Unlike the outfield and infield, where the Braves have too many spots, they’re a little short of pitching considering that all five starters have at least some injury questions. With the Braves’ two most advanced pitching prospects traded, Kyle Davies is now the top prospect in the system and seemingly pencilled in to take over whenever someone goes down. There are many people (starting with Brad, Michael, and Flo) who can tell you much more about Davies than I, but his track record and the Braves’ refusal to trade him in this offseason make him look like a stud. Davies only has a half-season above A-Ball so far, though, and probably needs more seasoning in Richmond. The Braves have been willing to fast-track pitching prospects they really like, and they really like Davies.
The Braves don’t have many hot prospects other than Davies in the upper reaches of their farm system. (They have a pretty sizeable group trying to make the jump to AA, but it’s too early to count on them.) Zach Miner is maybe the next-most-ready pitcher. Miner didn’t pitch well in Greenville last season, though. I doubt he’s in any immediate plans.
What’s left in Richmond is pretty sorry. Sam McConnell pitched briefly as a reliever for the Braves last season. The lefty was pretty decent but it was obvious that Bobby didn’t think much of him. Adam Bernero, signed as a minor league free agent, has perhaps the worst Major League pitching stats of anyone, ever. He must have something going for him, because otherwise even desperate franchises like the Rockies and Tigers wouldn’t have kept giving chances to a guy who is 6-23 with a 5.82 ERA in 314 innings over five seasons.
I’ve said this before, but I still think that Chris Reitsma is miscast as a reliever and would be better suited to the rotation. Yes, he really only has two pitches, but his occasional gopherball tendencies and lack of a true strikeout pitch are less of a concern in the rotation than in the pen. I think it’s more likely he’ll come up with some sort of breaking ball than he’ll suddenly become a dominant reliever. I’ll talk about him more when I get to the bullpen.
There’s a good chance that the Braves will go dumpster-diving for another pitcher to fill out the Richmond rotation or take an injured starter’s place in Atlanta, someone I haven’t mentioned. Hey, who foresaw John Burkett? It’s also possible that someone will jump up out of seemingly nowhere like Horacio Ramirez two years ago. They’ve invited lots of pitchers to spring training.