Other infield possibilities

The Braves can’t really afford for Infante to go down again, because the second utility infielder position does not look like a strong point. Brooks Conrad and Diory Hernandez return from last year’s team. Conrad showed the same problems that have kept him in the minors for so long, an inability to make regular contact and defensive movement resembling Keith Lockhart riding on a Galapagos tortoise. Conrad’s defensive statistics were not actually too bad, and in 58 plate appearances he had two homers, two triples, and a double. Unfortunately, he had only six singles, and he can’t survive hitting .204. Hernandez, meanwhile, hit very well in AAA but upon promotion in no way resembled a major league ballplayer, hitting .141/.198/.212 and looking awkward defensively, though again his defensive stats are pretty good.

The Braves also signed Joe Thurston to a minor league contract. Thurston more or less blundered into a regular job with the Cardinals much of last season, playing third much much of the first half and backing up at second, winding up with 307 plate appearances, which I sure were a surprise to him. He didn’t hit, .225/.316/.330, and there’s really little sign that he ever will, though he did flash some secondary offense, and is a career .295 hitter in the minor leagues.

The Braves don’t really have anybody you could call an infield prospect. Thurston is the only infielder not on the 40-man who has gotten a spring training invite. Van Pope, JC Holt, Barbaro Canizares, and Wes Timmons are all on the AAA roster; none will be involved unless something really remarkable happens. The first two have some defensive ability but can’t hit; the other two can hit some but can’t field. None is nearly as promising a player as Hernandez.

The third catcher will be the seemingly immortal Clint Sammons; with any luck, he’ll get to enjoy life in the suburbs until September.

Brooks Conrad Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com.

Diory Hernandez Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com.

Joe Thurston Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com.

Clint Sammons Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com.

71 thoughts on “Other infield possibilities”

  1. Congrats to the UK fans. Your team looked very good. If you keep hitting threes like that, I’m thinking Final Four.

    I just hope we can hold serve in Nashville.

    I am surprised Canizares did not get a NRI to ST.

  2. Joe Thurston is more glove than bat which is why Tony LaRussa utilized him at 2B and 3B last season.

    I also wanted to bring up Brent Clevlen. He’s another quad A player who plays outstanding defense while manning all three outfield spots, but can’t seem to hit big league pitching well enough to stick in the majors.

    As for Mitch Jones, folk’s we have our very own “Crash Davis”. Enough said and don’t forget about Scott Proctor who will be ready to go by May or June. The dude can bring it with high nineties heat and could prove to be a valuable bullpen addition.

  3. Last night, MLB network showed Game 1 of the 1998 NLCS with the Padres. The top of the order for the Braves was Walt Weiss and Keith Lockhart. No wonder they lost.

    Of course, MLB slso showed Game 7 of the ’92 NLCS and that was more enjoyable. Of course, there is only one inning that’s worth watching.

  4. I want my bench full of hitters who can’t field, not fielders who can’t hit.

  5. Outfielders will be covered when the time comes. Suffice it to say, I have a candidate, albeit one who doesn’t have much of a chance. The Braves’ best bench alignment, as far as I’m concerned, is one backup infielder, one catcher, and three professional hitters. But good luck with that. I certainly don’t see what Thurston can do that we can’t get from Diory.

  6. For some reason I thought Canizares was picked up by another team. I understand including Mitch Jones as an outfielder, but don’t you think he’ll get at least an equal amount of PT at first base? – if he makes the team. Either way I don’t think he’ll see much time in the field for the ML club.

  7. So if (God forbid) Chipper goes down, what do we do?

    Prado to 3rd and Infante to 2nd?

    Was Miguel Cabrera a steroid creation?

  8. I guess Thurston doesn’t give you much more in theory than Diory, but I don’t see how the Braves can put up with what Hernandez did last year. The guy couldn’t hit at all and his fielding wasn’t much better. The strange thing is that he was on fire in the minors before he got the call up and I think he hit pretty well after being sent back down. I’ve heard of 4A players,but how do you go from well over .300 to .141? Was he just trying too hard or is there a major hole in his swing?

  9. Diory will be fine with more experience — at least he can back up short (from Gwinnett of course!) Joe Thurston is useless except at 2nd and one presumes he only comes up if Chipper and Prado go down for an extended spell. I once asked a scout about Diory (at a minor-league game) and he said the braves had him as a 65 hitter/55 power hitter in the “growth potential” department (he was at 55 hitter/40 power at the time). This was 3 seasons ago when many of us wondered why this fellow was on top prospect lists.

