Spring Training Week 2 – Roster Trends

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Trending Up

John Buck talks with pitcher Tyrell Jenkins during spring training workouts at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

These players are either stepping up their game or the circumstances they are in have come together to bring their roster-making candidacy into focus… I’ll explain that second part in a bit.

  • John Buck.  Okay, he’s only seen 3 AB, but has 2 hits (both doubles) and 4 RBI to show for it.  Oh, and there’s also the 3 walks to bring his OBP to .833 to go with a ridiculous 2.166 OPS.  This guy does not want to go to the minors, a fact that may start some folks thinking about another player who we thought was probably a lock a month ago.
  • Jace Peterson.  I’m not going to declare that he’s going to make the roster just yet, but Peterson is probably the closest of all to having earned his way into that category thus far.  All he has done is hit .417 with a .533 OBP – 3 walks and 2 K in 15 plate appearances.  He’s scored 4 times as well.  He’s the poster child for “stepping up” this week.
  • Joey Terdoslavich.  Well, hello there, Joe:  we’ve missed you!  We’ll see this week if the coaches agree with this “trending up” assessment by rewarding Joey T with some better innings to play (i.e., earlier in the game).  4 for 10 with 2 walks is excellent, but it would look better if that were against major league pitching.  He’s not in today’s starting lineup, though he is traveling to Viera vs. the Nationals.
  • Todd Cunningham, Eury Perez.  I have the same things to say about both of these guys:  slow starts, but getting better… particularly are others seem to be flailing a bit.  The outfielder competition is definitely alive and well.
  • Cody MartinLast week, we pointed out that Martin might be one to watch as the 5th starter competition had no clear leader at that point.  Well, guess what:  nothing like starting off a no-hitter to raise one’s stock.  He did walk 2 in 2 innings, but 3 strikeouts are a real good sign.  29 other teams could have drafted Martin in December – for free – and all of them passed.  At this point (still very early), Martin is looking like he might be ahead of the field in the race for two rotation slots.
  • Jim Johnson.  Okay, he’s pitched one inning.  But he also got 3 groundball outs, which is exactly what the Braves were hoping to see when they signed him this offseason.
  • Luis Avilan.  Yes, he’s the pitcher that we all wanted to dump in December.  2.2 innings, 1 walk, no hits, no runs allowed.  Oh, and 3 strikeouts.  Huh.
  • Brandon Cunniff. Nearly as good as Avilan so far:  2 perfect innings, aside from 1 walk.
  • Brady Feigl.  Continuing to turn heads.  Still a longshot to make the club given the number of guys he’ll have to out-pitch, but so far:  2 innings, 2 hits, 3 K’s.
  • Eric Stults.  One 2 inning outing, allowing 2 hits and nothing else.  Right now, that’s better than most.

ALSO: Hector Olivera.  Yes – I am putting his name on this list.  For a bunch of reasons:

  • Chris Johnson is hitting .200 so far.  No K’s, which is noteworthy, but only one weak hit.
  • Alberto Callaspo is hitting .125.  Also no K’s, but 1 for 8 isn’t doing much for anybody.
  • Kelly Johnson.  Also 1 for 8… the “1” being a triple in Saturday’s Mets game.
  • Philip Gosselin.  .167 (2 for 12).  Not as worried about him; his role is “super utility guy” anyway.
  • Kiley McDaniel at fangraphs.com had an interesting piece yesterday about Olivera… and why he doesn’t think the huge money will be coming for him that his agent was dreaming about.  That kind of news should bring the Braves well into play for Olivera – if they want him.

I am on record – multiple times – as being against going after Olivera.  However, I do understand that the Braves have unreliable options for second or third base (depending on where you want Jace Peterson to play) – at least for 2015.  Beyond that, we have Rio Ruiz and Jose Peraza coming – though Peraza hasn’t gotten on track so far this Spring.

All of this seems to lend itself to a situation in which the Braves could emerge as the winner for Olivera – if they believe his arm and his physcial stamina can handle 150+ games.  Ergo:  Hector Olivera is trending up to make the Braves’ opending day roster… even though he’s still a free agent.