Braves have youngest pitching rotation in majors

Braves starter Aaron Blair, 23, is scheduled to make his fourth major league start Thursday.

Credit: Kevin C. Cox

Credit: Kevin C. Cox

Braves starter Aaron Blair, 23, is scheduled to make his fourth major league start Thursday.

The Braves completed the first phase of their rebuild when they traded away several established major leaguers for prospects and draft picks. The second phase won’t be done until more of those prospects arrive in the big leagues, but the process has been accelerated with the pitching staff.

After the Braves traded right-hander Jhoulys Chacin to the Angels on Wednesday, they became the only team in the majors with every starting pitcher in the rotation 25-years old or younger. According to the Baseball Reference database, as of Wednesday no other team had more than three pitchers in the rotation 25 and under.

Only one Braves starter, right-hander Julio Teheran, has made more than 25 starts in the majors.

“What we’re trying to do is build around our young players,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said. “This (trade) gets one more young starter up here for us.”

Chacin, 28, has made 118 starts over eight seasons in the major leagues. The Braves acquired a minor-league pitcher in exchange for Chacin and promoted Williams Perez from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Chacin’s turn in the rotation against the Phillies on Wednesday.

Perez (24 years old, 24 career starts) joins a rotation that also includes Teheran (25, 107 starts), Matt Wisler (23, 25 starts), Aaron Blair (24, three starts) and Mike Foltynewicz (24, 17 starts). The Braves can keep all of those players under contract through at least the 2020 season.

Perez was erratic during three previous stints with the Braves, including three starts in April, but gets another chance to stick. If Perez falters, the Braves could call on one of their two touted prospects at Gwinnett, right-hander Tyrell Jenkins and Lucas Sims, to make his debut.

“There’s still a couple of guys down there that have done some nice stuff,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I think Jenkins has done a good job at times. There’s still some stuff that we need to iron out with him. But the pitching department, you’ve seen most of them who were close (to the majors).”

The Braves have yet to promote most of their highly rated prospects among position players. Rookie Mallex Smith is the regular center fielder for the big-league club, but infielders Ozzie Albies (Gwinnett) and Dansby Swanson (Double-A Mississippi) remain in the minors.

“We want to get younger,” Gonzalez said. “Now, where’s that (timetable)? I can’t give you a specific schedule on when those guys are going to be here. I’ve always believed that they’ll let us know when they’re ready. But you look at the stats and look at the reports of the player-development people, they’re making a lot of noise.”