The Braves are now Wren-less.
Less than two months after firing general manager Frank Wren, they traded his son, Kyle, a center-field prospect who impressed in two minor league seasons.
Wren, 23, was traded to the Brewers on Friday for right-hander Zach Quintana, a third-round pick in 2012 who hasn’t met expectations in three low-level minor league seasons, including two in rookie ball.
Quintana, 20, is 11-13 with a 6.15 ERA in 52 games (34 starts) and has 139 strikeouts and 103 walks in 194 2/3 innings.
Wren hit .304 with a .362 on-base percentage, two homers, 13 triples and 81 stolen bases in 185 games at four minor league levels (Double-A and lower), and the speedy left-hander also drew praise for his defense. He made himself a legitimate prospect, rated 18th in the organization by Baseball America before the 2014 season.
“I love Kyle Wren as a person — great makeup, loves to play,” said John Hart, Braves president of baseball operations. “We felt it would be better for the young man to be given a fresh start with a new organization. We do like the player we acquired.”
Although there was speculation Wren would be traded after his father was fired, the center fielder had no indication a trade was coming. Kyle Wren is playing in the Arizona Fall League and last week said he was focused only on playing.
“I feel the same,” as before his father’s firing, Kyle Wren said last week. “I don’t feel like I’ve lost standing with the organization. Maybe it would’ve been different if I hadn’t done so well in the last year and a half, but I feel like the numbers I’ve put up speak for themself. So, I feel good.”
An eighth-round pick in 2013 out of Georgia Tech, the undersized Wren silenced nepotism skeptics by hitting .335 with a .391 OBP and 35 steals in 53 games in his first season in 2013, including 47 games at low-A Rome.
Wren hit .290 with a .350 OBP, eight triples and 46 steals (60 attempts) in 2014, including .283 with a .338 OBP in 56 games at Double-A Mississippi. In the fall league, he was batting .238 with a .273 OBP and two doubles in 42 at-bats.
The Braves fired Frank Wren and his brother, Jeff, a special assistant to the GM, on the same day, along with assistant general manager Bruce Manno.
“After everything went down I got called by a couple of (Braves officials) that kind of reassured me,” Kyle Wren said. “I was actually given the option — because before you go to the fall league they usually want you to go to instructional league first for about a week — my dad was fired on a Monday and the next day I was leaving for instructional league. I got called and was given the option to skip instructional league that week, and I said, screw that, I’m not going to skip it. I’m going to go down there and show that it wasn’t going to affect me.”
Frank Wren was replaced by Hart, the longtime former Indians and Rangers general manager who moved from a Braves senior adviser role to become interim GM for one month before signing a three-year contract to fill the newly created position as president of baseball operations.
Hart mentioned during this week’s GM meetings the lack of pitching depth in the Braves’ minor league system. Quintana could help there, and is still young enough to possibly develop into the pitcher the Brewers thought he’d become.
Quintana was 4-5 with a 5.70 ERA in 25 games (15 starts) for Class-A Wisconsin in 2014, allowing 100 hits and 49 walks with 58 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings.
Listed at 5 feet 11 and 180 pounds, he was a highly regarded prospect out of Arbor View High in Las Vegas, but Quintana slipped from the Brewers’ top-30 prospect rankings after his first couple of seasons. He features a 91-93 mph fastball and hard curveball, but has struggled with control.
“He has talent, some nice pedigree,” said Hart, who liked Quintana’s upside potential over several other players offered by the Brewers. “He’s very young, and has struggled early in his pro career. … This was a deal that seems to work for all parties.”