Sunday, March 13, 2022
The additions haven’t been flashy since Thursday’s long-awaited new collective bargaining agreement. However, there are a few new players to examine that have recently joined the Braves, including righty Jasseel De La Cruz, who was re-signed back in mid-January.
Here’s a look at each player…
Arden Pabst, C
It didn’t get much attention, but per MLB.com’s transaction page, last Tuesday the Braves signed the 26-year-old Pabst to a minor league contract. Pabst was a 12th-round pick by the Pirates back in 2016, out of Georgia Tech, where he enjoyed a decent three-year collegiate career. The LA native has yet to debut in the majors, but so far, in parts of five minor league seasons, he has managed a .224 career AVG with 25 homers and 118 RBI in 301 overall games, while sporting a 32% caught-stealing rate. By far, Pabst’s best campaign came back in 2018, while playing at three different minor league levels (A+, AA, AAA), when he slashed .264/.307/.472 with 10 homers, 14 doubles and 36 RBI in 66 total games. He also threw out 46% would-be base stealers that year, a career-high for him as a pro thus far. Pabst is coming off a pretty middling 2021 season in which he hit just .194 for the Pirates Double-A club, although his 14 XBH (7 HR) in 61 games wasn’t too shabby.
Chadwick Tromp, C
Another catcher on a minor league contract, and a familiar one at that (the Braves claimed him off waivers last September), Tromp is a former international signee who’s entering his age-27 season. The Aruba native played in five games for the Braves Triple-A club at the very end of last season, after getting in only nine games with the big league Giants and 55 games with San Fran’s Triple-A affiliate. Tromp has been around for awhile, signing with the Reds as an 18-year-old back in 2013, but with a rather punch-less bat he’s never been able to get much of an opportunity in the big leagues. In parts of eight minor league seasons, Tromp is a career .251 hitter, with his best performance coming in 2019 while still playing in Cincy’s system. That year, while with the Reds’ Triple-A club, Tromp hit .280 with nine homers, seven doubles and 37 RBI in 42 games, although his 7% caught-stealing rate behind the plate there was atrocious.
Brandon Brennan, RHP
He was released by the Red Sox back in mid-September of last season, but the Braves signed Brennan this past Thursday to a minor league deal, where he’ll likely serve as extra pitching depth in Triple-A Gwinnett. Brennan, 30-years-old, is a former fourth-rounder from back in 2012, selected by the White Sox. As sort of late-bloomer, the righty didn’t make his MLB debut until 2019, as a 27-year-old with Seattle, after posting a solid 2018 campaign in the Mexican League that featured a 2.51 ERA in 14.1 innings. Brennan made good once he cracked the big leagues in 2019, going on to pitch in 44 games as a reliever for the Mariners and posting a 4.56 ERA in 47.1 innings. But since then, a strained oblique in 2020 (to go with the shortened season of course), pretty much killed his momentum, and since those 40+ games from three years ago, Brennan has tallied only 10 1/3 frames in the majors. Last season he pitched 37 2/3 with Boston’s Triple-A club, but his run prevention was lacking, shown by a 5.97 ERA.
Jasseel De La Cruz, RHP
De La Cruz, a former top 10 Braves prospect by most, had a pretty awful 2021 campaign with Triple-A Gwinnett, and as a result, he was nontendered last November. Well, as we hoped, the move by Atlanta was simply to make room on the 40-man as the team had every intention of bringing the pitcher back, which they did back in mid-January. De La Cruz isn’t ranked inside my top-35 anymore, partly because he simply wasn’t with the org when I created it and partly because of his poor performance, but there’s reasons to still feel optimistic about his future. Last year was rough, shown by his 7.03 ERA with Gwinnett, but perhaps as a reliever De La Cruz can eventually find himself a consistent role with the Braves. The 2022 campaign will be JDLC’s age-25 season, and as a two-pitch pitcher (fastball/slider), there’s a realistic path for him as bullpen piece, perhaps similar to the role Touki Toussiant took on as he struggled to find his footing as a starter.