Braves: A.J. Minter doesn’t yet look like himself in Gwinnett

MLB: APR 27 Guardians at Braves

Every week, a critical piece to the Braves seems to hit the IL, but the club is hoping to get some reinforcements sooner rather than later. Among them is set-up man A.J. Minter — arguably the Braves best reliever of the last five years — whose rehab assignment began in Rome over the weekend and was transferred to Gwinnett, where he made his first appearance last night.

Unfortunately, A.J. Minter didn’t quite look like himself, giving up a run and a walk over one inning of work. But perhaps the most discouraging aspect of his outing was the velocity. Minter was sitting in the low-90s with his heater and high-80s with his cutter.

Control has been an issue at various points of Minter’s career, especially early on, but one thing he has always been able to rely on from the left side is velocity. Since entering the league, he has never had an average fastball velocity below 95.7 MPH. Until this year, it has sat much closer to the mid-90s than ever before.

It hasn’t necessarily been a drastic change, but it has been something even Minter discussed, which is why he felt an IL stint to be necessary.

“Obviously, the velocity has been down a little bit this year,” Minter said, via Justin Toscano. “I was trying to tell the trainers, ‘I just can’t use my legs real well.’ They looked at it and did all the tests they do, and I was getting a little bit of irritation with any external rotation in my hip.”

A.J. Minter hasn’t appeared in a game for the Braves in nearly a full month, so hopefully the dip in velocity is nothing more than a product of the time off and will return as he builds back up some strength. However, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on every time he toes the rubber. We’ll see how the Braves handle his rehab assignment moving forward, but he doesn’t quite seem ready to return to Atlanta just yet.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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