Spring Training: Atlanta Braves Week-in-Review, February 26

Bartolo Colon starts for the Braves in their first 2017 spring training game. (Photo: Atlanta Braves via Twitter)

Braves Opens Grapefruit League Schedule with a “W”

Saturday marked the start of the Grapefruit League spring training game schedule for Atlanta, and the Braves got off on a good foot with a 7-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Braves started the game with what could very much be the Opening Day line-up (minus the Designated Hitter) and free agent addition Bartolo Colon on the mound. As typical in spring training, especially early on, there were wholesale substitutions throughout the game and Colon only went two innings, giving up one run on back-to-back doubles to start the 2nd inning.

Left-handed non-roster veteran John Danks followed Colon and struggled through 1.1 innings, allowing 2 runs and leaving with the bases loaded. Reliever Blaine Boyer induced an inning-ending double play on his first pitch.

The Braves starting line-up rallied with back-to-back-bases loaded RBI singles by third baseman Adonis Garcia and designated hitter Tyler Flowers to pull to 3-2. But it was the substitutes that generated the offense that took the lead for good, with outfielders Emilio Bonifacio and Dustin Peterson keying a 3-run 4th inning that would essentially put the game away. Bonifacio went 2-for-2 with a double and a walk.

Relief prospects Akeel Morris and Luke Jackson looked particularly sharp, getting the final 9 outs without allowing a baserunner and striking out 4 between them.

The Braves will host the Houston Astros at their Disney complex this afternoon with right-hander Julio Teheran scheduled to take the mound. Teheran will be followed by knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on Monday, right-hander Mike Foltynewicz on Tuesday, and lefty Jaime Garcia on Wednesday.

Braves Claim Christian Walker from Orioles

Christian Walker hits a homer for the Orioles (Photo: MLB.com)

During the game on Saturday, word spread that the Braves claimed outfielder/first baseman Christian Walker off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles needed to make a 40-man roster change in order to make room for lefty reliever Richard Bleier, whom they traded for from the Yankees earlier in the week.

Walker was ranked the #23 prospect in the Orioles system by Baseball America in their latest rankings. Walker was a star with the University of South Carolina before being drafted in the 4th round in 2012. Walker hasn’t hit fewer than 18 home runs in any minor league season to date and owns a .276/.342/.449 minor league slash line. Walker has a reputation for having a solid approach and will grind out at-bats, but he also has posted high strikeout rates. With the Orioles now committed to Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo at first base/right field at the major league level and prospect Trey Mancini now ahead of him on the Orioles depth chart, Walker became expendable.

Going into his age 26 season, Walker will likely compete with the likes of Matt Tuiasosopo, Balbino Fuenmayor, Kyle Kubitza, Mel Rojas Jr, and fellow recent waiver claim Adam Walker for at-bats at AAA Gwinnett and will have the advantage of being on the 40-man roster in case a power hitter is needed in Atlanta.

Braves Sign Former Football Star Commings

Former University of Georgia and Kansas City Chiefs star cornerback Sanders Commings has signed a minor league contract with the Braves. Commings last played baseball regularly during his senior of high school at Westside High in Augusta. Commings went to UGA on a football scholarship however, where he started every game his junior and senior seasons and made a total of 154 tackles and 8 interceptions (good Dawg).

Commings was drafted by the Kansas Chiefs in the 5th-round of the 2014 draft, but shoulder, ankle, and leg injuries limited his NFL career to only two games.

Commings will be making his pro baseball debut at age 27. Braves GM John Coppolella told reporters after the signing, “We feel this is a tremendous athlete and an even better person. Our mantra has always been to leave no stone unturned. What’s the downside here?”

Commings reportedly demonstrated good foot-speed, bat speed, and some power in private workouts for scouts before the Braves signed him.

Fangraphs Release Braves Top Prospect List

Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs released his Braves prospect list, ranking 32 and giving another 37 “prospects of note” write-ups. Longengahen says “[Atlanta] is baseball’s ‘Trust the Process’ franchise, one that has amassed perhaps the best collection of minor-league talent in the game because of complete and total devotion to their own rebuild.”

The top 10 prospects according to Fangraphs:

1. Dansby Swanson, SS
2. Ozzie Albies, 2B
3. Ronald Acuna, CF
4. Kolby Allard, LHP
5. Kevin Maitan, 3B
6. Ian Anderson, RHP
7. Max Fried, LHP
8. Luiz Gohara, LHP
9. Mike Soroka, RHP
10. Christian Pache, CF

Quotes of Spring

Nick Markakis, Freddie Freeman, Dansby Swanson, and Matt Kemp wait for batting practice, February 21. (Photo: Atlanta Braves via Twitter)

I’m taking Minter‘s cutter, Touki‘s curveball, Fried‘s change-up, Soroka‘s control, I’m taking a little bit from everybody.

– Pitching prospect Patrick Weigel, on what he would take from any of his Rome or Mississippi teammates if he could.

 

ouch man

– Pitching prospect Kolby Allard, Rome teammate of Patrick Weigel, in response on Twitter.

 

My primary focus is location. I’m just trying to get my command and placement where I want them to be. That didn’t really feel like it happened today. But the most important thing is I feel good.

– Right-hander Bartolo Colon, after going two innings and surrendering one run in his spring debut.

 

I’ve been trying to fix my mechanics and take some stress off my elbow. Just watching gives me perspective on where the stress is coming and everything like that. So, yeah, I’ve watched it. My wife hasn’t yet. She still can’t.

– Right-handed reliever Daniel Winkler, on watching the disturbing video of his elbow injury last season in order to make adjustments to his delivery.

 

Developing that pitch was big for me at the end of the year, and hopefully it’s big for me moving on.

– Right-hander Aaron Blair, on developing a slider mid-season and using is successfully down the stretch.

 

I think the more rules they change, they’re just changing baseball, and baseball was perfect the way it was.

– First baseman Freddie Freeman, on recent MLB rule changes regarding instant replay and pace of play.

About Andy Harris 81 Articles
Andy Harris has been a baseball fan since seeing the Big Red Machine in 1978 and hardcore baseball fan since reading Bill James's Historical Baseball Abstract in 1990. Andy moved to the Atlanta area in 1991, which turned out to be a pretty good year for the local team.

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