The trade deadline has come and gone and the Atlanta Braves had a fairly busy trade season. In total the Braves moved six players away in exchange for a handful of players to bolster the major league roster. The common refrain for many of these players traded has been “Who?”, so here is that question answered.
We all know who Bryse Wilson is at this point, and we’ll never forget his phenomenal performance in Game 4 of the NLCS. Wilson has, unfortunately, not been able to replicate that success in 2021. He has regressed at Gwinnett with a 4.23 ERA and a significant reduction in strikeouts, and his 4.83 ERA in Atlanta is no better. Despite a couple of solid starts in May he was passed over for open rotation spots on multiple occasions, and it’s clear he was at the end of his rope for Atlanta. Therefore the Braves made him the centerpiece of a deal with the Pirates to land them some relief help. Wilson will have an opportunity to go to an organization that can afford to let him try to figure it out at the major league level, which will be the best step forward for his career.
The second biggest name on the list was not a deadline deal, but losing Bryce Ball is still an important note. Ball’s play with Rome this season was a bit disappointing as his bat didn’t take the step forward the Braves had hoped, but his raw power is real and enticing. The question beyond the bat is whether Ball can even stick at first base, and if he can hit enough to be a designated hitter. The Cubs must feel they see something in the sliding Ball, and if they can tap into his potential he does have immense upside. He may not have had much of an impact on Atlanta’s long term plans, but a player with plus raw power and fantastic plate discipline will have a future if he can find a way to improve the hit tool. Trading Ball for Joc Pederson was a no brainer, but it still gives the Cubs a return they can look to the future and hope on.
The Braves were able to swing acquiring old friend Adam Duvall from the Marlins, and sent back Alex Jackson in return. Jackson was the only player the Braves traded that was going to end up on Talking Chop’s midseason Top 30 list (Ball would have, but the list was compiled following that trade). Jackson has more raw power than any other player in the system for the Braves, but his hit tool is so far behind it’s a question if he can even get to any of it. His defense has taken such a step forward behind the plate that he was still worth consideration, as even now his hit tool is probably good enough to make him a solid MLB backup. He has handled Triple-A pitching well and has 11 home runs in 29 games this season, and Miami will want to see more of that. If the Marlins can find a way to unlock his hit tool just a little bit there is reason to believe he can be a solid starting catcher at the Major League level, it’s just that the likelihood of that occurring is so low the Braves felt they had better options.
The second half of the deal with the Pirates is right handed pitcher Ricky DeVito, an 8th round pick out of Seton Hall. This is where we start getting into players that aren’t known by casual fans of the system. DeVito was going to be an honorable mention in the midseason list and some of us had him in the Top 30, but overall this is not a player that was expected to make an impact at the MLB level. DeVito certainly has the potential to be a solid major league player. He has a fastball in the low 90’s that he can run up to 97 mph and he may have room to grow into his frame and add more. He mixes in a curveball that has improved enough to show flashes of being an average pitch, and he rounds out his arsenal with one of the best pitches in the system in his plus splitter. This three pitch mix is good enough to make an MLB starter and he came into the season with a lot of helium because of this, but unfortunately the more he pitched the less it seemed he would have the command to make it. He only walked seven batters in 20 1⁄3 innings, while striking out 27, but there were more bad times than good when it came to actually locating those pitches. The stuff was able to overpower High-A hitters, but there was significant concern about him moving up levels. There is huge reliever risk because of the command problems and there’s a chance he won’t overcome them enough to even get to the major leagues. I love the talent DeVito has, but the command woes and the injury he suffered in early June that has kept him out since made it hard to feel confident in his future.
The Braves slipped in the trade for Jorge Soler at the last second, and gave up a legitimate piece in Kasey Kalich. The Braves took the reliever out of Texas A&M in the fourth round of the 2019 draft and had hopes he could be a fairly quick to the bigs player. Kalich got off to a phenomenal start with Rome this season but has faded a bit as we have gotten later in the season and currently has a 3.26 ERA. Kalich’s big problem at the moment is his command, somewhat stemming from him still recovering from a major wrist surgery in between 2019 and now. He is still shaking off rust from that surgery, and his stuff has ticked back slightly this season. In college he was up to 98 mph with his fastball and has a hard slider, but he has settled more in the low to mid 90’s now and is still working to get all of his stuff back. The Royals clearly love him and if he can get back to his college form he has a ton of potential, but the Braves felt him replaceable and it’s hard to feel anything different about a middle relief prospect. He was going to come in as an honorable mention on the midseason list for Talking Chop.
Atlanta used Mason Berne to acquire Stephen Vogt for catching depth, and that was really an easy move to make. Berne was a 25 year old in rookie ball, had been a good college performer at UNC Wilmington, and that’s really about it for him. There’s not much to the profile and no real loss here except for an open roster spot in the lower minor leagues. Overall, like all of the previous deals, the Braves got a piece that can help the team at the major league level without sacrificing a single player from their future plans.