So the Braves completed their first week of spring training as of Sunday, and we have a few things that caught my eye. Obviously Mallex Smith did well, and I wrote about that in my last blog post. Freddie Freeman also seems to have power in that wrist we were all worried about. The Braves released David Carpenter early in the process suggesting they believe they have plenty of right-handed bullpen options to work with.
Also, there were stats. Now, spring training stats aren't that important outside of a few. I like to see how younger players are hitting the ball, and I like to see how many walks the pitching staff is issuing. Basically it's a matter of contact and control for me early in the training schedule to get a feel for which guys are likely to see some time at the MLB level.
So who is impressing me at the plate so far?
Ozzie Albies has been pretty solid in his first 5 games. He's been able to play every day so far which means the Braves are seriously looking at him as an option up the middle. He plays SS, which we obviously lost during the Simmons trade to the Angels, so the spot there is open for him and possible Eric Aybar. However, Albies has been raking early with a 6-10 (.600 average) a homer, 4 RBIs, 2 walks, and no strikeouts. It's not like Aybar is a slouch though hitting 4-9 (.444 average) in a small sample, and he's the obvious choice for the SS over the 19-year old Albies. Still, you never know if Aybar could end up as further trade bait and Albies can get the callup for the future.
Emilio Bonafacio is 5-10 so far in training, and while he's not a young player he's a fringe guy in this Braves system that's likely fighting for a spot on the team. Emilio is a decent 2B option with steady hitting in his career, and he's battling Jace Peterson for the full-time job there and possible Kelly Johnson. Still, Bonifacio has to prove something to the Braves coming off an shortened 2015 season where he hit under .200 for the year, and was released by the White Sox. Will he make the club? Only if he can prove he can still hit in spring training and beyond.
Hector Olivera is 6-13 and I'm guessing as we move along he'll be getting tons of time in LF to sort out the obvious issues he'll have switching to an outfield position from the infield. So far he's mostly been at 2B, but that's unlikely to be his every day position given the number of players we have in that slot. Still, Hector is hitting, and that's the reason we brought him here. As long as he doesn't butcher it in LF, he could play every day if he produces at the plate. Because we really have no LFer on this team right now.
What about the pitching?
It's WAY too early to tell, but I can give you a few concerns. First is Sean Newcomb who was really nervous in his debut, couldn't find the plate, walked 4 guys, and gave up 3 runs in one inning. It'll get better but he just needs to relax. Lucas Sims also got rocked in his first outing giving up 3 walks, 5 runs, and 3 hits in 1.2 innings. Again, he's young and I want to see how he looks in his next start. A small surprise for me so far is Daniel Winkler, a 26 year old righty who's appeared in 2 games of relief with 2 innings and 4 Ks. If he can keep up the swing-and-miss marks for the majority of training, he's a candidate for a bullpen slot given how little success the Braves had last year.
So that's the round-up. Keep it posted on your radios from 1-4PM EST every day if you're in the Atlanta area to hear the games. They're on 1230 the FAN2 during the weekdays, and 680 the FAN on the weekends.