by Gil ‘N Mechanicsville
One of the great things about spring training is all the new faces we see and read about as management attempts to put together a product which will be able to win ball games and possibly be the best of the thirty major league teams.
Sure, we know about the regulars, Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte.
It is not as if we don’t want to know about the stars, we do want to know they are healthy and are in great shape as well as if their bat is slowing down or have lost a step. It is reassuring to know all is well with the core of the team. After all, we have seen the rug pulled out from under the team on several occasions in the interest of getting better.
It is the new guys that create the most interest for me. Funny how there always seems to be a name or two we have hardly ever heard of who suddenly arrives on the scene to create a buzz.
We were all exposed to the exploits Ronald Acuna this winter. The suddenly not so secret ‘secret weapon’ signed as an international free agent. We have followed with interest several of the prospects acquired thru trades as well as in free agent drafts, Names like Mataio and Albies and Newcomb who some folks believe should already be logging major league time. For some reason, they have a difficult time grasping the fact that few prospects ever reach the major leagues. Even fewer live up to the hype promoted by various front office types who try to gin up the interest in their respective clubs.
This season we are looking forward to watching possible rookie of the year Dansby Swanson. To date, he has not disappointed. Maybe not the best at any one skill but a heck of a five tool guy who is really good at just about everything he does.
The addition of Brandon Phillips to man the second base position was a real positive move on John Cappelletti’s part. BP may not be the player he once was but he is no slouch and is an improvement over Jace Peterson as the Braves await the arrival of Ozzie Albies on the scene. Not to disrespect Jace but he will be much more valuable to the team as a super sub than he is as a regular. He has delivered on more than one occasion but he has also had long stretches of failure to make consistent contact.
This season, unlike the last two years, the lineup is pretty well set. Three of the four infield
positions will be manned by All-Star calibre players. Third base has 32 year old Adonis Garcia penciled in to start but several names have popped up as
possible challengers to man the hot corner. Rio Ruiz has long been touted as a candidate but of late Johan Carmargo’s name has been mentioned. The unexpected loss of Sean Rodriguez following an off season traffic accident did yield Brandon Phillips for at least part of the year and has altered the expected plans to platoon Jace Peterson and Adonis.
Even so, it is still very early and there is no telling who might suddenly appear on the scene either via trade or promotion. I just would not assume or take for granted anything if I were listed on the Braves 2017 roster.