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MLB Atlanta Braves

Five Notable Non-Roster Invitees to Atlanta Braves Spring Training

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Five Notable Non-Roster Invitees to Atlanta Braves Spring Training

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Every year Spring Training brings out the excitement of Major League Baseball. Just like the flowers that are newly blooming, careers begin to pop up out of nowhere around the Spring in Florida and Arizona. The Atlanta Braves are inviting several Non-Roster players as all teams do every year, to get a look at them at the big league level. Some are just testing their skills against the big boys as they get closer and closer to the bigs themselves. Some are fighting for a roster spot on the big club for the 2013 season.

For the Braves, this year was going to be a bit more interesting than it will be now after the Justin Upton trade. A few players with outfield experience were being called in to get a look at how they might fair in left field. Even Joe Terdoslavich, usually a third baseman and recently a first baseman for Double-A Mississippi because of defensive struggles, is being called in as an outfielder. It would have been interesting to see how the young players looked out there if the trade hadn’t happened.

Well, it did, so that part of the non-roster invitees isn’t the story now. Still however there are notable invitees that will get a good chance to show their abilities during the spring. We are going to look at the five that have the chance to make the biggest impact for the Braves franchise and farm-system this season. Leave a comment if you have an opinion on one of these players or if you can think of someone deserving of being on the list that got left out.

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5 - Todd Cunningham – OF

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Todd Cunningham was the second round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in the 2010 amateur draft out of Jacksonville State University. The switch-hitting outfielder has played all of the outfield positions during his three year minor league career in the Braves organization. During that span he has compiled only nine errors total and a fielding percentage of .982. His arm is good enough for eighteen assists during that time frame as well. He hits for average and drives in runs pretty well. A little more power in his stroke and he’ll be quite a find for someone. Considering the outfield that the Braves have in place now, it might be with another team than the one that signed him. That said, Cunningham might be playing this spring for a roster spot on some other team. He’ll be fun to watch develop either way.

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4 - Alex Wood – LHP

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There was a time back in the 1990’s that the Atlanta Braves could have lost half of their pitching prospects and still had the most promising prospects in the game. That time seemed to fade a little bit but is on the rise once again. Big lefty Alex Wood is the perfect example of why that is. The 2012 second round pick out of the University of Georgia went 4-3 during 13 starts in his first professional season at class-A Rome. He gave up only one homer in 52 innings and posted an impressive 2.22 ERA. The 21 year old will be fascinating to watch in Spring Training this year.

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3 - Sean Gilmartin – LHP

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Sean Gilmartin impressed last season during his first Spring Training invite and is coming back this year to give the big league boys another good long look at his skill set. During split time between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnet Gilmartin had a 3.84 ERA and a 2.84/1 strikeout to walk ratio. He has only impressed since being drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft. He’ll be looking to start with a great spring to and launch himself into a memorable season in Gwinnet, for what might be his last minor league season.

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2 - J.R. Graham – RHP

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

I’m starting to sound like a broken record, I know, but J.R. Graham is yet another piece of proof of how great the Atlanta Braves future looks on the mound. Whereas Wood and Gilmartin are two of the organizations top prospects, Graham is one of the game’s top prospects. This hard throwing right-hander was promoted from Class-A-Advanced Lynchburg to Double-A Mississippi last season and didn’t miss a beat; compiling a combined 2.80 ERA. He might be another couple of years away because the Braves probably want him to develop naturally and they have tons of major league pitching currently. This is his first Spring Training and it will be a blast to see how he goes after the major leaguers , even if it is only the spring.

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1 - Evan Gattis – C, OF, Bench

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Of all the players highlighted here, Evan Gattis is the one that can have potentially the largest impact on the 2013 Atlanta Braves roster. He has been doing pretty well in the winter leagues this off-season, better against right-handers than lefties, for an overall average of .303. His power is there and it looks like he could be coming into his own a little bit. With Brian McCann likely starting the year on the DL for at least a few games and maybe up to a month, Gattis’ catching experience will come in handy. Not only could he be the back-up catcher this season until McCann comes back, a good Spring Training could set him up to be a good option off of the bench. Of course next season there might be no McCann and that just adds more importance to this Spring Training for Gattis.