Braves Add Two To 40-Man To Preempt Free Agency





ATLANTA—The Braves conducted a bit of roster maneuvering in early November, adding first baseman Ernesto Mejia and righthanded reliever Juan Jaime to the 40-man roster before they could have become minor league free agents.

Mejia signed with the Braves out of Venezuela in 2002 and spent seven seasons in the organization before leaving as a free agent for the Royals in 2010. He returned to the Braves in 2011 and has put together the two best seasons of his career.

A sturdy 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, Mejia has impressive power and a quick bat from the right side. He drives the ball to all fields and has hit .296/.361/.516 over 1,013 at-bats in his recent run with Atlanta, despite striking out about a quarter of the time.

Mejia paced the organization in home runs and RBIs while earning all-star honors in the Double-A Southern League in 2011 (26 homers, 99 RBIs) and Triple-A International League in 2012 (24 HR, 92 RBIs).

Several scouts consider Mejia, who will play all of 2013 at age 27, to be a late bloomer. A solid defender at first base, he serves primarily as insurance behind Freddie Freeman but could be called upon to provide power off the bench.

The 25-year-old Jaime, meanwhile, might have a better shot at contributing in Atlanta based on the constant need for relievers at the major league level. The Dominican righty toiled in the Nationals system from 2005-09 before missing the 2010-11 seasons after having Tommy John surgery. The Braves signed him in August 2011.

The Braves expect that Jaime will open the new season in Double-A after he touched 98 mph while notching 18 saves for high Class A Lynchburg in 2012. He struck out 12.8 batters per nine innings, the 10th-highest ratio among pure relievers with at least 50 innings in the minors.

To make room for Mejia, Jaime and waiver claim Jordan Schafer—Atlanta's top prospect heading into 2008—the Braves booted catcher J.C. Boscan, righty Erik Cordier and lefty Robert Fish from the 40-man.

WIGWAM WISPS

• The Braves hired Dave Bialas as minor league field coordinator, after his predecessor Dave Trembley joined the Astros' major league staff. Bialas has spent 41 years in professional baseball, including the last 19 with the Cubs.

• The Braves hired Randy Ready as Gwinnett manager after Dave Brundage took over the Triple-A reins in the Phillies organization.