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Building the Braves Roster

 

Yes, we are SLOWLY approaching Opening Day for the 2018 season. To be exact, as of February 16th we are 41 days away. This offseason has been one of the slowest that I can ever remember. The Braves, just like every other team, have not added much talent to their organization. Outside of a Rule 5 selection and several organizational depth pieces, the Braves are pretty much the same team from last season. Oh yeah, let us not forget that Matt Kemp will no longer be attempting to catch fly balls in left field. With all that being said, let us take a look at what we could be seeing come March 29th when we play the Phillies at SunTrust Park.

Duh…

Let’s start with the obvious. The following are considered locks (by me) to be on the Opening Day roster

  • Freddie Freeman 1b
  • Ozzie Albies 2b
  • Nick Markakis OF
  • Ender Inciarte OF
  • Tyler Flowers C
  • Kurt Suzuki C
  • Julio Teheran SP
  • Mike Foltynewicz SP
  • Arodyz Vizcaino RP
  • Jose Ramirez RP

Somewhat of a Duh…

Those guys take up 10 spots. The following players will make the roster if they have an average to above average Spring Training. Anything less then average then these guys will probably be seeing time in the Minors or perhaps just be released. For this exercise, I expect the following to produce an average to above average performance this spring and make the Opening Day roster.

  • Dansby Swanson SS
  • Johan Camargo 3b/UTIL
  • Luis Gohara SP
  • Sean Newcomb SP
  • A.J. Minter RP
  • Sam Freeman RP

Moving on…

Now there are 16 spots taken. For the final 9 roster spots there will be an open competition. I expect a battle for the starting rotation, bullpen, left field and bench. Let’s take a look at who is battling for what.

Final Rotation Spot

  • Brandon McCarthy
  • Scott Kazmir
  • Max Fried
  • Lucas Sims

Alex Anthopolous has previously stated that it is McCarthy’s job to lose. I believe that to be the case as well as long as he can stay healthy. Speaking of health, Kazmir is not expected to produce enough to impress anyone this spring. He looks like more of candidate to be most hopefully traded but most likely to be released. Max Fried ended last season with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League (AFL). If he can come to camp with the showing he had in the AFL then he will make a strong push for the final rotation spot. My opinion is that he will begin the year in the bullpen before eventually taking a rotation spot. Lucas Sims will begin the year starting at AAA Gwinnett. Simply put, he has done little to impress and he is just not as talented as his fellow peers. I see him being more effective in the bullpen at the Major League level.

Bullpen

There are already five spots taken in the Braves bullpen. The Braves have gone back and forth on whether they prefer to carry seven or eight arms this year in the bullpen. Due to the amount of youth in the starting rotation, I am going to assume the Braves go with an eight man rotation. This means we have three positions to fill out. The Braves have numerous players vying for one of these spots. That being said, I am just going to give you who I think fill out these final spots.

  • Anyelo Gomez
  • Jacob Lindgren
  • Dan Winkler

Gomez was acquired through the Rule 5 draft from the Yankees. As a former starter turned reliever, his stuff has been more effective since making the transition to the bullpen. Jacob Lindgren, also a former Yankee, is coming off of Tommy John surgery. He was signed back in December 2016. The organization sees something in him. He offers high upside so if he can stay healthy and remain effective then he will play earn a big role in 2018. Finally, the last spot goes to Dan Winkler. How can you not root for this guy? He has battled injury so far in his career. He has always pitched quality innings for the Braves when given the opportunity. Also of note, Gomez and Winkler are still attached to the Rule 5 draft rules. Meaning, if they do not make the Opening Day roster then they must be offered back to their former teams. Another side note, if any of these guys get injured or have poor springs, Chase Whitley is my sleeper pick to take the next opening.

Left Field

  • Lane Adams
  • Preston Tucker
  • Ronald Acuna
  • Dustin Peterson

Lane Adams impressed me last season. Albeit I had very little expectations of him, he did not have to do too much too impress me. He will be effective if he is used sparingly. For instance, he struggled last season against lefties which is odd for a right handed hitter. Adams will most likely be used in a platoon role. Preston Tucker should fill the other half of the platoon. He is a typical power hitter meaning he will definitely hit his fair share of home runs but will also struggle at times to make contact. As a former top prospect, there is a possibility of him being a late bloomer and living up to his potential. Next, we have Ronald Acuna. This is his spot (I think he should play CF personally) and he will have it after the Braves gain that extra year of service time. Dustin Peterson has also lost a bit of the shine that made him special. The Braves might have soured on him as well since they left him unprotected in the recent Rule 5 draft. Personally, I could see him having a really good spring and maybe even take Lane Adams platoon spot should Adams have a poor spring. All in all, these guys are just keeping the seat warm until Acuna is called up.

Bench

  • Backup Catcher (Suzuki/Flowers)
  • Left Field Platoon (Adams/Tucker)
  • Charlie Culberson UTIL
  • Rio Ruiz 1b/3b
  • Danny Santana UTIL

The backup catcher and the platoon position are already filled. So this is basically a battle for the final two spots among three players. Personally, I would be ok if I never saw Danny Santana in a Braves jersey again. He’s entering “Emilio Bonifacio” territory for me and I just have no desire for that. With that being said, you have to have Charlie Culberson on the roster due to versatility. Plus he was pretty clutch in the World Series last year. Rio Ruiz gets the other spot by default. I think he should go to Gwinnett so he can play everyday plus he’s never shown he is ready to face Major League competition. So if we do not sign anyone else, which I hope we do, Ruiz will be on the roster.

Opening Day Roster

Rotation (5):

  • Julio Teheran
  • Brandon McCarthy
  • Sean Newcomb
  • Mike Foltynewicz
  • Luiz Gohara

Bullpen (8):

  • Arodyz Vizcaino
  • A.J. Minter
  • Jose Ramirez
  • Sam Freeman
  • Anyelo Gomez
  • Jacob Lindgren
  • Dan Winkler
  • Max Fried

Starters (8):

  • Ender Inciarte CF
  • Ozzie Albies 2b
  • Freddie Freeman 1b
  • Tyler Flowers C
  • Nick Markakis RF
  • Preston Tucker LF
  • Johan Camargo 3b
  • Dansby Swanson SS

Bench (4)

  • Lane Adams OF
  • Kurt Suzuki C
  • Charlie Culberson UTIL
  • Rio Ruiz 3b/1b

There it is, your 2018 Opening Day roster for the Atlanta Braves. If this depresses you, you should look on the bright side. All of our younger guys are another year older and are more acclimated to the Major League level. More talent is coming too. Ronald Acuna will do some amazing things this year in Atlanta. Mike Soroka and Kolby Allard will soon be up in Atlanta as well. This will most likely be another year of rebuilding but it should definitely be the last. Stay positive because we can all see the light at the end of the tunnel.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. ergfir nolikz

    July 25, 2018 at 12:33 am

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