie Freeman in Atlanta, he's not going to be getting a shot in the majors any time soon.Wilkin Ramirez
spent the year in Gwinnett as a 25 year old, and also got some time in Atlanta. He had a .766 OPS, has an aversion to walks, but has decent speed, going 19/25 on the bases. He also has solid power, as his .191 ISO indicates. But the holes in his game (17 walks, 70 strikeouts) will prevent him from being a regular in the majors. He did have an .893 OPS against lefties for the G-Braves this year, which once again begs the question, "why did the team bring in Matt Diaz?" The world may never know. Matt Young
started the year on the Braves bench, failed miserably, and was demoted to Gwinnett, where his abilities didn't look so hot (.719 OPS, 17/24 on steals), but he still did walk nearly as much as he struck out (57 walks, 59 strikeouts). But his failure in 2011 in Atlanta will likely stop him from getting another shot. Nothing is stopping Jose Constanza
though, who despite just a .712 OPS in Gwinnett, got promoted to Atlanta, where he milked a couple of hot weeks for all they were worth, and is now being talked about as a relevant player, despite an absolutely abysmal September (which fans seem to completely ignore). He shouldn't be in the mix, but he is, and that's depressing.
Anyone else? Tyler Pastornicky
got a brief spell in Gwinnett and excelled, OPSing .821 in 27 games before an ankle injury ended his year. He could be the 2012 shortstop in the majors. I'll talk more about him in the Mississippi recap. Brandon Hicks
, who I wrote about yesterday
, had a solid renaissance year, OPSing .779 and getting his power back into form (.196 ISO). Diory Hernandez
was horrible all-around. Everyone else on the team either didn't have a great year, and/or is a career minor leaguer that isn't even worth talking about.
Gwinnett has a bunch of players that could have use in Atlanta in 2012, but there just aren't enough spots to go around. The team's pitching is damn good, and the Braves could go with an entirely homegrown bullpen if they were really inclined in 2012, but I have a nagging feeling that some veterans are going to get involved. But as with all AAA teams, there is a plentiful amount of 4-A players who shouldn't be sniffing the majors. Unfortunately, the fanbase has latched onto some of those, and I'm afraid that it's going to take a failure at the major league level for them to see the light. I really don't want to waste 200 plate appearances on Constanza or Gartrell, but I have a feeling that could be happen while superior options like Wilkin Ramirez or Brandon Hicks continue to rot. The same goes for the pitchers: there is no way that Asencio and Gearrin should be allowed to rot for another year while guys like Proctor get innings at the major league level, but that's the way this team operates.