Atlanta Braves Need Innings and Allan Winans May Be The Arm to Supply Them
By Fred Owens
In December 2021, the Atlanta Braves selected a pitcher few had heard of in the Minor League section of the Rule 5 draft. He’s not a household name, but Allan Winans could pitch for Atlanta this year.
While many expect AJ Smith-Shaver’s move to triple-A as a sign he’s on the fast track to filling a vacancy in the Braves rotation, the club could call on Winans first.
Winans spent two years as a starter for the Campbell University (North Carolina) Camels but wasn’t a highly-ranked prospect. The Mets signed him in the 17th round – 500th overall- of the 2018 draft and gave him a typical 10K senior-sign bonus.
Despite his experience as a starter, the Mets saw him as a reliever. He appeared in 11 Rookie League games in 2018, pitching to a 6.52 ERA, but turned that around in 2019, pitching to a 2.74 ERA and recording 11 saves with Low-A Columbia.
Winans sat out 2020 but returned in 2021 to pitch to a 2.29 ERA and recorded six saves in 19+ relief innings in High-A before earning a promotion to AA, where he pitched to a 1.65 ERA in 27+ innings and grabbed four more saves.
While not a star, Winans proved capable at every level, but the Mets left him unprotected, and the Braves claimed him.
Atlanta Braves Change His Role
Winans features a four-pitch mix relying on a steady diet of heavy sliders, sinkers, four-seam fastballs, and an above-average changeup. Both fastballs sit 88-92, but his slider/ sinkers create a consistent 48.6% GB rate and 26.7% IFFB rate. He avoids barrels more than he misses bats.
Winans started 2022 with Gwinnett but went on the IL after his third start on April 4 and didn’t return until July 7. Over his next six starts – including a complete game - he pitched to a 2.44 ERA while throwing 44+ innings, striking out 44 and walking only 9. He returned to Gwinnett and appeared in three innings of relief to end the year.
Winans has three relief appearances of four innings and five starts of 6, 6, 5 2/3, 5 1/3, and 4 1/3 innings this year giving him a 3.43 ERA in 39 1/3 IP in eight games, striking out 38 and walking 10.
Back in January. ZIPS projected Winans would pitch to a 4.52 ERA and .289 BAbip over 58 innings.
That’s a Wrap
While Michael Soroka is the guy everyone wants back, his seven starts for Gwinnett resulted in a 4.91 ERA over 29 1/3 innings, with only his April 18 start lasting longer than 4 2/3 innings, and AJ Smith-Shawver’s yet to make a AAA start.
Winans ceiling is probably fifth-starter / long-reliever, he may get the call sooner rather than later.