Braves Deepen The Pitching Pool, Sign Steven Shell
By Fred Owens
The Braves have it’s reported today on MLB Trade Rumors, signed right hander Steven Shell to a minor league contract last week – must be a slow news day. Anyway Shell 28, has kicked around the minors since first being drafted in 2001 by the Angels. He had coffee and a snack with the Nationals in 2008 but was granted free agency (like being released but the player asks for it) then signed with the Mariners.
He was hit in the face by a line drive in 2009 when pitching for Tacoma and missed most of 2010 with an elbow injury. In 2011 he signed a minor league deal with the Royals but was released May 8. There’s a really nice article over on our sister site Kings of Kauffman, read it for some great detail on Shell.
He’s obviously one of those guys needed to fill out the roster at Gwinnett ( he’s pitched 3 innings there given up six hits and no runs) or is he? He reminds me a bit of another guy we picked up on waivers who (as my dad would have said) turned into a pretty fair country pitcher, Eric O’Flaherty.
Eric is younger and didn’t stay in the minors as long but the numbers pre-Braves are similar.
I have no idea whether our minor league pitching coaches can do for him what they did for O’Flaherty who is two years younger and of course a lefty. Shell however was a starter early on and has a fastball, curve, slider, and change in his arsenal. The fastball at 89 doesn’t scorch anyone but when he follows that with a 75mph curve or a slide piece at around 81 the heater looks hotter. His strike out numbers indicate he uses them effectively. With Peter Moylan on the DL, Scott Linebrink and Scott Proctor doing the right handed middle inning work from the pen and Steve Marek out with TJ surgery however it seems a no brainer to try.
You have to assume Ned Yost and Dayton Moore given their ties to the Braves and the many deals completed between the teams over the years. were asked about this guy before we signed him. They must have had something positive to say or we surely would have looked at others being released there and elsewhere.
Unlike throwing money at has been and never were pitchers past their prime, this move like acquiring Anthony Varvaro (9.5 k/9 0.8 hr/9), Billy Bullock (12.5 k/9, 0.4 hr/9), Ben Swaggerty (10.6 k/9, 0.4 hr/9) and others was a very good one that seems to indicate as plan to have a lot of useful arms in the pen for years to come. Will they all make it? No, of course not.
The success rate in reclamation projects is not good, that’s why other teams cut their losses and move on. Our pitching development program has the time to try again and the talent to be successful. Having been criticized as a Wren basher, please note that this is an area where I feel our GM seems to excel. The program has been in place for years under Cox and Schuerholz but being on the lookout for these minor league opportunities and keeping it stocked requires a plan. When the program doesn’t work we’ve lost very little. When it does however, we get pitchers like Eric O’Flaherty.