The Braves find themselves in a situation that almost demands a high-profile pitching call-up. The team is below .500, attendance has tanked, and Atlanta's No. 4 and 5 starters have combined for one win, five losses, and a 5.84 ERA.
Thus we're all excited about 22-year-old Tommy Hanson(notes). In his last two starts for Triple-A Gwinnett, the right-hander has pitched 12 innings, allowed five hits and one run, and he has 19 Ks. His ERA is 1.65 and his WHIP is now 1.01. Hanson thoroughly dominated hitters in the Arizona Fall League and he held his own in spring training, striking out 18 batters in 17.2 innings.
But most of you are already familiar with his work. Hanson is in the Yahoo! player pool and owned in 48 percent of PLUS leagues. When he gets the call, you can expect an excited blog post. However, MLB.com's Mark Bowman has speculated that the call won't come for a few weeks:
Obviously Hanson has the potential to be a valuable asset during the stretch run and because of this, the Braves haven't allowed him to exceed the 100-pitch limit during his first three starts with Triple-A Gwinnnett. ... Once Hanson is promoted to the Majors (my best guess remains first week of June), the Braves should have a rotation that would rival the Marlins for the division's finest.
Hanson would almost certainly be an immediate rotation upgrade. The fantasy upside is obvious enough: He has 48 Ks in 32.2 innings against Triple-A competition. Don't play this too close to the edge and wait on the pick-up. Add him now if he's available; make trade offers while there's still uncertainty.
One of Hanson's Gwinnett teammates should be on your watch-list, too. Kris Medlen isn't yet in the Yahoo! player pool, but the 23-year-old has been at least as effective as Hanson so far. The right-hander has posted a 4-0 record with a 1.17 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and 38 Ks in 30.2 innings.
Here's some Medlen propaganda from Bobby Cox, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“Medlen is impressive, too,” Cox said. “Everything I’ve heard about that kid, we like. He doesn’t walk anybody and he’s got three ‘plus’ pitches for me: plus-fastball, plus-changeup, plus-breaking ball, with control. Lot of guys have plus-this, plus-that; they don’t have control.”
For the record, Hanson is still the guy to own. He entered the season as the Braves' top prospect, according to Baseball America (others might have said Single-A OF Jason Heyward). Medlen was ranked No. 9. They should both get major league opportunities, and soon.
Photo via AP Images