Today, the Atlanta Braves announced 22 players that aren’t currently on their 40 man roster that will be invited to their 2014 Spring Training camp. Here is the list:
- Left-handed pitchers: Daniel Rodriguez, Atahualpa Severino and Ian Thomas
- Right handed pitchers: Lay Batista, J.R. Graham, Jason Hursh, Mark Lamm, Cody Martin, Yunesky Maya, Gus Schlosser and Shae Simmons
- Catchers: Matt Kennelly, Steve Lerud, Braeden Schlehuber and Jose Yepez
- Infielders: Mat Gamel, Phil Gosselin, Tyler Greene, Mark Hamilton, Tommy La Stella and Edward Salcedo
- Outfielders: Matt Lipka
There are a couple of names on this list that I am anxious to see play.
Shae Simmons: Simmons had a great Arizona Fall League season this year, being the Braves representative in the AFL All-Star Game. Overall, he only allowed 1 earned run in his 10 innings out in Arizona. He has been lights out in his 2 pro seasons so far as well. Last year between A Rome and AA Mississippi, he posted a 1.69 ERA in 53.1 combined innings with 82 strikeouts and only a .163 batting average against. He didn’t allow a single home run the entire season. The knock on Simmons is his small stature (listed at 5’9″), but I don’t really see that as a real issue. He can be a little wild at times, but with his mid-90s fastball and his ability to get a strikeout he usually makes up for it. I don’t think he will make the Braves ‘pen this season, because the team should be really stacked out there, but I am excited to see what Shae can do against some Major League batters.
Mat Gamel: Gamel was considered to be a hot prospect at one time with Milwaukee, but lackluster hitting in the bigs and 2 ACL tears have taken the shine off this once elite prospect. The first thing to look for with Gamel is his health. He is coming off his 2nd ACL tear and is expected to be healthy for Spring Training. I’m sure if the Braves find any physical issues they will probably send him packing, but if they deem him healthy he could be in line to be a bench bat for the Braves this coming season. He would be a nice backup at the corner infield spots and give Atlanta a lefty power bat on the bench. There are a lot of questions there, but if things pan out for Gamel and the Braves he could be a really good pickup. A classic low risk, high reward type of signing.
Tommy La Stella: Could he be competing for the starting 2nd base job in Spring Training? I think he will be. Unless Dan Uggla is just tearing the cover off the ball this spring, I think there is a real chance that La Stella could be the Braves starting second baseman in 2014. All eyes will be on La Stella and every move he makes this spring. If Tommy hits like he is capable, he is going to put a lot of pressure on the Braves and Dan Uggla, especially if Uggla’s struggles continue in the spring.
Of course, everyone will also want to watch JR Graham, Jason Hursh and Cody Martin, but I don’t think they have too much chance of making the big club this season and are just there for the Braves to get a closer look at them for down the road. It is always good to get these young kids some experience of playing with the big boys.
Who will you guys be keeping your eyes on this spring?