A day after the Braves traded their best starting pitchers Javier Vazquez to the Yankees for a package highlighted by a 4th outfielder in Melky Cabrera, the Braves used the money they saved on first baseman Troy Glaus. The Braves needed a first baseman, but I don't think Braves fans were thinking that Troy Glaus as the answer.
What this deal tells me is that Glaus is keeping first base warm for AA first base prospect Freddie Freeman. Freeman played at two levels in 2009-High A Myrtle Beach and AA Mississippi. He hit better at High-A going 6-34-.302-.394-.447-.841 in 255 ABs. At AA Mississippi, Freeman struggled a bit before and after an injury, going 2-24-.248-.308-.342-.650 in 149 ABs.
But Freeman is the Braves second best prospect behind Jason Heyward and he is close to major league ready. Here is what Baseball America had to say about him in their recent top 10 writeups:
Strengths: Freeman has been an RBI machine at every level, thriving with runners in scoring position. He drives the ball with consistency with a sweet, fluid swing, and scouts believe his doubles will become homers as he gains experience and strength. Comparisons to Keith Hernandez and Mark Grace with more power have become commonplace because of his defense, which managers rated the best among first basemen in both the Carolina and Southern leagues last season.
The Future: The Braves will seek a stopgap solution at first base for 2010, with an eye on turning the position over to Freeman the next season. With him and Heyward, the Braves should be set at the right-side corners for the foreseeable future.
More after the jump:
And here is how Bil Ballew answered a chatter's question on when Freeman will make it to the bigs:
Bill Ballew: Thanks, JE. I hope I don't blow it on this question. I can see Freeman getting a call during the second half in 2010, but I believe 2011 is more realistic. And I believe he'll hit for more power in the major leagues than he has in the minors. He hits the ball very hard and posts a lot of doubles, plus he has a knack for driving in runs. Some of those doubles will turn into home runs at the higher levels, especially once he adds a little loft to his swing without compromising his batting average.
So the Braves appear to be getting younger with Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman close to being ready to go with SS Yunel Escobar, OF Jordan Schafer, SP Tommy Hanson and RP Michael Dunn. Dunn could be the Braves closer in 2011 and Hanson has future ace written all over him. And Ballew said that Heyward is the best prospect he has seen in 25 years.
Glaus is capable of hitting 30 HRs in any ballpark, but he has been injury prone over the last few years. He will come cheap in auction leagues and may not be drafted at all in mixed fantasy leagues, but owners should keep an eye on how he is hitting in spring training, and how healthy he is. He could be a sleeper come March drafts.
For the short term, the Braves fans may be upset with Glaus playing first base and the return for Javier Vazquez, but come late 2010 or early 2011, the Braves could be an exciting team.