Spring training games begin on this coming Saturday, February 25th. The Braves will open with the Blue Jays and hopefully we'll get to hear some of the action on the radio while I'm working on getting my new apartment set up that I've finally moved into. Yes, onward and upward. New place, new girlfriend, new furniture. A lot has happened this off season, but I'll have the same old attitude towards the Braves. It's a love that is sometimes rivaled by how annoyed they can make me when they are playing like a bunch of lollygaggers.
What do we know going into Spring Training? Well get ready to see a ton of pitchers, because there's over 30 on the roster. Guys like Mike Foltynewicz, Jim Johnson, Ian Krol, Eric O'Flaherty, Julio Teheran, Matt Wisler and Arodys Vizcaino you already know. But you're also going to see additions Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey in the mix. And on top of that you'll get some looks at the young guys like Aaron Blair, Josh Collmenter, Max Fried, Luke Jackson, Sean Newcomb, and Lucas Sims. Then after that it's a bunch of guys we mostly aren't familiar with or are journeyman older dudes looking to earn a bullpen slot.
As for the catchers, we have eight on the roster somehow (5 are non-roster invites.) Which is odd because I'm only really aware of three of them (Tyler Flowers, Anthony Recker, and Kurt Suzuki). There's a guy named Kade Scivicque which again will add to the impossible names for me to spell correctly on the fly. I'll likely dub him Ceviche if it ever comes up. My guess is we're in for another year of catch platoon so don't really get attached to anybody.
The infield is what you would expect, Freddie Freeman, Jace Peterson, Chase d'Arnaud, and Adonis Garcia are all there. Plus you have young guys Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, and Rio Ruiz. Also you'll get to see the new addition as of last week, Brandon Phillips. The rest isn't really important right now. My guess is your infield for opening day is Freddie at first, Phillips at 2nd, Dansby at SS, and likely Adonis at 3rd unless something changes wildly in training.
Lastly the outfield is Ender Inciarte, Matt Kemp, and Nick Markakis. That's basically the starting outfield all year unless we make some trades. They invited in Emilio Bonafacio, but if you remember last season at all I dubbed Emilio "Boner" for a reason. Because he was terrible. I don't think he's going to make this team as a non-roster invite.
So who would I keep an eye on? I think there's open battles at 3B and Catcher on this team right now, in addition to basically every pitching spot except for 1-3 which will be occupied by Julio Teheran, R.A. Dickey, and Bartolo Colon. I believe Mike Foltynewicz will make the team as a starter, but he has to show some improvement over last year. I also believe that Vizcaino will remain the closer, but that's hardly set in stone. The entire bullpen was awful last year so it's up for grabs in my mind. If you're watching training this year, watch the pitchers because that's where the most action will be in 2017 as we settle on the final roster heading for opening day.