Tyrell Jenkins, the number 11 prospect on Talking Chop’s preseason prospect list, has been promoted to Atlanta from Gwinnett. The 23 year old right hander from Henderson, Texas is 6-3 on the season with a 2.91 ERA in AAA. In an effort to speed Jenkins path to the big leagues, he was moved to the bullpen at least temporarily in what has been a highly scrutinized move. He has pitched 4 games as a reliever and given up 2 runs in 7 IP.
#Braves will promote RHP Tyrell Jenkins today. Jenkins posted a 2.91 ERA in 14 appearances with Gwinnett this season— Kevin McAlpin (@KevinMcAlpin) June 16, 2016
Tyrell was once a highly touted prospect within the Cardinals organization, cracking some Top 100 prospect lists before a series of injuries derailed his early career. The Braves pulled Tyrell in the blockbuster trade with the Cardinals, and added him immediately to the 40 man roster to avoid leaving him open to the Rule V draft. The move has paid off in a big way, as he was named organizational pitcher of the year last season. In 2015 he split time between AAA and AA, and in the process not only pitched the most innings of his professional career but posted his lowest ERA as a pro at 3.19.
Tyrell has a wow factor fastball, that consistently sits in the mid 90’s with hard bite and sink. It doesn’t generate a lot of swings and misses, as indicated by his low strikeout rates, but what it does is force a lot of weak ground balls that are easy plays for defenders. That may be a key for Tyrell, getting some defensive support behind him that has lacked for Atlanta much of the year. Tyrell has taken a major step forward in his offspeed stuff, as a mechanical change has not only smoothed out his delivery but allowed his curveball to jump from a pitch that at best flashed average to one that consistently shows above average and at times plus. His changeup also generates a lot of awkward swings and misses, and could be a future average pitch.
Tyrell’s peripherals will never wow anyone, but at his young age and lack of experience with all of the injuries accounted for, he should do quite well for himself. Tyrell is a premium athlete, and is making rapid improvements to his game that should help quickly. A guy named Bob Gibson broke into the major leagues at 25, with a walk rate over 4 per 9 innings and a strikeout rate below 7, and he turned out quite well. Jenkins shows a mid rotation ceiling, but given his control problems is more likely a back end guy especially given the depth in the Braves system.
One thing as well that Jenkins has in his favor is his gamer mentality and a looseness not many bring. He is a strong, competitive mind with a good knowledge of the game, but also handles pressure well and doesn’t let the game get to him. Tyrell has always been popular in the clubhouse and amongst fans for his outgoing personality and that will carry over into a likely fan favorite role at the next level. While you have to expect some jitters in the first game, Jenkins plays with a fun, loose mentality that should help him overcome a lot of the ups and downs of the major league life.
To make room for Jenkins on the active roster, the Braves optioned Casey Kelly back to Triple-A Gwinnett.