Monday, September 5, 2011

Empire State Braves Prospects: 9/6/11

This past week represented the final games of the 2011 minor league season for the Empire Staters. Only the rookie-level Danville Braves made it to the playoffs, dropping their three-game series. I will use the next few weeks to draft more in-depth posts on each player to summarize their seasons. Anthony Varvaro's will likely come last, once his time with Atlanta this year is complete. Here's how the group performed over the past week (8/30-9/5)....

Anthony Varvaro, RHP (Triple A - Gwinnett/MLB - Atlanta)
Varvaro's week came with some good news, as he earned one of the team's September call-ups. Unfortunately, his on-the-field performance this past week didn't quite match-up. He picked-up the loss in both of his late-inning appearances, one with Gwinnett and one with the big league club in Atlanta. The next three weeks will serve as his audition in his battle to make it on to the team's playoff roster. 

This Week (MiLB): 1 G (0-1), I IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 K, 1 BB
This Week (MLB): 1 G (0-1), 1 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 1 K, 1 BB
Season (MiLB): 38 G (2-8), 1 SV, 59 IP, 2.90 ERA, 69 K, 35 BB
Season (MLB): 8 G (0-1), 10 IP, 3.60 ERA, 16 K, 7 BB

Chris Cody, LHP (Double A - Mississippi)
Cody finished his last start of the season with his first complete game of the year. He continued his low strikeout and low walk numbers, notching just two K and one BB in a full nine innings.  

This Week: 1 G (1-0), 9 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 2 K, 1 BB
This Season: 6 G (3-1), 39 IP, 3.46 ERA, 20 K, 8 BB

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Braves Status Report: 136 Games (81-55)

This is the first status report since mid-August, as I was busy celebrating the Braves win over the Cubs in Chicago this time last week. All the team did over the past two weeks was go 8-3 with series victories over the Diamondbacks, Cubs and Nats, with a Hurricane Irene shortened trip to Citi Field in Queens mixed in. The Braves did it in "mid-season" form, as well, with an average-at-best (and home run dependent) offense and impressive pitching.

As the calendar turned to September, Frank Wren began preparing the team for the playoffs. Atlanta owns a 8.5 game lead over the St. Louis in the Wild Card race with twenty-six games remaining (twenty-five for the Cardinals). Just to put it in perspective, if the Braves go 13-13 to close the season, the Cards would have to go 22-3 to overcome them. With that in mind, the Braves solidified their bench by acquiring both Matt Diaz (from PIT) and Jack Wilson (from SEA) on August 31st. Diaz will serve as an OF/bench bat against LHP, while Wilson becomes the main bench INF glove. The Wilson move also allows Fredi to pinch-hit for offensively-challenged Alex Gonzalez in close late game situations without having to worry about sacrificing much defense. Catcher JC Boscan and RHP Anthony Varvaro were called up from Gwinnett Thursday with roster expansion, giving the team more flexibility, and we can expect to see Peter Moylan, Julio Teheran, and Randall Delgado soon. Don't be surprised if Wilkin Ramirez and/or Brandon Hicks also get the call.

As Atlanta welcomes the Dodgers for the three-game series at Turner beginning Friday, followed by three games against the the Phillies and a double-header Thursday at the Mets, starting pitching remains the concern. Tommy Hanson was diagnosed with a small rotator cuff tear, which was then described as normal 'wear and tear.' The Braves hope he'll be back for the playoffs, but who knows. Jair Jurrjens was diagnosed with a bone bruise in his knee Thursday and prospects for his return looks slim. Atlanta has plenty of talented options to fill-in with Minor, Teheran and Delgado, but the three have made just fourteen starts this season (Minor having ten of them).

Now on to what you've all been waiting for (right?...right?), this past two week's 'cheers' and 'jeers'...