Inbox: What's timetable for Peraza's callup?
Beat reporter Mark Bowman answers Braves fans' questions
Do you think the Braves will call up Jose Peraza in early June?
-- Name withheld, Atlanta
Though Peraza has batted .400 (24-for-60) over his past 16 games, the urge to rush him to Atlanta has been subdued as Jace Peterson has raised his batting average from .182 to .286 while batting .424 (14-for-33) over his past 10 games. The Braves may transition Peterson to third base to make room at second base for Peraza, who's ranked by MLB.com as Atlanta's No. 1 prospect and the No. 38 prospect in baseball. But for now, it seems the club is simply planning to evaluate how the highly-regarded Peraza fares over the next few weeks.
When Peraza struggled during Spring Training and hit just .195 through his first 10 games at Triple-A Gwinnett, there was reason to worry that he had totaled just 195 plate appearances above the Class A level before this season. Though that concern has been minimized over the past couple of weeks, the Braves are not going to risk tarnishing the 20-year-old second baseman's development by rushing him to the Majors.
Peraza has committed six errors through his first 118 defensive chances, and he has totaled just three extra-base hits (one during his current hot streak) this year. Given his speed -- he has 10 stolen bases through his first 11 attempts this season -- there might not be a need to put too much focus on Peraza's limited power potential. But at the same time, the Braves want to give him a chance to develop every aspect of his game before introducing him to the game's highest level.
Though Peraza has long been considered Atlanta's leadoff hitter of the future, it appears that tag could belong to No. 16 prospect Mallex Smith of Double-A Mississippi, who has hit .315/.333/.411 through this season's first 17 games. If Smith extends his early-season success, there is a chance he and Peraza could fill the first two spots in the Braves' lineup at some point next season.
What have you heard the Braves are targeting as they prepare for this year's First-Year Player Draft?
-- Josh B., Greenville, N.C.
Though the Braves stockpiled pitching depth this past offseason, they should be expected to add a few more pitchers within their six early selections in this year's Draft (they have six of the first 86 picks). There is a need to add some power-hitting outfielders and catchers to the organization's depth, but Atlanta will continue to emphasize selecting the best available pitchers this year.
With Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Mike Foltynewicz, Max Fried, Matt Wisler, Tyrell Jenkins and Manny Banuelos, the Braves already have a healthy stock of starters they can project to fill the rotation over the next few years. It is also too early to give up on Lucas Sims, the organization's No. 4 prospect. But by stockpiling pitching depth, clubs can account for inevitable attrition (through injuries or decline) and also gather the pieces necessary to make significant trades in the future.
Is the revolving door in the bullpen between Gwinnett and Atlanta simply because of ineffectiveness, or is there some other strategy in play? I can't remember this many different relievers used so early in the season.
-- Kirk D., Newnan, Ga.
As long as the Braves continue to try to get some on-field value from the $5.5 million they committed to Trevor Cahill, they will have no more than six reliable options to bring out of their bullpen on a nightly basis. Cahill's value will likely be restricted to his ability to complete the mop-up innings he is asked to throw. Just three of the other current members of Atlanta's bullpen (Jason Grilli, Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan) had Major League experience before this season.
Cody Martin has seemingly strengthened his staying power over the season's first four-plus weeks. But as we've seen with the recent promotions of Brandon Cunniff and Williams Perez, the Braves will not shy away from mixing and matching until they feel confident with their bullpen mix.
Do you think the Braves might try to trade some of their veteran players prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline?
-- Aaron S., Palmyra, Ind.
The next two months will dictate how aggressive the Braves will be leading up to the Trade Deadline. They entered this season knowing that if they fall out of playoff contention, they have the option to trade essentially any player signed this past offseason, with the exception of outfielder Nick Markakis. So, yeah, there is a chance that the last couple of weeks of July could be every bit as hectic for Atlanta's front office as this past winter was.