Week 3 of spring training games, and week 3 of the Atlanta Braves Making the Team Meter. You can find week 2 here. To say there have been some changes to the MTM this past week would be an understatement.
First up are the locks for each area of the team, which is actually quite different from previous weeks due to injuries. The 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. The first official spring roster cuts should be coming up soon, possibly today. Though with all the injuries they might just keep everyone in camp a little longer.
First up, the locks for roster spots (barring injury, of course):
Rotation locks (2 of 5): Julio Teheran and Ervin Santana. This used to be one of the more solid parts of the team, but it has been ripped to shreds. I can only call two of these guys locks, and Santana might not even be ready to start the season. We’ll be optimistic about that for now, since he has been throwing simulated games while waiting to sign.
Bullpen locks (5 of 7): Craig Kimbrel, Jordan Walden, Luis Avilan, David Carpenter, and Anthony Varvaro. No change here, all systems go… please stay that way.
Lineup locks (8 of 8): Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman, Evan Gattis, Chris Johnson, B.J. Upton, Andrelton Simmons, and Dan Uggla. These guys are starting to hit some home runs.
Bench locks (4 of 5): Gerald Laird, Ryan Doumit, Jordan Schafer, and Ramiro Pena. Laird has made it back into games… yea!
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 (3 spots): Freddy Garcia had a hiccup last week, but he had a pregnant wife giving birth, so yeah, he was distracted. Alex Wood was a bit wild, but continues to work his way through it. It looks like he’ll get a spot in the rotation to start the season. Brandon Beachy left a start early and will skip his next start. It’s not certain yet how much this will set him back. He’s a complete unknown at this point. He’s trending up because I’m hopeful that he’ll be ready. David Hale moves up here because of the injuries to Medlen, Minor, and Beachy. He could be the fifth (or fourth) starter to begin the season.
Trending up for the bullpen (2 spots): Some better performances this past week, so that lessens the need for a trade. With all the injuries in the rotation, this group will be even more important. Luis Vazquez has now made it into games. His first outing was rough, but he’s settling down and should still have the inside track on a bullpen spot. Ryan Buchter did what you’re supposed to do in spring training, which is get all the bad out of the way early, and come on strong at the end. He’s been terrific of late and with Wood needed in the rotation, Buchter should be the second lefty in the pen. Cory Gearrin has been very Cory Gearrin this spring — solid and unspectacular. There should certainly be a place for solid and unspectacular in the bullpen, but is there? Juan Jaime continues to have a good spring, and he throws harder than the rest of these guys (have I mentioned that).
Trending up for the bench (1 spot): Tyler Pastornicky still hasn’t made it into a game, recovering from off-season surgery. I’ll leave him up here a little longer, but if he hasn’t appeared in a game next week, then he’s likely opening in the minors. The next best candidate is actually Jose Constanza. He’s having a great spring, and no one else competing for the last bench spot has done as well or been as consistent. I’m moving Ernesto Mejia up here because I’m hopeful. He would purely be a pinch hitter, but his power off the bench could be an asset, and he’s having a good spring — tied for the team lead in doubles and controlling his strikeouts.
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: Mike Minor… yep, I thought he would have made it into a game by now, but he doesn’t seem to be anywhere near game-ready. At this rate he will not be ready in time to be a part of the opening day rotation. I’m moving Daniel Rodriguez from the bullpen to the rotation since they seem to be continuing to stretch him out, albeit late in games.
Trending down for the bullpen: Gus Schlosser is still here, though I wonder if they are stretching him out to start. He’s on the outside of this battle right now. I’m moving Ian Thomas up here as he has done good work this spring, and could have an outside shot at a spot.
Trending down for the bench: Todd Cunningham has displayed some power this spring. He’ll likely still start at triple-A, but it would be nice to see him add power to his game this year. Tyler Greene is still that super-utility guy in the Elliot Johnson mold. He’s had a bad spring, so unless the Braves think they need another infielder he starts in triple-A. Joey Terdoslavich moves down here from the trending up section. He’s had a pretty bad spring, and unless he turns it around in the final weeks he’s headed for the minors.
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: Jason Hursh, Cody Martin, and Yunesky Maya.
Axed from bullpen consideration for now: J.R. Graham, Carlos Perez, Aaron Northcraft, Lay Batista, and Atahualpa Severino. New additions down here are Wirfin Obispo, Shae Simmons, and Mark Lamm.
Axed from lineup consideration for now: Tommy La Stella moves down here. He’s had a good spring, but Dan Uggla has had an uncharacteristically good spring (for him).
Axed from bench consideration for now: Elmer Reyes, Phil Gosselin, Matt Lipka, Edward Salcedo, and Mark Hamilton.