The Atlanta Braves have optioned right-handed reliever Joey Devine to Triple-A Richmond and purchased the contract of right-hander Peter Moylan.
Devine struggled last week in his two games with Atlanta. He allowed seven runs on five hits in one inning, with five walks, and two strikeouts. The Braves hope he’ll be able to go back to Richmond to become more prepared to remain in the big leagues.
Last year’s first round pick had pitched tremendously in spring training, posting a 2.25 ERA in nine games, with twenty strikeouts in twelve innings pitched. But Devine was sent to Triple-A to begin the season when the Braves deemed Blaine Boyer healthy and ready to start on the Opening Day roster. Then last week the Braves, concerned for Boyer’s health after two shaky performances, switched the two, sending Boyer to Richmond and promoting Devine.
Moylan was signed off of Australia’s WBC team in mid-March. He pitched in two games for Richmond, allowing two runs on two hits in four innings pitched. He also had three walks and four strikeouts.
The 27-year-old Moylan has quite a story. The Braves originally scouted Moylan in the mid-1990s as an infielder, but he signed with the Minnesota Twins and pitched for two years in the Gulf Coast League. But he hurt his ankle in 1998 and struggled on the mound, so much so that he returned to his native Australia.
Moylan then went to work in sales and started a family. He would play baseball for a weekend team, mainly as an infielder, but it really became secondary in his life compared to his career in pharmaceutical sales and his wife and daughter. But then last year his team needed a pitcher and he decided to get back on the mound.
Moylan had back surgery earlier in the decade, so he could no longer throw effectively over the top. Instead, he started to throw sidearm. He was shocked to discover that his velocity, which topped out around 90 when he was pitching for the Twins, was now in the mid-90s with his new delivery.
Phil Dale, the Braves’ scout in Australia who had scouted Moylan ten years ago, saw Moylan pitched and decided to help get him on the WBC tryout team. Dale kept the Braves’ front office informed of this pitcher who all of a sudden was throwing serious gas. Moylan then made the Australian WBC team and made a dazzling debut.
Facing Venezuela in the WBC, Moylan struck out Bobby Abreu, Ramon Hernandez, and Magglio Ordonez in his one inning of work. The performance convinced the Braves to give Moylan a tryout after Australia was kicked out of the WBC. Moylan wowed the Braves with his mid-90s fastball and sweeping breaking pitches, and the team signed him for a $30,000 bonus.
The Braves then brought Moylan over to big league camp to pitch in front of manager Bobby Cox. Moylan pitched in three games and allowed four runs in four innings of work. He also walked three and struck out five.
Atlanta’s bullpen has been in a state of flux in the eight days since the season started, with Moylan and Ken Ray now on the roster, replacing Boyer and the injured Horacio Ramirez. Neither Moylan or Ray were even considered as options when spring training started in late February, but now they are vital members of the Atlanta bullpen.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look at the Braves’ traditional front office philosophies. Email Bill at email@example.com.