Talking Chop takes a look at every hitter 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 Atlanta Braves Making the Team Meter concludes for week one with the hitters in Spring Training camp. Let's take a look at which positions on the team are up for grabs. First off, the following hitters already have a spot on the opening day roster:
That leaves two spots available for the bench (non-catcher division). One of them will need to be a backup middle infielder, but the other one could go to any one of the candidates below.
|Player, Position||Trend||Last Week||Roster Status||Notes and Comments|
|Jose Constanza, OF||n/a||40-man||If the Braves want to carry a speedy slap-and-gap bat-lickin outfielder, then Constanza will get a spot. Fredi already loves him, so he's probably got an inside track. If the team is emphasizing speed more this year, that should help Georgie. With the power of either Francisco or Chris Johnson, and the good hitting of Reed Johnson on the bench, it could be argued that a speed guy like Constanza should be on the roster. If the Braves prefer to go with more power on the bench, then Mejia or Gattis could be his main competition.|
|Todd Cunningham, OF||n/a||NRI||Cunningham will come into camp this year with an eye towards making a lasting impression on the Atlanta coaching staff. He should start the year at AAA, and could be called on in case of injury in the outfield. With all three outfield spots in Atlanta secured for the next three years, Cunningham will also be auditioning for other teams who may want to trade for his services.|
Blake DeWitt, IF
||n/a||NRI||A former first round pick by the Dodgers, he has spent parts of five years in the Majors with L.A. and the Cubs. He's pretty much a light-hitting second baseman with some ability to play third and the outfield. I imagine the Braves got him to stash at AAA in case of an injury, and I see him as being behind Pena and eventually Jansih as a backup infielder. His inability to play shortstop means it will be hard for him to find a spot on the Major League squad.|
Joe Leonard, 3B
||n/a||NRI||The winner of the minor league Gold Glove at third base last year, Leonard was a high draft pick in 2010, and has slowly and steadily climbed the ladder and should land at AAA this year. Because of his defense some might consider him a possibility at third base, but I doubt it, at least out of the gate. The Braves won't push his bat too fast, as Leonard is a prospect who needs time at AAA to adjust before possibly moving further.|
|Ernesto Mejia, 1B||n/a||40-man||Best known for looking eerily similar to Albert Pujols. Like Evan Gattis, Mejia tuned up the Venezuelan League this winter. Mejia brings a lot of power, but he also brings a lot of strikeouts. On a squad like the Braves have assembled this year, Mejia's propensity to strikeout might hurt his chances, as the Braves may prefer a contact hitter on the bench, and not just another swing for the fences guy. It's also unknown how Mejia, who has always been a lineup regular in the minors, would respond to an infrequent bench role. Still, if the Braves want more power on the bench, he would probably get the nod with a good spring.
|Jordan Parraz, OF||n/a||NRI||Parraz is the classic jack of all trades, master of none player. He's a decent hitter for average and power, a good defender, decent baserunner -- just an all-around replacement level player. Because of his good defense he might have a shot as a backup defensive outfielder on some teams, but not on this year's Braves team with Up, Up, and a Hey in the outfield. Still, he could manage to beat out the other contenders with a really great spring, but as a non-roster player a lot would have to go his way.|
|Tyler Pastornicky, IF||n/a||40-man||Already drawing some ire from his manager for not showing up early (???) The Rev is supposed to compete with Pena for the backup infielder job until Paul Janish is ready to return from the disabled list about a month into the season. Pastornicky is likely the second or third choice, simply because his defense is not quite what the Braves want off the bench. But he does have a good hit tool, and with an injury or two and a good spring performance he could find a roster spot.|
|Ramiro Pena, IF||n/a||40-man, out of options||The primary candidate to fill the backup infield job, at least until Paul Janish is ready to return, if not for the entire year. While playing for the Yankees for parts of the last four years, Pena has filled the utility infielder role adequately, playing second, third, and short, while hitting above the Belliard line. He should make the roster as he's out of options, but we'll keep an eye on him here anyway.|
|Jordan Schafer, OF||n/a||40-man||Also drawing some early spring public ire and mockery from his manager (WTG not-Bobby!), Schafer nonetheless looks like the second choice for a possible backup outfield spot behind Constanza. As a former Braves prospect, we should be familiar with what Schafer could bring to the table. He's never fully displayed that potential for a prolonged time at the Major League level, and like others on this list, it is uncertain how he would respond to a bench role. He's still talented enough to have a great spring and make the Braves decision hard, especially if Constanza struggles. He's on the 40-man, so even if the manager doesn't necessarily like him, someone in the organization does.|
|Joe Terdoslavich, 1B/3B||n/a||NRI||The toast of Spring Training last year, he was being billed as the heir to Chipper Jones. But he went to AAA to start 2012, skipping AA, and laid a turd. His bat was over-matched at AAA, but rebounded after a demotion to AA. He still has a solid bat with some power potential in it, but the club has pretty much given up on him at third base, limiting him to first base where he's obviously blocked by Freeman and Mejia. Terdoslavich could be a good candidate for an eventual bench role thanks to a decent contact rate that should get better due to his solid setup. He'll need to solve AAA first though.|
|= 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.|
We'll pick up more MTM towards the end of next week, or possibly the week after that once games begin.