The Braves had a homecoming of sorts when they traded Tommy La Stella for Arodys Vizcaino in mid-November. Vizcaino was once considered a top prospect in the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves organizations. He was signed as an amateur Free Agent by New York during Gordon Blakeley’s tenure as a head scout for the Yankees and traded to Atlanta alongside Melky Cabrera and Mike Dunn for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan back in ’09. The Braves later traded him to Chicago in the Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson deal. Like Zoilo Almonte and Manny Banuelos, Blakeley being a special assistant to John Hart probably played a big role in the acquisition of Arodys. Baseball America had him ranked as high as the 40th best prospect in all of baseball after the 2011 and he has broken top 10 prospect lists for Chicago, Atlanta and New York. However, injury concerns have derailed Vizcaino’s progression and have likely limited him strictly to a reliever role in the big leagues. Vizcaino underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2012 with the Braves and had elbow surgery back in 2013. Last season in his first full season since 2011, Vizcaino tossed a 3.54 ERA, averaging 9 strikeouts and 4 walks per 9 innings over 3 levels of the Chicago farm season. However, he did struggle a bit in AAA Iowa. Still only 24, Vizcaino has the four pitch arsenal of a starter and is best known for his fastball and curveball. His fastball has been recorded as high as 101 mph. now at full health and with a little magic from Roger McDowell to get him more in control of his pitches, Vizcaino could be a top option in our bullpen as soon as this season.
In Tommy La Stella, the Braves lose their everyday second baseman from last season. La Stella was immediately a fan favorite of mine, and became the Braves most consistent contact hitter in June and July of his rookie season last year. However, he hit .174 the rest of the way and it seemed pitchers had figured him out. La Stella’s departure leads the way for the Braves to eventually bring up Jose Peraza, my #1 rated Atlanta prospect and their second baseman of the future. Unfortunately, The Braves will likely have to rely on Alberto Collaspo and Phil Gosselin for production out of the 2B spot this year. Nevertheless, La Stella likely only had one year left as a starter on the big league roster and his production late into the season is alarming and could be the writing on the wall for him. I believe that Frank Wren made the right move and brought Atlanta back a top-10 prospect that is Major League ready in Arodys.