For the most part, Fredi Gonzalez had an idea of what his team was going to look like in 2014. Part of spring training, though, is for managers like Gonzalez to get looks at younger talent and fill in the final roster spots.
With players leaving the team like Eric O’Flaherty and Luis Ayala along with an injury to Jonny Venters, the Atlanta Braves are looking for a pitcher or two to step up in the spring and take their places on the major league roster. Through the first week or so of spring training, there have been a few pitchers who have impressed the Gonzalez, but there is one in particular causing a stir in the locker room.
In two appearances so far, Gus Schlosser has impressed the Braves’ coaching staff. Gonzalez does realize that it’s early in the spring to be making surefire decisions but had this to say about the 25-year-old reliever to the team website: “We’ll see how the spring develops, but so far he’s been the talk of the coaching staff.”
Pitching three innings to this point, Schlosser has only given up one hit and one walk, striking out one. He doesn’t rely on power pitches to get guys out and definitely won’t be a guy who strikes out batters every time he pitches. However, he pitches around the strike zone and uses his funky, sidearm delivery with good movement to get players to put the ball in play and use his defense.
Considering his 2013 minor league stats, Schlosser may be more of a specialist pitcher as he held right-handed hitters to a .199 batting average and a lowly .256 on-base percentage. Lefties were much more successful against him, hitting .281 with a .361 on-base percentage. This fact alone may scare Gonzalez from giving him a position in the bullpen sooner and could affect him making the big leagues anyway, unless he can prove over the next few weeks that he can pitch to both batters successfully.
The only thing that may hold the team back from moving him to the major league bullpen may be their need of a left-handed pitcher in the bullpen. If Freddy Garcia doesn’t make the team, Alex Wood may be placed in the starting rotation until Gavin Floyd returns from the disabled list. If that happens, the bullpen will be left with a void of only one lefty who will probably be saved until late in the game.
There has to be a lot of things go wrong for Schlosser to not make the team this summer, but if he doesn’t continue to impress in the spring, he will get sent back to the minors. Let’s just hope that he can keep this up and be a key to the best bullpen in the league.