Atlanta Braves Spring Chop: an update on the hitters

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 31: Ender Inciarte #11 of the Atlanta Braves steals second base against Ryan Schimpf #11 of the San Diego Padres in the first inning at Turner Field on August 31, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 31: Ender Inciarte #11 of the Atlanta Braves steals second base against Ryan Schimpf #11 of the San Diego Padres in the first inning at Turner Field on August 31, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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The Braves dropped both ends of a split-squad doubleheader today, but there’s definitely some ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ who have emerged among roster candidates.

I should probably start today with something obvious:  the 2018 Atlanta Braves will not include 3B Ryan Schimpf on their roster.  Today, in fact, might have driven the final stake through his chances to make the major league team… any major league team.

On top of his total hitting drought (more on that in a sec), Schimpf was charged with 3 errors today, giving him 5 on the Spring.  You’ve gotta feel for the guy, because right now there’s absolutely nothing working for him.

He now has 30 official AB for the Braves – after 11 for the Rays.  He has zero hits.  None.  0 for 41.  The only ‘improvement’ that’s happened while in a Braves’ uniform has been the happenstance of 4 walks (now 5 overall).

But it’s the strikeouts that have been crazy:  he’s up to 19 of those now, even though you could argue that the K-rate has actually gotten slightly better over the past 5 games…3 in the past 9 AB with 3 walks.

Schimpf doesn’t lead the team in total strikeouts, but that’s because he has less than 1/3rd of the AB of the player who does.  In terms of rates, only Xavier Avery is challenging him.

But enough of this – let’s look at some better numbers…

RIO RUIZ –

  • 2 for 3 today  (double and home run, 2 RBI)
  • .231 for the Spring
  • Most team AB on the Spring (52).  Also 2nd in strikeouts (17), only 1 walk.
  • Has minor league options
  • Is on the 40-man roster
  • BEST GUESS:  Back to AAA unless Johan Camargo can’t go (back/side).  The Braves need somebody who can contribute better off the bench

PRESTON TUCKER –

  • 1 for 2 today (single)
  • .378 for the Spring
  • 8th in team AB (37) before today
  • Most walks on the team (6), 2nd highest OBP among those getting regular work.
  • Has minor league options
  • Is on the 40-man roster
  • BEST GUESS:  should make the club

CHRISTIAN COLON –

  • 0 for 2 today with a walk
  • .310 for the Spring
  • Tied for team lead in RBI with Acuna in fewer AB.
  • On a minor league contract, so options are irrelevant
  • Is not on the 40-man roster
  • BEST GUESS:  sent to Gwinnett

LANE ADAMS –

  • 0 for 3 today with a strikeout
  • .214 for the Spring
  • Took the team league in strikeouts today (18) with zero walks.
  • 1 homer, 2 RBI
  • out of minor league options
  • Is on the 40-man roster
  • BEST GUESS:  see below

DANNY SANTANA –

  • One of the very few who did not play today
  • .333 on the Spring; .350 OBP, .888 OPS
  • No walks, but just 3 K.  2 homers, 4 RBI.
  • Has 4 steals (leads team; caught once)
  • On a minor league contract, so options are irrelevant
  • Is not on the 40-man roster
  • BEST GUESS:  does not make the club; held in AAA.

EZEQUIEL CARRERA –

  • 1 for 4 today, scored twice
  • .250 for the Braves; .176 overall (5 AB with Toronto)
  • 4 K in 17 AB, no walks, 2 steals, no XBH.
  • Playing catch-up; on a minor league contract after release from Toronto
  • On a minor league contract, so options are irrelevant
  • Is not on the 40-man roster
  • BEST GUESS:  does not make the club; held in AAA.

40-man Roster Status

  • It is full – 40 names counting against the limit
  • 26 pitchers
  • 3 catchers (Chris Stewart is the third one)
  • 7 infielders
  • 4 outfielders (Tucker is the 4th)
  • P Grant Dayton is the 41st name – currently on 60-day DL

In most danger of being removed:

  • 3B Ryan Schimpf

Juggling Act

We don’t know how the Braves are intending to handle Ronald Acuna, Jr.  It’s truly getting ridiculous… witness this:

That reason is patently obvious – service time – though it won’t be stated as such.  Nevertheless, the screams of baseballs erupting from his bat are getting louder by the day and it’s getting extremely hard to ignore the fact that he’s the best offensive weapon the Braves have other than Freddie Freeman.

More from Tomahawk Take

For Acuna to be added to the roster – whether that occurs on March 29 or April 13 – somebody has to be removed.  As noted, the obvious candidate today is Ryan Schimpf.

That gets Acuna a spot, but there’s another roster issue – that being Lane Adams.  If he is not retained on the 25-man active roster, then Atlanta would be forced to expose him to waivers to get him to Gwinnett.

Perhaps that risk is worth taking, though, since he’s simply not played to his capabilities here in February and March.  The next question, though, is ‘when’ such a move might happen.

Here are the scenarios:

  • If Adams is released now, it would be by his request as he seeks a chance to make another club before April.
  • If Acuna makes the team immediately (I’ll have something to say about that in another post), then Adams almost certainly doesn’t make the Opening Day lineup and is placed on the waiver wire during the last week of March.
  • If Acuna is held back to April 13, then Adams might get another 2 weeks to demonstrate why keeping him is a good idea.  However, he’s got an uphill climb ahead, and the only thing that an extra 2 weeks does is (probably) allows the Braves to keep him on standby at Gwinnett since few teams – if any – would be inclined to pick him up.

Regardless:  I don’t believe Lane Adams is on the 25-man roster for more than 2 weeks… if even that long.

Summary

My take on the position players for Opening Day, therefore, includes these:

  • The ‘regular 8’, with 2 catchers – LF up in the air
  • Preston Tucker
  • Charlie Culberson
  • Lane Adams, however temporarily it might be
  • Once Acuna arrives, Adams departs… unless there’s a 3rd catcher
  • If there is a 3rd catcher, then it’s a dice roll to figure out who stays beyond April or so.

Next: The Greg Holland Ping

About 10 days to go… we’ll see how things play out.