The Braves’ annual Chop Fest event was another huge success as large crowd gathered despite some cold temperatures. While we are still a couple of weeks away from pitchers and catchers officially reporting to Spring Training, this event feels like the unofficial beginning of the 2020 season. There was plenty of good stuff to come out of the event including a variety of interviews and Q&A sessions. If you missed any of our previous updates you can find them all here.
Third Base competition
The third base competition between Johan Camargo and Austin Riley figures to be one of the bigger storylines for the Atlanta Braves during spring training. Riley discussed the upcoming season and whether he prefers to play third base or in the outfield with Fox Sports during today’s Chop Fest.
Riley also told reporters today that he has spent his offseason working on fixing flaws in his swing which is refreshing. As far as spring training goes, Riley is expecting to get some work in the outfield but will be ready for anything.
#Braves’ Austin Riley spent offseason working on fixing flaws in swing that were evident on video, re: position of elbow, back foot sliding, etc. “I did have some success (last season) and I know what I can do up here.”— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) January 25, 2020
Ender Inciarte hoping to rise above crowded outfield situation
When Alex Anthopoulos discussed the addition of Marcell Ozuna during Saturday’s Q&A session at Chop Fest, he admitted that Ozuna would bring a big bat but also would make for a crowded outfield situation for Brian Snitker and the Braves. Anthopoulos added that Ozuna and Ronald Acuña Jr. would see the bulk of playing time in the outfield leaving Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis and Adam Duvall in a competition for the final spot. Anthopoulos said that the final say would be Snitker’s and that they would see where they were at the end of spring training.
Inciarte discussed the outfield situation on Saturday and mentioned how upfront Anthopoulos had been. If you remember, Anthopoulos also talked to Inciarte before the team added Adam Duvall at the trade deadline in 2018. It seems all of the parties are on the same page heading into the spring.
#Braves’ Inciarte on candid conversations with GM Alex Anthopoulos: “I like Alex a lot. He’s always straightforward. I’ve never seen that from a GM before.”— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) January 25, 2020
It would seem that the Braves would benefit most from having a healthy Inciarte in center with Ozuna in left and Acuña in right in 2020. For that to happen however, Inciarte is going to have to put an injury plagued 2019 in the rearview mirror.
#Braves CF Ender Inciarte on his challenging 2019 season:— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) January 25, 2020
"I had a lot to learn. Probably the year I learned the most in my career... I wasn't happy that I got hurt, but if it happens then it happens for a reason."
Inciarte told 680 The Fan’s Grant McAuley that he has been in Tampa working out and that his goal is to be ready to play a full season in 2020. His defense is his carrying card but his offense could be an added bonus. After struggling for most of the first half with a back injury, Inciarte came alive at the plate hitting .293/.411/.520 with a 143 wRC+ before a hamstring injury ended his season. He told McAuley that he felt that last month was the best version of himself as a hitter and wants to carry that over to this season.
#Braves CF Ender Inciarte on having to hit to maintian playing time:— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) January 25, 2020
"I feel like 18 and 19 wasn't me."
He said the last month he played last season was the best version of himself as a hitter. Wants to carry that over.
More Chop Fest news and notes
Max Fried discussed his 2019 season and how adding a veteran like Cole Hamels will benefit the pitching staff.
Mike Soroka reflects on his outstanding 2019 campaign and is looking for more big things in 2020.
Finally, Brian Snitker on being excited to get back in the dugout and his thoughts on the upcoming season.