President of baseball operations John Hart has been pulling the trigger early this offseason for the Braves, making a pair of one-for-one trades with the Cubs and Brewers. Heading to Chicago is rookie second baseman Tommy La Stella and re-acquired right handed pitcher Arodys Vizcaino and the teams also swapped international bonus slots. The Braves also wiped away any traces of the Wren name from the organization by sending 23 year old center fielder Kyle Wren to Milwaukee for right handed pitcher Zach Quintana.
Sunday afternoon the Cubs and Braves pulled off their deal which also involved the Cubs trading their second, third, and fourth slots for a total of $974,000 while Atlanta also included their fourth slot, valued at $142,000. Let's take a look at the guy still prospect eligible, RHP Arodys Vizcaino. He was originally signed by the New York Yankees in 2007, signing for a cool 800 grand. He was then sent to Atlanta in the 2009 offseason, then was dealt again at the 2012 deadline to the Cubs. Vizcaino missed the 2012 and 2013 seasons to Tommy John surgery and began his comeback in earnest in 2014.
Right handed pitcher Arodys Vizcaino - Photo by Tracy Proffitt
He worked his way back through the minors throwing 41 innings across three levels with a composite 3.51 ERA and a similar 3.58 FIP in addition to five more innings at the big league level where he allowed three runs in five innings with four strike outs and three walks. He struck out 42 batters (23.7%) while walking 18 (10.2%) with 2.33 punch outs for every walk. He allowed 1.37 base runners per nine innings with the opposition hitting .247/.338/.385 against him. The 6'0 190 pound Dominican ran into issues in AAA Iowa, allowing 25 hits and 11 runs in just 18.1 innings with 11 walks and 16 strike outs. More advanced metrics like BABIP showed he was a bit unlucky at .321, but his bullpen mates stranded inherited runners 76.5% of the time. Vizcaino was also racked up ground balls nearly 44% of the time.
Second baseman Tommy La Stella - Photo by Ted Jones
Tommy La Stella moved into the Braves starting line up in late May after the front office officially put the Dan Uggla experiment to rest. The soon to be 26 year old spent 47 games at AAA Gwinnett to start the year, hitting .293/.384/.359 with 25 walks (12.6%) to 14 strike outs (7.1%). He homered once with six doubles and a triple, driving in 23 with 18 runs scored and a 112 wRC+. With Atlanta the 2011 8th round pick out of Coastal Carolina hit .251/.328/.317 with an 84 wRC+, 83 OPS+, and -0.1 fWAR. He drew 36 walks (10%) to 40 strike outs (11.1%), hitting 16 doubles, a triple and a home run, crossing the plate 22 times with 31 RBI. A .283 BABIP is a hair below league average which should be sustainable but his defense was a little further below that line. FanGraphs pegged him for -2.1 Fld rating with a -4 DRS (defensive runs saved) and a -4 UZR/150.
The 5'11 185 pound left handed hitting second baseman is known for his keen eye at the plate and ability to make contact to all fields. He doesn't show much power and will be lucky to hit five in a season with below average speed and fielding ability. The same goes for his throwing arm, limiting him to second base duty without any chance of putting in time on the left side of the diamond. That being said, La Stella's value is tied pretty tightly to his ability in the batter's box. If he can bring his slash line anywhere near his .322/.407/.474 minor league career line through nearly 1,200 plate appearances he can be a productive player at the keystone.
Right handed pitcher Zach Quintana - Photo by Brad Krause
Back on Friday the Brewers and Braves hooked up on a smaller trade with Milwaukee sending right handed hurler Zach Quintana to Atlanta for center fielder Kyle Wren, son of former Atlanta GM Frank Wren. Milwaukee took Quintana in the third round of the 2012 draft, singing him to a $325,000 bonus out of Arbor View High School in Las Vegas. He spent his first two years in very friendly hitting conditions and posted a 5.82 ERA in his debut in the Arizona League and 6.95 ERA in 2013 in the Pioneer League. Last year was his first crack at full season ball, spending the entire year with Low A Wisconsin of the Midwest League, throwing 85.1 innings to the tune of a 5.70 ERA and 4.63 FIP. The soon to be 21 year old shuffled between the rotation and bullpen finished with 49 walks and 58 strike outs while surrendering 100 hits and four homers. With opposing hitters hitting .296/.389/.405 against him with a .339 BABIP and 63.3% strand rate, Quintana will benefit from some regression to the mean and heading to the Sally or even the Carolina league.
He's lost a tick on his fastball since turning pro once in the 90-96 mph range but now sitting 88-92. His offspeed stuff isn't anything worth writing home about either with a below average change up and curve. Back in high school he was worked pretty hard which may be a contributing factor to his stuff taking a few steps back the last two years. The command and control are not there and he has a high effort delivery which he has problems repeating.
Center fielder Kyle Wren - Photo by Rome Braves
Wren was first looked at as a nepotism pick with his old man drafting him in the eighth round of the 2013 draft out of Georgia Tech, signing for $150,500. Pushed to an age-appropriate league to start 2014, Wren went to High A Lynchburg and hit .296/.359/.357 through 76 games and 336 plate appearances with a 105 wRC+, 33 stolen bases, 10 doubles and four triples with no home runs. He worked 30 walks (8.9%) to 39 strike outs (11.6%) while scoring 46 runs and driving in 27. Bumped to AA Mississippi at the end of June, he finished the year out with a .283/.338/.376 line and 13 more stolen bases in 56 games spanning 227 PA's. The strike out to walk ratio wasn't as nice with 16 walks (7%) to 40 punch outs (17.6%), but he still posted a 102 wRC+ with 11 doubles and four triples.
Most outlets are looking at Wren as a potential fourth outfielder if everything breaks right. I am much higher on him though, thinking he can be a legitimate starting option for a team in center field. He has outstanding speed and great instincts in the field and on the bases making him a top of the order threat. The 5'10 175 pound lefty has a good eye at the plate and can draw a walk or use his speed to leg out infield hits. Power will never be a part of his game but he does have enough thump to drive the ball to the gaps. His arm is decent and he showed excellent range and should be an above average defender. Heading into his age 24 season, he has an outside shot at a cup of coffee in September, but with Carlos Gomez breaking out into an impact player, he may have to bide his time or possibly move to left field where his arm won't be as much of an issue.
All in all, I think Atlanta did well to get a late inning option in Vizcaino for a player they weren't completely sold on. It looks like Milwaukee benefited from the Braves trying to exorcise themselves of the Wren name, moving him for a very underwhelming return.