Youngsters Complete Makeshift Atlanta Braves Starting Rotation
The Atlanta Braves starting rotation is in shambles. Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy are out for the season with second Tommy John procedures. Their top starter, Mike Minor, Mike Minor is expected to miss a month with shoulder soreness. to replace the productivity of their wounded starters, the Braves will rely on recently signed free agents Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang, and youngsters Alex Wood, David Hale and Gus Schlosser. What can the Braves expect from its trio of young starters to enter the season?
Left-hander Alex Wood made his Major League debut last May, a year after being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft. Scouting Wood with Rome, his projection as a starter was contingent on the consistency of his changeup and refinement of a slurve. Wood’s two-seam fastball was his best pitch, consistently spotted in the lower half of the zone. The combination of deception, created by a herky-jerky motion, and late arm side run allowed the low 90s two-seam fastball to play up to solid average. His floor was a big league reliever.
Spring Training 2013 proved to be a turning point for Wood. His fastball was hitting spots, resulting in weak contact. His changeup was victimizing hitters with drop and deception. His slurve was gone, replaced by a devastating 12 to 6 knuckle curve that became his pitch to change eye levels and speed. Alex Wood became a complete pitcher. After two months of dominance in Double A, the Braves promoted Wood, to Atlanta where he became a swing man, totaling 11 starts and 22 relief appearances.
Alex Wood’s success last season (3-3, 3.13 ERA) earned Wood a roster spot for 2014. David Hale and Gus Schlosser, however, were likely to start 2014 pitching in Triple-A Gwinnett, about an hour up the road from Turner Field. Recalling either pitcher during their time in Rome is difficult. With a focus on prospects worth dedicating full write ups to, less memorable pitchers like Hale and Schlosser slipped through the cracks. Had ROTOscouting’s YOUscout reports been active then, we’d have more data on both pitchers.
Hale and Schlosser Complete The Atlanta Braves Starting Rotation
Due to injuries in the Atlanta Braves starting rotation, right hander David Hale made his major league debut last season. Hale throws a low 90’s, two-seam fastball with arm side run, capable of hitting spots in the lower half of the zone. He compliments his fastball with a hard slider and below average changeup. Each pitch plays up due to his fastball command. He lacks a swing and miss offering and takes chances with his fastball, changing eye levels up in the zone.
Gus Schlosser is a side-arming right hander who will have marginal success as a starting pitcher. Schlosser, a sinker/slider pitcher, doesn’t have an offering to attack left handed hitters with. His upper-80’s sinker has natural drop, and his mid-70’s frisbee slider is a fringe offering. The stuff plays up do to his terrific command, projecting more as right handed specialist than a rotation arm. If Schlosser spells Minor for a month, his deception should allow for some success while opposing teams work to figure him out.
With Atlanta set to start the season with two young starters and journeyman Aaron Harang, there’s comfort in knowing reinforcements are on the way. Ervin Santana is due to debut in the second week of April. Mike Minor should return by late April. Plus, off-season acquisition Gavin Floyd is expected to be ready to return by late May. So while the Atlanta Braves starting rotation will open the 2014 season wet behind the ears, Hale and Schlosser will shuttle back and forth between Atlanta and Gwinnett when veterans return healthy. Only Wood projects as a rotation mainstay for years to come.
25 Mar 2014 / Chris Blessing /
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