The Braves lose a former MLB Pipeline top five prospect, re-sign a familiar face to a minor league deal

Vaughn Grissom

Former top five prospect (according to MLB Pipeline) Jasseel De La Cruz has signed with the Oakland Athletics on a minor league deal, and the Braves have brought back Alan Rangel on a minor league pact. Rangel was recently designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 Draft:

De La Cruz was a disappointment in 2022. After struggling with injuries, he only managed a 7.18 ERA over 26.1 innings. He struggled all throughout his rehab, but he should get plenty of chances to prove himself in Oakland. He was a highly regarded prospect when he was healthy. MLBPipeline had De La Cruz as Atlanta’s fifth best prospect in 2020:

The Braves handed out seven bonuses that were six figures or more in the 2014-15 international signing period, but De La Cruz wasn’t one of them. They inked the right-hander for just $55,000 close to the end of the period, in June 2015. It hasn’t been a rapid ascent, with De La Cruz not making it to full-season ball until his fourth summer of pro ball in 2018. It started to click for him in 2019, pitching across three levels of the Minors and spending most of the season in Double-A. He was rewarded with a spot on the 40-man roster after the season.

De La Cruz has a really live arm and the chance to have a three-pitch mix that could allow him to stay in a rotation. He’ll sit in the mid-90s with his fastball, but shows regularly there’s more in there, touching 98-99 mph. His slider has improved and more consistently flashes above-average. He’s gained more feel for his changeup, with some thinking it will become an average third pitch for him. He’ll have to throw it more, especially now that he’s at the upper levels, with more reps leading to better usage of the offspeed offering.

More than anything, De La Cruz needs more experience on the mound. The 2019 season was the first time he had topped 100 innings. He didn’t get hit hard in Double-A, but after making strides with his strike-throwing in A ball, his command backed up a bit against better hitters. Letting him start could allow him to refine those rough edges, with the Braves knowing his stuff would be nasty in shorter stints out of the pen.

Rangel was considered a prospect by some outlets; Baseball America had him ranked in 2022 at the midseason point of 2022. However, it’s hard to consider a 25-year-old starter with a 5.26 ERA in AA a prospect. Rangel got three innings in Gwinnett last year and surrendered two earned runs. Still, he’s important depth, and the Braves obviously see some value there. Maybe he’s a late bloomer, and hopefully the Braves continue to develop him as a backup option.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: