Atlanta Braves’ Top 5 Non-Roster Spring Training Invitees
Atlanta Braves' Top 5 Non-Roster Spring Training Invitees
Do you smell that? Spring training is in the air! The most glorious time of the year! We will get to see star players play rarely and rarely seen players play on a day-to-day basis in order to prove they have progressed the way that their organization has hoped they would.
As far as the Atlanta Braves are concerned, they have some guys coming into Spring Training as non-roster invitees who have the potential to cause havoc when they find their way to the big leagues. As an organization, they have been able to raise the majority of their talent homegrown mostly without big name trades and free agent signings (minus the Upton’s in the 2013 season). Usually the team will make position moves and small signings to make the club better overall.
The Braves have brought guys through their farm system of late such as Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Kris Medlen, Craig Kimbrel and Mike Minor. Since Simmons has been brought up, the team has had a lack in position players coming up through the minor leagues. However, this season has a sense of excitement for the organization due to the talent that will be with the team this spring.
These players won’t be found on many prospect lists around the league, but they are definitely on a short list to the major leagues with the Braves. They have a good possibility to make the team at some point in the future, and this is the spring that they have their chance to impress the coaches and the general managers.
5. Edward Salcedo
Salcedo has an interesting story. He signed at the age of 16 with the Cleveland Indians but was released due to a misunderstanding when the team accused him of lying about his age. After missing one season, at 18, he began his journey for the major leagues with Atlanta. The organization isn’t worried about his bat even though his average dips below .250. However, his glove has been a concern since he switched from shortstop to third base, but he has improved that part of his game every year since he made the switch.
4. Jason Hursh
Hursh has the potential to be a very good pitcher in his career. He has a lively mid 90s fastball, a good slider and a decent changeup. At this point in his career, he has only pitched in nine games and has struggled with his control by giving up 10 walks to his 15 strikeouts. He did hold a 0.67 ERA in his 27 innings last season, and if his control improves we could see him moving up the ranks in the organization
3. J.R. Graham
Graham would easily be the No. 1 or No. 2 player on this list had he not missed most of the 2013 season due to discomfort in his shoulder in May. The Braves were extra cautious with him as they didn't bring him back for the entirety of the season. Graham was on the fast track to the major leagues when the injury occurred. If he can pitch well in spring training, he will most likely begin the season in AAA or make a few starts in AA before making his way up.
2. Tommy La Stella
As far as excitement goes, La Stella is probably the most looked forward to player for Braves fans. With Dan Uggla’s struggles, people are wondering when La Stella will be playing second base for the team. With a good spring, he could start the season in AAA. He may have some playing time in Atlanta before the 2014 season is up, especially if Uggla continues to struggle. However, by 2015 he will most likely be on the roster in Atlanta for opening day.
1. Christian Bethancourt
The best position player prospect is simple. He is one of the best defensive catchers in all of the minor leagues. If he can show this spring and next season that his bat has improved like the team wants it to, Evan Gattis may have a run for his money at the catcher position. Bethancourt can flat out catch, plain and simple. He’s a better defender than Gattis, and if Gattis doesn’t hit above the .243 mark that he did last year he could be in trouble come 2015. Bethancourt will be in the major leagues, and whether it happens at some point in 2014 due to injury or in 2015 as a roster player, he will be a star when he gets there.