Sunday, September 19, 2010

First Career Save for Braves Future Closer?

With Billy Wagner announcing his retirement, effective at the end of this season, there's two possible replacements on the current Braves roster- lefty Jonny Venters and right hander Craig Kimbrel.

2010 Topps Debut #5 (160/259)

The Braves drafted Craig Kimbrel in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft, and have watched his accent to the big leagues with the idea of him being their eventual closer. No one has ever doubted his stuff, which includes a nasty slider and a mid-upper 90s fastball. The question has been more about his control, as he has had a difficult time taming it, which has led to a high walk total at every stop. After having been summoned to Atlanta for the fourth time this year, however, Kimbrel seems to have turned it around. In four innings this September he has walked none and has 9 K's, while allowing no hits. Coming into today Kimbrel had a record of 3-0 but had yet to have a save opportunity- so with a 6-3 lead against the hated Mets, Bobby brought in the kid for his first major league save-which he nailed down thanks to 3 strikeouts. After this appearance, Kimbrel sports a pretty nice 18.2 SO/9.

2008 Bowman Chrome Prospects #27
Coming into spring training the thought was that Venters would be an arm that would be added to the twenty-five man roster at some point during the season. However, nobody thought that he would be up in Atlanta so soon- having been called up on April 17 and then staying with the Braves for the rest of the season. Venters has been such an integral part of the bullpen that he has been dubbed "Everyday Jonny", which is quite appropriate since he has appeared in 70 games thus far this season. Venters forte is a wickedly sinking two-seam fastball that can reach the mid-nineties. There's been talk of him eventually becoming a starter, but with his stuff coming out of the 'pen, I have a hard time believing that will be the case.

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