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Atlanta Braves news and links: Aaron Blair is extremely close to the major leagues

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The former Diamondbacks prospect spent some time at AAA last season, which means that Aaron Blair is probably really close to making his Atlanta Braves debut in the future.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports


Inciarte is "happy" to be a Brave

New Braves acquisition Ender Inciarte has made it clear at almost every chance he's gotten that he's pretty happy to be playing for the Atlanta Braves. From sentimental reasons (his father was a Braves fan) to practical reasons -- his glove basically ensures that he'll be the everyday center fielder for the Braves -- Inciarte appears to be pleased with his situation in Atlanta, and it's starting to feel like home for him.

What is Swanson's fantasy value?

Many people within baseball believe that Braves top prospect Dansby Swanson could reach the majors sooner rather than later. As such, it's time to figure out what his value could be as a potential fantasy asset, because fantasy baseball is clearly the most important thing in the world, right? Anyways, here's what our friends at Fake Teams think that Swanson could become at the Major League level:

Unlike fellow top draftees Alex Bregman and Brendan Rodgers, Swanson isn't an elite hitter. However he is still a very promising bat with all-around potential. He isn't the natural hitter that Bregman is, nor does he have the power upside of Rodgers thanks to his 6'0', 170 pound frame. Still Swanson is a mature hitter who should hit for average, and get on base at a good rate thanks to his ability to draw a walk. That should have him hitting at the top of a lineup, where he will get plenty of chances to score runs. He may not have 30 homer pop, but 15-20 in a season isn't unreasonable. He should also be a good bet to steal 20 bases a year.

One important thing to keep in mind with Swanson is that he is a shortstop long term. Unlike Bregman and Rodgers, there isn't talk about him having to move to second or third base. That's important because Swanson is going to eventually fill your shortstop position without much question, unless fellow Braves prospect Ozzie Albies pushes him to another spot.

Brad: Kyle Kendrick should not start the season in the Braves rotation

The Braves have a relatively large number of young pitchers at their disposal, and they're all probably going to take their lumps while hopefully developing into better pitchers this season. Kyle Kendrick is one of the pitchers who's competing for a rotation spot, but he's definitely no spring chicken. As such, Brad Rowland believes that with all of the youngsters at the Braves' disposal, giving Kyle Kendrick a starting role at opening day would be a bad idea when it comes to the long-term picture of the Braves' rebuilding process.

Aaron Blair is extremely close to the big leagues

Speaking of young pitchers, one of those young pitchers is "on the cusp" of making it to the big leagues, and that man is Aaron Blair. The former Diamondbacks prospect has experience at the AAA level, so obviously the next level for Blair would be the big time. The only question now is exactly when we'll see Blair join up with the big squad. Fredi Gonzalez had an, um, interesting comparison for Blair, though.

"He was a college pitcher. He's been in it a little bit longer. He pitched quite a bit at Triple-A last year," president of baseball operations John Hart said in Nashville. "Our stuff is that we think that this guy has a chance to pitch up here this year. ... I think when you get a group of new players, you don't want to put any expectations. It's not like we're saying, 'OK we're getting this guy and he's going to start for us.' I think we're gonna watch him in spring training, get a feel for him. And we're gonna tell him, 'We know you're close.'"

"I see a guy that's pretty close to pitching in the big leagues. He really is," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's pitched some Triple-A ball, so he's got that experience. I think the comp was Aaron Harang — I guess Aaron Harang because of the size and the strength — and this guy is pretty darn good. I mean, Aaron Harang has pitched 11-12 years in the big leagues and this guy hasn't thrown one inning yet, but he's got good stuff. He fields the position, moves around well.


Dexter Fowler pulls a swerve and spurns Orioles in order to re-sign with Cubs

In a sensational move, Dexter Fowler reported to Spring Training yesterday -- CUBS Spring Training, not Orioles Spring Training. The soon-to-be 30-year old outfielder allegedly turned down a three-year, $33 million deal from the Orioles in favor of a one-year, $13 million deal from the Cubs because the O's didn't want to put an early opt-out in his contract. I say "allegedly" because Fowler's agent says that there was never an agreement in place between the O's and Fowler, as you can see from this scathing statement that the agent posted on Twitter.

It's a wild situation, and the only recent event that comes close to this is the time when DeAndre Jordan decided to return to the Los Angeles Clippers following a change of heart. Either way, this is wild.

MLB makes rule changes regarding slides and mound visits

Major League Baseball made a couple of interesting changes to their rules yesterday, as they announced amendments to rules concerning slides and mound visits. First off, baseball has clairified rules that they already had in their rule book concerning slides at second base, and the gist of it is that they're trying to eliminate obvious takeout slides from the game. This included making the neighborhood play reviewable, which will be intriguing to say the least. Also, baseball has put a 30-second time limit on mound visits for managers and pitching coaches. There won't be a penalty for breaking the time limit, but the managers and coaches will be admonished by umpires fo rbreaking the rules.