The Atlanta Braves just made the sort of trade you hoped they’d make in this lost season. They took two pitchers claimed off the scrap heap in May and turned them into a 21-year-old who can hit the ball over the wall, which almost nobody else in this organization can do.
It’s possible Travis Demeritte might never hit anything over any big-league wall, but if you’re the Braves, authors of 62 home runs in 100 games, this is heartening move. If you’re the Braves, just reading the words “Demeritte leads the California League with 25 homers” should yield a warm glow.
Granted, the Cal League is Class A. Granted, Demeritte served an 80-game suspension last year after testing positive for a PED-masking substance. But power isn’t easy to find — those teams that have it tend to hoard it — and almost impossible to find cheap. For the low-low price of Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez, the Braves landed a guy who was the Texas Rangers’ No. 1 pick in 2013, a guy with 25-homer seasons both before and after his suspension.
John Coppolella has made so many deft trades over the past two years that I’m not sure this makes his personal podium. (Swanson/Inciarte/Blair for Shelby Miller might forever be No. 1, and Touki Toussaint remains a strong No. 2.) That doesn’t, however, mean that this isn’t a dandy. Coppolella plied his pitching surplus into exactly the kind of prospect his refurbished farm system lacked. He seized on the division-leading Rangers’ desperation for arms — they have Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish and nothing else — and got a guy who graced the Futures Game two weeks ago.
I mentioned earlier in the week that the Braves, given their dearth of big-league talent, mightn’t be able to attract a top 10 prospect from any organization in a pre-deadline trade. As esteemed former colleague Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News notes, Demeritte was the Rangers’ 20th-ranked prospect according to MLB.com. No matter. The Rangers always have a strong farm system, and Demeritte of Winder-Barrow High fits a crying Braves’ need.
No, this isn’t a move for Jonathan Lucroy. That might never happen. But it’s a minor move that might — might, I said — yield a major reward. No demerits for this deal. Two thumbs up.
Further reading: Tim Lee brought the Braves to Cobb. Now he’s out of a job.