Part 1 of two-part series on the state of the Atlanta Braves and the writer's opinion on what should be done to improve the team.
No one can argue the Braves have fallen off a cliff the past few weeks. It’s a matter of a thin lineup being exposed to the fullest extent, combined with fatigue and the effort a group of humans can realistically be expected to show while losing game after game.
ATLANTA - The Braves announced their organizational awards for the minor leagues Saturday, led by a player of the year that came as no surprise.
Infielder Jose Peraza was named the Braves minor league player of the year for making major strides at the plate and showing the ability to adapt to different defensive assignments.
19 years old
Drafted 1st round, Florida high school, 2013
2014 A: 125 PA, .203/.226/.271, .228 wOBA, 35 wRC+, .068 ISO, 3.2 BB%, 1 HR, 1 SB
A-: 267 PA, .333/.378/.469, .389 wOBA, 135 wRC+, .136 ISO, 6.7 BB%, 5 HR, 6 SB
OFP: 50; major league regular
Realistic: 40; utility role
Risk: High; lacks full-season success
Hit: 20 present; 55 future
20 years old
Drafted 2nd round, North Carolina high school, 2013
2014 A: 399 PA, .220/.272/.339, .283 wOBA, 71 wRC+, .119 ISO, 4.5 BB%, 7 HR, 6 SB
A-: 117 PA, .243/.293/.393, .317 wOBA, 90 wRC+, .150 ISO, 6 BB%, 3 HR, 1 SB
OFP: 55; above-average regular
Realistic: 50; major league regular
Risk: High; initial low-level struggles
Hit: 20 present; 55 future
Drafted 7th round, University of Pittsburgh, 2011
2014 A: 31.1 IP, 3.73 ERA, 1.45 FIP, 50.8 K%, 11.1 BB%, .333 BABIP
A+: 4 IP, H, R, ER, 2 BB, 7 K
OFP: 50; closer
Realistic: 45; set-up
Risk: High; extensive injury history
Fastball: 75 present; 80 future; 94-102, t103
B.J. Upton changed things again.
Upton has proven himself to be a tinkerer at the plate. At the beginning of 2012, he was fluid but with huge head-to-toe movement toward the ball. By the end of 2012, he was rigid with little momentum to the ball and had developed the dreadful extended trigger.
His swing was the same at the beginning of 2013, which should have been a warning of bad things to come. He had basically killed momentum to the ball and slowed his swing for the purpose of shortening his actions. The result was a .184 average.
International sign by San Francisco Giants, Dominican Republic, 2011
2014 A: 66.1 IP, 3.93 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 22 K%, 4.6 BB%, .337 BABIP
A-: 19.2 IP, 1.83 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 24.7 K%, 7.4 BB%, .302 BABIP
OFP: 65; No. 2 starter
Realistic: 55; No. 3/4 starter
Risk: High; injury on present report
Fastball: 60 present; 70 future; 90-97, t98
Right-handed relievers Ray Black and Jake Smith have been assigned to Advanced-A San Jose and will report to the Giants on Friday.
The two relievers have been steady contributors for the Augusta GreenJackets this season. Black recorded a 3.73 ERA with 14 walks to 64 strikeouts in 31.1 innings. His 50.8 percent strikeout rate is the best in professional baseball this year.
Smith had a 2.79 ERA with 30 walks to 77 strikeouts in 58 innings. His 48 appearances is second most in the South Atlantic League.
ATLANTA - Braves left-hander Mike Minor experienced a rough patch in the middle of this season, but his past two starts against a couple of solid offenses have shown encouraging signs.
Minor has struck out 14 over his past 13.2 innings spanning two starts against the Dodgers and Athletics. He struck out seven while allowing two runs on four hits against Oakland on Sunday night.
ATLANTA - Although the Oakland Athletics are in an offensive funk that has resulted in six losses in the past seven games, the weekend series against the Atlanta Braves shows how many miles apart these two offenses can be.
The Athletics are hitting .250/.325/.397 with a team .320 wOBA, 106 wRC+ and 22.1 fWAR.
The Braves are hitting .245/.309/.370 with a team .302 wOBA, 91 wRC+ and 14.9 fWAR.