The Braves concluded their final FanFest at Turner Field earlier today, writes Jon Cooper for MLB.com. The club is set to open SunTrust Park next season. In the meantime, they’ll try to rapidly rebuild in time for the new park. Here’s more about the Braves and other NL East clubs:
- Freddie Freeman is finally pain free, he told reporters including Cooper. The lefty first baseman has dealt with a slow to heal right wrist injury. He managed a career worst 481 plate appearances last season, although he still hit reasonably well – .276/.370/.471 with 18 home runs. While many thought the Braves would trade Freeman, he’s still just 26. If the club turns around as quickly as they aim to, he’ll still be in his prime.
- Another injured Brave, Jace Peterson, is also once again pain free, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Peterson injured his thumb in late May and played through the injury for the remainder of the season. His .265/.340/.318 line wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire when he sustained the injury. However, it was slightly better than the .230/.305/.341 slash he put up over the rest of the season. Peterson has an interesting blend of skills. He could eventually develop into a sneaky-good utility player. He’s currently atop the depth chart at second base.
- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez hinted that we’ll see top prospect Dansby Swanson sooner rather than later, per a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Braves shortstop Erick Aybar is under contract through the end of this season. In my view, the club may be hoping Swanson can advanced quickly enough to join the team in early 2017 – if not sooner. After signing with the Diamondbacks last summer, Swanson had 99 plate appearances in Low-A, hitting .289/.394/.482. The soon-to-be 22-year-old has all the makings of a fast moving prospect. He was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Shelby Miller to Arizona.
- Former Phillies ace Cole Hamels recently had the opportunity to meet with potential first draft pick Jason Groome, writes Matt Gelb of Philly.com. Of course, the Phillies hold that first overall selection and are said to be considering Groome. The 17-year-old New Jersey native already possesses mid-90s velocity with a promising curve and changeup. Hamels had simply advice for Groome: “stay healthy and you are going to be golden.” Of course, Hamels also had some more actionable advice. He offered the contact information of a motivational speaker he regularly talks to before starts.
- Earlier today on MLB Network Radio, Drew Storen’s agent Brodie Van Wagenen said he and Nationals GM Mike Rizzo had a “unique level of transparency” following the trade for Jonathan Papelbon. The deal was not the first time the Nationals opted to replace Storen as the closer. The meaning behind Van Wagenen’s comment is somewhat vague. Presumably, both agent and GM had a candid talk about Storen’s role in the organization. Now Storen is turning the page as a member of the Blue Jays.