Originally posted on Chop-N-Change  |  Last updated 1/24/12
Jairo Asencio didn't pitch an inning for the Braves in 2010, but in 2009, he looked like a real option for the major league bullpen after an outstanding performance for Gwinnett. Then known as Luis Valdez, Asencio struck out 75 while walking just 19 in 71 1/3 innings. He was an International League All-Star, and a promotion to the majors looked to be in the cards for 2010.

But before the 2010 season, things took an unexpected turn. Asencio was detained in the Dominican Republic for identity fraud, and it was found out that his name wasn't Luis Valdez, but in fact, Jairo Asencio. The visa issues wiped out his entire 2010, and his future with the Braves looked questionable at best.

The team stuck by him in 2011, and got a couple of callups to the majors, totalling a 6.97 ERA in 10 1/3 innings, walking five and striking out eight. It was a different story in Gwinnett, where Asencio was dominant in 54 2/3 innings. The 27 year-old struck out 70 while walking 22, and was named the AAA reliever of the year after the season.

Asencio is continuing to perform well this offseason in the Dominican, where he has a 1.07 ERA in 25 1/3 innings, striking out 33 while walking just nine. He'll be 28 a mont into the season, and while he's on the 40-man roster, the Braves need to figure out whether or not he's in the future plans. The team was in a similar situation with Stephen Marek last year, who made the decision for the Braves to part ways with him easier after blowing out his elbow in May.

The situation with Asencio is much different, as he's been dominant in his three active seasons in the Braves organization. I think he can be an effective reliever in the majors if the team actually gives him more than a 10 1/3 inning trial. The fact that Scott Proctor got more of a chance to impress in the majors than Asencio makes me believe that the team really doesn't see him in their future plans, but with his performances at AAA in his last two seasons, why shouldn't the team give him a shot? Guys with mid-80s changeups and low-90s fastballs don't grow on trees, and it would be worth it to at least see if he's got anything instead of just kicking him down to Gwinnett right away.

Photo courtesy of Daylife.com 
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