A new year, a new look squad. On New Year’s Day, the Braves traded relievers Chasen Shreve and David Carpenter for the Yankees for prospect Manny Banuelos. The Braves have continued to pluck away pieces from the Yankees organization following the hiring of Gordon Blakeley as special assistant to John Hart. As mentioned in previous articles, Blakeley was a top scout in the Yankees organization for over two decades. Banuelos was once a very highly touted prospect for the Bronx Bombers, but injuries have derailed his development. He was rated as high as 13th best prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com prior to the 2012 season. But like many pitchers in this organization, Banuelos went under the knife and had Tommy John Surgery in 2012. Banuelos, still only 23, made starts in A+, AA, and AAA last season and will likely start in Gwinnett this season. The lefty is still a very enticing prospect, and with Blakeley’s seal of approval, I trust that medically Banuelos is good to go and can be a contributor in the Braves rotation as soon as this season. In return, the Braves gave up two good relievers in Shreve and Carpenter. Carpenter came to the Braves via a waiver claim from the Red Sox and was a contributor in our bullpen for two seasons. His best season was undoubtedly 2013, as he pitched to a 1.78 ERA in 56 appearances. Carpenter’s only weakness is his struggles to pitch against right-handed hitters. In Shreve, the Braves lose a guy that I was really excited to see in our bullpen for years to come. In 15 appearances, Shreve had an unbelievable 0.73 ERA. It was frustrating to see Luis Avilan get so much action when Shreve was by far our most effective lefty (That’s Fredi for ya). However, it was worth the tradeoff. The Braves have brought in an abundance of arms to compete for bullpen spots, and trading two expendable arms for a former Top-15 prospect is an absolute steal. I have Banuelos higher on my Braves’ prospect list then most, as he is in my top five. My list will be released shortly before Opening Day. Manager Fredi Gonzalez has expressed interest in starting off Banuelos in a long relief role to start the year (another one of his great ideas). Unless there are concerns with his arm we do not know about, I believe that Banuelos needs to be starting games in Gwinnett to start the year. I do not like how Fredi has tried to adapt pitchers such as David Hale and Alex Wood to bullpen roles, as I think it halts their development. We will have to use a wait-and-see approach with Manny, but I believe come this time next year he will be a member of the Braves’ starting rotation. This move didn’t get much attention, but has the potential to be the best move the Braves made during this offseason of mass turnover.