The Braves recently shipped off a lot of their talent that was jammed up in the higher levels of the minors, including guys like Kyle Muller and Freddy Tarnok. Players like Jared Shuster and Ian Anderson still remain, but the Braves are undoubtedly very thin in Gwinnett. Here, I’ve targeted five guys they could look to add on minor league deals, or cheap major league contracts. None of them are “prospects”, but you need a few guys who you can break glass with in case of an emergency. I’ll be talking about five bats later this week.
LHP Chad Kuhl
I’ll start with Kuhl because he’s a guy who could still get a major league deal, even though he finished 2022 with a 5.72 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. Kuhl frankly just had a terrible second half in 2022. He went 0-6 with a 9.00 ERA over ten starts. Before that, he was a potential deadline candidate, and of course, now the Rockies will lose him for nothing. I wouldn’t mind Kuhl as some lefty depth in Gwinnett at all. He did toss a complete game shutout against the Dodgers on June 27th of this past season.
RHP Johnny Cueto
Cueto isn’t the perennial Cy Young candidate he once was, but he had a respectable 2022 season and may have even parlayed it into a big league deal. Cueto went 8-10 with a 3.35 ERA over 158.1 innings. The Braves could use that type of safe, inning-eating veteran on the roster — in Gwinnett or Atlanta.
RHP Chris Archer
Ah yes, the Braves and Chris Archer, a tale as old as time. Archer isn’t the pitcher he once was, but he was solid for the Twins last season. He could also easily get another major-league deal, and if i’m the Braves, I’d consider it for the fifth spot. His numbers aren’t the prettiest, but he can eat innings.
LHP/1B/DH Brendan McKay
McKay is easily the most interesting name on this list to me. He’s only 26 and was the fourth pick in the 2017 draft. He was drafted as a two-way player, but he never became Ohtani before Ohtani. That makes him an interesting reclamation project. He’s not a prospect, but he’s still young. His numbers weren’t putrid in AAA last year, either. Injuries have plagued him, but he did post a 2.93 ERA to close out the season. I think he’s worth a look as some depth in AAA at least.
RHP Mark Appel
Speaking of former top picks, Braves fans should remember Appel. The former first overall pick was out of baseball but managed to make his first big-league appearance in 2022 — eight years after being picked first by the Astros. Appel was good — he put up a 1.74 ERA over 10.1 innings. The story is cool, but he looked effective and seems to be a solid backup bullpen option in Gwinnett.
Photographer: John McCoy/Icon Sportswire