Spring Training Blog - March 8

Bill Shanks has the latest from spring training.

Wednesday, March 8 - 9:31 pm

* The word is not good on Blaine Boyer. He had a setback several days ago when he was trying to finish his first session off the mound. The Braves have temporarily shut him down. I am trying to get in touch with Blaine, and when I find out more I'll have an article.

* Eric Campbell is very, very good. He generates tremendous power from the right side. He might just go and tear up the Sally League.

* More observations from the minor league fields. First, I watched Jairo Cuevas, the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year, for the first time this spring. He was exceptional last year for Danville, finishing second in the league in ERA (1.95), 5th in strikeouts (69), tied for second in wins (6), and he allowed only 35 hits in 55.1 innings of work. Cuevas is the real deal. He's 22 years old, but he looks like he's 17. When he first got to Atlanta's camp in 2004, he was a baby. Even though he was 20, he looked like he was about 12. He's grown up now and has filled out physically. I bet he's 6'3", 215 pounds. He throws 95 mph, along with a good curve and developing changeup. Cuevas is likely going to Rome this year. He's a very interesting changeup. Word has it that he was the best pitcher in the Appy League last season, by far.

* Got my first look at Moises Hernandez, acquired from Baltimore for Leo Mazzone. Hernandez is not very big, but he reminds me of Ricardo Rodriquez, whom we traded to the Royals for Matt Diaz. He generates a lot of velocity for his small frame. He'll probably be in the Myrtle Beach bullpen. Eric Campbell did take him deep in batting practice. Hernandez pitches fast, with a good tempo.

* Bryan Digby continues to throw sidearm. I watched him today, and he's much more in control than when I saw him in Savannah last August, after he had just made the switch to the sidearm delivery. Digby is a hard thrower, so some of his pitches were outright nasty. He has a sink on some of his pitches, which makes it very tough to hit, especially for right-handers. The two-seamer could be his ticket, even though he's a hard thrower and can just rare back and rock. Digby still has about one pitch for every five where you don't know where it's going, but if he can get consistent with that arm angle and delivery, he's going to have a chance to regain his status as a top prospect. He had a lot of swings and misses in the cage today.

* With Chuck James on the big league side, Matt Harrison has become our top lefty prospect on the back fields. He's got a great changeup and can throw three pitches for strikes. How good might he be in Myrtle Beach?

* I watched Jonathan Tejada for the first time. He started six games for the GCL Braves last summer and struck out 35 while walking only 11 in 35 innings. Tejada reminds me of a shorter Juan Cruz. Good arm action on a lanky frame.

* I came away very impressed with Tyler Wilson, who pitched out of the bullpen last season in the GCL. Wilson is a lefty that reminds me a lot of Macay McBride. Very similar frame.

* Good grief do we have a lot of pitching. And guess what? We're going to get more in June!

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional front office philosophies. Email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com.

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