Category Archives: Atlanta Braves Jerseys 2021

Alex Jackson Jersey

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The Braves have been incredibly fortunate with their catching situation over the last several years. Not only have most if not all of their short-term solutions at the position played well enough to keep the Braves at or near the top of league at the position, but they have also been able to develop multiple legitimate prospects at the position. However, with the ascension of William Contreras and Shea Langeliers as potential catchers of the future, Alex Jackson’s future as a Brave is very much an open question. Lets take a look at what went right and wrong for AJax in 2020 as well as what to expect in 2021.

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What went right? Well, for a guy that went hitless in his first 15 plate appearances as a Brave in 2019, the 2020 season was more successful as he recorded his first two hits in the major leagues. He also continued to look pretty good in very limited looks behind the plate, especially for a guy who had switched back to the position after being an outfielder in the Mariners’ system.

#24. Alex Jackson, C
6’2″, 215 lbs.
1st RD / 2014 MLB Draft (SEA)
As has been the theme throughout the entirety of this series thus far, Jackson is another Braves prospect that missed out on an opportunity to build off a career-year from 2019. With the team’s selection of college catcher Shea Langeliers, to go along with a normal amount of prospect fatigue for a guy that’s now entering his eighth professional season, the San Diego native needs a big 2021 season to have any chance to remain within the organization’s Top 30.

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What has Jackson done so far?
Jackson was originally a Seattle Mariner, selected 6th overall in the 2014 draft as a high school kid with plus-hit and power potential. As a teenager, Jackson was looked at as not only an above-average catcher but also a player with the tools to also handle a corner outfield position. As a matter of fact, Jackson didn’t really start catching until he was acquired by the Braves in a November 2016 trade.

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Despite his minimal versatility on defense, make no mistake, Atlanta wanted Jackson for his offense as the then-20-year-old was coming off a 2016 campaign with Single-A Clinton in which he slugged 11 home runs and 55 RBI to go along with a .243 AVG in 92 games. As a new member of Atlanta’s organization and the starting catcher for both High-A Florida and Double-A Mississippi, Jackson impressed during his first season with the Braves in 2017. Across the two levels that year (96 games combined), Jackson slashed .267/.328/.480 with 19 homers and 65 RBI, while even throwing out 21% (16 for 61) of would-be base stealers (not bad for a first-time catcher still learning the position as a pro). And to add to his breakout year, Atlanta shipped Jackson to Arizona in ’17 to play Fall Ball, where he managed a .263 AVG and 5 home runs in 20 games to go along with an even better 26% caught-stealing rate.

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However, 2018 wasn’t as kind. Jackson was challenged with 64 more games in Mississippi to start the season, and despite some real strides on defense behind the plate (31% CS rate), Jackson struck out nearly 35% of the time with the bat while hitting just .200. A 35-game stint in Triple-A Gwinnett down the stretch didn’t get him going either, for Jackson only managed to bump his AVG up just four points (.204).

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The 2019 season was really when Jackson caught the attention of most Braves fans. Apparently adjusting his approach to a more of an all-or-nothing style at the plate, in 85 games, Jackson belted 28 home runs and tallied 65 RBI for the Stripers, all while hitting .229 and finishing the year with a bloated 38.5% K rate. Due to injuries at the MLB level, he made his major league debut in April (going 0 for 10). Still, his power display in Gwinnett earned him another opportunity in Atlanta in late August that season. However, through 13 at-bats overall in ’19, Jackson remained hitless.

Last season the Braves catching depth chart was made up primarily of Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers, but Atlanta did give Jackson another 7 plate appearances in the big leagues. In 2020, Jackson went 2 for 7 at the plate (.286 AVG) with the major league team, and with Flowers now gone, there’s a chance the journeyman minor leaguer can be the Braves no. 2 guy behind the plate this coming season.

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Expectations for Jackson this season?
At this point, now 25-years-old, Jackson probably is what he is: a solid defensive catcher with power but one who’ll never be patient enough at the plate to start in the majors. Although that’s still a rather valuable player at the catcher position.