  10. 6, good lord that fella makes me feel skinny :)

    I’m 6-1 232 and not complaining about it!

    And Mac, Thurston can play 2nd and 3rd base while Diory is a SS by trade.

  11. Hinske (176 1B starts in MLB) or Prado, with Infante shifting to second.

    edit – Foulke is currently playing for the Newark Bears in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.[

  12. Apparently Jonny Gomes is going to take a minor league deal with the Reds. Now that would have been a great 4th OF/lefty masher PH option, and make it easier to leave Heyward in AAA for a couple of months

  13. #15–Agreed, but there is plenty of time for the Braves to pick up another 4th outfielder/PH….

  14. I sure do not recall Diory Hernandez on any top prospect lists. Maybe top 30 for the Braves?

    7- td, Canizares was DFA’d to make room for our new acquisitions. I guess no one claimed him and he accepted his assignment to AAA. It seems a common courtesy to invite to camp a guy like that who even played first base for you at the MLB level last year.

  15. Diory Hernandez has been a bit of stealth prospect…but he is not really young anymore (26) and I guess he will do well to become a fringe player. I think that he would hit a bit better than last year, but I would not expect too much….

  16. Diory’s babip was .177 last year in 85 PA’s. I’d assume he’ll hit at least a little bit during his next cup of coffee. If he can field short, he’s of some value to the club.

  17. Brandon Hicks could be on the team as a reserve (or a starter if things go horribly wrong) by season’s end. He’s basically the last thing in the system that still somewhat resembles an infield prospect in the upper minors.

  18. #20–There is also Travis Jones, who probably does not have Hicks’ upside, but he might be able to hit the occasional HR (if he can recover his power) and steal a base….

  19. It is probably too early to give up on Travis Jones, seeing as last year was just his third professional season, but he’s twenty four years old and hit .249/.350/.355 at AA last season, which isn’t all that different from the .237/.318/.373 line from Brandon Hicks, but unlike Hicks a) he’s never been much more than a fringe prospect and b) his .106 ISO makes me question his power potential going forward. I think he’s a lottery ticket at this point, if such a thing exists at AA…

  20. I had hoped for more from Jones in 2009, but then when park factors are taken into account, the transition to AA could have been much worse. With some luck, he might make it somewhere as a reserve infielder….

  21. I’m not ready to give up on Diory just yet. I think he has some ability. It was obvious he was not ready last year, but again, maybe he should have been. He was thrown in a really tough spot last year.

  22. Good Lord, what’s all this talk about not giving up and holding out hope for Diory? The guy projects to a scrub AT BEST.

  23. “Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Seattle Mariners with Sean Green and Jeremy Reed to the New York Mets. The Seattle Mariners sent Luis Valbuena to the Cleveland Indians. The New York Mets sent Ezequiel Carrera (minors), Maikel Cleto (minors), Mike Carp, Endy Chavez, Aaron Heilman and Jason Vargas to the Seattle Mariners. The New York Mets sent Joe Smith to the Cleveland Indians. The Cleveland Indians sent Franklin Gutierrez to the Seattle Mariners.”

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/putzjj01.shtml

  24. #28–Thanks for the article–I even liked the historical angle about Palmer House.

    Yeah, the Mets really know how to get it done….

  25. Great link, PW.

    It’s awfully nice to play in a division where one team seems absolutely committed to public disembowelment.

    Also, not to get political, but I’m really happy that it looks like the leader of the Pakistan Taliban is dead.

  26. I wouldn’t consider that political AR. I would think all here would be in agreement on that one.

  27. 32, 33 – Seems akin to “I’m really glad the Nazi’s lost the war.”

    If anything, AAR, I am offended by the fact that you apologized.

  28. I just read where an ESPN source says March Madness going to 96 teams is a done deal and could happen as early as next year. Craziness.

  29. Let’s make regular seasons even more irrelevant by adding playoff teams! It works for every sport!

  30. All that class time those poor basketball players will miss.

    Why don’t we have a football playoff?

  31. 96 teams is way too many.

    I think it would make sense to have four play-in games (“the preliminary round”). That would allow an additional 3 deserving teams to get in and 4 15 or 16 seeds to record a tournament win.

