Thursday, July 28, 2016

Braves trade Lucas Harrell for Travis Demeritte

Yes, the Braves magician and GM John "Coppy" Coppolella has swung another deal for an asset the Braves really didn't need, and turned that asset into prospects. We love prospects these days. Braves fans wrap themselves up at night with their Braves prospects sheets that have all the young faces printed on them. Don't you want to sleep with Dansby Swanson on your pillow? I can guarantee you if not, your wife or girlfriend does.

But what did the Braves get? In the first fifteen minutes Twitter was abuzz about the potential of the new prospect from the Rangers named Travis Demeritte. Which is great because I like when the Braves family gets excited in a bad season. After all, we have nothing to look forward to right now except the potential of our minor league players. That's just the hard truth. Still, is the trade worth the buzz it's getting? Did the Rangers really give up a big-time prospect for essentially two mid-year pickup players the Braves didn't even want?

I've heard crazy things about how much of a future 3B player Travis will be for the Braves. Yeah, well that's a little nuts, because Travis has been in some version of A-Ball since 2013, which is a little odd. I have to wonder why a guy who hits 25 homers in a season at an infield slot wouldn't get advanced in the minor league system over almost 300 games. Well, for one thing he got hit with a banned substances suspension in 2015, and that was 80 games. So I immediately throw out his numbers from before that, because he was likely on the needle. Frankly, even after his suspension I have to question if he's still using, because several players have continued to use banned substances even after their first violation. It shows you're careless, and stupid, and you're willing to cheat in the minors to get ahead. I'm not a fan of that at all.

However, I can move past that if he's cleaned up his act, and there's been no more suspension since then. What did happen in 2016, was he again his 25 homers at A-Ball. Which begs the question yet again, why is he still in A-Ball? Many times it's because a player is blocked by upper tier talent, and when I look at the Texas farm system that might be the case in some areas. For example, at the MLB level Beltre and Odor aren't going anywhere at the 2B and 3B slots, and at AAA they have a kid named Joey Gallo playing 3B who is hitting over .900 OPS. So sure, he's unlikely to move up there right now. But why not AA? Why is he stuck down in A ball still?

I have a guess, and that's because the Rangers knew they could likely get some value with a guy boasting HR numbers at the lower leagues, and they didn't want to risk bringing him up to AA where he might struggle and decrease his value for no reason. I don't think they believe the kid has a future in their organization at all, partially due to blocks, partially due to the suspension, and probably even more that he's a slugger with a shocking 125 K's in 378 PA's at A-Ball. Let me tell you something about strikeouts, they don't get better as you see better pitching with ungodly breaking stuff. You have to make some serious adjustments to get rid of those swing-and-miss numbers when they are that high.

So is this trade a complete coup? No, I don't think so, but I do think it's a low risk value move. I think it's a young player with power potential, but he's swinging from his heels in A-Ball and would have to learn how to harness that power more effectively. People will go nuts over the homer numbers, and that's fine. But homers in the California league won't necessarily translate to banging the ball out of the yard against the next two tiers of minor league pitching, let alone the majors. He's a lottery ticket bet for the Braves, which is a fine bet considering they gave up almost nothing of value for Travis. That's the key point. I love the trade for that part of it alone, because it's not like they gave up Simmons for this kid and some pitching. The value trade of the play is completely dependent on Travis' value, but there's little to no downside for the move.


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