Right-hander Royber Salinas could be coveted should Braves need to trade

A Braves logo is seen at SunTrust Park the home ballpark for the Atlanta Braves on Monday, March 20, 2017, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

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A Braves logo is seen at SunTrust Park the home ballpark for the Atlanta Braves on Monday, March 20, 2017, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

ROME - The Braves’ championship window is open, and the club appeared to nudge a stick under that window Friday, just a little something, to help keep it open. If they feel they need to add a piece, like a bottom-end starting pitcher, to keep the New York Mets within reach, the Braves are willing to dangle prospects.

According to Minor League Baseball sources, the Braves said 21-year-old Rome Braves right-hander Royber Salinas, who is tied for first in all of minor league baseball for strikeouts, is available. There were not specific targets for the Braves, according to one source, but rotation depth likely would be a prime consideration.

It was not a good night for Salinas to be on display for the handful of scouts behind home plate, or the ones cueing up video the following days.

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Right-hander Royber Salinas has moved up to the Braves' High-Class A team in Rome.

Credit: Photo

Right-hander Royber Salinas has moved up to the Braves' High-Class A team in Rome.

Credit: Photo

Combined ShapeCaption
Right-hander Royber Salinas has moved up to the Braves' High-Class A team in Rome.

Credit: Photo

Credit: Photo

The 6-foot-3 Venezuelan, who has the build of a middle linebacker, could not harness his power against the Hickory Crawdads in a 8-1 loss. Salinas pitched 3-2/3 innings and walked five and gave up six runs. Hickory’s No. 9 hitter blasted a two-run homer off Salinas who struggled with command of his fastball, which can sit at 96 mph, but fell off to 92 as he scuffled.

Salinas (2-6) has fanned 104 in 58-2/3 innings. He had two strikeouts Friday night.

Danny Santiesteban, the Rome hitting coach, translated from Salinas when the pitcher was asked about the lack of command for his usual 96 mph fastball, which has above average carry with high spin rate.

“He says he knew that he did not have this command, and one of the biggest points to learning from this outing is being able to get back on the horse and try to figure out some things to have better command next outing,” Santiesteban said.

Salinas’ backup plan was using what he terms a cutter, but is more of a hard-breaking ball. He throws from over the top and has good extension, but several times Friday night he lost his arm slot, his elbow fell, and the pitch alternately worked or was a mess.

Rome Braves manager Kanekoa Texeira, who was a pitching coach in the organization and a former big league pitcher, said Salinas threw a lot of pitches early and with the oppressive heat and his size (listed 205 pounds), it caught up to him.

“He can be overpowering, for sure,” Texeira said. “He’s got a good arm. He’s a young kid, got a lot to learn. And I’m just excited to see him grow. Hopefully.”

Salinas started the season in Low-A ball with Augusta and struck out 52 in just 23-2/3 innings. He was promoted to High-A Rome and showed off his promise May 28 with 13 strikeouts in six innings against Hudson Valley.

Salinas has to sort out his secondary pitch. He called it a cutter, but it looked like a curve to left-handed hitters and more “slurve” to right-handed hitters. Where he is really tough is with the fastball to right-handed sticks that rides down into a trap zone.

Salinas said his second pitch is something he only recently started to use. His sliders have been bigger on the break and it has to get fixed.

From Santiesteban, “He’s trying to find something in between. So he’s trying to dominate that a little bit more now. And probably it’s been a couple outings since he started using it.”

Asked how often Salinas has outings like Friday night, Teixiera said, “Not often.”

Salinas calmly left the mound. There was no stomping around and no flareups with the glove or water cooler assaults when he reached the dugout. He was Buddha all the way.

Through Santiesteban, “The majority of the time he’s trying to control his emotion because that’s how a professional should act. Has there been a time where he’s been able to throw his glove or something of that nature? Yes, he has. But 99% of the time he’s trying to control his motion because we’re here to get better and be a professional.”

Salinas is harnessing his makeup and poise. If he can harness that riding fastball and figure out what that secondary pitch looks like, the Braves could indeed have a piece other clubs would covet in a trade and help keep that window open.