Less than two months after firing general manager Frank Wren, the Braves traded his son, Kyle, a center-field prospect who’d impressed in his first two two minor league seasons.
Wren, 23, was traded to the Brewers on Friday for minor league right-hander Zach Quintana, 20, a third-round pick in 2012 who hasn’t met expectations in three low-level minor league seasons. Quintana is 11-13 with a 6.15 ERA in 52 games (34 starts), including two rookie-ball seasons, 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 drew praise for his defense.
Although there had been plenty of speculation that Wren would be traded after his father was fired, the center fielder had not been given any indication that a trade might be coming. Kyle Wren is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League, and last week said he was focused on playing baseball and continuing to advance.
“I feel the same,” as before his father’s firing, he 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, the undersized Wren silenced some initial 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. He had made himself into a legitimate prospect, rated 18th in the organization by Baseball America prior to the 2014 season.
Wren hit .290 with a .350 OBP, eight triples and 46 steals in 60 attempts in 132 games in 2014, including .283 with a .338 OBP in 56 games at Double-A Mississippi after a midseason promotion from high-A Lynchburg. He’s currently playing in the Arizona Fall League, batting .238 with a .273 OBP and two doubles in 42 at-bats (12 games).
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.
Frank Wren was replaced by John 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.
The Braves don’t have anyone with the GM title and don’t plan to anytime soon, but those duties are being handled by Hart and assistant GM John Coppolella.
Hart noted during this week’s GM meetings the lack of depth in the Braves’ minor league system, particularly in Double-A and Triple-A. Quintana will at least help them there, and is still young enough to possibly develop into the pitcher the Brewers thought he’d be when they drafted him
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.
He’s listed at 5 feet 11 and 180 pounds and was a highly regarded prospect out of Arbor View High School 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 frequently struggled with command of his pitches.