Braves sign minor league free agents

Here's a list of the minor league free agents signed by the Braves this offseason.

MATT DESALVO - The six-foot right-hander started six games for the New York Yankees last season. He was 1-3 with an ERA of 6.18. DeSalvo was very effective in Triple-A, posting a 9-5 record with a 2.70 ERA in twenty starts. DeSalvo is 27 years old. He was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2003 out of Marietta College in Ohio. DeSalvo's had control trouble in his career, with 280 walks in 552.2 minor league innings. But he's also struck out a lot of hitters: 512.

In October of last year, Pinstripes Plus spoke with Nardi Contreras, the Yankees' minor league pitching coordinator, about DeSalvo:

"By the time he came back down - he's just a guy that needs to stay on top of his delivery. His 'earny' (ERA) in Triple-A was in the two's somewhere. His walks went down and his hits per inning went down too. Matty just doesn't give in. He'd rather walk someone than give up a hit when he gets behind guys, but he still has major league stuff. He's just a pitcher that needs to be worked with, just about daily, with his delivery. That's how his delivery works.

He just gets out of whack, it could be anywhere. He just needs to stay on top of it. You saw it in his first two big league games, his delivery was there, then he went a while without getting some work and his next outing was not good. From there it was downhill at the major league level, came back down and worked everyday, and then all of a sudden became (good again)."

DeSalvo has to keep the ball down in the zone to be effective. Last February Pinstripes Plus called DeSalvo's changeup the best one in the Yankees' farm system. His control troubles have been more with his fastball, since he has great command of his changeup. He also has a quality curveball in the 77-79 mph range with good movement.

Expect DeSalvo to get a big league invite to spring training, but he'll likely be in Richmond's starting rotation and be a good backup if the Braves need a starter in Atlanta.

COLTER BEAN - The six-foot-six, 255-pound right-handed reliever has had two short stints in the big leagues with the Yankees. He struggled both times (0-1, 9.00), but he's had periods of success the last three-plus seasons in Triple-A Columbus.

Bean struggled a bit last season in Scranton with a 5.95 ERA. He just never got going and never got on track. The season before Bean was outstanding, posting a 2.65 ERA in 47 games. Bean allowed only 61 hits in 88.1 innings with 116 strikeouts.

The former Auburn Tiger and resident of Alabama has a fastball, slider, and changeup. His slider is very good, especially with his sidearm delivery. Colter Bean turned 31 on January 16th.

FERDIN TEJEDA - Of the three former Yankees' prospects signed by the Braves this offseason, Tejeda could have the highest ceiling. Pinstripes Plus rated him as the Yankees' 29th best prospect last October, which was .

Tejeda had been an infielder for five years until the 2005 season when the Yankees switched him to the mound. He then had Tommy John surgery right after becoming a pitcher, so 2007 was his first full season back. Tejeda was excellent, with a 2.55 ERA in 31 games in the South Atlantic League. He had 45 strikeouts and only 13 walks in 60 innings pitched.

Tejeda is 25 years old and he stands five-foot-eleven, 170-pounds. The Dominican reliever doesn't throw in the high-90s anymore after the surgery, but he still was consistently in the 93-95 mph range last season. Tejeda's slider is solid but it needs more work, and he's got a plus changeup that is his bread and butter pitch. He commands his fastball well, which is impressive for a kid with not much experience on the hill.

The Braves have to find out more about Tejeda, so he'll be watched closely in spring training. Since he was in the Sally League last season, the next step up would be for Tejeda to go to Myrtle Beach. But this is a pitcher who could also compete for a role in the Double-A bullpen. If Tejeda continues to stay healthy, he could be a serious contender for Atlanta's bullpen in another year.

JONATHAN ROUWENHORST - A career minor leaguer, the six-foot-one, 180-pound lefty is 28 years old and has been stuck in Triple-A the last two and a half seasons. He was a reliever for much of his career until last season, when the Angels stuck him in the Salt Lake rotation.

Rouwenhorst has struggled overall since he made the jump to AAA. His numbers in the lower levels of the minors were much better. Rouwenhorst had an ERA of 1.26 in 2002 in the Midwest League and then a 1.73 ERA in 52 games (with 20 saves) in the California League in 2003. When he was moved up to AA in 2004 Rouwenhorst had 11 saves and a 4.06 ERA. Then Rouwenhorst returned to Double-A in 2005 and had a 1.59 ERA before being sent to AAA.

