While left-handed rookie starters Sean Newcomb, Luiz Gohara, and Max Fried have garnered most of the headlines for the Atlanta Braves rookie pitching class, don’t forget another talented southpaw: A.J. Minter. Promoted to the majors on August 23rd, Minter has been excellent so far. Let’s do a quick update.
The Braves drafted Minter in the supplemental second round in 2015 out of Texas A&M. At the time he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. When he took the mound in 2016 he was obviously effective, posting a 1.30 ERA at three levels with a 47/11 K/BB in 35 innings.
Minter was ranked 20th on the pre-season Atlanta Braves Top 20 Prospects for 2017 list, with this brief comment.
20) A.J. Minter, LHP, Grade C+: Age 23, compensation round pick in 2015 from Texas A&M, posted 1.30 ERA in 35 innings at three levels finishing in Double-A with 47/11 K/BB, 18 hits, coming off Tommy John surgery; fastball 93-96 with a plus slider, strong makeup, dominant presence when his command is on, closer potential. ETA late 2017.
Keep in mind that ranking 20th in the Braves system would have put him in the Top Ten in some organizations.
Minter’s 2017 season got off to a late start due to forearm inflammation but once on the mound he was very effective once again, with a combined 3.33 ERA in 24 innings between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A with a 30/12 K/BB. In the majors so far he’s remained very impressive, fanning 12 men without a walk allowed in his first 8.2 innings of work.
Listed at 6-2, 205, Minter varies between 94 and 98 MPH with the fastball and 88-92 MPH with the slider. This is hard and nasty stuff and he locates it very well.
The only real question for Minter is durability. He threw just 58 innings over three seasons in college and just 59 over two seasons in the minors. He’s clearly ready to thrive in the majors and he’s got a shot at closing if his arm holds up.