However, what’s hurting Jackson is that there are potentially already two other catchers within the organization that could very well become much more valuable than that, in Langeliers and William Contreras. And with Langeliers expected to reach the upper minors at some point in 2021 (he played primarily in Single-Rome in 2019) and Contreras potentially ready to join the major-league club at some point in 2020, Jackson’s time to make a further impression is running out.

What went wrong? I am not going to draw too many conclusions from stats from seven plate appearances as that seems a bit silly. Generally speaking, the issues with Alex all stem from his VERY iffy hit tool and whether or not his significant raw power will play in games enough to offset hi deficiencies elsewhere. The problem for Alex is that the Braves have seemingly moved in the direction that that isn’t going to happen. While some of this is a product of Travis d’Arnaud being so good, that the Braves gave William Contreras early season plate appearances and started his clock was fairly telling.

What to expect in 2021? Travis d’Arnaud is going to get the lion’s share of the starts at catcher in 2021 and with good reason. That is a given. That means the best case scenario for Alex is that he ends up as the Braves’ backup catcher for 2021 if Tyler Flowers’ time with the team is, in fact, over. However, there are a lot of headwinds going against AJax’s chances of even that happening. Flowers could still end up back with the team which would nix that idea and even if that doesn’t happen, it does seem pretty clear that William Contreras has the inside track for that job. Shea Langeliers seems less likely given his lack of game reps, but he has more defensive upside than Alex and a team doesn’t spend a high draft pick on a college catcher unless there is at least a pretty good sense that he should be able to contribute in the relatively near term. With all of the questions surrounding AJax’s swing and miss and hit tool in general, it feels like he may be running out time to secure a spot with the Braves at all. He is just 24 and he is on the 40 man roster, so it seems unwise to completely count him out, but 2021 may be another season where he only gets called up if something happens to the guys ahead of him. Unfortunately for him, it also seems like he is further down the depth chart than he was previously.

Kyle Wright Jersey

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Kyle Wright for sure won’t forget the first time he met Hank Aaron.

Wright grew up in Huntsville as a Braves fan! Now, the Buckhorn grad plays for Atlanta.

Hank Aaron
As a kid, Wright repped the famous number 44 on a Braves jersey during his little league days.

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If the Atlanta Braves are looking to make a big trade this off-season, they may look to Cleveland and their star third baseman, José Ramírez.
The Atlanta Braves are still looking to replace Marcell Ozuna’s bat in the lineup this off-season. If Ozuna does not return to Atlanta, then one option could be looking to acquire José Ramírez from Cleveland.

Before today, some were wondering if Cleveland would look to be sellers during the off-season or if they would wait until closer to the trade deadline to potentially move some pieces.

Then this happened.

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With Francisco Lindor now a member of the New York Mets, will Cleveland consider moving some of their other valuable assets? More importantly, would they consider dealing José Ramírez?

It probably comes down to if Cleveland thinks they can still compete in the AL Central this year, and following years, or how long a potential rebuild may take them.

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This is because while trading a superstar in Lindor usually signals a rebuild (and he wasn’t the first major departure), it was presumed that Lindor would leave Cleveland after 2021 anyways, so it was probably smart of Cleveland to get something for Lindor rather than let him walk in free agency.

Ramírez has three years remaining on his current deal and finished 2nd in the AL MVP voting in 2020. Cleveland can be patient with Ramírez and get as much value as possible for him. They could also hope for a quick rebuild with Ramírez as the face of their franchise.

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However, Ramírez’s value is probably the highest it is going to be right now. If Cleveland really wants to rebuild, they would be wise to consider shopping Ramírez sooner rather than later.

What Price?
What might it take for Atlanta to trade for Ramírez?

Well, as mentioned earlier, it would probably take a decent haul, most likely more than the Mets gave up for Lindor.

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Cleveland did get a young shortstop in return for Francisco Lindor in Andrés Giménez, so they may look for a young third baseman in return for Ramírez… meaning the trade offer probably starts with Austin Riley.

