The Atlanta Braves‘ lineup seems like it’s going to be one of the better hitting groups of the 2014 season, especially if B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla hit like they have this spring. However, a key to the Braves’ organization over the past number of years has been the team’s ability to pull guys off of the bench and get success out of those players. With a good bench in 2013, the team could be looking at an even more successful one in this coming season.
The bench will include guys such as Gerald Laird, Ryan Doumit and most likely (after the latest round of cuts made by the team) Tyler Pastornicky. However, the player who could provide to be the most valuable is Ramiro Pena.
After missing a good portion of the 2013 season after tearing the labrum in his throwing shoulder, Pena has been quite impressive in Spring Training, hitting .364 in 44 at-bats. Even more impressive is that more than half of his 16 hits have been for extra bases (10), and he has tallied an OPS of 1.005.
He could prove more than valuable for the team if he only keeps hitting at the level that he showed that he could in 2013 and this spring, but he’s much more than that. Pena can play second and third base while transitioning over to short stop if he is needed. So, if Fredi Gonzalez wants to give Uggla, Andrelton Simmons and Chris Johnson a day off during a week, the team has Pena, who is able to fill in any of those positions.
He fields better than Pastornicky, and to this point, hits better than the young second baseman, and also has the ability to play multiple positions on the field. When he fills in, he does his job very well and makes the plays that he’s supposed to make. If that doesn’t describe a guy who is just as valuable to the team as a starting player, I don’t know what is.