Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Talking Chop takes a look at every pitcher in the Atlanta Braves spring training camp, and examines the chance each one of them has at making the club to open the season.
The original Making The Team Meter (MTM) returns for its eighth season as your one stop shop for finding out which Atlanta Braves players will break camp with the team, and which ones are headed back to the minors. 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 the MTM will be initially broken down into three parts -- one for pitchers, one for catchers, and one for the rest of the hitters. Today's installment will cover all the pitchers in camp and examine which ones have a chance at making the team. To begin with we'll assume that there is a group that has already made the team:
It should be a quick battle for the fifth starters spot, and a couple of guys should have the inside edge on the last two bullpen spots. We'll see if those battles will really be as open-and-shut as they should be, and who might emerge to challenge for a spot.
|Player, Position||Trend||Last Week||Roster Status||Notes and Comments|
|Luis Avilan, LHP||40-Man||Was one of the biggest surprises in last year's bullpen after a mid-season call-up. He had a really good Winter League performance in Venezuela, and should have the inside track on a bullpen spot with a good performance this spring.|
|Ryan Buchter, LHP||n/a||NRI||I'm a big fan of Buchter, but he's almost strictly a LOOGY, and he still has some control issues to sort through. He needs to use this spring to learn as much as he can from the other veteran lefties on the team, and apply that towards a successful campaign at triple-A.|
|David Carpenter, RHP||n/a||40-Man||A new face on the team, claimed off waivers from the BoSox. Carpenter has two partial seasons of big league bullpen time the last two years. He features a mid-90s fastball and slurvy slider with improving control. His original pro team, the Cardinals, converted him from catching to pitching in 2008, and the Braves are hoping he can find some Jason Motte-like success. He's on the 40-man, has experience, a big fastball -- he has a good chance to make the team.|
|Yohan Flande, LHP||n/a||NRI||Flan-day has been the Braves triple-A swing-man the last two years, and with all the left-handed competition in camp he will likely be ticketed for that role once again.|
|Cory Gearrin, RHP||40-Man||Gearrin found a lot of success in Atlanta last year, but much of that came in low-leverage situations. Of course, there's a lot to be said for the Braves allowing Gearrin to cut his teeth in low-pressure MLB situations, with the idea that he will now be more prepared for high-pressure situations. He is still limited as mainly a ROOGY, which might hurt his chances at a bullpen spot when pitted against Avilan and Carpenter, who can get guys out from both sides of the plate.|
|Sean Gilmartin, LHP||NRI||He is being billed as the top competition to Teheran for the fifth starter spot. Gilmartin is a steady and unspectacular workhorse starter who has moved very quickly through the minors after being drafted in the first round in 2011. Even if he has a good spring, Teheran would have to have a horrible spring for Gilmartin to make the team. The Braves want him to take over for Maholm next year.
|J.R. Graham, RHP||n/a||NRI||Graham will turn some heads this spring, and we'll probably spend a week talking about him "seriously" when he lights up the radar gun for the first time in front of MLB beat writers, but the Braves will stick to their development track with him, and allow him to return to being a starter at either AA or AAA.|
|David Hale, RHP||n/a||40-Man||Originally thought to be a bullpen candidate when drafted, the Braves, and Hale, seem to prefer starting. He put together a good campaign at AA last year, and should be slated for the AAA rotation this year. He could still be called on for bullpen help if needed down the road.|
|Dusty Hughes, LHP||n/a||NRI||He's been stalled at triple-A the last four years, and with the amount of lefties in camp for Atlanta, it looks like he'll be ticketed for the AAA bullpen once again.|
|Juan Jaime, RHP||n/a||40-Man||He was the closer in high-A last year, so one would think he would go to double-A this year, but when you can throw 100mph like Jaime can, you never know when it might all come together at an advanced level. If he can show good control, he could get a long look this spring.|
|Aaron Northcraft, RHP||n/a||40-Man||Workhorse starter slated for double-A rotation. He should really benefit from being around the Major League guys like Hudson and Medlen.|
|Wirfin Obispo, RHP||n/a||NRI||He spent several years playing in Japan, returning stateside last year with the Reds. He will likely fill out the rotation at either AA or AAA, and could be used as a swing-man at either stop, much like Flande. I don't see that he has much of a chance to make the team.|
|Cory Rasmus, RHP||n/a||40-Man||The brother of Colby Rasmus, Cory is a former first-rounder who has battled one injury after another in his pro career. The Braves finally made him a full-time reliever last year at AA, and he likely turned in his finest professional performance yet (he also happened to stay healthy most of the year). He should get valuable experience this spring, and could be good depth at triple-A, with a chance to finally emerge as a contender for a big league job, provided he stays healthy.|
|Daniel Rodriguez, LHP||NRI||I would mark down Rodriguez as the dark horse candidate to push for the fifth starter's spot. His experience in US professional baseball is limited, but he's a seven-year veteran (at 28-years-old) of the Mexican League. He will likely be at triple-a to start the year, but he's a hard thrower and his unfamiliarity to the league could make his stuff more effective early in his US pro career (see Jorge Campillo).|
|Julio Teheran, RHP||40-Man||He should, *should* be the fifth starter. The competition for the job could be cover to keep the pressure off Teheran. He had a great finish to his Winter League season, and maybe that will help him prepare better for earning the role this spring. Remember how bad he was last spring -- that cannot be repeated if he is to make the team.|
|Anthony Varvaro, RHP||40-Man||I'll give him the edge for the last bullpen spot because he's more of a traditional hard-thrower. Gearrin and Carpenter will be his main competition, but a lot will likely depend on which guy is pitching well at the end of spring.|
Alex Wood, LHP
||n/a||NRI||The Braves second pick last year, out of UGA. He gets a courtesy invite to spring training. It will be interesting to see if the Braves want him to remain a starter or move to the bullpen. As a reliever many believe he could move through the system quickly.|
|= Chance of making the team is good.|
|= Chance of making the team is slightly better than 50-50.|
|= Chance of making the team is slightly worse than 50-50.|
|= Chance of making the team is bad.|
I'll take a look at the catchers in camp tomorrow, then we'll shift to the rest of the hitters when they report on Thursday.