One of the most popular things that John Coppolella has done since joining the Braves is the popular #AskCoppy Q&A’s on twitter. His candid responses and eye-opening glimpses into the thought processes of the front office have quickly attracted fans, and on Saturday night he took it a step further by doing a live #AskCoppy at Turner Field for the Social Media Night crowd. While you might have expected a fair share of off the wall, hot dog related questions (#TeamSandwich), the crowd kept it mostly informative and entertaining. Many topics were covered, including last year’s international class, some of the top prospects in the system, and a few of what Coppy considers to be targets in Free Agency and through trades.
Fortunately, we at Talking Chop had one of our contributors (me) in attendance, and he (me) was willing to endure the arm fatigue to record a 47 minute session. Understandly, the video is a little poor as I was trying to focus on his answers rather than video taping, but if you can bear with 47 minutes of shaky video and occasional Coppy head cropping, there were more than a few interesting nuggets.
A quick rundown of some of the key points, and most interesting little facts:
Straight off the bat, we have a question about the struggling Matt Wisler, and Coppy admits a tinge of disappointment in Wisler compared to what he had seen in him to begin 2016 and called him a 4/5 type starter. He comes straight out with admitting that he doesn’t believe Wisler is the type right now to start a playoff game for the Braves (not that it is a problem anytime soon), compared to his thinking when he acquired Wisler that he is a 2/3 type. He also addressed Aaron Blair, stating a lot of disappointment in his velocity in the major leagues, but also pointing out that his velocity is back up to 91-95 since his demotion to Gwinnett. He also sees Blair as a 4/5 type, and said he looks uncomfortable on the mound.
Coppy discussed some key injuries to the team, starting with Mallex Smith:
Coppolella says that he expects Mallex Smith back in late August, and was really disappointed because he felt Mallex had been playing well. There was mention made of Smith playing winter ball, and then being evaluated going into 2017.
Ronald Acuna was also placed as late August, which would leave him somewhere between 15-20 at the end of the season. Coppy also noted that Ronald Acuna doesn’t get much love from the media as a top 10 prospect, which I found quite offensive. We’re media and we love him.
On the trade deadling, Coppy says the Braves are going to really go both ways with it. He wants to acquire long term deals, specifically for offensive players, and is actively seeking to move players on one year deals because he shockingly believes the Braves won’t make the World Series. Sorry, I know it may take a minute for that one to set in. In his words, Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran are considered completely untouchable, though he also states at various times that when a team calls you have to keep an open mind and that he has received numerous calls on Teheran. Ender Inciarte, however, is on the table. He specifically brought up the name Jonathan LuCroy, but noted his short control, cheap contract and likely high asking price as reasons he would be tough to acquire. He mentioned some targets in free agency, such as Matt Wieters and Jason Castro.
Braves fans have been clamoring for outfield power, and Coppy said that a right handed outfield power bat would be something he is trying to target, along with catcher. When Dustin Peterson was brought up in relation, Coppy gushed about him and noted his improvement every season and thinks he is a big part of the future.
Coppy was noncommital towards Hector Olivera, calling what he did unacceptable and that he wouldn’t tolerate it. He is playing it by ear, and says Olivera will join the Gwinnett roster on Tuesday.
As has been popular recently, the topic of keeping guys like Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies down until super Two Day was approached. Coppy said that he wants to give his team the best chance to win and will go with the best players available. He specifically called up the name Jason Heyward, using his early season performance in 2010 as an example to the impact a young player can have. On the topic of Rio Ruiz, Coppy was seemingly impressed although he wants to see more power, but threw out that Ruiz has a good exit velocity at AAA and is very young for the league.
The most interesting story was surrounding the 2015 international period, specifically Cristian Pache. The Braves went over their slot with their pre-July 2nd agreements, and had to deal players to get slots. Coppy said they had a deal in with an unnamed team to acquire bonus pool slots, but that team pulled out quickly. The same team also attempted to sign Cristian Pache out from under the Braves.
Coppy said of Sean Newcomb- He’s been up to 98 this year, built like a workhorse starter, and he believes Newcomb has a chance to be a number 1 starter. He believes that is it takes a little longer for lefties some time, but was overall extremely positive about the future for Newcomb.
Not answered by Coppy, but a question was asked about the traffic plans for the new stadium. Greg Mize (to Coppy’s right) says that there will be plans beginning to get released in the next couple of weeks concerning the topic.
On the Braves closer situation, Coppy feels that Arodys Vizcaino is the future at closer for the Braves. For the time being he will leave it up to Brian Snitker, but the likely answer will be Jim Johnson with Mauricio Cabrera as the backup plan. On Shae Simmons, he says he’s hoping to get Shae back in the next couple of weeks but it is important for him to stay healthy.
Other topics covered
- The famous hot dog sandwich question was to no surprise discussed.
- On the future of manager, Coppy mentioned taking a long look at Snitker, and also pursuing out of the organization guys.
- The potential for an International Draft, and the problems within.
- Yulieski Gourriel, and his reluctance to join in on the older Cuban market going forward.
- Tyrell Jenkins role going forward for the Braves.
- A few under the radar prospects-AJ Minter and Patrick Weigel.
- Alan Rangel, because I thought it would be fun to find the most random player I could. Not as rosy as the reports I had heard.
- The two Shelby Miller deals were discussed multiple times, including that there was another offer for Jason Heyward.
- The Braves will be looking to acquire draft picks going forward.
- Game predictions: Coppy said win. Didn’t happen
- Dale Murphy was there. A lengthy discussion between he and Coppolella on the nature of hot dogs ensued after the camera was off. Coppy won IMO, but Murphy felt strongly in opposition.