I honestly have no idea who the last of the seven relievers will be. There are at least ten pitchers on the Atlanta and Richmond rosters who might have a shot. It’s complicated by the continued question over the fifth starter’s role. I assume that if Jason Marquis isn’t in the rotation that he will be sent to Richmond to get regular work. I’m not so certain about Jung Bong and Horatio Ramirez, not least because they’re lefthanded.
If I had to bet, maybe I’d go with Joey Dawley. Dawley has spend more time on buses than John Madden over the last decade. After three years of not getting higher than A-ball in the Baltimore organization, he took his duffel bag to an Independent league for four seasons before hooking on with Greenville. He was hurt in 2000 (I’m not sure with what, but I’d guess Tommy John surgery?) and when he came back suddenly was a pitcher. Used mostly as a starter, he’s shown good control and about a strikeout an inning the last two seasons to go with ERAs of 3.04 (Greenville/2001) and 2.63 (Richmond/2002) and last year finally made The Show. He pitched to one batter, whom he struck out.
Richmond is kind of a prospects’ graveyard (Here Lies Scott Sobkowiak. Here Lies Matt McClendon. Here Lies Christian Parra. Here Lies Matt Butler.) There are a couple of major league veterans signed to minor league deals there. Significantly, both are lefthanded.
Bobby M. Jones (aka the Bad Bobby Jones, the Black Bobby Jones, the Lefty Bobby Jones) pitched for the Mets and Padres last year; he’s mostly been a Met and Rockie in his career, in which he hasn’t been very good. Not to harp or anything, but when walk as many as you strike out, as he did last year, that’s not good. He was nearly adequate in AAA last year, if that helps.
Then there’s Chris Haney, who’s been in the majors off and on since 1990 without ever really being that good, though he was a serviceable enough reliever for the Red Sox last year. He’s had only one season of a really good ERA, but that was in 1995 when he pitched all of 81 1/3 innings despite being a starter. Why is he marginally interesting? Well, the second-most similar pitcher to Haney through age 33 is Chris Hammond. You don’t expect to catch lightning in a bottle twice, but… On the other hand, when Hammond was 33 he was out of the majors, and rightfully so after three straight seasons of being the worst pitcher in captivity, and it took until he was 36 to make it back.
Another pitcher with major league experience on the Richmond roster is Chris Fussell, who like way too many of the Braves’ recent acquisitions is a former KC Royal. Fussell has a career ERA of 6.90 and John-Rocker-on-a-bad-day control, and hasn’t been adequate even in AAA since 1999. I don’t even know why I bring him up. Amazingly, he stinks but he’s a righthander, so it’s not just lefties who manage to hand around without pitching well.
If you really want the dregs, how bad must you be to have major league experience and get assigned not to Richmond but to Greenville’s preseason roster? That’s the fate of Ryan Glynn, Jamie Arnold, and Joe Winkelsas. Arnold’s a former Braves “prospect” whose control has generally been even worse than Fussell’s, Winkelsas had an inexplicable cup of coffee with the Braves in 1999, and Glynn is so bad that the Rangers didn’t want him.