Week 2 of spring training games, and week 2 of the Atlanta Braves Making the Team Meter. You can find week 1 here. At this point in the spring it may also be helpful to reference the following Braves Bullpen Building Blocks posts for more information on the many pitchers in camp:
- The 2013 core hold-overs.
- Guys who usually start, but could relieve.
- Other relievers on the 40-man roster.
- Non-roster invitees.
- Relievers further down on the farm.
Battles for the remaining roster spots are rarely won or lost in the first week of spring, but because of lingering injuries and early spring ineffectiveness there does seem to be some added competition for a few spots on the team.
Like last week I’ll present the locks for each area of the team, then the guys trending up or down. Those guys trending up or down (listed in red text) are the ones to keep an eye on and should constitute the bulk of the players competing for open roster spots. The rest of the guys in camp are listed next to the ax, because, well, they will eventually be axed from the spring roster.
First up, the locks for roster spots (barring injury, of course):
Rotation locks (4 of 5): Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, and Brandon Beachy. Beachy might take some time to fully loosen up, but he should be ready. Minor might be delayed a week into the season, but with the Braves early schedule they can manage with just four starters the first two times through the rotation.
Bullpen locks (5 of 7): Craig Kimbrel, Jordan Walden, Luis Avilan, David Carpenter, and Anthony Varvaro. Varvaro has been part of the poor-control caucus. We’ll have to keep an eye on his spring to see if the Braves remain confident in him.
Lineup locks (8 of 8): Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman, Evan Gattis, Chris Johnson, B.J. Upton, Andrelton Simmons, and Dan Uggla. No surprises here.
Bench locks (4 of 5): Gerald Laird, Ryan Doumit, Jordan Schafer, and Ramiro Pena. Laird has been sidelined with some soreness, but should see action again soon.
Next up are the players trending up to make the team. There may be more players listed than spots available, but as spring training goes on I’ll whittle these players down.
Trending up for the rotation (1 spot): Freddy Garcia has done what he needs to do so far to make the Braves think his good work at the end of the season was not a fluke. Alex Wood was solid in his first start, and has drawn more raves from those around the team. Both pitchers are deserving of making the club, and both could if Minor is not ready in time, or if help is needed in the bullpen.
Trending up for the bullpen (2 spots): There are two spots open that no one seems to be winning. The Braves pen has been wild in the first week of spring, causing some concern from Fredi Gonzalez. The first “player” trending up is Trade — yep, I have to think that the Braves are thinking more and more about a trade to fill one of the last two bullpen spots. Luis Vazquez is still recovering from a lat injury suffered in winter ball and has not yet made it into a game. Ryan Buchter has been wildly inconsistent, drawing some ire from his manager. Still time to right the ship though. Cory Gearrin has been the best of this group. If he can keep it up then he should see opening day, though there hasn’t been much written about Gearrin so it’s hard to “take the temperature” on him. I’m moving Juan Jaime up here this week. He’s pitched well this spring, is drawing some complements from folks around the team, and has that electric fastball that the team really wants in the bullpen. With continued good work (and poor work from others) he could slip into a bullpen spot.
Trending up for the bench (1 spot): Tyler Pastornicky still hasn’t made it into a game, recovering from off-season surgery. He should make an appearance this coming week. The other two guys I see as trending up for this spot, Joey Terdoslavich and Jose Constanza, aren’t really separating themselves yet. Constanza has gotten the most at bats so far, if that means anything. Still anyone’s job to win.
The next group of players are trending down. For one of these guys to make the team they would have to have an amazing spring, or there would have to be an injury to a player above.
Trending down for the rotation: David Hale pitched decently in his first work this spring. Even if he’s not considered for the rotation, he could be trending up for the bullpen.
Trending down for the bullpen: Wirfin Obispo has been a huge disappointment so far. His control has been horrendous, and as of this writing he currently leads all pitchers in baseball in walks. Mark Lamm and Shae Simmons had to be really good this spring to have a chance to make the club, and they’ve been really bad so far. I’m adding Daniel Rodriguez up from the Ax section. After a rough first outing he’s pitched well, and he might be someone we need to keep an extra eye on. I’m also adding Gus Schlosser, who has pitched well and drew this praise from Gonzalez: “Every time you run him out there, he does a hell of a job and all of a sudden, you (start to think).”
Trending down for the lineup: Tommy La Stella has been the team’s hottest hitter so far this spring, with nothing but positive reviews about him emanating from camp. Still, the guy in front of him makes $13 million, and isn’t going anywhere right now.
Trending down for the bench: Todd Cunningham, Ernesto Mejia, and Tyler Greene have all done well with limited playing time. It will take another week of above average play for one of them to play their way onto the team.
Below are the rest of the guys in camp, and while there is some talent in this group, they are not likely to be around the Major League camp in the final weeks of spring. That being said, I may move one or two of these guys up if they have a great spring or there is some buzz about them in the press.
Axed from rotation consideration for now: J.R. Graham, Jason Hursh, Cody Martin, Yunesky Maya, and Ian Thomas.
Axed from bullpen consideration for now: Carlos Perez, Aaron Northcraft, Lay Batista, and Atahualpa Severino.
Axed from bench consideration for now: Elmer Reyes, Phil Gosselin, Matt Lipka, Edward Salcedo, and Mark Hamilton.