The roster is now at 37 members. They'll leave several spots open for potential trades and free agent movement.
Davies had a tremendous season in 2003, splitting time between High-A Myrtle Beach, AA Greenville, and AAA Richmond. He started out the season with the Pelicans and went 9-2 with an ERA of 2.63 in 14 starts. He allowed 55 hits in 75.1 innings pitched, 32 walks, and 95 strikeouts. Then in AA Greenville, Davies was 4-0 in 11 games (10 starts) with an ERA of 2.32, 40 hits allowed in 62 innings, 22 walks, and 73 strikeouts. Finally, he was promoted to AAA Richmond at the end of the season and started one regular season game. He lost the game as he allowed five runs on five hits in five innings. But in the playoffs, Davies won the deciding game five of their first round series.
"It is kind of a relief," Davies told BravesCenter late Friday. "You've worked so hard for something, but then you realize you've got to work harder for the next step. You never want to take anything for granted. I was hoping I'd get on there, so it comes as a relief. Now I've got to work just as hard to get on the 25-man roster. It will be exciting next spring when I head down to Orlando (and big league camp). You always dream about putting on that Atlanta Braves uniform, so now I'll be able to do it in spring training. Hopefully, I'll be able to leave a good first impression."
Overall, Davies finished the season with a 13-3 combined record, 2.72 ERA, 100 hits allowed in 142.1 innings, 43 earned runs, 57 walks, and 173 strikeouts. Davies was the Braves 4th round pick in the 2001 draft. BravesCenter.com recently named Davies as the top pitching prospect in the Braves farm system. There is a chance Davies could start the 2005 season back in AAA at Richmond.
Here is his bio from the Top 25 prospect list:
1. KYLE DAVIES, RHP 6'2" 190 21 years old
2004 Statistics: - 13-3 W/L - 2.72 ERA - 100 hits in 142.1 innings pitched - 57 walks and 173 strikeoutsComment: Surprise! Yea, Jose Capellan and Dan Meyer are closer, but the pitcher that has the best chance at being a major league ace is Kyle Davies. He simply wowed the Braves minor league coaches with an unbelievable season. Kyle's change up is Glavine-like. It is the best off speed pitch of any pitcher in the system. There are some of the organization that believe Davies could be ready early in 2005, although it's probably more realistic to count on him knocking on the door later next season.
Lerew, BravesCenter's 4th best pitching prospect, spent the entire 2004 season in Myrtle Beach. He went 8-9 with an ERA of 3.75 in 27 games started. The right-hander allowed 144 hits in 145 innings, 60 earned runs, 46 walks, and 125 strikeouts. The Braves drafted Lerew in the 11th round of the 2001 draft. Lerew will start the 2005 season at AA Mississippi.
Here is Anthony's bio from our Top 25 prospect list:
4. ANTHONY LEREW, RHP 6'3" 220 22 years old
2004 Statistics: - 8-9 W/L - 3.75 ERA - 145 hits in 144 innings pitched - 46 walks and 125 strikeoutsComment: Lerew came into the 2004 season with a 2.28 career ERA. While his 3.75 ERA was not horrible, there were higher expectations. He struggled with his breaking ball a bit this season, and the Braves want him to get it more consistent next year. Lerew got his fastball up to 97 miles an hour in 2004, and that caused him to have to adjust a bit to his new style of pitching. If he continues to refine the fastball and gets the curve and changeup straightened out, Lerew could be right there with Meyer and Davies real fast.
Left-hander Macay McBride had a big change in 2004. After starting off the season in the Greenville rotation, the Braves moved him to the bullpen. McBride did very well in that role, going 1-0 with a 2.91 ERA in 26 games. The Braves have not decided on whether he'll remain in the bullpen or return to the rotation, where he had tremendous success in his first two and a half years in the farm system. McBride could battle for a bullpen spot next spring in Orlando, but if he needs a little more seasoning he'll return to AAA Richmond, where he ended the 2004 season.