The Braves will have the option of using Rouwenhorst in the rotation or the bullpen in Richmond this season, but with the numbers involved he might get a better chance in the pen.

JORGE CAMPILLO - The 29-year-old right-hander has seen action in the majors with Seattle in each of the past three seasons. He pitched in five games last season with the Mariners and posted a 6.75 ERA.

Campillo had a solid season last year in Tacoma, going 9-6 with a 3.07 ERA in 24 games (22 starts). He walked only 39 and struck out 99 in 149.1 innings, with 151 hits allowed. Campillo led the tough Pacific Coast League with his 3.07 ERA.

The Braves originally signed Campillo back in 1996. He was then loaned to the Mexico City Tigres later that year and then released by the Braves the next season. Campillo stayed with the Tigres and pitched for them for eight seasons until he was signed by the Mariners before the 2005 season.

Campillo was outstanding in Triple-A in 2005 as he was 4-1 with a 2.71 ERA in 12 starts. But after seeing action in Seattle, Campillo had to undergo Tommy John Surgery, which cut short his 2006 season. He returned late in 2006 and even pitched one game in Seattle, but his 2007 season showed he's healthy and ready for another shot at the big leagues.

Campillo will get a look-see in big league camp with the Braves. He'll more than likely get a chance to be a starter in Triple-A Richmond, but do not count him out if a starter is needed in Atlanta this season.

LUIS VALDEZ - Last year in Lynchburg the right-handed Valdez pitched in 36 games (one start) and had an ERA of 4.79. He also showed some strikeout potential with 78 punchouts in 73.1 innings.

Valdez bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen in his seven years in the Pirates' organization, with hit best season coming in 2004 in the Gulf Coast League (2.79 ERA in 11 starts).

Valdez doesn't turn 24 until May 7th, so he's still young enough to become a decent prospect. He'll get his shot this season in the Mississippi Braves' bullpen.

J.C. BOSCAN - The former Braves prospect will join Corky Miller and Ray Serrano as options for Triple-A. Boscan spent last season in the Reds' organization, splitting time in Louisville and Chattanooga. Boscan is what he is: a great defensive catcher with poor offensive skills. He's a solid receiver and catch-and-throw guy and his pitchers usually love to throw to him. But his lack of offense has kept him in the minors. Boscan was originally signed by the Braves in 1996 and played in the Atlanta system through 2005.

Javier Guzman - Also signed out of the Pirates' system, Guzman is mainly a shortstop and he can also play second base. He's also had a couple of games at third and the outfield in his career.

Guzman is 23 years old. He hits right and is 5'11", 160 pounds. Guzman is a career .276 hitter with limited power. His best season was 2004 when he hit .306 in the Sally League with 31 stolen bases.

The Braves will give Guzman a chance at playing time in either Mississippi or Richmond this season.

Reggie Taylor - A former big leaguer with the Phillies, Reds, and Rays, Taylor spent the 2007 season in Mexico and in independent baseball. The lefty hitter is now 31 years old.

Taylor has a .231 career major league average in 507 at bats, with 14 home runs and 58 RBI. He had 287 at bats with Cincinnati in 2002 and hit .254 with 9 home runs and 38 RBI.

The Braves believe Taylor can be a solid Triple-A outfielder and be a backup if needed in Atlanta.

Joe Borchard - The former first round pick of the White Sox in 2000 is still trying to stick in the big leagues. Borchard spent the last two seasons with the Marlins' organization after being traded from Chicago to Seattle in 2006. The Marlins then claimed him off waivers in May of that same season.

Borchard has always shown great power potential, but the strikeouts have gotten in the way. He had 60 last year in 179 at bats. In 2005 for the Charlotte Knights, Borchard had 143 strikeouts in 494 at bats, while his record is 158 Ks in 515 at bats for the 2001 Birmingham Barons.

Last season in 179 at bats for Florida Borchard hit .196 with 4 home runs and 19 RBI. The season before he had 10 homers for Florida in 230 at bats with a .230 average.

Borchard will join Taylor in Richmond and will have a chance to get some major league at bats if there is an opening in Atlanta. He can still be a dangerous hitter, but the strikeouts are the reason he's not been able to stay in the big leagues.

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta and 105.5 the Fan in Macon. Email Bill at

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