The Braves swapped one highly regarded left-handed pitching prospect for another yesterday, optioning Max Fried to Triple-A Gwinnett and selecting the contract of southpaw A.J. Minter to take his place. As MLB.com’s Mark Bowman notes, the move will allow Fried, who projects as a starter long term, to make another couple of starts and boost his innings total a bit further this year before returning in September once rosters expand. Fried has been working out of the bullpen in the Majors and has 93 1/3 total innings between the Majors and minors this year. He tossed 118 2/3 frames with the Padres’ A-ball club back in 2013 but has topped out at 103 innings in a season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014. As for Minter, he debuted with a pair of punchouts in a perfect inning last night and will use the remainder of the season as an audition for the 2018 bullpen. The Braves originally selected Minter with the 75th overall pick in 2015 — a Competitive Balance (Round B) selection that the D-backs traded to Atlanta in order to shed a significant portion of Trevor Cahill’s contract.
More out of Atlanta…
- Right-hander Dan Winkler returned to the Braves earlier this week after missing the majority of the 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery and nearly all of the 2016 season due to a fractured elbow. Bowman spoke to Winkler, who said that at one point he thought he’d never be able to pitch again, about his emotional return to the mound. However, the vast amount of time that Winkler spent on the disabled list (as opposed to the active roster) means that even though it’ll be three years since he was selected by the Braves in the Rule 5 Draft this coming December, he’ll still need to open the 2018 campaign in the Atlanta bullpen or be offered back to the Rockies.
- Freddie Freeman’s power numbers have dipped a bit since his return from the disabled list, and the first baseman tells David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the fractured wrist which cost him roughly seven weeks of the season is still only at about “80 to 85 percent” strength. Freeman said he’s connected on multiple deep flies that he assumed were home runs, only to see them fall a bit short. Doctors have told Freeman that his wrist won’t fully heal as long as he continues playing, but Freeman indicated that he’s healthy enough to play on an everyday basis, so he’ll be out there with his teammates and let the healing process complete itself this winter. Of course, even with the “diminished” production, Freeman is batting .320/.391/.535 with eight homers and 13 doubles through 192 PAs since coming off the DL. He playfully referred to himself as a “good enough slap hitter” at the moment, though most slap hitters could only dream of logging that type of production over any sustained period.