I really think Jurrjens would benefit from time in AAA, but all indications are that he’s pencilled into the rotation, even ahead of James. Since Mike Hampton will never pitch for the Braves again, there’s really nobody to force him out, because the other options all pretty much suck.
Jurrjens was signed by the Tigers at seventeen; from Curacao, he maintains the Braves’ level of Curacaoans at one, where it has been since 1996 except for when Randall Simon was around. He pitched briefly in 2003, then in 2004, at the age of 18, had rookie ball conquered and was promoted to low-A, where he struggled; this is essentially the only time in his career he’s had problems.
In 2005, he had no particular problems at all with regular old A-ball, going 12-6 with a 3.41 ERA; it’s the only time in his career he’s been left at one level for an entire season. He dominated high-A (just 20 years old) in 2006, earning a promotion to AA, where he wasn’t dominant but was still pretty good. He was good in AA in 2007, which really should have led to a promotion to AAA and starting the year there in 2008, but the Tigers’ rotation basically collapsed last year, other than Verlander, and Jurrjens was called up in August, making seven starts. He had a 4.70 ERA, which isn’t great, but was better than most of the Tigers’ starters. He was traded for Renteria along with Gorkys Hernandez, on October 29.
Jurrjens supposedly projects as a third or fourth starter. I haven’t seen him pitch, so I have to go with the experts here, but his minor league statistics are quite good, especially considering that he’s always been young for his leagues, usually one of the youngest players on the team. He’s never put up a strikeout an inning, which most good pitching prospects do at least at the lowest levels, but has pretty consistently stayed around his career 7.22 K/9 rate, and has struck out three times as many men as he’s walked. He didn’t strike many people out in the majors, but it was just thirty innings… Listed at 6-1, 160; I assume that’s what he weighed when he signed.