This offseason, the Braves have added two starting pitchers so old that one of them (42-year-old R.A. Dickey) can’t believe the team also acquired an even older hurler in 43-year-old Bartolo Colon, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. “Coppy [Braves GM John Coppolella] said to me, we’re going after Colon, and I said, whatever; he’s never leaving New York because he’s had a great run there, why would he leave there?” Dickey says. “So I automatically thought that I was going to be the oldest player on the team.”
Dickey and Colon certainly look like different sorts of pitchers than those the Braves used last year, when they got 126 starts from pitchers in their age-25 season or younger. But the Braves say the team’s signings of two veteran starters doesn’t mark a significant change in the organization’s recent plan of building with youth, O’Brien writes.
“A lot of our pitchers are at the A-level, the high-A level, the Double-A level. We were sort of forced to giving some starts [last season] – Matt Wisler did a terrific job up and down, Aaron Blair showed a little bit towards the end,” says president of baseball operations John Hart. “That next wave is at least a year away, and I think as we viewed this, going into this new ballpark, with the club that we had and giving this club and our fans an opportunity to compete, without standing in the way of some of these young pitchers.”
Hart says that, even with Dickey and Colon in the fold, younger pitchers will still have plenty of opportunities to start. (Wisler, Blair, Tyrell Jenkins, Williams Perez, Rob Whalen and John Gant would appear to be among those who could receive chances next season.) The organization is still waiting for many of its best young talents, several of whom are still deep in the minors. Nine of the players on MLB.com’s list of the top 15 Braves prospects are pitchers, but only two of those — Sean Newcomb and Lucas Sims — have significant experience at Double-A or higher.
“We’re certainly going to have at least one, maybe two youngsters in this rotation as we go forward,” says Hart. “It’s a long season, a lot of things happen, and a big part of what John and I are going to be focused on certainly is what’s going on at the major league club, but we pay attention to what’s happening down below. We’re going to be following the progress of the Sean Newcombs and the Max Frieds and the Mike Sorokas and Kolby Allards and all these youngers that we really like. But these kids, they’re still in the bus leagues (low minors), a lot of these guys.”