Caribbean Cool: Atlanta Braves Preparing For Life After Chipper Jones
A rather subtle move occurred this week concerning the Atlanta Braves' future.
The move in question is the signing of 18 year old prospect Edward Salcedo of the Dominican Republic.
Salcedo, by trade is a shortstop and is touted as being one of the better international prospects in the game. When one watches this video , one can see Salcedo possesses a fluid and level swing capable of power.
Now is the perfect time to sign a prospect such as Salcedo. Third baseman Chipper Jones is in the home stretch of his career, with three years to go on his new contract. Chipper himself stated if he cannot produce or be better than his performance from last year, he would go ahead and retire sooner rather than later.
Bobby Cox is due to retire this year and Chipper will be gone within a few years. When Chipper retires he will be the last person to walk away from the storied Braves of the '90s and early 2000s. It will be an end of an era and there will be big shoes to fill on that side of the diamond.
The Braves are not panicking and Salcedo may be that person to fill the void. Salcedo hails from the Caribbean, along with others on the Braves who are rising young talent. Needless to say the future of the Braves will contain a Caribbean flavor.
One of these players is Yunel Escobar.
The Cuban native is the Braves most dynamic young position player. Last year, he batted .299 with 76 RBI and 14 HR. He was clutch as well, batting .375 with runners in scoring position. Escobar also made some defensive plays which appeared to defy gravity.
Last year, Escobar lost his cool at times but he is working on it, with the second half of the year being quieter than the first. The Braves need to keep him because he's a talented young player who's got heart.
Escobar could replace Chipper at third and he definitely maintains an arm to do so. In all likelihood, Salcedo would be the better bet because Escobar's defensive ability is almost second to none in the entire league.
Martin Prado is also a player from the area. The Venezuelan had a breakout year last season and he anchors the nucleus of the defense. Prado and Escobar are a modern day Latin American equivalent of Mark Lemke and Jeff Blauser. Prado can hold his own at second and can hit doubles like a machine.
Last but certainly not least, is right-handed hurler Jair Jurrjens. The Curacao native is one of the best pitchers in the National League and last year he back up this claim by posting a 2.60 ERA, 152 strikeouts, and logged 215 innings. On the mound, Jurrjens never really loses his stuff and is quickly becoming the future ace of the staff.
A few years ago, people couldn't imagine the Braves without Chipper. Now that the light at the end of the tunnel can be seen, not everything is all gloom and doom.
Players such as Escobar, Prado, Jurrjens, and Salcedo if and when he makes it to the bigs, are ushering a new era of Braves baseball.
For this group of players the sky is now the limit.
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