Atlanta Braves AAA Affiliate Gwinnett Bravess
I made a prediction on Sunday night of what the minor league rosters would be and posted it here on Tomahawk Take (the link is at the bottom of this article). Monday, in conjunction with opening day at the major league level, the Braves released their minor league rosters. Before minor league opening day on Thursday, we’ll look at the rosters of each of the four full-season minor league affiliates for the Braves, starting with Gwinnett and Carolina Tuesday, followed by Mississippi and Rome on Wednesday.
I got the trio here correct in my predictions, but that wasn’t too tough to see coming. Lavarnway is the primary one to consider here for Braves fans as he’s a former top prospect with the Red Sox who showed quite a bit with the Braves in 2015 and has really shown to be a high-end defensive catcher after coming up as a bat-first prospect. This is a guy who once hit 32 home runs while hitting .290 between AA and AAA as a 23 year-old in Boston’s system. He has shown some flashes of that in brief exposure. Lalli is a 32 year-old minor league lifer, and Schlehuber is the prototypical org defensive catcher.
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Certainly the biggest prospect name in this group is Ruiz, acquired in the Evan Gattis deal from Houston last season, who struggled through most of last season before a swing adjustment at the end of the season really turned things around for him. I think if you look at the last month of the 2015 season, you’ll see a lot of what the Braves saw from Ruiz in spring to convince them that moving him to AAA was the right move. The rest of the list here is really guys who are hoping to play big to influence the big league club. I would imagine Moore and Snyder play their share of outfield corners, and really anyone not named Ruiz likely could see time in the outfield from this group.
…and this is why the infield group could play plenty of outfield. Everyone knows Mallex’s name by now, and he’s really back in Gwinnett for one big reason, and it’s not his bat. If he can get his defensive kinks worked out, he could end up in Atlanta in short order thereafter because the offensive skills have been proven pretty clear.
Aaron Blair, Danny Burawa, Jhoulys Chacin, Brandon Cunniff, Joel De La Cruz, Mike Foltynewicz, Tyrell Jenkins, Casey Kelly, Ian Krol, David Peterson, Kanekoa Texeira, Ryan Weber, Chris Withrow, Rob Wooten, Madison Younginer
So, I knew I had too many bullpen pieces here and mentioned that some of them may be filtered down, but I admit I was even surprised that Hunter Cervenka and Jason Hursh weren’t on this list. Chacin will only be with the club until Atlanta needs its fifth starter, so he’s only a temporary placeholder, and it will be interesting if the big club sends down John Gant or Williams Perez when they call up Chacin. From this list, I’d wager the rotation will be Blair, Folty, Jenkins, Kelly, Chacin to open the season, which means Tomahawk Take favorite (and personal cheese ball) Ryan Weber is likely the long man and fill-in starter.
Brian Snitker – Manager, John Moses – Hitting Coach, Marty Reed – Pitching Coach, Billy Nicholson – Coach
The Gwinnett pitching could carry them to a solid record, but really this team is simply devoid of the hitting that the rest of the affiliates have, and it could be a long summer for pitchers wearing the G and tomahawk on their caps.