Spring Training: Atlanta Braves Week-in-Review, March 5

Freddie Freeman will be leaving Braves camp to play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. (Photo: FanSided)

The Braves played eight games in seven days of real Grapefruit League action. Their record is 2-7, but most fans realize the record is much less important than how individuals are doing, especially those fighting for roster spots. So let’s take a look.

Bullpen

Locks: RH Jim Johnson, RH Arodys Vizcaino, RH Mauricio Cabrera

Likely: RH Jose Ramirez, RH Josh Collmenter, LH Ian Krol

Last Spot Candidates: RH Luke Jackson, LH Adam Kolarek, RH Akeel Morris, LH Eric O’Flaherty, LH Sam Freeman, LH Paco Rodriguez, LH Jesse Biddle, RH Chaz Roe

Injured: RH Armando Rivero, RH Daniel Winkler, LH A.J. Minter

Of this group, only Roe and Freeman have not pitched well so far, and Roe was somewhat victimized by poor defense. My feeling is that the last spot will belong to Paco Rodriguez if he can show he can withstand the rigors of semi-regular use. If they want to take it slow with Paco, I think they go with O’Flaherty, Kolarek, or Roe.

Lefty Jesse Biddle pitched his first live game since undergoing Tommy John surgery after the 2015 season. Biddle retired all three batters he faced, including two strikeouts.

It’s been so far, so good with Arodys Vizcaino, who is been monitored this spring after being slowed by a strained oblique and shoulder inflammation in the second half of last season. Vizcaino’s fastball has been clocked in the high-90s and he has struck out four batters in two innings pitched to date.

Rule V pick Armando Rivero has not pitched at all so far with shoulder soreness, but the team has indicated that it’s not serious and that he should see some game action this week. Likewise, the club has been cautious about top relief prospect A.J. Minter, who pitched all of last season under a strict timetable for use. The organization would like to ease those constraints once the season begins.

Bench

Locks: IF Jace Peterson, C Kurt Suzuki

Likely: IF Chase d’Arnaud

Last Spot Candidates: OF Emilio Bonifacio, IF/OF Micah Johnson, OF/1B Christian Walker, OF Adam Walker, 3B Rio Ruiz, IF Johan Camargo

Injured: OF Dustin Peterson

Probably the most disappointing news coming out of camp this week was that Dustin Peterson broke the hamate bone in his left hand and will miss approximately two months. Peterson started hot this spring and was making a strong case to either be the 4th outfielder or the “next man up” if sent to Gwinnett.

Of the other “last spot” candidates, all have shown flashes this week, with Carmargo firmly putting himself in the conversation with a homer, a triple, and three walks… power and patience that he hadn’t shown much of in the minors so far in his career.

The team has also heavily featured Micah Johnson in the outfield to test his fitness to play there, and the results have been decidedly mixed.

Ozzie Albies Likely To Return This Week

Second base prospect Ozzie Albies is scheduled for a follow-up examination of his elbow on Monday, which Albies and the club hope will clear him for game action next week.

Albies broke the olecranon bone in his right elbow while taking a swing during a playoff game for class AA Mississippi in September. Albies has been under rehab protocol and while he has been seen taking infield drills and batting practice he has not played in a spring training game to date.

Even with veteran Brandon Phillips on the roster and likely to start the season as Atlanta’s second baseman, Albies would no doubt like to show that injury concerns are behind him and that he will be ready for call-up as soon as the organization feels like he’s ready for the challenge. According to GM John Coppollela, there is no one blocking Albies and he will take over once the team is sure he is ready.

Former Brave David Hale Back On Minor League Deal

Former Braves right-handed pitcher David Hale is back in the Atlanta organization after signing a minor league deal at some point this offseason.

Hale was a 3rd-round pick by the Braves back in 2009 and pitched in 45 games (6 starts) in 2014. Hale was traded after the 2014 season along with reliever Gus Schlosser to Colorado for catchers Chris O’Dowd and Jose Briceno. Neither catcher is still with the organization.

Hale pitched to 6.27 ERA in 19 games (12 starts) for the Rockies spread over the last two seasons. Hale was picked off waivers mid-season by the Orioles organization and finished the year with their AAA Norfolk affiliate.

Hale does not have a major league spring training invite, though he did get some game action Saturday afternoon against Philadelphia. Hale could provide depth at the AAA level in either the bullpen or the rotation.

MLB Pipeline Names Braves Top Minor League System

On Friday, MLB Pipeline joined Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and ESPN in tabbing Atlanta as the top farm system in the game.

MLB Pipeline also updated their top 30 Braves prospect list, joining all the major prospect rankings by making shortstop Dansby Swanson the top prospect in the system. Their top 10 list is:

  1. Dansby Swanson, SS
  2. Ozzie Albies, 2B
  3. Kevin Maitan, SS
  4. Kolby Allard, LHP
  5. Mike Soroka, RHP
  6. Sean Newcomb, LHP
  7. Ian Anderson, RHP
  8. Ronald Acuna, OF
  9. Max Fried, LHP
  10. Travis Demeritte, 2B

Quotes of Spring

It’s great that a kid’s worked that hard to get back, and just to get out there and complete that inning – it seemed like probably nothing to people in the stands, but it’s a huge thing for a kid who’s went through all that he’s went through and as hard as he’s worked. To go out there and get through the inning, I’m happy for him.

– Manager Brian Snitker, on the return of lefty Paco Rodriguez

 

They’re not intimidated. If I had gotten called up when I was in A-ball, to play in a big league game — no chance.

– Spring training coach Chipper Jones, on the poise shown by minor league prospects such as Ronald Acuna and Austin Riley, who have been given the opportunity to play in major league spring training games

 

It was mostly just a sign that they have a lot of faith in me. And that they also had a lot of faith in their ability to rehab me to full strength and give me a chance to succeed at the Major League level. So far, so good. I feel 100 percent. I feel awesome.

– Left-handed Jesse Biddle, on being claimed off waivers by the Braves before the 2016 season despite knowing he’d miss pitching all season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery

 

 

 

 

About Andy Harris 97 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.

2 Comments

  1. You guys keep on putting out great content! Thank you for this. Honestly, you all are doing the best job of any of my Braves blogs this ST. Also, I would make this a regular site just for the fact that you guys directly link BR profiles for all the players.

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