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Marek offers versatility on mound

Marek offers versatility on mound

While most baseball fans are probably familiar with Casey Kotchman, they may not know as much about the other player the Atlanta Braves received in exchange for Mark Teixeira on Tuesday, 24-year-old right-hander Stephen Marek.

In Marek, the Braves get a prospect who gives them several potential options.

Drafted in the 40th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft out of San Jacinto Junior College and signed the next spring as a draft-and-follow, Marek came to the Angels as a big, strong kid with a power arm who could crank his fastball into the mid-90s and offset it with a curveball that was his out pitch.

He worked as a starter for his first three pro seasons, leading the organization in ERA in 2006 when he combined between two Class A stops for a 2.38 ERA. In 2007, he posted a 4.30 ERA in 25 games at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga.

In 2008, however, he began his conversion to the back end of the bullpen at Double-A Arkansas, where he was 2-6 with three saves and a 3.66 ERA in 34 games at the time of the trade. He'd limited Texas League hitters to a .223 average and struck out 57 in 46 2/3 innings as part of the Travelers' "closer by committee."

So with Atlanta, will it be Marek the starter or Marek the closer? Stay tuned.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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