Fed up with the inconsistent play of shortstop Yunel
Escobar, the Braves packaged him with another of the organization’s enigmas, lefty Jo-Jo
Reyes, to the Blue Jays for 33-year-old shortstop Alex
Gonzalez and two mid-level prospects. Headed to Atlanta are 20-year-olds Tyler
Pastornicky, a high Class A middle infielder, and Tim
Collins, a diminutive lefty reliever who has fanned 15.3 batters per nine innings in Double-A this season.
Tyler Pastornicky, ss
Age: 20. Position: SS (46 G), 2B (30 G).
Born: Dec. 13, 1989 in Bradenton, Fla.
Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 170. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Pendleton School, Bradenton, Fla.
Career Transactions: Selected by Blue Jays in fifth round of 2008 draft; signed June 9, 2008.
gives the Braves a solid shortstop prospect with speed or, at worst, a utility player in the making. He’s an above-average runner with 108 stolen bases and 78 percent success rate in 251 career games. At shortstop, he has good instincts, plus range and an average arm. Pastornicky’s line-drive stroke makes him a potential .275 hitter. After
spending 15 games with Dunedin in 2009, he’s back and holding his own in a tough league for hitters. After hitting just two home runs in his first 636 career at-bats, Pastornicky has six in 2010, but that’s not part of his game. In a best case example, he projects as a top-of-the-order hitter who provides sound defense.
Tim Collins, lhp
Born: Aug. 21, 1989 in Worcester, Mass.
Ht.: 5-7. Wt.: 155. Bats: L. Throws: L.
School: Worcester (Mass.) Tech HS.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Blue Jays,
July 27, 2007.
is far removed from the projectable mold of pitchers, standing at just 5-foot-7. But what he lacks in height he makes up for in stuff. His fastball tops out at 93 mph and he has a true 12-to-6 curveball that helps him rack up strikeouts. Not only had he averaged more 15 whiffs per nine innings in Double-A, but he had done so while walking fewer than four per nine. Hitters touched him up a little in 13 innings at Double-A in 2009, but he’s back in a groove in 2010. He’s never started a
professional game, so don’t expect a change in roles. Collins does a good job of staying on top of the ball and driving down despite his height. If he can continue his success at higher levels, he could prove to be a useful reliever.
Alex Gonzalez, ss
Age: 33. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: $1.23 million (signed 1 year, $2.75 million deal, plus $2.5 million club option for ’11, with Blue Jays last November).
Career Transactions: Selected by Braves in second round of 2003 draft; signed June 3, 2003.
Reyes’ scouting reports and you’ll come away convinced he’s a future Cy
Young award winner. Name a scouting platitude, and it’s a safe bet it’s
been uttered about the hefty lefty: he misses bats with two plus secondary pitches, he’s aggressive, he throws strikes, he throws downhill, his fastball gets up to 94 mph—and he can elevate it, his solid changeup has fade. But Reyes’ performance record is strikingly discordant with his stuff. In four separate trials with the Braves, Reyes has gone 5-15, 6.40 in making 37 starts and four relief appearances. His strikeout rate in the big leagues hovers near
average (5.9 per nine inninings), but he’s been done in by poor control, in the form of 4.5 walks and 1.5 home runs per nine. Despite an
elevated ERA in Triple-A this season, Reyes has found success at that level, running up a career 3.11 ERA with 159 strikeouts and 67 walks over 188 innings for Richmond and Gwinnett.
Something else to watch: The Braves burned Reyes’ final minor league option when they returned him to Triple-A in May. But
maybe that won’t come into play. The Blue Jays have generally been successful at getting the most out of their young pitchers, and Reyes’ situation is not all that different from where Ricky Romero, another erratic lefty with plus stuff, was at entering the 2009 season.
Yunel Escobar, ss
Age: 27. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: 3 arbitration years (2011-13) prior to free agency ($435,000 salary in ’10).