First, the name. Think
J.R. (actually, it’s J-Air) JER-jens. We’ll call him JR, er: J-Air, (who impressed a Tigers fan enough to start a blog in his honor).
Prospect guru Kevin Goldstein likes him (and Hernandez):
“Jurrjens is just 21 years old and has already proven the ability to hold his own in the big leagues. The Curacao native isn’t especially big or projectable, but what he is now is pretty darn good, as he throws a low 90s fastball, decent slider, and deceptive changeup. Scouts do wonder is he has a big league out pitch and see him as more of a No. 4 starter type – a role the Braves could use him in immediately.
“Hernandez hit .293/.344/.391 in the Midwest League this year for his full-season debut while also leading the Midwest League with 54 stolen bases. He’s an absolutely burner on the base paths, and also a spectacular center fielder with a plus arm. Despite the numbers, he’s still more tools than performance. He needs to either hone his approach to develop into a leadoff man, or develop more power (the bat speed is there) to become a dynamic power/speed combo. Very high upside, but obviously some risk. He’ll likely begin next year at High A Myrtle Beach.
Both players were going to be slam dunk top five prospects on the upcoming Detroit prospect rankings.”
He’s developed velocity — touching 95 MPH on the radar gun — and as his body fills out he could become even more of a power pitcher. Regardless, the fact that he’s already ready to compete for a spot in the rotation at such a young age speaks well of JR’s future.
Reading between the lines, the Braves seem confident that JR — a "control pitcher that has power," according to Frank Wren — and Jo-Jo will be in the rotation next year.
"[Jurrjens] and Jo-Jo Reyes are very good looking, young, talented pitchers," Wren said in reference to the hurlers who will compete for the final spots in the Atlanta rotation. "If they aren’t in the rotation at the beginning of the season, they will be there very quickly."
That is, if they are still in the organization once Spring Training rolls around (thanks to D’Andre at Blabberin’ Braves for the tip): ESPN’s Keith Law says he wouldn’t rule out another big acquisition by the Braves for an established starter like Dan Haren. Baltimore’s Erik Bedard may also be available — I’d give the O’s JR and Jo-Jo for him. I don’t expect that to happen. If not, I’m quite happy to have two potential studs competing for starting jobs next year.
Overall, I like the deal, keeping in mind that shortstops aren’t in high demand this offseason. Most of the good teams are set at the position, and rebuilding squads like Oakland aren’t usually in the market for veteran shortstops with a big (albeit reasonable) contract. And for those who wanted Nate Robertson or someone of that ilk in return: Why? Robertson is Chuck James, with more experience. JR may not pan out, but at least he has the potential to be something better.
Besides, Curacao has been good to Atlanta so far.
*Stay tuned for our farewell to Edgar, easily one of the game’s most underrated players. We were privileged to watch him play.
**UPDATE: Within the comments in his latest blog entry, DOB said Wren told him the Braves would NOT trade JR or Hernandez this winter. And check out these stats of major league hitters who faced JR down the stretch:
.220 (24-for-109) with four homers, 11 walks, 13 K.
vs. LHB: .262 (16-for-61) with two homers, 10 walks, 6 K, .366 OBP, .508 slugging
vs. RHB .167 (8-for-48) with two homers, 1 walk, 7 K, .196 OBP, .313 slugging.
Dude DOMINATED right-handed batters, and consider the teams he faced: Cleveland (twice), Yankees, Minnnesota (twice), Texas and K.C.
Five of his seven starts were against good teams.