Atlanta Braves Making The Team Meter 2012: Hitters, Week 1

If the Braves think they need a lot of this, then Jose Constanza could very well make the team.

The Making the Team Meter (MTM) is your one-stop shop for keeping up with who will make the club and who won't. Earlier this week we brought you the pitchers' edition of the MTM, and today as the full squad reports for action in Orlando, we bring you the hitters who are trying to make the Atlanta Braves opening day roster.

To begin with we'll assume that there is a group that has already made the team:

Starting Lineup: Michael Bourn, Martin Prado, Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Jason Heyward, and Freddie Freeman (1 spot available at shortstop)
Bench: David Ross, Eric Hinske, Matt Diaz, and Jack Wilson (1 spot available, possibly 2 spots if Wilson is the starting shortstop)

If the Braves carry 12 pitchers as they usually do, then after the 8 players in the starting lineup, there are 5 spots left on the bench, of which 4 are already spoken for. It should be a tight race for what looks to be very few available roster spots (FYI, none of the NRI catchers are included for what should be obvious reasons):

Player, Position Trending Last Week Roster Status Notes and Comments
Jose Constanza, OF
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40-Man
Showed that he can be a valuable rug-rat on the basepaths last year. He rode a hot streak to a lot of playing time, but finished the year on a really cold note. A pretty one-dimensional player, but the Braves seem to value speed, and if they carry a backup center fielder, then he has the inside track.
Todd Cunningham, OF
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NRI
A great college hitter, Cunningham hasn't wow'ed with the bat yet in pro ball, but he's still young and the Braves clearly believe in him with this invite to spring training. He'll use this opportunity to learn from a great center fielder in Bourn, and try to impress the Atlanta coaching staff.
Luis Durango, OF
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NRI
Durango could be the main competition for Constanza. They're very similar one-dimensional players, and Durango has more extended Major League service time, and could be a more dynamic player. It could come down to who has the hot bat at the end of the spring.
Stefan Gartrell, OF
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NRI
A mid-average power hitter who is finding himself stuck in four-A status. He will need to have a really impressive spring to make the club, and even then it's a longshot without an injury to one of the other Major League corner outfielders.
Brandon Hicks, IF
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40-Man
Hicks is the favorite to win the last spot on the bench. He will still need to hit this spring, and show his versatility in the field, but he should be pretty close to a lock for the Atlanta bench. I also predict that at some point this spring, if he's hitting well, that there will be talk about Hicks winning the starting shortstop job over Pastornicky or Wilson. He's less of a fielder, but could be a much better hitter as the starting SS.
Jordan Parraz, OF
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NRI
Parraz is the classic case of a high draft pick who hasn't panned out ... yet. He's got decent speed, mild pop in his bat, and hits for a decent average. Like Gartrell, he would need to have a lights-out spring to make the club.
Tyler Pastornicky, SS
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40-Man
The odds on favorite to win the starting shortstop job with the Braves, but he'll still need to do some hitting this spring, and show he's ready mentally. I fear that the Braves may be making a similar mistake with Pastornicky that they made with Jordan Schafer several years ago -- moving him to quickly to the Majors after only limited time in the upper minors. Pastornicky will have competition this spring with Hicks, Simmons, and Wilson.
Andrelton Simmons, SS
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NRI
This is the guy I consider the Braves future long-term shortstop. There's no question about his arm or his defensive ability, though he may need some more reps before he's ready. Some people question his bat, but I believe he's just about ready to contribute. It will be interesting, with the glut of shortstops in the Braves system, to see if they put Simmons at AAA to star the year. I also believe there will be some talk about him starting over Pastornicky this spring.
Drew Sutton, IF
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NRI
If Brandon Hicks can't win the backup util job this spring, then Sutton could step in and snag it. He actually might be a more preferable option to Hicks. Sutton has much more Major League playing time than Hicks, and can play everywhere on the infield and in the outfield. He's kind of an Omar Infante lite. Sutton is also adept at getting on base, a skill the Braves need.
Joe Terdoslavich, IF
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NRI
J-Terd will probably get a lot of playing time filling in after Chipper exits spring training games. The Atlanta staff should get a good feel for whether he'll be able to hold down the hot corner defensively or not. Being around Chipper Jones should help.
Josh Wilson, IF
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NRI
The other J. Wilson on the roster, almost a forgotten man (smirk). He has more experience than anyone else on this list, having accumulated five years of Major League service time. He's a four-A veteran at this point in his career. He doesn't do anything particularly well, but he also doesn't do anything particularly poorly. He should get a long look to be the backup infielder.
Arrow Key:
Nav_up_green_medium = Chance of making the team is good.
Nav_down_red_medium = Chance of making the team is bad.
Nav_up_yellow_medium = Chance of making the team is slightly better than 50-50.
Nav_down_yellow_medium = Chance of making the team is slightly worse than 50-50.
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