Braves get another young pitching prospect

Bronson Arroyo is coming to Atlanta, but he's not the centerpiece of the trade with the Diamondbacks.

You can never have too many pitching prospects.

Rinse and repeat.

You can never have too many pitching prospects.

The Atlanta Braves believe this philosophy, and it explains the trade they made with the Arizona Diamondbacks late Saturday night. The Braves acquired veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo for utility infielder Phil Gosselin.

Oh, wait. There's one more player involved in this deal - Arizona's first round pick (16th overall) from the 2014 draft, Touki Toussaint. He turned 19 years old Saturday, and his present was being traded to the Atlanta Braves.

The reaction from Twitter said it all. MLB.com's Jim Callis called it "the most inexplicable trade I've ever seen," while Baseball America's Ben Badler suggested the FBI "investigate the Braves next." And ESPN's Keith Law repeatedly wrote HA on his twitter feed when the trade went down.

Analysts could not believe nor understand why the Diamondbacks would give Atlanta a top pitching prospect just to sell of a veteran pitcher and get only a utility infielder in return.

Arroyo is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Some believe he could be ready by early-August to rejoin Atlanta. It's unclear obviously if Arroyo would fit in the bullpen or rotation if he returns. Reports had him recently slowing down his recovery due to more elbow tenderness.

The Braves will be on the hook for the remainder of Arroyo's $9.5 million salary for this season, approximately $5 million or so. Plus, the Braves will be responsible for the $4.5 million buyout on Arroyo's contract for next season.

Who cares. The Braves get another top pitching prospect to further improve a farm system that might be one of the top three in the game before the season is over. How valuable might Toussaint be? Well, Nick Piecoro, the Diamondbacks beat write for AZCentral Sports, wrote on Twitter that "If Touki Toussaint is a free agent right now, what does he get? Seems to me he'd get more than DBacks saved."

This is an investment in a 19-year-old right-handed pitching prospect the Braves believe has ace potential. Baseball America had him as the Diamondbacks' fifth best prospect before the season. MLB.com had him as their third best prospect. And BA had him ranked as the 71st best prospect in the game.

Toussaint was in Low-A Kane County in the Midwest League. He had made seven starts and was 2-2 with a 3.69 ERA, with 31 hits allowed in 39 innings, 16 earned runs, 15 walks and 29 strikeouts. The Braves will likely place Toussaint in Rome, their Low-A affiliate.

Atlanta's new front office continues to accumulate pitching prospects. It's the perfect way to go. The Braves already have the youngest rotation in baseball, with all five currently in the rotation under 25 years old. Plus, they have Mike Foltynewicz, Manny Banuelos, Tyrell Jenkins and Ricardo Sanchez - all minor league pitchers acquired in trades last offseason.

And, of course, the Braves just prioritized pitching in the amateur draft, with 11 of the first 13 picks (and 20 of the first 26) being pitchers.

It will be interesting to see where Toussaint ranks in Atlanta's system. Some believed he was the top prep pitcher in the 2014 draft. His fastball hits the mid-90s (reportedly 92-96 mph in his start on Friday), while Toussaint reportedly has a plus curveball and a plus changeup. The Braves believe he has three plus pitchers, unusual for such a young pitcher.

It is possible Arroyo could come back and give Atlanta some innings later this season. That might be helpful if the team is in the pennant race, but Toussaint is the reason the Braves made this trade. Frankly, anything from Arroyo would be gravy. This was all about getting another young pitching prospect.

As for Gosselin, he is a good player but simply a utility-type with little value to the Braves. Jace Peterson is the second baseman now, so any chance (which was nil already) of Gosselin winning second base for the future is now dead. He is well-liked and is a good little player, but for this type of deal the Braves didn't think twice about adding an infielder that is hurt and can't even start in this trade.

The Braves have been aggressive and will likely continue to do so during the summer. They want pitching, and they proved again Saturday night they'll do anything to get it.




Listen to "The Bill Shanks Show" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.


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