Spring Training 2.0 for the Atlanta Braves is fast approaching and the team announced a starting group of 56 players on Sunday. Having four open positions on the list gives Atlanta the flexibility to add your group from outside the organization or add more prospects to the list at a later date. So keep that in mind when you see men like Trey Harris and Greyson Jenista missing. Another thing to keep in mind is that this group of players will split into two groups and train at Truist Park and Gwinnett. That’s a big part of the decision to bring in seven receivers to help manage the 30 pitchers in the pool.
Left-handed pitchers (12): Tucker Davidson, Grant Dayton, Max Fried, Cole Hamels, Tyler Matzek *, AJ Minter, Kyle Muller *, Sean Newcomb, Philip Pfeifer, Chris Rusin *, Jared Shuster *, Will Smith
There are no real surprises in the left-handed group. Both Tyler Matzek and Chris Rusin were at spring camp, and Matzek was particularly impressive. It’s no surprise that they hang on to a couple of left-handed help options. Kyle Muller is one of the team’s best pitch prospects and he’s probably not that far from an opportunity. The other player not on the list is 2020 first-round pick Jared Shuster, who will try the professional ball for the first time with the big club.
The Braves reportedly expect Cole Hamels to be ready when the season begins. Hamels slowed down in the spring due to shoulder inflammation and was expected to lose at least the first month of the regular season. Atlanta may try to limit your workload early, but you should be ready to avoid a setback.
Right-handed pitchers (18): Ian Anderson *, Jasseel De La Cruz, Mike Foltynewicz, Shane Greene, Felix Hernández *, Luke Jackson, Chris Martin, Mark Melancon, Darren O’Day, Chad Sobotka, Mike Soroka, Josh Tomlin *, Touki Toussaint, Jacob Webb, Patrick Weigel, Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, Huascar Ynoa
The right-handed group includes three non-listed additions in lead prospect Ian Anderson and veterans Felix Hernandez and Josh Tomlin. Hernandez seemed to be on his way to securing a place in the rotation before spring training closed. He will resume that momentum again when camp opens next week. Anderson appeared to be poised for a 2020 debut and could be an option, as the Braves will certainly load up on weapons at first. Tomlin was brought back in early spring to dig deeper and could serve as a multiple-inset relief option.
Atlanta placed reliever Jeremy Walker on the 45-day disabled list earlier this week, opening a spot on the 40-man list. If the team adds more than one player from the roster, it will require a subsequent move from the 40-man roster.
Collectors (7): Logan Brown *, William Contreras, Travis d’Arnaud, Tyler Flowers, Alex Jackson, Shea Langeliers *, Jonathan Morales *
This is a large group, but remember that the Braves will have 30 pitchers training at two different sites, and Atlanta currently has four receivers on the 40-player roster. Shea Langeliers is the big name here and she was awesome at Major League Baseball this spring. Logan Brown spent last season in Rome and Florida, while Morales is a deep organization at the moment.
Many projections on the list have had teams with three receivers, but I don’t think the Braves are in a position where they need to do that. Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers are the clear headlines except injuries. With Alex Jackson and William Contreras already on the 40-man roster, Atlanta could assign one to the Taxi squad and activate one if an injury occurs to d’Arnaud or Flowers.
Infielder (12): Ozzie Albies, Yonder Alonso *, Johan Camargo, Charlie Culberson *, Freddie Freeman, Adeiny Hechavarria, Pete Kozma *, Peter O’Brien *, Austin Riley, Braden Shewmake *, Yangervis Solarte *, Dansby Swanson
Unsurprisingly, Atlanta is bringing many veteran infielders to camp for sure. This group includes six players who are not on the roster, including 2019 Braden Shewmake first-round pick. The others include Yonder Alonso, Charlie Culberson, Pete Kozma, Peter O’Brien, and Yangervis Solarte. Culberson appears to be the most likely of the group to compete for a spot on the list, but be on the lookout for O’Brien, who could serve as a right-handed power option from the bench. The others will be available in the event of an unexpected injury.
Gardeners (7): Ronald Acuña Jr., Adam Duvall, Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Marcell Ozuna, Cristian Pache, Drew Waters *
Main prospect Drew Waters is the only non-listed addition to the Braves field group. In particular, I don’t see Waters as a likely option for the team in 2020, but being included in this group should help their development. It will be interesting to see what happens to Cristian Pache, who is already on the list of 40 players. Right now, he appears to be out looking at an already crowded situation, but he could fuel the problem as Austin Riley did last season.
Another thing to keep in mind with this field group is the status of Adam Duvall, who has Type 1 diabetes and may choose not to participate in the 2020 season.
In summary, there were not a lot of surprises with this initial group. Atlanta’s farming system is very heavy and that is reflected in this group as several of their best prospects have already made their major league debut or are knocking on the door. The group of position players seems to have a lot of veteran depth, while any of the 30 pitchers in camp could see some action.