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Mike Foltynewicz, Felix Hernandez among Braves 18 MiLB free agents

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The 2020 MLB season is in the books, which means free agents have been announced. The 18 Atlanta Braves minor league players are now free agents.

MLB: Spring Training-Minnesota Twins at Atlanta Braves John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s award season for MLB and that means free agency has begun. Per a Baseball America report, 422 players were named free agents. Eighteen of those were Atlanta Braves.

Mike Foltynewicz and Felix Hernandez are the highest-profile names on the list. Hernandez was signed to a minor-league deal before the season and opted out, thus never becoming a “major leaguer”. Foltynewicz was designated this season after a rollercoaster calendar year, which removed him from the 40-man roster and made him a minor-league free agent.

Let’s take a quick look at the 18 Braves minor-league free agents.

Ryan Casteel: The 29-year-old first baseman is no stranger to free agency. He’s well-traveled since the Colorado Rockies drafted him in 2010. He only played 2019 in the Braves system, belting 21 doubles and 21 home runs for Mississippi.

Jason Creasy: The 28-year-old right-hander came over from the Pirates. He had some promise in his youth, but injuries after a big 2015 derailed his career. He split 2019 between Mississippi and Gwinnett with a 4-1 record with a 4.45 ERA and 11 saves striking out 61 in 60.2 innings pitched.

Claudio Custodio: Now 30 years old, Custodio is far removed from the promising right-hander that had a big 2016 in the bullpen for the Yankees lower-level affiliates. Custodio had a solid 2019 split between Rome and Mississippi in his Braves’ debut going 7-4 with a 2.48 ERA and two saves as a stater and reliever.

Mike Foltynewicz: Folty’s six-year career may be coming to an end on a sour note. After a big 2018 All-Star campaign, Folty’s 2019 was up and down (literally, as he bounced from the minors to the bigs) and a forgettable playoff start carried over to 2020. The 29-year-old righty made just one start with Atlanta before being designated and passing through waivers at the alternate site.

Sal Giardina: The former DII baseball player was a 31st-rounder for the Braves back in 2014. The 28-year-old catcher has had some decent seasons but will likely be remembered for having one of the best mustaches in the entire system.

Felix Hernandez: Oh King Felix, we hardly knew ye. Hernandez looked sharp in four spring training starts for the Braves. He struck out 14 in his 13.2 innings pitched and posted a 1.98 ERA. Inevitably, the former Cy Young award winner opted out before the season began.

Kevin Josephina: I often joked that Josephina would one day have his jersey retired by the Rome Braves. He spent parts of three-straight seasons in Rome from 2016-18, but the 24-year-old second baseman actually put up one of his best seasons with the Florida Fire Frogs in 2019.

Sean Kazmar: The 36-year-old infielder has been a staple in the Gwinnett lineup. He’s been there so long, he’s been both a Gwinnett Brave and Striper. Kazmar was a quality depth guy to fill the Gwinnett roster, but hasn’t played in the MLB since 2008.

Pete Kozma: Kozma was interesting signing simply because he is tied to a play many Braves fans would like to forget. The 32-year-old infielder never had an at bat with Gwinnett, nor Atlanta, signing before the 2020 season and not making the 40-man roster.

Jack Lopez: The 27-year-old second baseman was one of many who had a power surge in Gwinnett in 2019. Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2011, he floated around the system before coming to Atlanta in 2019. He set a a career in home runs (12) with the second-most doubles (16) of his career.

Carlos Martinez: Martinez has been with the Braves since he was 18, signed out of Colombia prior to the 2013 season. The catcher had a light bat and never made it above Double-A in his seven seasons in the Braves’ organization.

Dilmer Mejia: Mejia was signed by the Braves as a 16-year-old back in 2014 and turned in a nice 2019 in Rome. The 23-year-old southpaw went 8-5 with a 2.66 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.

Rafael Ortega: Another bat that exploded in Gwinnett last season, Ortega’s most memorable shot was a sixth-inning grand slam in August for the big club, which helped down the Los Angeles Dodgers. The well-traveled outfielder blasted a career-high 34 doubles and 21 home runs in 2019.

Shane Robinson: Like Pete Kozma, Robinson was part of that St. Louis Cardinals infield-fly rule team. Also like his former teammate, Robinson never took an at bat with the Braves, signing before the 2020 season. The 36-year-old outfielder has been around with brief big-league stints with the Cardinals, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees.

Brad Roney: Roney was an eighth-round draft pick out of Southern Miss by the Braves in 2014 and has worked his way up and down the system. Per our own Eric Cole, Roney had an exciting fastball at one point, but was never able to stay healthy. He made 28 appearances split between Florida and Mississippi in 2019.

Ben Rowen: A 31-year-old right-hander, Rowen signed with the Braves before the 2019 season. He spent the bulk of the year in the Stripers’ bullpen going 4-3 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.07 WHIP.

Alejandro Salazar: Salazar is another Braves lifer, signed out of Venezuela in 2014 at the age of 17. He was a key cog in the Rome Braves infield, especially at shortstop, on their 2016 South Atlantic League championship run. He struggled in Mississippi in 2019, hitting .203 with a .490 OPS in 120 games.

Scott Schebler: The Braves picked up Schebler days before the 2020 season started and he got one whopping August at bat before being designated to the alternate site. The left-handed hitting right fielder isn’t far removed from a 30-home run season and shouldn’t have a problem latching on somewhere as organizational depth.