Travis Demeritte and Michael Harris II Are Home Grown Jewels| Atlanta Braves Are Cultivating A Soul Patrol

Travis Demeritte and Michael Harris II Are Home Grown Jewels| Atlanta Braves Are Cultivating A Soul Patrol

The Atlanta Braves organization boasts one of the best player development staffs in all of baseball, and for decades they have been able to produce some of the best home-grown talent in the game. 

MLBbro Travis Demeritte and future bro Michael Harris II are two prime examples of how developing players in house works in the present while also setting your team up for sustained success.

 

A few weeks ago, I mentioned how Travis Demeritte would be given an opportunity to play every day in the Braves outfield until Eddie Rosario returns. Now when he was first called up, most thought that Travis was simply a placeholder who didn’t have much chance of making an impact. 

After his rough stint in Detroit that saw him demoted and eventually released, how could you blame anyone for this line of thinking? Fortunately for Demeritte, his time in Atlanta has been determined by his play and not any outside perspectives. 

So far, the results have been everything the Braves could want. Although his strikeout rate is currently sitting at 29.9 percent, Demeritte is batting .395 on balls put in play and has been a versatile asset at the plate for the Braves. In his 60 at-bats Travis has collected 18 hits, three homers and five RBI, good for a slash line of .300/.358/.841. 

What’s been even more impressive with Demeritte is what he’s been able to accomplish at home for the Braves. Travis’s slash line jumps even higher at Truist Park, where he is currently posting an impressive .317/.364/.852. Travis has been a welcomed addition to a team that is trying to slowly ease its superstar Ronnie Acuna Jr. back from his torn ACL.

Travis Demeritte Is Back In The Bigs & Granting Wishes To ATL Fans

While Demeritte’s career year has been a welcomed surprise for the Braves, the expectations surrounding their number one prospect are much loftier.

MICHAEL HARRIS II UP NEXT

Harris, the Braves third-round pick out of Stockbridge, Ga, is a five-tool talent who has already started turning heads down in Double-A with an outrageous 30 game on base streak. Through 33 games with the Mississippi Braves, Michael is hitting .289 with four homers, 22 RBI and 10 stolen bases. 

His hot start in Double-A has led to many clamoring for Harris to get the call up, but the Braves front office is being patient with a player they’ve projected to play next to Acuna in the outfield for the next decade. Braves Manager Brian Snitker didn’t mince words when asked about Harris II this spring. 

 

 

“I’m all over Michael Harris,” Snitker said. “I love that kid. It’s hard not to. That’s what they (a star) look like. He just needs more experience.” Mississippi Braves manager Bruce Crabbe took it a step further with the praise.

“He’s such a smooth runner it’s hard to tell how fast he’s really going, but its fast. He hits the ball to all fields with power, and he’s only going to get stronger. He just needs reps. He’s so smart. He just gets it.”

The Braves have a system, and it has been proven effective. Demeritte was acquired from the Rangers and developed as an outfielder and have helped guide him to a career year so far. If all goes to plan, Michael Harris II will be the next great success story.

Tim Anderson Has That Big Stick Energy | Defense Is The Last Hurdle For Rising Chicago White Sox

Tim Anderson Has That Big Stick Energy | Defense Is The Last Hurdle For Rising Chicago White Sox

There isn’t a soul in the baseball universe that would doubt Tim Anderson’s ability at the plate.

The star shortstop is currently slashing .347/.377/.912 and once again looks like the best contact hitter in the American League. But if the White Sox are going to contend for the World Series – their leader needs to take another step on defense.

“Of course we want to make all the plays,” Anderson said when asked about the team’s defensive woes. “It’s not like we’re out there intentionally trying to f*ck up. …We’ve just got to be realistic and understand we’re playing a tough game. All we can do is try to get better. I’m sure everybody had a bad day at work.”

While Anderson’s statement is true — we all have off days — the White Sox defense has been off all season. The White Sox are dead last among 15 American League teams with 26 errors committed, .975 fielding percentage and -14 Defensive Runs Saved Above Average.

Those numbers would alarm any team. A closer look at their win-loss record shows you just how much poor defense has impacted the White Sox this season. The White Sox are 12-3 when they commit no errors, 3-5 when they commit one error, and 0-6 with two or more.

Now Anderson came into this year looking to build on last season’s defensive improvements – then the White Sox arrived in Cleveland. Anderson committed five errors in the final two games of the series, including two in one inning, leading to his infamous middle finger to the crowd.

