Only a few hours after Braves officials left what had been a trade-less Winter Meetings for them, they finalized a trade that sent Braves pitching prospects Tyrell Jenkins and lefty reliever Brady Feigl to the Rangers for hard-throwing right-handed reliever Luke Jackson.
Jackson, a former first-round draft pick, routinely throws 95-98 mph fastballs and can reach triple digits, but the former starter has had command problems throughout his pro career. Still, the Braves were looking for big-armed relievers with a lot of potential, and Jackson, 25, undoubtedly fits that bill.
The Fort Lauderdale native had a 3.69 ERA with 59 strikeouts and 32 walks in 46 1/3 innings in 36 appearances in 2016 at Double-A and Triple-A. In his first 15 major league appearances over the past seasons he had an 8.50 ERA with nine strikeouts, 10 walks and 27 hits allowed in 18 innings, including four homers allowed in 11 2/3 innings in 2016.
“We put a premium on upside (potential), and that’s what attracted us to Luke Jackson,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said. “It’s exciting to think what can happen having him work with Chuck Hernandez, Dom Chiti, Dave Wallace and all of our pitching personnel.”
Hernandez, a former major league pitching coach in four organizations, was promoted from Braves minor league pitching coordinator to replace fired pitching coach Roger McDowell, and the Braves brought back veteran pitching coaches Chiti and Wallace to oversee pitching throughout the organization.
The Braves traded from a position of strength, starting-pitching depth, in sending Texas native Jenkins, 24, to the Rangers along with Feigl, who turns 26 on Dec. 27 and missed big parts of the past two seasons recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery.
The amiable Jenkins was a solid prospect and a favorite among Braves fans, but he didn’t figure to have much chance of cracking the rotation in 2016 after the team added three veteran starters this offseason.
Jenkins was the 50th pick in the 2010 draft, selected by the Cardinals five spots after Jackson was picked by the Rangers. Jenkins was 2-4 with a 5.88 ERA in 14 games (eight starts) for the Braves as a rookie in 2016, allowing 55 hits — including 11 home runs — and totaling more walks (33) than strikeouts (26) in 52 innings.
Jenkins came from the Cardinals along with Shelby Miller in a November 2014 trade for Jason Heyward.
Feigl signed with the Braves as a non-drafted free agent in 2013 and had a 2.74 ERA in 45 career minor-league appearances, with 66 strikeouts and only 16 walks and two homers allowed in 72 1/3 innings. He had Tommy John surgery in April 2015 and pitched in just six games at the rookie-ball level in 2016, working six scoreless innings with six strikeouts and one walk.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.