Other Starting Pitching Possibilities

First up there are the D-Back Twins, Lance Cormier and Oscar Villarreal, both of whom spent time in the rotation, as well as some spot starting, last year. Cormier was 2-4 but with a 4.31 ERA in nine starts; the Vulture was 1-0, 3.50 in four. Either is likely to outpitch Davies, and with his efficiency problems he’s a five-inning pitcher just like the others. Also, there’s a looming roster crunch (likely to cause the Braves to jettison either Yates or Paronto, I know you’re all disappointed by that) which would be alleviated if Davies were sent to AAA and replaced by a reliever. Anyway, I’ll cover Cormiareal in individual entries next week.

Bobby is talking up Matt Harrison lately, even though he hasn’t officially (wink, nudge) seen him pitch yet this year. BA considers Harrison the Braves’ #3 prospect; Sickels ranks him fourth; he’s certainly the Braves’ best pitching prospect. Matt is a big lefty who started the season last year at Myrtle Beach, pitching well. After getting promoted to Mississippi, he had some rough outings but righted the ship. His strikeout rate is not what I would like considering the level, but he has great control. Control lefties fall into two categories in my experience. The ones who pitch well in the majors off the bat usually wind up getting crushed their second time through the league and spend the rest of their careers begging for scraps. The ones who struggle at first sometimes turn out to be very good… The Braves jumped Horacio from AA to the majors, and that really did work out pretty well.

Harrison is really the only “top prospect” pitcher on the upper levels of the system. Poor Anthony Lerew was humiliated in Richmond (7.48 ERA) though he pitched well after getting demoted to Mississippi. Lerew had major control issues and I think he was hurt. He did have a lot of strikeouts and was certainly hit-unlucky, but he’s going to have to reestablish himself and may end up in the pen.

The rotations in Mississippi and Greenville were, other than Harrison and Lerew, mostly made up of journeyman types; Matt Wright, the only other pitcher who could be loosely described as a prospect, has left the organization, signed away by Dayton Moore and the Royals. The rest were guys in their late twenties, players like Jason Shiell (and his wife), Daniel Curtis, and Jonathan Johnson, the last of whom is mysteriously on the 40-man roster. (I don’t know if the others are still in the organization.) Johnson, whose middle name is “Kent”, which I guess means he’s named after Superman’s father, is really really bad, a guy with a 4.65 career minor league ERA who nonetheless has gotten 77 major league innings in six different seasons, in which he has a 6.63 ERA. He must have pictures of everyone.

The Braves have brought Trey Hodges back again, though he’s not listed as an NRI on the official site. He’s been alternately hurt, ineffective, and in Japan in recent years. I am guessing that he’ll be in camp but unless he does something remarkable he has no chance. I am also guessing that if he doesn’t totally suck he will pitch in Atlanta at some point this year.

Someone could charge from the lower levels to the majors in one season, ala Kevin Millwood, but I don’t think it’s very likely to happen in March. Still, you never know.

I think that Rafael Soriano would probably be a better choice than any of these guys or really anyone else on the roster but Smoltz, but there seems little likelyhood of that.

Matt Harrison Baseball Statistics
Anthony Lerew Baseball Statistics
Jason Shiell Baseball Statistics
Daniel Curtis Baseball Statistics
Jonathan Johnson Baseball Statistics
Trey Hodges Baseball Statistics

40 thoughts on “Other Starting Pitching Possibilities”

  1. Got my tickets this morning for spring training games. I have the luxury of living about 30 mins from Disney and 30 mins from Viera where the Nationals train. I’ll be going to the March 10th Braves-BlueJays game with Vernon Wells’ uncle. Anyone who will be in the area and would like to go, I have an extra ticket……

  2. The need to start developing pitching prospects in this organization has never been higher…..heck, the Yankees have more depth in thier pitching ranks with Hughes, Chamberlin, Clippard, and Sanchez…….it doesn’t make me long for the days of Bubba Nelson and Jung Kung Bong, but still, a little development by the lower levels in pitching would be great with Smoltz and Hampton not figuring to be around that much longer and the price of pitching going through the roof!

  3. I like Vulture best out of all those scrubs. He’s the one who is best suited to being a part time 5th starter/long reliever. Hopefully Davies will pitch well enough to keep the spot though. If Davies struggles badly and Hampton doesn’t go deep in many games as expected, the backend of the bullpen could be overworked early in the season yet again which could be very bad.

  4. Mac,

    I assumed that the Braves would just slot Cormier in AAA rather than cut ties with Yates or Paronto. Why do you think there’s going to be a numbers crunch?

  5. Lance, I live about two hours away from where you’re at, I’d reckon. I’d love to go to the Braves-Blue Jays game, but the only problem is I’ll be in Ireland then (Spring Break trip). If you have any other tickets that you won’t be using that you were looking to give away, I hope that you keep me in mind.

