Jenkins' move to 'pen may speed path to Atlanta

Jenkins' move to 'pen may speed path to Atlanta

ATLANTA -- As the Braves have evaluated the future look of their starting rotation and their current needs at the Major League level, they have determined it is best to transition Triple-A Gwinnett's Tyrell Jenkins from a starting pitcher to a reliever.

Jenkins -- the Braves' No. 8 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- made his first relief appearance since the decision on Friday against Durham, striking out three in two scoreless innings. If he continues to pitch effectively over the next few weeks, he could quickly position himself to earn his first call to the Majors as a member of Atlanta's bullpen.

"[The transition] might be the thing that gets him up here quicker," said Braves manager Brian Snitker, who served as Jenkins' manager at Gwinnett for the second half of last season and the first six weeks of this current season.

As Jenkins has posted a 2.97 ERA over 57 2/3 innings as a member of Gwinnett's rotation this season, he has surrendered 60 hits, recorded 40 strikeouts and issued 22 walks. The 23-year-old right-hander recorded 88 strikeouts and issued 61 walks over the 138 1/3 innings he completed for Double-A Mississippi and Gwinnett last year.

Along with creating some concern about his strikeout and walk rates, Jenkins has not yet mastered a third pitch. Still, he has shown enough with his fastball and curveball to give the Braves hope that he might prove effective when he is able to exert more effort as a reliever.

"He wasn't struggling," Snitker said. "It's just to see how he does there. Maybe with a little different look, maybe he'll get after it a little more. Instead of pacing yourself [as a starting pitcher], you go out there and blow for a couple innings. We'll see how he does."

As things currently stand, the Braves are hopeful to continue utilizing Julio Teheran, Matt Wisler, Mike Foltynewicz, Williams Perez and Aaron Blair in their rotation. If they need to make a change because of injury or poor performance, they could use either John Gant or Casey Kelly to fill a rotation spot.

While Gant and Kelly might not be viewed as long-term bullpen solutions, they could at least serve as placeholders until Mississippi's Sean Newcomb or Chris Ellis are deemed ready to make the jump to the big league level.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.