The motivation for the Braves is the easy part. They now have three outfielders 28 years of age or younger, each with 25-plus if not 30-plus home run power potential. Both Justin Upton and Jason Heyward are under contract through the end of 2015 while B.J. is signed through 2017. So this could be or quite frankly already is a dynamic outfield that will make the Braves a force in the NL East for several years to come.
Justin Upton still managed to hit .280 with 17 HRs in a down year. The change in power production appears to be the result of a thumb injury. Upton experienced a 9% drop off in fly balls whereas his actual HR/FB production dropped only 3%. In other words, there is nothing in the numbers that indicates that the regression in power production will become a long-term trend. At 25 years of age, there is plenty of room for optimism regarding a rebound.
The Braves also received third baseman Chris Johnson as part of the deal. The righty is coming off of possibly a career year that saw him produce 15 homers and bat .281. However, the result looks rather BABIP inflated given his still rather aggressive (strikes out a quarter of the time) approach. It looks like the Braves may utilize Johnson in a platoon with ultra-aggressive left-handed power hitter Juan Francisco. That could be an ideal situation for both of these players.
Prado slots in as Chris Johnson’s replacement at third base. The 29-year-old remains a modest ceiling player that controls the strike zone with low double-digits home run power. As long as the lefty continues to make contact and hit line drives, he’ll continue to be a .300 hitting threat.
The Braves have a deep minor league system with respect to pitching, so Randall Delgado was not hard to part with, nor was Zeke Spruill. The nearly 23-year-old Delgado is a hard thrower with multiple plus-pitch potential. Control and effective command of his secondary pitches is the issue and the Diamondbacks are deep enough in the rotation to send him back to Triple-A for more seasoning. For a 22-year-old in the Majors last year, he held his own fairly well and his future is still quite encouraging.
Zeke Spruill will be joining Delgado in Triple-A. The righty does not have Delgado’s upside and is a control, pitch-to-contact, groundball type who was unable to strike out even 6 batters per inning in the Minors in 2012. Think fourth or fifth starter tops.
Nick Ahmed is a shortstop noted primarily for his glove work and throwing arm, so at a minimum Ahmed should make the Majors as a utility guy. The former second-round pick is not a complete slouch with the bat though, possessing gap power, above average speed (stole 40 bags in A+ ball) and a reasonable understanding of the strike zone. The drop off in contact at A+ ball is a trend that will need some reversing though. He’ll start 2013 in Double-A.
Finally, Brandon Drury is a 20-year-old third baseman and 2010 13th round draft pick. The righty plays good enough defense to stick at third and makes consistent contact but is a very aggressive hitter who has yet to tap into the power projected of him. Time is on his side, but at the moment it is tough to say whether he’ll end up organizational filler or a MLB player.