The Braves have retained another one of their Minor League free agents, bringing third baseman Wes Timmons back into the fold. Timmons has been with the organization since he was drafted in the 12th round in 2002 and this is the second year in a row he has been re-signed after becoming a free agent. He's spent his last four full seasons at AAA for the Braves, collecting a .267 average and .746 OPS in over 1400 AAA plate appearances, good numbers for a utility player who has seen time at every infield position in his career. 2009 was Timmons' best season of his career, as the 30 year old hit .283 for Gwinnett with a .782 OPS, including a .416 OBP, and was named an International League All-Star, as well as being named the league's best defensive third baseman for the third consecutive season. His June was particularly impressive as he managed a .394 average and 1.018 OPS in 71 at bats.
Gondeee reported it last week, way before anyone else, and now it's official, the Braves have also added Minor League free agent outfielder/first baseman Mitch Jones. Jones made his Major League debut with the Dodgers this June, collecting a .308 average and .785 OPS in 15 plate appearances, including going 2 for 5 as a pinch hitter. He had an outstanding year for the Dodgers' AAA Albuquerque affiliate, hitting .297 with a 1.015 OPS, 26 doubles, 35 home runs, and 103 RBI in just 434 plate appearances. It's surprising however that he had never been called up to the Majors since an average AAA season for him works out to about 483 plate appearances, a .270 average, a .905 OPS, 28 doubles, 29 homers, 91 RBI, and 134 strike outs, a very respectable number considering his offensive production.
At worst, Jones will provide a powerful, veteran presence to the middle of Gwinnett's lineup, but it seems likely that he'll be given a shot to earn a spot on Atlanta's team, likely as a right handed hitter with power off the bench who can adequately play first base as well as left and right field. As a 32 year old with very little Major League experience, he may not be the ideal answer to some of Atlanta's offensive woes, but he could very well provide infuse some much needed power to the Braves in 2010.
I'm not sure it's been reported on Talking Chop, because I certainly missed it,because I erroneously had him as part of my Rule 5 preview, but the Braves have released outfielder Brian Barton. Barton was acquired from the Cardinals in exchange for Blaine Boyer and appeared in just one game for Atlanta, spending the remainder of his year with Gwinnett, where he hit .266 with a .744 OPS, 17 doubles, 7 home runs, and 17 stolen bases in 426 plate appearances.
C.B. Wilkins is the author of the baseball novel Four-A. The story follows a relief pitcher over the course of a year as he bounces between AAA and the Majors, attempting to balance his dreams and his reality. It can be purchased here: https://www.createspace.com/3407939