During the rebuild, the Braves chose a path and stuck to their “guns”, as trade after trade, and draft pick after draft pick, starting pitchers with high ceilings were collected. For many Braves fans, it became comical the amount of gathered riches over a 3 year period, and some openly questioned the strategy as pitchers are seemingly more volatile to develop into big leaguers, hence the heavily used acronym in these parts, TNSTAAPP, “There’s no such thing as a pitching prospect”, pops up at least 7-8 times a year.
However, now that the rebuild is over, there’s a problem. And many times when those words are remarked, “there’s a problem”, they’re immediately followed by “a good problem, though”, but I’m not sure that is the case this time. There can never be enough starting pitching, right? Wrong.
Atlanta Braves Braves Starting Pitchers on the 40-man Roster
One would think that if a player is on the 40-man roster and not with the MLB club, then said player would be, at the least, on the doorstep to the big leagues. Put simply, the player is either MLB-ready and waiting on an open spot and just staying sharp at the AAA level, or putting on the finishing touches before the last leap. Unfortunately for the Braves, that’s not going to be possible in 2020.
Assuming health, Mike Soroka, Cole Hamels, Max Fried, and Mike Foltynewicz will man 4/5 of the Atlanta Braves Starting rotation. Now let’s take a look at the rest of the pitchers that are on the 40-man that are currently starters and/or could be given an opportunity to start again.
- Sean Newcomb
- Bryse Wilson
- Kyle Wright
- Tucker Davidson
- Jasseel De La Cruz
- Phil Pfeifer
- Touki Toussaint
- Patrick Weigel
- Huascar Ynoa
Atlanta Braves Starting Pitchers: Where Do They Go?
Before 2 of the Braves top pitching prospects, Ian Anderson and Kyle Muller, are discussed, there are 12-13 guys in need of rotation spots (Newk pending). Sure, some could be moved to the bullpen, and guys like Pfeifer and Weigel could make that jump right away. However, any move that takes a AAA pitcher from a starting pitcher to reliever will, like a new car purchased and driven off the lot for the first time, greatly diminish trade value. More to the point, between MLB and AAA, there are 10 SP slots to be filled and 14-15 pitchers gunning for those spots, and that doesn’t factor in Felix Hernandez.
Last year, the Braves traded 3 MiLB SP prospects in Kolby Allard, Joey Wentz, and Tristan Beck, and released another one in Luiz Gohara. The year prior, it was Matt Wisler, Bruce Zimmermann, and Lucas Sims. Even after trading 7 SP candidates, there’s still a logjam that’s become a real problem at the MLB and AAA levels.
So, a good problem? No…this isn’t one of those good problems. There are pitchers on this list that will either get moved to the bullpen at AAA and lose what trade value they carried, or some will unjustly be placed at AA, of which they don’t belong.
Make a move, AA. It’s time.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this piece on the Atlanta Braves Starting Pitchers, take a gander at the Locks and Battles heading into Spring Training.