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Analyzing the Atlanta Braves Non-Roster Invitees: Pitching Prospects

Brett KettyleCorrespondent IFebruary 11, 2010

With less than eight days left until the Braves begin Spring Training, I will continue to go through the non-roster invitees and analyze who has a chance to make the team.

Up now, the three pitching prospects heading south with the Braves.


Erik Cordier:

Cordier isn’t considered much of a prospect anymore as he is already 24 years old and has no pitching experience above A+ ball.

Looking at Cordier’s numbers don’t give much hope either, as they are solid but not spectacular.

Injuries have helped slow the development of the Royals second round pick in 2004, as Cordier didn’t pitch at all in 2005 or 2007.

2006 was Cordier’s best year, as he put up a 2.91 ERA in 10 starts between Rookie League and A ball.

Cordier was respectable in 2009, posting an ERA of 3.87 in 25 A+ starts, but it’s hard to imagine Cordier succeeding against Major League hitters because of his limited minor league experience.

Even with a good spring, Cordier will be heading for more seasoning in the minors, and maybe he can eventually fulfill his promise if he can pitch another full season in 2010.


Mike Minor:

The Braves most recent first round draft pick, Minor was dazzling in his first taste of professional baseball.

While he only threw 14 innings in 2009, his 0.64 ERA jumps off the page. More impressively, Minor struck out 17 batters while walking 0, yes, 0, in his first taste of A ball.

Minor was solid in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 4.76 ERA over 16.2 innings.

Minor has no chance of making the team out of Spring Training, but I won’t completely rule out seeing him in the Majors in 2010.

Yes, it would take a dominant year for him and a plethora of injuries, but he is a polished college pitcher who likely will be able to hold his own against top talent sooner rather than later.


Craig Kimbrel:

Of the three pitching prospects going to Spring Training, Kimbrel has the best shot of heading to Atlanta when the Braves open the regular season.

Originally the Braves 33rd round pick in 2007, Kimbrel was again drafted by the Braves in 2008, although he improved his stock and was picked 30 rounds higher.

After an impressive first season in 2008, Kimbrel continued his rapid ascent up the minor league ladder in 2009 by moving all the way from Rome (A) to Gwinnett (AAA).

He even posted a combined 2.85 ERA in 60 innings along the way.

Only one thing has slowed down Kimbrel and his blazing fastball: walks.

The one place Kimbrel struggled in 2009 was in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted an abysmal 11.57 ERA while walking 14 batters in only 9.1 innings.

While he will always rack up insane strikeout totals (15.4 K/9 in 2009) he won’t be able to be effective in the majors until he cuts down on his walks (6.8 BB/9).

Should Kimbrel dominate in Spring Training while showing improved control he could be the last man to make the Braves bullpen.

More likely though, Kimbrel will begin the year in AAA and get the call to the Majors if/when he shows he can harness his pitches.

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