The Braves have signed a pair of right-handers – Lucas Harrell and Rob Wooten – to minor league contracts, the team announced. Harrell is a client of Frontline Athlete Management, while the Ballengee Group represents Wooten.
A former starter for multiple teams, primarily the Astros, Harrell has pitched to a 4.84 ERA and an underwhelming 1.34 K/BB over 401 2/3 big league innings (62 starts). Harrell’s best showing came in 2012, when he amassed 193 2/3 innings of 3.76 ERA/3.75 FIP/3.89 xFIP pitching as a member of Houston’s rotation and posted a 6.51 K/9, 3.62 BB/9, and 57.2 percent ground-ball rate.
With a 54.2 percent career rate, Harrell has consistently generated grounders, but that wasn’t enough to keep him in the majors after poor showings in 2013 and ’14. Harrell spent last season in Korea and logged a lofty 4.93 ERA in 171 2/3 innings with the LG Twins, though it’s worth noting that the KBO is a tough environment for pitchers.
Harrell returned to the United States earlier this year when he signed a minor league deal with the Tigers. He threw a combined 29 2/3 innings (six starts) at the Double-A and Triple-A levels and put up a terrific 3.34 ERA, but his trend of posting below-average strikeout (6.1 per nine) and walk (4.9) rates continued. The Tigers subsequently released Harrell, who could nonetheless figure into the Braves’ rotation mix at some point this season.
As for Wooten, this will be the reliever’s second stint with the Braves organization this season. The club released him May 9 after he threw 7 1/3 innings of three-run ball for Triple-A Gwinnett. Almost all of his career has been spent with the Brewers organization since going in the 13th round of the 2008 draft. The 30-year-old owns a 4.07 ERA with 8.3 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9 in 185 2/3 Triple-A innings and a 5.03 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 68 big league frames.