  32. @41: Glad to hear it made it! I hope you enjoy tossing that baseball around as well–it’s about eight years old. I got it tossed to me by an umpire at a game when the Braves’ AA team was here in Greenville.

  33. The A’s have eaten into their budget with the deal for Taveras, who will make $4 million in 2010, even though they’ve designated him for assignment.

    If we can get Johnny Damon for 2 years and $8m-$10m then we have to do it, surely? Just trade Melky somewhere for a high upside prospect or something and we stay inside the budget.

    For me, Damon brings too many things to the table that will help us win this year, so I can look past his arm.

  34. Pretty interesting day for me. I’m assistant coaching a high school baseball team here in Clearwater, and we train at the baseball complex that helped rehab Josh Hamilton and is the training home for guys like Chris Coghlan and Casey Kotchman, and some over the hill guys like Miguel Cairo and some others.

    Anyway, got to take ground balls with Coghlan (yeah I know he’s an outfielder; we were on the short field), and then got to talk to Matt Bush afterwards. He’s the former #1 pick out of HS for the Padres in 2004. I remember my junior year of high school when he got taken first overall, and even then I remember he was a signability pick (taken ahead of Jeff Niemann, Stephen Drew, etc.). He came up as a shortstop, then got converted to a pitcher. Then he blew out his elbow and needed TJ. After some drinking and behavioral problems, he’s now ended up with the Rays and is staying in the same on-campus apartment as Hamilton did.

    It was really interesting to hear his take on his career, especially since I already had an idea of his career track before I met him. It’s also really cool that he’s following in Hamilton’s foot steps, trying to resurrect his career through the same baseball academy with the same people in the same apartment with the same organization. Talking to him he was just happy to be involved with a clean lifestyle and a second chance to be a member of society. If I understood his situation correctly, he’s not even an NRI. He’s being assigned to minor league camp automatically. How crazy must it be for a guy like him to go from high first round money to living in a 500 square foot apartment in Clearwater, FL trying to make the A ball team for the Rays.

  35. So here’s the thing. They’re not going to be letting in 32 more crap conference champions. They’d be at large bids (or at least that’s the only logical thing here). So you’d get to see more solid mid-majors, more good back-of-the-conference type teams, AND you’d get first-round matchups that weren’t quite as stupid. Instead of watching UConn blow out some Mid-Costal-Northwest-Mining-School League champion, you’d get that out of the way early on and have a real team for them to beat up on.

    It looks to me like a clever way to actually get the best 64 teams into the tournament. Plus, more college hoops. How can you not like that?

    Though I guess it does make filling out a bracket more of a chore.

  36. Like I said, it’s going to wind up with every ACC team in the tournament. (“The 18th seed is Virginia, which went 16-15.”) If you’re completely cynical, it’s all about money, and funneling more to the power conferences. It will also cause teams from those power conferences, especially the weaker schools, to stop playing tough nonconference foes, because the barrier for entry to the tournament will be so low that all they have to do is finish over .500. (“And the 21st seed is Notre Dame, which finished 17-14, 4-14 in the Big East.”)

  37. Hmm. Perhaps. I just see a TON of parity in college basketball. There are perhaps a couple top teams, but after that, the pack is just HUGE and differentiating between which teams deserve to make it and which don’t is almost impossible. It seems like it often comes down to whatever arbitrary justification the committee wants.

    Anyhow, I’m optimistic.

  38. The Four Corners was great fun–when Phil Ford was running it and before Dean Smith carried it to far…..

  39. @53

    The Four Corners was an extreme slowdown offense that brought the shot clock into being. As Stephen noted, North Carolina took it to extreme levels and it was the beginning of their rise as a BB power.

  40. Stu, yeah, I knew he played second in the minors, and he played short in high school. He’s actually not that smooth out there. I can see why he’s in right now.

  41. I’m not gonna write a huge, rambling diatribe about the 96-team tournament on here at this hour. I’m sure no one wants to read it and it’s way too late. But if I did, the myriad ways in which that is one of the stupidest decisions ever would keep me up until 4 writing the thing.

    They have officially ruined one of the best events in all of sports so expertly, if that rumor is true, that I think congratulations are in order.

