There was not much movement of Atlanta Braves prospects at the MLB trade deadline this year, with only two prospect-involved trades both sending pitching prospects to Colorado. The prospect cost to bolster the bullpen was minimal, and it seems that the sides settled on a deal that should benefit both franchises.
Alec Barger for Brad Hand
The primary return for Colorado in this deal is the money they’ll save on Hand’s contract, as while Barger is a prospect he’s really not that highly rated of one. Barger features a fastball that tops out at 97 and a slider in the mid-80’s, both of which have mediocre characteristics. The slider is inconsistent, especially in its command, but has flashed average potential. There is a workable middle relief profile here but Barger is 25 and easily replaced in low cost ways.
Victor Vodnik and Tanner Gordon for Pierce Johnson
Victor Vodnik is one of the better prospects the Braves have ever dealt at the deadline under Alex Anthopoulos, but the likelihood that he was going to work out in Atlanta was dwindling by the day. Vodnik had already once been left exposed to and unselected in the Rule 5 draft, and was going to be available once again this winter. Vodnik jumped into our top ten and was arguably the top pitching prospect in the system for a period. Vodnik has a fastball that peaks at 100 mph and a slider and changeup that have both shown major league potential, but for a variety of reasons his development stagnated in Mississippi. Primarily Vodnik has suffered a myriad of injuries which ultimately forced him out of a starting role, and he hasn’t made considerable strides in command. When he is around the zone Vodnik is electric and the system’s best relief prospect since AJ Minter, but it seemed a good time for a change of scenery. The Braves effectively traded out Vodnik’s risk to a team that can afford that risk in exchange for a pitcher who can contribute to a competitive team now.
Tanner Gordon is a player I’ve been notably low on in the past, as while I do like the potential I haven’t seen development enough to believe heavily in him. Gordon can top out in the mid 90’s, sits 92-93 as a start, and commands his fastball well, but it’s not an overpowering pitch. Neither of his secondary pitches are major league caliber offerings. He has arm talent and athleticism so a team that can teach him a good secondary offering could unlock some relief potential, but I have my concerns about any pitching prospect developing in Colorado.