While we often focus on the shiny prospects at the minor league level, an important role is played each year by minor league veterans who fill roster spots and allow for the system as it is to exist. We got the first of what will be more names to come this year, with the Atlanta Braves bringing back seven players that were in the system last season.
The #Braves have signed the following minor league free agents for 2023.— Chris Harris (@CHarris731) November 1, 2022
C Ryan Casteel
C Hendrik Clementina
RHP Ben Dum
C Arden Pabst
RHP Roel Ramirez (STL)
RHP Malcolm Van Buren
LHP Danny Young
Clementina and Pabst caught for the M-Braves in 2022.
For our purposes the two most relevant names on this list are catchers Ryan Casteel and Hendrik Clementina, who in addition to managing the hoards of pitchers the Braves have stashed at the upper levels may also provide some depth for the system. We’ve seen in the past couple of seasons just how deep in the system a few catcher injuries can take a team, and veteran game callers are always in hot demand. Casteel had a very solid year at Triple-A behind the primary starter Chadwick Tromp, posting a .784 OPS in 69 games. This will be Casteel’s fourth season in the system as he was originally brought in back in 2019. Clementina has spent most of his time at Double-A Mississippi the past two seasons before getting his first Triple-A call up late last season.
Roel Ramirez joined the Gwinnett Stripers last season and pitched 22 innings of relief with a 4.91 ERA. The 27 year old made his major league debut with the Cardinals on August 16th, 2020, and in two MLB appearances has allowed nine earned runs in one innings. Danny Young was claimed off of waivers from the Seattle Mariners last August and made 11 appearances primarily as a lefty specialist for Gwinnett. Between the Mariners and Braves system Young pitched 36 1⁄3 innings last season with a 3.72 ERA and 57 strikeouts to 13 walks.
Arden Pabst is another addition to the system’s catching depth whose first season in the system was 2022. Pabst is a graduate of Georgia Tech and batted .219/.311/.484 with five home runs in 21 games across three levels. Benjamin Dum will be returning for his third season in the system. Dum posted a 3.44 ERA between Low-A Augusta and High-A Rome last season, pitching an impressive 52 1⁄3 innings in relief with 50 strikeouts. Malcolm Van Buren will also be pitching his third season in the Braves system. Van Buren has incredible strikeout rates with 62 in 32 2⁄3 innings last season, but his struggles with control have held him back. Last season he had a 5.51 ERA mostly due to issuing 53 walks.