Cleveland has also looked to improve their outfield over the last several years, so Drew Waters is probably included in talks as well. As would a young major league ready pitching prospect like Kyle Wright or Bryse Wilson.

Ender Inciarte could potentially be included as he will make a similar salary ($8 million) to Ramírez ($9 million) in 2021. His money would come off the books after this upcoming season, so this could be appealing to Cleveland to free up finances after 2021.

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Then the Braves may need to consider adding in another mid-level prospect such as Jasseel De La Cruz or someone similarly ranked.

This is all speculation of course on who Cleveland would potentially ask for, but one thing is for certain, Atlanta would have to pay a pretty penny to acquire José Ramírez, especially since he has such a team-friendly deal with three years of control.

Should the Braves do it? This would be the “all-in” type of move the Braves have yet to make over the last few seasons. This would be the first real deal involving several highly regarded prospects.

NEXT: The Deal of the Offseason
José Ramírez is a special talent. Adding him to the Braves roster would absolutely make this team one of the favorites, not just in the NL East, but in all of baseball.

Wright calls Hank Aaron his superhero. When the two met for the first time during spring training, Aaron surpassed even superhero status in Wright’s eyes.

“I know for me, the first time I met him, I was starstruck and I don’t get starstruck. Me, being a Braves fan growing up, now playing for him, getting a chance to meet Hank Aaron was the coolest thing for me,” Wright said. “Then, from that point on, every time I spoke to him, the fact that he remembers your name, all these little details, I think is just so cool.”

Wright says it still blows his mind how Aaron remembered his name every time they talked. He’ll be missed.

Chad Sobotka Jersey

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The Atlanta bullpen was outstanding in 2020, piecing together one of the best units in the National League. One arm that cannot claim to have made the Braves bullpen successful this season was Chad Sobotka. After an electric debut in 2018, Sobotka has been unable to recapture the magic in the past two seasons.

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What went right in 2020?

Sobotka began the season with three scoreless outings in early-August. Things appeared to be looking up for the young right-hander, despite the sporadic nature of his roster spot. Sobotka was optioned and recalled multiple times within a week span in early-August, then disappeared until September.

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What went wrong in 2020?

The big topic of conversation yesterday was how manager Brian Snitker managed the team’s bullpen during the the Braves’ doubleheader against the Nationals. Why did Snitker feel compelled to warm up and use AJ Minter in a game that the Braves had comfortably in hand? Why did he use Patrick Weigel for his major league debut in a close game late when he could have been used earlier or even in game one?

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Why the hell was Charlie Culberson, a position player, pitching in a three run game when there were relievers available and the team was coming off an off day? These are all questions for a different article.

The fact remained that with the loss of 29th man Weigel and an apparent need for bullpen reinforcements, the team made a familiar roster move.

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Sobotka has firmly entrenched himself as the guy the Braves call up when they need to switch out for a fresh bullpen arm and then, usually, getting sent right back down when a guy is fresh again or someone comes off the injured list.

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With Ynoa throwing multiple innings yesterday and those innings being….less than good, this was a natural move to make even if many fans wish they could see a fresh faces. In three appearances this season with the big league club, Sobotka has given up no runs with a pair of walks and a hit…although his track record is a bit scarier than that which explains why he hasn’t been able to cement a role in the Braves bullpen which finds itself as one the team’s strengths.

When Sobotka finally resurfaced a month later, the Washington Nationals awaited. On September 5th, Sobotka took the mound and allowed five runs in 2⁄3 of an inning. This outburst included five hits, including three doubles, as the Braves let a winnable game become a blowout at the hands of Sobotka. This single outing left the right-hander with a 12.27 ERA on the season.

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It would be difficult to project any sort of permanent role for Sobotka in the Braves bullpen next season. His frequent boarding of the Gwinnett shuttle in 2020 would seem a likely fate again next season, as his standing in the organization would be difficult to reverse quickly. Sobotka is erratic and wild, but does have an impressive arsenal, so he will likely remain a secondary option that can serve in limited roles in case of injury.