Along with Gavin Floyd, who continues to progress along well in TJ recovery, Ryan Doumit was the highlight of the offseason as far as newcomers to a club that went on an extension frenzy right before spring training began. Doumit has been a lock for the 2014 Opening Day since the Braves reeled him in back in a December deal with the Minnesota Twins.
While the 33-year old vet has made 502 of his 639 career starts behind the dish, he will most likely not see much time framing pitches, due to his climbing age and sub-par defense. The fan base in Atlanta will be relieved to see the switch hitter give off days to either Freeman, Heyward, or Upton as he has the ability to play first and bounce around the outfield corners.
However, if injury problems continue to mount in Atlanta (knock on wood) to either El Oso Blanco (Evan Gattis) or Gerald Laird (who’s nickname I don’t want to say), Braves GM Frank Wren said (in a story written by ESPN’s Jayson Stark) that Doumit would be used as the teams backup catcher, as they still look to give top catching prospect Christian Bethancourt another year in the minor league system before he gets called up for good.
The biggest plus that he brings to the defending NL East champs will be his switch hitting ability and power off the bench. In his career he has statistically been much better power-wise from the left side of the plate, with his slugging percentage of .454: a whole .059 points higher than when he bats against left handed pitchers.
Doumit has delivered in the clutch, as he has a career .278 batting average against relief pitchers and has an .805 OPS.
In 31 at-bats this years in Grapefruit League play he has hit .226 and had a triple in just his second game as a Brave. He’s also stolen a base, which is something that has only happened 11 times in his career.
It would be nice to see Doumit provide epic hits off the bench, just as this one he hit last season for Minnesota.
This 25-year old sidearmer has perhaps impressed Fredi Gonzalez more so than any other "try out" type pitcher in spring training. After only receiving six innings in his first go-around last year with the big league team, he has been quite impressive this spring, and stands a chance of making the Opening Day 25-man roster if the team feels they need to carry a long relief pitcher with them.
So far in four appearances for the Braves in Grapefruit League play, he has logged 9.1 innings from the bump and allowed 11 base runners while striking out 10 batters.
Due to a multitude of injuries that have depleted the team's starting rotation, Schlosser, who has started 52 games between High-A ball and Double-A, received his first start Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite a shaky third inning, the lanky 6-foot-4 hurler caught everyone’s attention.
While he doesn’t light up the radar gun, his fastball has life to it and sinks in a dramatic fashion that baffles opposing hitters and impressed both Fredi and the team's beat writers as well. He can spot his fastball very well, and is not afraid to go inside on opposing batters. It comes as no surprise that he has a career 2.2 BB/9 mark after seeing his control against a Cardinals lineup that was full of regulars for the most part. On the day, he threw 40 of his 57 pitches for strikes and struck out Allen Craig on a 91 m.p.h. fastball.
Schlosser's curve, which sweeps across the plate at around 77-81 m.ph., also wooed fans at Champion Stadium. In the first inning he used it to whiff Jhonny Peralta, who almost fell over after swinging through his 79 m.p.h. hook in the first inning.
Frank Wren now refers to Schlosser as the Braves "next line of defense" and will either start the season in Triple-A Gwinnett or pitch in long relief with the big league club.
ST stats: 0-1, 9.1 IP, 6 H, 0 HR, 5 BB, 10 SO, 1.18 WHIP (He has a 3.44 SO/BB ratio in 3 minor league seasons)
The skipper says that he will carry 12 pitchers for the first couple weeks of the regular season so that may make way for eight bullpen spots, one of which the hard throwing Luis Vasquez could fill if he continues to put forth outings like he did against the Cardinals on Saturday. With just a little over two weeks until the season the team has three open spots to fill in the bullpen, should they decide to make room for eight relievers.
Vasquez is one of those pitchers that the Braves may have just found at the right time considering he has a 4.98 career ERA in the minors and 6.6 BB/9 rate through seven seasons spent with the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, the possible "diamond in the rough" has an electric fastball that turned many heads in winter ball this offseason.
The soon to be 28-year old righty from the Dominican Republic has recorded two straight scoreless outings, and while he has walked four batters in 2.2 innings this spring, many would think Roger McDowell could help bring the walks down. His fastball topped out at 95 m.p.h. against the Cardinals in his ninth inning appearance and he can crank it up to 97 on the radar gun.
Vasquez has an upside that the Braves may not want to miss, and has a good chance to win one of the bullpen slots for the regular season.
ST stats: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, .111 AVG