Anderson let his frustrations get the best of him, and acknowledged as much when asked about it. “I have to apologize for my actions,” Anderson said. “There are a lot of people who really look up to me. I take full accountability of what I did. But it’s something that I have to learn from and grow from.”

The league overturned his suspension, but Anderson hasn’t turned his defensive play around. 

The defensive regression by Anderson has been surprising to most, especially considering from 2019 to 2021, he cut his errors from 26 to 10. The last number is pretty impressive considering he had 6 in just 49 games during the 2020 season.

 

 

The struggle has been real lately, but Anderson’s work ethic should once again allow him to improve defensively. After committing seven errors in April, he has just two so far in May. Micro as it may be, all the signs for TA7 are still pointing in the right direction.

Willie Calhoun Demoted Again | He Says His Style Of Play Doesn’t Jive With Texas Rangers Metric-Heavy Hitting Philosophy

Willie Calhoun Demoted Again | He Says His Style Of Play Doesn’t Jive With Texas Rangers Metric-Heavy Hitting Philosophy

MLBbro Willie Calhoun’s name has rang bells in MLB circles for years, but now the buzz has settled and there is a different question being asked–has Willie Calhoun officially become a reclamation project?

 

Willie Calhoun Embraces 2022 Head-On With A Special Batting Helmet| Rangers Have Hopes For This Promising MLBbro

 

Calhoun requested a trade last week after being demoted to Triple-A Round Rock, and if granted, would be his third organization since being drafted in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015.

After a promising 2021 that was impeded a bit by injuries, Calhoun and the Rangers were awful to start the season. It’s a small sample size, but Calhoun didn’t look impressive in his 44 at-bats.  He only managed six hits, seven runs, one homer and two RBI while hitting an ugly 64 points below the Mendoza line (translation: a .134 batting average).

With numbers like this, Willie seemed like a no-brainer casualty to the May 2 deadline to trim rosters. However, when the move was announced, one person who wasn’t pleased or expecting it was Calhoun himself.

It seems as though Calhoun and the Rangers front office simply haven’t been on the same page since he was acquired in the Yu Darvish deal in 2017. First, there was the service-time issues that he dealt with under the old CBA. He was cut after spring training in both 2018 and 2019, even after losing 24 pounds in order to make the roster in 2019.

Calhoun battled, put his trust fully in Chris Woodward’s coaching staff and finally got through to the bigs. “I do nothing but trust (the coaching staff) now.” Calhoun said before the 2020 season. If they tell me to come out here in the freezing cold in just shorts, I’m doing it; I’m doing whatever they say. Whatever they have to say for me, I have to just listen and do it, regardless.”

Woodward had worked with Calhoun since his Dodgers days, so the pair were very familiar with each other.

Poised to make a huge splash in 2020 as their everyday left fielder, a 95mph Julio Urias fastball to the jaw ended any talks of a breakout for the youngster. Since that moment, it has been a complete 180 for Calhoun, in both production and his trust of Woodward and the coaches.

 

 

You see, Willie is listed at 5’8, 200 pounds, so all the modern-day analytics regarding launch angle do not play into his skillset. He mentioned as much in his latest interview with The Athletic, the very same publication that posted those “I trust the coaches” comments in 2020.

It would seem Calhoun and Woodward are on completely different pages.

“I don’t agree with some of the hitting philosophies from the new guys,” Calhoun said in reference to the Rangers’ new hitting coach Tim Hyers. “I don’t process that too well. I’m not 6’4”, 230 pounds; I can’t hit pop-up home runs. I don’t have that leverage.”

While Willie feels that he’s been the victim of poor coaching and forced metrics, his skipper has a different perspective.

“Willie needs to make — I wouldn’t say a significant change. But he’s got to have a little bit more understanding of how that sort of works best for him.”

If Willie does eventually grow into the ballplayer he was projected to be, chances are it won’t be in a Texas Rangers uniform. The problem is, if Calhoun isn’t allowed to be the best he can be because the coaching staff is trying to fit a square pig into a round hole — rather than nurture his abilities and maximize his potential — then riding the elevator between the minors and majors won’t bear any fruit. 

Write Dom Smith Off? The NY Mets MLBbro Thinks Not

Write Dom Smith Off? The NY Mets MLBbro Thinks Not

After new billionaire owner Steve Cohen spent a crazy bag this offseason, expectations for Dominic Smith and the New York Mets jumped through the roof.

The addition of top talent to your roster is always welcomed by any ballclub, but for players like our MLBbro Dominic Smith, it simply means one thing: grind time.

