The Atlanta Braves have a whole bunch of the organization’s players in Winter Leagues and we’ll take a look at what they’re doing.
One of the Braves’ top prospects, catcher Christian Bethancourt, has been working on things down in the Dominican Republic. Bethancourt, 22, earned a big-league callup last year and improved his offensive numbers considerably in his second year in Double-A. He’s been struggling a bit in the Dominican, hitting .226/.276/.340 over 53 at bats. He hasn’t played since November 30th so it appears that his Winter League stint may well be over.
After a solid season in the Mexican Summer League (and in his first North American action in the Carolina League), 21-year-old Daniel Castro has been playing in the Mexican Winter League and struggling quite a bit, hitting .194/.265/.339. He has hit a pair of home runs (including one on Thursday) and has five walks and 14 strikeouts in 62 at bats.
1B Mark Hamilton is a veteran minor leaguer (with a couple of cups of coffee in the bigs) who recently signed with the Braves as a minor league free agent after stints with the Cardinals and the Red Sox organizations. Known more for his on-base ability than his power, Hamilton had a good 2013 with Pawtucket and is showing his veteran savvy in the Mexican Winter League with a .254/.377/.429 line with eight doubles and seven home runs in 177 at bats.
Australian-born catcher Matt Kennelly is returning to the Braves on a minor league contract for 2014 and is playing very well for the Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League, hitting .319/.373/.514 with four home runs in 72 at bats. Kennelly appears to be a light-hitting career-backup catcher in the minors and only totaled 96 plate appearances between the Braves’ Triple-A and Reds’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates last season.
Another first baseman, 28-year-old Ernesto Mejia, is plying his trade down in Venezuela this winter, hitting .267/.384/.465 with 11 home runs in 202 at bats after a 28-home-run season with the Gwinnett Braves in the Triple-A International League. He’s been in the Braves’ organization since 2002 and had a career-high in home runs in 2013 but struck out 152 times.
Mexican native, 21-year-old outfielder Joey Meneses, is hitting .324/.381/.541 with a pair of home runs in 37 at bats as a part-time player in the Mexican Leauge after a decent season in Class-A Rome.
25-year-old outfielder Joey Terdoslavich is doing extremely well in the Dominican Republic, hitting .304/.349/.468 in 79 at bats with three doubles, two triples and two home runs after making his major league debut in 2013. The one concerning stat is his ratio of six walks to 17 strikeouts.
Third baseman Edward Salcedo reached Double-A in 2013 and is down in his home country of the Dominican Republic. After a decent regular season, the 22 year old only played in seven games for Leones del Escogido before shutting things down after a game on November 9.
28-year-old starting pitcher Mitch Atkins is having a great time in his three appearances in the Dominican with a 1.32 ERA, eight hits and two walks against in 13 2/3 innings with six strikeouts.
Reliever Ryan Buchter, 26, is following up a tremendous Triple-A season (that saw him strikeout 103 batters in 62 innings) with great numbers in Mexico. In his 13 innings, he’s been almost untouchable, striking out 26 batters and giving up just one run on five hits (0.69 ERA) with eight walks.
Starter Ryan Hinson, 26, has only reached High-A in the Braves’ system and only made 10 starts in 2013 resulting in some extra time in the Mexican Winter League. His last start was December 4, indicating that he might be done for the season and he posted a 4.62 ERA in 48 2/3 innings with a 1.34 WHIP on 41 hits and 24 walks with 30 strikeouts.
Wirfin Obispo probably isn’t a name you’ve heard much, but the 29 year old returned to North America after several years in Japan in 2012 and had a very good season in Triple-A last year for the Braves. In his native Dominican Republic this winter, Obispo has thrown 20 2/3 innings and posted an ERA of 2.18 and a WHIP under 1.00 with nine hits and 11 walks with 21 strikeouts.
29-year-old (Hector) Daniel Rodriguez had a rough 53 innings in 12 starts in Gwinnett last season but he’s doing much better in his native Mexico with a 2.05 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 26 1/3 innings with just seven walks and 30 strikeouts.
Reliever Luis Vasquez spurned the Dodgers after becoming a free agent and signed with the Braves. He had a very good season (although he walked far too many batters) in Double-A and Triple-A and has been dominant in the Dominican Winter League. With 17 1/3 innings under his belt thus far, Vasquez has a 1.56 ERA with a remarkable 0.46 WHIP, allowing just eight baserunners on five hits and three walks with 19 strikeouts.