  6. Jonathan Kent was Superman’s “adoptive” father. His real father was Marlon Brando (I mean Jor El).

    For a team that supposedly prides itself on developing pitching, the Braves don’t have too much. I hope they don’t throw Harrison to the wolves like they did Davies and Devine. Ramirez worked out ok, but a lot of these moves smack of desperation. If they are going to be a small market team, they better start developing their own pitching like the Twins and A’s. And don’t they have anyone in the system that throws hard? They all seem to be control/finesse pitchers. Smoltz is the only true power pitcher in the organization as far as I can tell.

  7. Ramirez worked out okay because they traded him for Rafael Soriano. That was less the product of HoRam’s major league brilliance and more the product of his still being sorta young and kinda maybe projectible. The youth part was helped by his being promoted; the performance was not. Well, whatever.

  8. I’m curious, Mac. Why do you think Soriano would be a good starting option? I remember you promoting this line of thinking in another thread, and I’m just curious as to why you think this would be a better use of him than in the bullpen.

    I’ll agree on this, though: it seems like the vast majority of the arms to come out of Atlanta recently have been bullpen arms. James could turn out nice, and I’m optimistic about Davies, but it’d be nice to develop a real stud.

    Also, anyone want to consider what this team thread would have looked like if we hadn’t traded for Villareal and Cormier? That deal still looks like a good one to me.

  9. I’ll postpone comment until the Soriano post (which is written and will be up on Monday). I’ll say only that I still don’t know why he was moved to the pen in the first place.

  10. I think they better get somebody ready .. Hampton’s I feel ‘pretty good’ didnt give me a warm and fuzzy … for some reason I think he has trouble getting back ..arm still not where it needs to be .. so I dont think we can count on him .. look for Braves to offer soem young prospects from abundance of SS’s to locate another starter ..

  11. Mac,

    I just wanted to be precise about Superman’s consanguinity (lol). I assumed you knew.

    Ramirez worked out because, as much as we criticized him, he became at least a servicable major league pitcher. Most minor leaguers never make it that far. Anytime a player, especially a pitcher, makes it to the majors and makes a contribution to the team (and HoRam did do that), you have to count it as a success.

  12. If you’re talking about the hanging curveball line, apparently that has been there since March 31st of last year.


    Hey, it’s true.

  13. Who has the best rotation in baseball?

    IMO it’s Arizona.

    Brandon Webb
    Randy Johnson
    Livan Hernandez
    Doug Davis
    Enrique Gonzalez

    That’s a helluva top 3….

  14. anna nicole smith dies, van halen reunites….february, the month of love, has just been plain bizarre.

  15. Oh, one more pitch HoRo has…a cutter that doesn’t cut…oh there are more, a fastball that is not fast, a slider that doesn’t slide, and a changeup that doesn’t change a damn thing….

  16. notes from Fox Sports….

    Mike Hampton took his first step toward returning to the mound this season following elbow surgery when he took the mound Wednesday morning at the Braves’ pitching minicamp. Hampton threw 20-25 pitches, all fastballs, and came away feeling “pretty good,” he said. “The type of surgery I had, there are always going to be some reservations until I can get out there in a real game,” said Hampton, who missed all of last season following ligament-transplant surgery in September 2005. “I feel pretty good. Not great, but hopefully [I’ll feel] great by the end of spring training.”

    Ready or not, Scott Thorman’s time is now. The Braves are handing the first-base reins over to the big Canadian rookie after Adam LaRoche was traded to Pittsburgh last month. “I definitely feel good about it,” Thorman said, “but until April 2, the goal is the same — I want to be on the roster to open the season.” Put another way, he laughed and said, “I haven’t bought a Bentley.” A Ford F-150 truck is enough for Thorman, 25, who lives where he was born and raised, in Cambridge, Ontario. He and his wife, Kelly, celebrated their second anniversary Jan. 15 — two days before LaRoche was traded for left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez. The Braves made it clear afterward that Thorman would be their first baseman and would likely play every day, not in a platoon as LaRoche did for 2 1/2 of his three Braves seasons. Thorman has hit .234 with five homers in 128 at-bats in the majors. But the Braves like his raw power — 41 home runs over the past two seasons in the major and minor leagues — and the target the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder offers.

  17. I wonder why Hampton didnt try pitching any winter ball, I thought he was close to being ready at the end of last season….

  18. Sorry, Jac, you have a rival.

    3. Sadly, no Erin Andrews for this one. Couldn’t she be the sideline reporter for every ESPN game? What’s stopping this from happening? Travel? Money? Why couldn’t they emulate what CBS did with John Madden, buy her a luxury bus, call it the ErinMobile, then assign her to seven games a week so she could travel the country enriching everyone’s lives?

  19. I’ve been hoping Simmons would start paying attention to college basketball. Jay Bilas has been ESPN’s best college hoops writer for a while, but he’s too dry to want to read sometimes. Simmons has the knack, as Bill James did, of writing as though he’s exchanging ideas with his readers (although the ideas are very different). Great to see him applying that gift towards my second-favorite sport.

    He’s certainly right about one thing — the age limit imposed by the NBA is paying immediate dividends on the college level. The star appeal of Oden and Durant has me watching games I wouldn’t have tuned in for last year.

  20. The age limit thing depresses me. If Georgia Tech is bad now with Crittenton and Young, just wait until they bolt after this season.

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