Smith’s positional versatility combined with career highs in hits, RBI, runs and walks in 2021 made it seem as if he would be a prime candidate for an everyday slot in the Mets lineup. Throw in the universal DH and we’re really cooking with fire, right?

Dominic Smith Is A Work In Progress

Not quite. The Mets’ addition of Starling Marte and Mark Cahna to an outfield that already included Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil meant it would be tough to see consistent time there. Pete Alonso still remains first on the depth chart at first base, which meant that Smith needed to come out hot in order to show new Mets manager Buck Showalter that he could contribute on a daily basis.

The Mets have been one of the hottest teams in baseball out the gate, winning every series they’ve played in until Tuesday.

Unfortunately for Smith, six hits in his first 36 at-bats this season found him in a platoon role – a role he very openly voiced his displeasure with. Trade ideas floated around but never materialized, just like Smith’s playing time.

Over the weekend, Smith put on a performance against the Philadelphia Phillies that potentially saved his roster spot. Dom went 4-for-4 with a double and three RBIs in their 10-6 victory over their division rivals.

“I really try to focus in on the little things,” Smith said after the game. “When you don’t have consistent at-bats, it’s unfair to yourself if you only base your success on getting base hits.” His words seemed prophetic. When Showalter turned in his lineup card the next night, Smith wasn’t on it.

Smith survived the May 2nd deadline to trim rosters to 26 players, and justified his manager’s decision by driving in two runs against the Atlanta Braves on Monday. Over his last seven games, Dom has collected five hits, five RBI and posted a .389 OBP.

The question now: Will Smith be rewarded for his improved play?

“To be honest, I haven’t really thought about it,” said Smith. “It’s the business of baseball and it’s out of my control. All I can do is what I did tonight (sunday), which is help the team win and try to put together good at-bats.”

Tim Anderson & Byron Buxton Dictate The AL Central Race

Tim Anderson & Byron Buxton Dictate The AL Central Race

For many fans and analysts around Major League Baseball, entering the season, the AL Central champ was a forgone conclusion.

The Chicago White Sox, lead by MLBbro and budding superstar Tim Anderson, were headed to their second straight division crown under wily legend Tony LaRussa in what many consider the weakest division in baseball.

Fortunately for Byron Buxton and the Minnesota Twins, pennants are won on the field and not on paper.

While it’s far too early to pick a favorite, Buxton has Minnesota in first place and many wondering if the Central has suddenly gone from a one team demolition to a legit two (or three) team race.

Anderson hasn’t been outdone by much, but even with his success the teams seem headed in opposite directions. Let’s take a look at how this division battle has shaped up so far.

ANDERSON ALONE OUT THERE

Lately the White Sox lineup has felt like Tim Anderson vs. the world. Instead of the explosive offense most predicted, Chicago has been terrible at the plate. As a team the Southsiders rank 24th in OPS, 26th in runs scored, 27th in RBI and dead last in walks.

Chicago’s offense may be awful right now, but Anderson has continued to produce like the superstar we project him to be.

So far this season, Anderson has collected 24 hits in 72 at bats out of the leadoff spot for Chicago. After Monday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Angels, Anderson was slashing .357/.379/.500 over his last seven games.

 

Anderson already missed two games via suspension this season, and is currently appealing another for flipping the bird at Guardians fans a la Kyrie Irving. But unlike the aforementioned Irving, Tim has been head and shoulders the best ballplayer on his team every time he takes the field.

MINNESOTA GETTING BETTER AS WE GO

The Minnesota Twins offensive numbers won’t blow you away, but over the last seven games Buxton has gotten some help from their prize free agent signing, World Series Champion Carlos Correa. Over the last week of games, Carlos is slashing .357/.419/.393, a sign that Carlos is putting the ball in play, just not out of the ballpark.

 

 

The improved play of Correa combined with lefty Max Keplers .888 OPS have given Byron enough help throughout the first few weeks of the season to propel the Twins to first in the division. If fellow offseason additions like Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela can snap out of their early season funk to contribute, Minnesota may have some staying power at the top the AL Central.

As for Buxton, the concerns about his health remain and the threat of injury hangs over any projections we make about him. Buxton has always produced when on the field, often putting up numbers in spurts that compare to Mike Trout.

If Big Bux stays in the lineup all season, the Twins will be a formidable opponent the remainder of the season.

Both TA and Buxton have been close to their A games all season, the only question remaining is which one’s supporting cast will catch up quickest.