Here is his bio from our Top 25 pitching list:
7. MACAY MCBRIDE, LHP 5'11" 212 22 years old
2004 Statistics: - 1-7 W/L - 4.44 ERA - 113 hits in 103.1 innings pitched - 46 walks and 102 strikeoutsComment: The Braves told McBride in spring training he was going to move to the bullpen sometime in 2004, and when he struggled early as a starter they went ahead and made the move. McBride then did very well in the bullpen, going 1-0 with a 2.91 ERA in 26 games, 46 hits, 19 walks, and 42 strikeouts in 43.1 innings pitched. He also had a solid Arizona Fall League, and now the Braves are wondering if McBride could go to spring training and compete for a job. He was compared to Billy Wagner when he was drafted, but Mike Stanton might be the perfect comparison. He can hit 95, and mixes up his breaking pitches well. If he starts 2005 at AAA, he might not be there long.
BravesCenter.com recently ranked Andy Marte as the Braves best position player prospect, and it's expected the he'll be ranked as one of the best prospects in the game by Baseball America this winter.
Marte spent the entire 2004 season at AA Greenville. He hit .269 with 23 home runs and 68 RBI in 287 at bats. Marte missed almost 30 games with an ankle injury. There are thoughts that he might pick up an outfielder's glove in spring training, with Chipper Jones now once again entrenched at third base for the Braves. But Marte is the future. He's got exceptional power potential and is a Gold Glove caliber third baseman.
Here's Andy's bio from our Top 25 prospect list:
1. Andy Marte 21 years old RHH 3B
2004 Statistics: - .269 average with 23 home runs and 68 RBI - .364 OBP – 17 errors at third baseComment: Andy Marte gets the nod over Jeff Francoeur for a couple of reasons. First, he might be a tad closer to the big leagues than Francoeur. Second, his ability to play a premium position in third base makes him a more attractive all-around player. At 20 years old, Marte was not overmatched at all in AA in 2004, despite missing almost a full month with injuries. Marte showed good power with 23 homers. His defense continues to be outstanding. The Braves have to see what Chipper's plans are before knowing how long it might be before Marte takes over third base.
The 20-year old Hernandez has established himself as the best defensive prospect in the Braves system. But he also proved in 2004 that he could hit. One year after hitting only .231 with 2 home runs and 25 RBI in Rome in 2003, Hernandez hit .271 with 6 home runs and 45 RBI in Myrtle Beach. Expect Hernandez, signed to a contract in September of 2000, to move up to AA Mississippi in 2005.
Here is Luis' bio from our Top Prospect report:
10. Luis Hernandez 20 years old SWITCH SS
2004 Statistics: - .271 average with 6 home runs and 45 RBI – 12 errors at short for Myrtle BeachComment: Pure and simply the best defensive player to ever come out of the Braves system. Hernandez is spectacular. He's got a great glove, great hands, and great everything when it comes to his defense. Offensively, if he can hit .271 with 6 home runs and 45 RBI, Hernandez will be a starter in this game for many years to come.
What an accomplishment for infielder Pete Orr. A career backup in the minor leagues, Orr finally got a chance to play full-time in 2004 with AAA Richmond. He hit .320 (5th best in the International League) with 1 home run, 35 RBI, 24 stolen bases, 147 hits (6th best in the league), 10 triples (tied for second in the league), and 16 doubles. His 460 at bats were 104 more than he's ever had in one season, and he proved he's now a legit candidate for a big league roster.
The Braves signed Orr as a free agent in July of 1999. Now, he's got an excellent chance to be a reserve infielder in Atlanta in the 2005 season. BravesCenter.com recently listed Orr as the Braves 13th best position player prospect.
Billy McCarthy got the call Friday afternoon from J.J. Picollo, the scout who signed him three years ago and is now the Braves Assistant Farm Director, that he was now on Atlanta's 40-man roster.
"I was excited," McCarthy says. "I'm thrilled and happy and excited all at the same time. It's not like my work is done. It's not like you've made it yet. It's a nice accomplishment. I'm still excited to push for that next level. I'm happy to be on there. I want to go and prove myself and show them that I belong."
