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Braves NRI In-Depth: Yohan Flande

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Yohan Flande spent his first season in AAA in 2011 with Gwinnett.
Yohan Flande spent his first season in AAA in 2011 with Gwinnett.

For the second year in a row, the Braves signed left handed pitcher Yohan Flande to a Minor League Contract with an invitation to Spring Training. He worked last season as a swingman for AAA Gwinnett, appearing in 33 games, starting 19 of them, compiling a 8-8 record, a 4.01 ERA, and a 1.41 WHIP in 137 innings, with 6.8 K/9 and 2.5 K/9. It was not only the 26 year old's first season with the Braves, it was also his first in AAA, after never making it past AA in his five season in the Phillies organization.

Flande had a little bit of buzz behind him going into the 2010 season, after he went from stagnating for three years in Rookie ball to putting up a 3.48 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP in 152.2 innings between High A and AA and added a few miles per hour to his fastball in the process. But, he failed to impress, leading the Phillies to allow him to walk as a Minor League free agent. The Braves were pleased with his performance, though the team is realistic about his abilities. His fastball has fallen back into the average range, sitting in the 89-91 mph range, though he does have an above average changeup. Those are his only two reliable pitches, as he's toyed with both a cutter and a curveball with limited success.

Long-term, Flande doesn't profile as much more than an average middle reliever, though he could make a spot start or two in a pinch. Given the wealth of Atlanta's pitching depth, it's hard to envision a scenario where Flande would actually appear in a game in the Majors with the Braves, at least not one where the entire season had gone horribly, irrevocably wrong.