The Atlanta Braves organization recently added three pitchers and a middle infielder to its 40-man roster. Right-handers Luis Valdez, Todd Redmond and Stephen Marek, along with shortstop Diory Hernandez, were all added to the roster for the first times in their brief careers.
Both Valdez and Redmond were plucked from the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization. Valdez spent the majority of his Pirates’ career as a starter until 2007 when he made 35 relief appearances (and just one start) in High-A ball. His ERA was 4.79 with 87 hits allowed in 73.1 innings. But his FIP was just 3.01. Perhaps the Braves took notice of that fact because the organization signed him as a minor league free agent that off-season. In 2008 at Double-A, the 24-year-old pitcher allowed just 48 hits in 65.1 innings of work. He also posted rates of 4.96 BB/9 and 10.61 K/9. Once he improves his control, he could surface at the Major League level thanks to a 92-96 mph fastball and plus slider.
Redmond was obtained in a 2008 spring trade when Atlanta sent Major League reliever Tyler Yates to Pittsburgh. A 2004 39th-round draft pick, Redmond has posted excellent numbers in the low minors but stumbled a bit in 2007 with a 7-12 record at High-A and a 4.54 ERA. His K/9 rate was also just 5.99. However, his FIP was 3.94 and the BB/9 rate was 2.02. In 2008 with Atlanta at the Double-A level, Redmond allowed 164 hits in 166.1 innings and posted rates of 1.79 BB/9 and 7.20 K/9. The 23-year-old right-hander has average stuff with an 87-90 mph fastball, curveball and change-up.
Marek, like the other two pitchers added, was originally signed by another organization (the Los Angeles Angels) and was obtained by Atlanta in the Mark Teixeira trade. He was original selected in the 40th round of the 2004 draft and later signed in 2005 as a draft-and-follow (a now-defunct process). The 25-year-old right-hander has posted solid but unspectacular career numbers prior to 2008 and was shifted to the bullpen this past season. Before the trade, Marek allowed 39 hits in 46.2 Double-A innings and posted rates of 4.05 BB/9 and 10.99 K/9. He also did a better job of keeping the ball in the park and allowed just two home runs. After the trade, he allowed 12 hits in 14 innings. Marek has an 89-94 mph fastball, a plus curveball and a change-up.
Hernandez, 24, was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Braves in 2002. He did not reach Double-A until 2007 but his bat improved remarkably when his triple-slash line jumped from .238/.293/.336 in High-A ball to .307/.370/.418 at Double-A. In 2008, while playing mostly at Triple-A, Hernandez hit .288/.317/.383 with an ISO of .096 in 459 at-bats. He stole just seven bases this past season after swiping more than 20 in 2007 – and he has poor instincts on the base paths. Defensively, he is better-suited to second base due to a lack of arm strength.