McCarthy was a 6th round draft choice by the Braves in the 2001 draft. The six foot one outfielder started the season in AA. He hit .300 in 233 at bats with 9 home runs and 42 RBI. Then he was promoted to AAA Richmond and did even better. McCarthy hit .354 with 6 home runs, 23 RBI, and 13 doubles. Overall, McCarthy hit .324 with 15 home runs, 65 RBI, 25 doubles, 3 triples, and a .388 on base percentage.
After missing a good portion of 2003 with injuries, McCarthy says he felt like he needed that impressive season to make everyone take notice of his talent.
"I think I feel like that every season," he says. "Yes I did feel like that. What happened is past me. I wanted to prove that I'm mentally strong. You always want to prove to everyone that you can play. If you do well in our organization, you're going to move up."
The right-handed hitting McCarthy could easily go to spring training with a legit shot at battling for playing time in Atlanta in 2005. If the Braves do not re-sign J.D. Drew, they may give McCarthy and left-handed hitting Ryan Langerhans a chance to battle for the job next March.
"When they talk to me they just say I need to come in and be ready to play," McCarthy says. "There's a lot of stuff that happens. I'm sure they want everybody who comes in to compete for a job. I just want to go in and compete. I don't want to put any added pressure on myself. I've kind of always felt this way, if you go out and play and do the best you can, you're going to make the big leagues. If I get caught up in what happens with the Atlanta Braves team that could hurt me. I'm not going to stop and worry about things that I can't control. I want to go out there and do the best I can in spring training. If something comes open, I hope I'll have a chance."
Billy McCarthy is a hitter. He proved it last season in AA and AAA, and now he'll have his chance to prove it to Bobby Cox.
Among the players left off the 25-man roster are right-handed pitchers Zach Miner, Bryan Digby, and Matt Wright, infielders James Jurries, Martin Prado, and Aaron Herr, and outfielders Adam Stern and Josh Burrus.
The Braves believe there is a good chance at losing more than one player in the Rule V draft. Jurries is the best candidate to be taken, probably by an American League team. Jurries hit .274 with 25 home runs and 70 RBI between Greenville and Richmond in 2004. However, with Adam LaRoche now entrenched at first base in Atlanta and Scott Thorman, a solid prospect with a very impressive season in Greenville in 2004, possibly headed to AAA Richmond, Jurries is somewhat expendable. There are serious questions about Jurries' defense, and the Braves feel he is more an American League type player.
Miner could also be selected in the Rule V. He is coming off a solid performance in the Arizona Fall League. The right-handed finished a decent season in AA going 6-10 with a 5.22 ERA in 22 starts. The Braves will be keeping their fingers crossed that even if Miner is selected in the Rule V, they could get him back if he doesn't make the major league roster of the team that drafts him.
This was a very difficult 40-man roster to select. The team had to leave several spots open for potential additions in the offseason. The minor league system got only seven spots, but it could have been even fewer added on to the list. Hopefully, the depth the Braves have built up in the system will compensate for any losses in the Rule V draft.
1. MIKE HAMPTON 2. JOHN THOMSON 3. JOHN SMOLTZ 4. CHRIS REITSMA 5. JUAN CRUZ 6. KEVIN GRYBOSKI 7. TOM MARTIN 8. ROMAN COLON 9. JOSE CAPELLAN 10. HORACIO RAMIREZ 11. BLAINE BOYER 12. DAN MEYER 13. KYLE DAVIES 14. ANTHONY LEREW 15. MACAY MCBRIDE 16. JOHNNY ESTRADA 17. EDDIE PEREZ 18. ADAM LAROCHE 19. SCOTT THORMAN 20. MIKE HESSMAN 21. MARCUS GILES 22. NICK GREEN 23. PETE ORR 24. RAFAEL FURCAL 25. WILSON BETEMIT 26. TONY PENA, JR. 27. LUIS HERNANDEZ 28. CHIPPER JONES 29. MARK DEROSA 30. ANDY MARTE 31. ANDRUW JONES 32. ELI MARRERO 33. CHARLES THOMAS 34. KELLY JOHNSON 35. RYAN LANGERHANS 36. ONIL JOSEPH 37. BILLY MCCARTHY 38. 39. 40.Bill Shanks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org