Braves Making the Team Meter 2010: Pitchers and Catchers Edition

The original Making the Team Meter returns for its fifth year as the one-stop shop for finding out which Atlanta Braves players will break camp with the team. Throughout spring training I'll track the progress of each player who does not yet have a guaranteed spot on the opening day roster.

This year, like last year, the MTM will be initially broken down into two parts -- one for pitchers and one for hitters. Today's installment will cover all the pitchers in camp and who might have a chance at making the team. To begin with we'll assume that there is a group that has already made the team, a pretty safe assumption with these guys:

Starters:  Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, and Kenshin Kawakami (0 spots available)
Relievers: Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito, Peter Moylan, and Eric O'Flaherty (3 spots available)

There shouldn't be any competition this spring for starting pitcher, as Atlanta's rotation is stacked. If, Heaven forbid, there is an injury, we'll keep eyes on the other starting pitcher options. I'm being bearish on the final three bullpen spots, knowing that youth and ineffectiveness could still keep Medlen, Chavez, and Dunn out of the mix. With minor league options left, a bad spring could keep any of them from making the team.

Player, Position Chance Notes
Juan Abreu, RHP
For once, the Braves picked up a player off the waiver wire from the Royals. He's a kid with a live arm, something the Braves love. He's likely ticketed for double-A or triple-A, and we'll keep an eye on him for the balance of the season to see if the Braves were able to steal one from KC.
Manny Acosta, RHP
Oh, Manny you just won't go away. He still has that live arm and good fastball, but zero on the consistency side of the game. With the arrival of Chavez and the emergence of Medlen, Manny looks relegated to the minors once again. If he doesn't get his control issue solved, he may find himself behind even more arms like Lyman and Kimbrel.
Jesse Chavez, RHP
Our Rafael Soriano consolation prize. He will be watched closely in spring training and constantly, albeit unfairly, compared to our former closer. He should make the team as a middle relief innings eater.
Kyle Cofield, RHP
One of the many first time young arms on the 40-man roster. A guy like Cofield needs to try and stand out in this crowded field.
Erik Cordier, RHP
Non-roster pitcher Cordier will get a look, and his fastball could be an asset down the line in the Atlanta bullpen.
Michael Dunn, LHP
Part of the Javier Vazquez trade, Dunn comes over with impressive stuff as a lefty setup guy. He could challenge for the last spot in the bullpen. He's someone who is still learning the nuances of pitching after starting his pro career as an outfielder.
Mariano Gomez, LHP
Another lefty relief option, he had a great year at Gwinnett last season, but never got the call. He is once again behind several other top lefty relief options.
Lee Hyde, LHP
Many think Hyde has the best stuff of the group of young pitchers added to the 40-man roster this off-season. He certainly has a chance to make the bullpen, and is someone to keep an eye on.
Craig Kimbrel, RHP
The Braves closer of the future, he's already been called the right-handed Billy Wagner. He is a non-roster guy who is likely just getting his first look at Major League camp, but if he impresses he might force some tough decisions.
Jeff Lyman, RHP
A big tall pitcher who bounced between the rotation and bullpen last year. His flexibility could help him earn a role somewhere.
Stephen Marek, RHP
He came over with Casey Kotchman in the Mark Teixeira trade. Some had high hopes for him as a bullpen arm, but he regressed last year and needs to impress this season or risk getting released. If the Braves do have to punt someone off their 40-man this spring, he might be the guy to go.
Kris Medlen, RHP
Many may question why I put him here, but he's still young and a poor spring could find the club giving him some more time in the minors.
Mike Minor, LHP
Last year's first round pick is continuing to pop up in prominent places. He did okay in the Arizona Fall League, and will get a head start on minor league camp by starting with the big boys. He could help his cause with a good performance, but the odds are he'll start at high-A or double-A.
Jose Ortegano, LHP
One of the more talented kids in the group that was added to the 40-man this off-season. He's a soft-tosser by some standards, but he continues to have major league success. He pitched brilliantly this winter in the Venezuelan Winter League.
James Parr, RHP
He's proving to be the prototypical four-A player. Odds are we'll see him at some point in 2010 in Atlanta. It would be nice to see if he's made any improvements since last year.
Scott Proctor, RHP
He'll mainly be rehabbing from Tommy John surgery this spring, but he will almost surely be a bullpen call-up come June or July.
Todd Redmond, RHP
One of the stars of the US National Team late last year, he's not an overpowering presence, but he could be useful as a ground-ball bullpen specialist and long reliever.
Chris Resop
The big hard thrower is back from his exile in Japan, and looking to once again ride a hot spring training to a spot in the Braves bullpen.
Jo-Jo Reyes, LHP
Jo-Jo is still hanging around. Will this be the year he makes us believe. Odds are he's trade bait along the lines of Charlie Morton last year. He adds depth the Braves system in case of an injury in the Major League rotation.
Luis Valdez, RHP
The closer at Gwinnett last year, who had a great year, seemed to not have the confidence of the Atlanta skipper, as he was only used sparingly in his stints with Atlanta. He should seriously compete for a bullpen spot this spring.
Jonny Venters, LHP
A hard thrower who may come out of nowhere to surprise some folks. He likely needs another year of seasoning, though.

 

Arrow Key:
= Chance of making the team is even.
= Chance of making the team is going down.
= Chance of making the team is going up.
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