When the Atlanta Braves traded Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Novemeber, they were met with disgruntled Braves fans. They traded a defensive whiz, who was under contract for more pitching. Braves fans argued that Simmons was one of the faces of the franchise and was a controlled player for the next, several years. Not only that, but why trade him for more pitching?
John Coppolella argued during Braves FanFest that more pitching was a necessity for the Braves franchise. He stated that with the cost of pitching getting higher, they would need to find ways to get good pitching to Atlanta and what better way than to get prospects to develop and, should they get expensive, trade away in the future. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
Let’s circle back to that Simmons trade, in which netted the Braves LHP Sean Newcomb and RHP Chris Ellis. Both are prospects, but one of them has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter and ace of the Braves staff if he can fix his control. The pitcher we’re talking about is Sean Newcomb, who understands this.
“I tell you it’s one of my focuses becoming a better pitcher overall and learn how to attack hitters, but definitely command,” said the left-hander. “I think that’s something I need to focus on as this offseason comes to an end.
Newcomb is highly thought of prospect who is ranked as the Braves second best prospect and generally considered a top 30 prospect in baseball. It’s not unthinkable to consider Newcomb a candidate to make the Braves roster out of Spring Training, which is something he’s shooting to do.
“I’ve spent my whole off season trying to come in and make a good first impression on everybody (and) hopefully get in there (Braves rotation) as quick as I can.”
The Braves would love to see Newcomb demonstrate the tools and command necessary to break camp with the big league club, but it’s the general thought throughout the game that he would need some extra seasoning.
The left-hander throws heat in the mid-90’s and has excellent movement on all of his pitches, which is why the Braves wanted him back in the deal for Simmons. Newcomb said he was shocked to learn he was traded and was on vacation in Mexico without phone service while he was being traded to the Braves. He said that he found out about the trade a little after it happened when he saw several messages on his phone. He said that being traded with Ellis made things a bit easier.
“Of all people, he was one of the closer people to me with the Angels.” Newcomb played ball with Ellis in several stops with the Angels.
“It makes it a lot easier to have somebody as one of my friends come over and do it together.”
So how does Newcomb feel about the Braves stockpiling young arms?
“It’s awesome. The competition is awesome. I’ve always loved that; I know a lot of people do. It’s definitely exciting to see where the Braves are going with all of the people they’re bringing in and the future they’re going to have.”
Newcomb will likely start the season out and Double-A with a promotion in May, if his command improves. Newcomb is a non-roster invitee to Spring Training this year, so make sure to look for the 6’5, 245 lb. left-hander in Florida during the next six weeks.