Everyone says that Manny Acosta is at least pencilled into the bullpen, but I can’t see that he he has it made. The Braves have a lot of guys who are out of options, and while Acosta pitched well last year he wasn’t a revelation or anything. Struck out 22 in 23 2/3 innings, which is great, but walked 14, which isn’t going to do it. His minor league control record is troubling, averaging over five walks per nine. Doesn’t give up many homers, can be part of a bullpen, but unless the Braves have to keep him — and I don’t think they do — seems likely to start in Richmond. Barring injury or collapse, will pitch in the majors this year… Middle name is “Alcides”, which mythologically is Heracles’ birth name. It sure beats “Kali”.

The Braves just had to have Jeff Ridgway, trading Willy Aybar and Chase Fontaine to secure an auxiliary backup LOOGY. [NOTE: Written last week.] Ridgway is essentially nobody, a career minor leaguer, drafted out of high school, who didn’t reach AA until he was 25, at which point he started putting up good numbers against players two or three years younger than him. For the Devil Rays, he retired one man in three appearances and gave up seven runs, all earned, for a sprightly 189.00 ERA. Hooray! Good K rates since being shifted to the bullpen in high-A ball, but homerprone, control an issue.

Blaine Boyer looked like a potential closer in 2005, but his shoulder went out late that season and he really hasn’t come back from it yet, partially because he and/or the Braves decided to delay surgery until the 2006 season had already started and Boyer had shown he was severely damaged. Last year Boyer was unspectacular in Richmond, mostly as a starter, and pitched briefly and largely ineffectively for the Braves. He’s out of options, and the memory of his 2005 run will get him a long look. I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts the 2008 season on the DL, rehabbing someplace, and the Braves take an extra long time to make a decision.

All Phil Stockman does is get people out, and get hurt. Last year he was limited to 24 appearances, 36 innings, including a rehab assignment in the GCL. When he was available to pitch, he put up a 2.00 ERA and struck out 41 men against 14 walks, and allowed one homer. He’s been outstanding since joining the Braves organization, pitched well in his callup in 2006, and is a 6-8 English-born Australian; what more could you ask for?

In one of their more peculiar moves of an offseason of peculiar moves, the Braves designated Chad Paronto for assignment so they could sign Chris Resop to the 40-man roster. Resop’s 2007 season was cut short by surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow, he has notably bad mechanics from what I read, and when he’s pitched hasn’t pitched as well as Paronto. The Angels traded Kevin Gregg to get him, and Gregg saved 32 games for the Marlins last year.

Buddy Hernandez is listed on the R-Braves’ roster again, and appears set for his fifth consecutive season in Richmond, passing Damon Hollins. (Hollins had more total seasons, seven.) Call him the Deputy Mayor. He has essentially reached the “Hope for a meteor strike to hit the bullpen” portion of his career, but pitched rather well for the R-Braves in 2007 after a poor 2006. I believe he has pictures of Bobby Cox being kind to animals, distributing gifts to small children, donating to charity, etc.

Zach Schreiber is on the 40-man, meaning that the Braves think that someone else could draft him if he were left out there. All I know about him is the stats, which are rather impressive, 200 career strikeouts in 198 innings, a 2.45 career ERA. Control is, again, just a little shaky. He’s spent his entire career as a reliever, was a 16th round pick out of Duke (boo!) where he was a middle reliever. Relatively few collegiate middle relievers make the big leagues, and I’m guessing he was considered filler, but there’s some things of interest here. No relation, presumably, to the Zach Schreiber who up and quit the Alabama football team last year. It’s not like it’s a common name.

Anthony Lerew had Tommy John surgery at midseason last year. It’s possible that at some point this year he’ll be able to pitch, or at least come as close to being able to pitch as he ever does. At that point, the Braves would have to make a decision on him, too, and he’d be in the bullpen mix. The basic fact is that for most pitching prospects, using any reasonable definition of prospect, any future they have as major league pitchers will come in the bullpen.

Anyone I listed on the “other starters” post could wind up in the bullpen at some point. For that matter, so could any number of other guys. Relievers are unpredictable, and so is their usage.

Manny Acosta Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com
Jeff Ridgway Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com
Blaine Boyer Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com
Phil Stockman Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com
Chris Resop Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com
Buddy Hernandez Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com
Zach Schreiber Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com
Anthony Lerew Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com