Atlanta Braves future closer Craig Kimbrel is absolutely filthy | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Atlanta Braves future closer Craig Kimbrel is absolutely filthy

When the Atlanta Braves signed Billy Wager to a 1-year/$6.75 mil contract prior to the 2010 season, there was a general skepticism regarding his health, as well as his level of effectiveness at 39 years old.  Luckily for the Braves, Wagner has surpassed what little expectations the club had at the time of his signing, by notching 35 saves while sporting a 1.43 ERA.  Despite the fact that Wagner is having one of the best seasons of his 15-year career, it was made clear at the beginning of the 2010 campaign that he plans on retiring at end of Braves season.

Normally, the thought of losing one of the best closers in baseball, let alone a guy who has been so vital to the success of his team in 2010, would be incredibly worrisome and drives a GM towards action.  Yet, the Atlanta Braves will find themselves in a unique situation with a vacant closer’s spot and 22-year old Craig Kimbrel ready to continue his dominance on the mound.  For those who have not seen Kimbrel pitch this season, there is only one, accurate way to describe him: utterly filthy.

Kimbrel was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 33rd round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft, out of Huntsville, AL; he opted not to sign and attended Wallace State Community College.  The following year, the Braves once again drafted Kimbrel–this time in the 3rd round–but this time signed him, despite a pending scholarship opportunity to play at Alabama.

At 5’11”/205lb. Kimbrel does not possess the size and strength of most major league closers; then again, neither does Billy Wagner.  Since entering the Braves system in 2008, Kimbrel has absolutely dominated minor league hitters at all levels, posting video game-like numbers along the way.

In 3 minor league seasons, Kimbrel has produced the following line:

8-7, 1.85 ERA, 51 saves, 151 IP, 74 H, 31 ER, 5 HR, 95 BB, 242 K, 1.12 WHIP & 14.4 K/9

Every aspect of Kimbrel’s minor league career indicates that he has what it takes to close at the major league level.  With a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 90s and an absolutely nasty slider, he possesses one of the best young arms across MLB bullpens, and should be viewed in the same light as both Aroldis Chapman and Chris Sale.

Braves manager Bobby Cox–who like Wagner, is set to retire at the end of 2010–has clearly recognized Kimbrel’s potential, as evidenced by his use of the youngster in key situations, including a save situation against the Mets on Sunday night.  Kimbrel has made Cox’s life easy down the stretch of his illustrious career in baseball, as each time Cox has summoned for the right hander, Kimbrel has embraced the opportunity while making MLB hitters look foolish.

Enter Tuesday night’s game, Kimbrel has posted the following line:

3-0, 1 save, 0.63 ERA, 14.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 11 BB, 29 K; 1.19 WHIP, 18.2 K/9

Albeit a small sample, all of Kimbrel’s stats–especially ERA and K/9–are reflective of a pitcher capable of closing baseball games.  Equally impressive is the fact that Kimbrel rarely serves up the long ball(only 5 since entering professional baseball); an essential characteristic amongst baseball’s best closers.

One thing is certain; Braves fans definitely have a lot to look forward to with Craig Kimbrel closing games in 2011 and beyond.

3 Comments

  1. Daniel Clark says:

    i like mike dunn more.

  2. Bin says:

    What about Venters — who is the more likely candidate? I’ve heard rumblings about both, notwithstanding how dominant Kimbrel is. He still obviously has some control problems.

  3. Mike Rosenbaum says:

    Bin,
    I’ve heard rumors lately that Venters will receive a chance to close next season, as well as Kimbrel. If true, that’s a pretty nasty closing tandem for the Braves. You can’t argue with Venters success this season, he’s solid. Both he and Kimbrel some minor control issues, but that’s just kind of assumed considering their high swing and miss rates.

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