    Incidentally, did they listen to anyone but the coaches and the voices in their heads when investigating whether or not this was a good idea? Because I don’t recall seeing one person who didn’t fall into those categories who thought that it was anything but a disastrously stupid idea.

  42. Wherever the line is drawn for inclusion into the NCAA tournament, there will be teams that fall just short. And there will be people arguing that the wrong teams got in at the expense of those unfortunates.

    96 is way too many teams.

  43. And we all know that they’ll do it in the stupidest way imaginable, too. For instance, if they gave each conference two automatic bids – one for winning the regular season title and one for winning the tournament with the second-place team from the regular season getting one if the champion wins both – that would mitigate the damage from this, and we could actually field arguments about how it might…MIGHT, improve the tournament because more deserving teams will get in and whatnot. And it would only leave around 10 additional at-larges, which would be stupid, but not cripplingly so. More teams would get in, but they would all be teams at about the same level as bubble teams that get in now. (Basically, the “Bubble Burst” teams that they show a list of right after the field is announced would all get in, but that would be about it.)

    But we all know that there’s no chance of them doing it this way. It’s gonna be a freaking free-for-all, with major conferences getting all teams that finish above .500 in the field, and mid-majors will basically be screwed.

  44. Reading these comments about the expansion of the NCAA tourney makes me happy that I probably can’t get any of the games. Let me add one more lament: expanding the tourney also weakens conference play. This has been going on for a 2-3 decades, but it sounds like it has become worse. In any event, I can remember back to the 60s and 70s when winning the confernence title was a big deal. Unfortunately, its not all that important any more as so many teams get in and then we have to listen to people worry about the seed, which I usually think is pretty trivial….

  45. spike @ 55

    NO. UNC won a NC before Dean invented the Four Corners.

    we were a basketball power BEFORE that. remember 1956-1957? Al McGuire and Lenny Rosenbluth? If you don’t, then you shouldn’t act like you know what the 4 Corners is/was.

    To say that the 4 Corners led to UNC being a basketball powerhouse is asinine as we already were one.

    Plus, Dean would also RUN (see Williams, Roy if you have any doubts) you into the ground and then go to the 4 Corners.

    Some of you should stick with baseball.

  46. i’ll be happy to stick with baseball. i think they should expand the basketball tourney to 128 teams so i’ll have twice as many games to ignore.

  47. Early morning, off-topic:
    I saw “Avatar” in 3D last weekend and was blown away. It was a wonder to behold, something new under the sun.
    I figured I was the last person on Earth who wanted to see it, but hadn’t, for whatever reason. I was wrong. If you have the slightest interest,go.
    But if you don’t I respect that, too. I had a pretty girl yesterday tell me, “Nope, I’m not that guy. It’s not for me.”
    At first, I wanted to convince her that this was beyond taste-it’s an event. Whatever comes along to top it might not even be considered a movie.
    But not everybody wants to witness every event.

  48. Well… SOMEBODY is a little defensive about NC Basketball aren’t they?

    I’d like to see Avatar, but can’t see paying the 3D ticket price (I plan on dollar theater viewing when it gets there though).

  49. I’ll be happy to stick to baseball – but the 4 Corners was installed in the 60’s by Dean Smith, and while certainly, UNC had a storied basketball history prior to this (my goodness some folks are touchy), from about ’67 on is when they just started winning non-stop. And nobody said anything about Smith not running. Good lord. It was a shorthand answer to an offhand joke not an attack on your way of life. I’ll be perfectly happy to concede “Chris is the know-it-all of UNC hoops for BravesJournal and I won’t act like I know what the 4 Corners is any more” Happy?

    “Some of you” should grow a thicker skin if that’s all it takes to set you off.

  50. @63 I found this amusing – ” rel=”nofollow”>Avatar = Pocahontas

  51. Back to the NCAA basketball tourney:

    I have to think that expanding the tourney to 96 teams greatly diminishes the honor of being selected. 8-10 teams would be coming each year from each power conference. We could see mediocre programs running 30 year streaks of making the tourney. This would have to decrease interest in the conference tourneys (and the regular season).

    I’m not sure it’s a money-maker, on the whole.

    If you want to acknowledge parity and make sure an OVC team with 24 wins and an untimely conference tournament loss does not get screwed, go to 4 or 8 play-in games. Call it the preliminary round. That creates a field of 68 or 72.

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