Bill Shanks talks with Mike Minor, who will start the 2011 in Triple-A Gwinnett.
Braves made right pick with Beachy - for now
That tells you something about Minor. His work ethic is outstanding. Coaches rave about how much he works and how much he wants to be successful. And it's not like he ended major league camp with an ERA of something over 5.00 or anything. He ‘lost' the fifth starter's job after posting an ERA of 0.90 in his Grapefruit League appearances.
But Brandon Beachy was just a tad better. It became apparent about a week ago that Beachy was seriously challenging Minor for the job. Beachy came into camp in great shape, and again, not that Minor didn't. He looks great as well. But Beachy looked like a major league. Again, so did Minor. But they had to pick one.
Fact is, both Minor and Beachy are ready to pitch in a big league rotation. The Braves would have been comfortable with either or both guys in their top five. My belief about the decision to pick Beachy over Minor is all about value.
If Beachy were sent down to Gwinnett, his value would have dropped a bit. Look, he's a kid signed out of nowhere and popped onto the scene in a hurry. A year ago, most didn't even know who he was, or much less that he would have emerged into a prospect.
Beachy's value is pretty high right now. He got on the scout's radar with some impressive stuff and outstanding numbers last summer. Then to come up with two weeks left in the pennant race and pitch at Citizen's Bank Park was pretty impressive. So he went from being a nobody to being someone people were really intrigued with at the end of last season.
If Beachy went down, some might have assumed he was just a quick replacement player at the end of the year and had a future… maybe as a middle reliever down the road. But now, he's got a chance to prove he can be a major league starting pitcher.
Let's say Beachy and Minor both do well early in the season. Beachy might convince the Braves that he deserves to be in the rotation for the long-term, which could make another pitcher available at some point down the road, thinking Minor could come up and replace a traded pitcher.
Minor would have to really bomb to lose his value, and there's no reason to think he'll do that. He's going down to Gwinnett to work on his curveball. There is no doubt the work ethic is there, and the stuff is there as well. So if he refines that breaking ball, he'll be even more ready to stick for the long-term.
So this just gives the Braves even more flexibility, whereas if Minor had taken off as the fifth starter and never looked back, Beachy might have been the odd man out - both now and down the road. No one is going to forget Minor, especially since he's the only lefty starter in the top six.
But Beachy, amongst Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens - all right-handers - could have easily been forgotten or stuck down in Triple-A.
Now Beachy will have his chance to make sure no one ever forgets him. He's got great stuff, and there are a ton of great baseball people who really believe Beachy can be a solid middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. It'll be fun watching him this season.
But you can bet that everybody - including Beachy and Minor - knows the talent behind them. They know Julio Teheran could knock on the door by midseason. They know Randall Delgado is there too, along with Arodys Vizcaino, Brett Oberholtzer, J.J. Hoover, Paul Clemens and Jacob Thompson.
This is unprecedented depth that will eventually lead to a pretty big trade. Sure, injuries and unproductive seasons could occur. But the numbers are staggering.
Numbers - that's what led to Mike Minor's demotion on Thursday. He's a big league pitcher who just has to be in Triple-A for a while. But it won't be for long. Beachy deserves the job - and the chance - for now. And as the coaches and front office folk love to say this time of year when we're trying to figure out who will be where and how this player will get to this team: "It'll all work itself out."
Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, GA and The Atlanta Baseball Talk Show. Shanks is also a columnist for The Macon Telegraph. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks.
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