3 Braves hitters who are not helping themselves during spring training

The Braves had a few guys struggle at the plate to say the least in camp this year.

Atlanta Braves v Minnesota Twins
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When it comes to the Atlanta Braves and spring training, the most important thing is for guys to just get back in shape and to stay healthy. The Braves saw last year with the rash of spring training injuries that they had to deal with that starting the season in one piece can be easier said than done. So far, Atlanta has avoided any serious issues unless Ronald Acuna Jr.'s knee starts acting up again.

Beyond just getting back in game shape and getting used to seeing live competition again, spring training numbers don't really mean all that much. Pitchers aren't throwing the way they will in the regular season as they work on stuff and hitters tend to hold back to make sure they don't tweak something before the season. Combine all of that along with standard small sample size weirdness and it is probably best to not read too much into spring training numbers too much.

That said, one thing that spring training numbers do tell us is how close to being dialed in a hitter is and in the case of a few Braves, they have some work to do.

Here are 3 Braves hitters who have had springs to forget in 2024

If a guy is on this list, it shouldn't be an argument to fire him into the sun. Hitters aren't playing enough in the spring or playing with the level of urgency to draw too many conclusions especially with so few roster spots for Atlanta actually being up for grabs. With that said, here are a few Braves hitters that have struggled this spring and warrant keeping an eye on heading into the 2024 season.

Justin Dean

A few years ago, it looked like the Braves had found a diamond in the rough in Justin Dean. The 17th round pick out of Lenoir-Rhyne could absolutely fly around the bases and after posting an .817 OPS at Rome in 2019 with 47 stolen bases, Dean was garnering a lot of attention as a prospect to watch in the Braves' farm system.

Unfortunately, Dean's progress didn't really stick. Over the last three seasons, Dean has struggled to get his OPS north of .700 as his hit tool regressed, although he has remained an excellent outfield defender and a stolen base threat. Needing a big bounce back season in 2024 to try and keep his big league aspirations alive, Dean's spring training hasn't gone well very well as he has just one hit in 12 games down at camp.

Luke Williams

One of the few roster spots on offense for the Braves that was up for grabs this spring was on the bench. Whichever catcher that isn't playing on a given day will take one spot and Luis Guillorme was apparently locked into another bench spot, but that last spot that will back up the outfield has seen a pitched battle among multiple guys with Luke Williams firmly in the mix.

Mark Bowman made a strong argument for Williams' inclusion on the Opening Day roster due to his positional versatility along with the fact that some of the other candidates (Forrest Wall, JP Martinez, David Fletcher kinda) may be better served playing every day in Gwinnett and staying ready in the event that they are needed for more than an inning or two a week. In a vacuum, all of that made a ton of sense.

However, spring training saw things change a bit and it was at least partially due to Williams' performance in camp. Despite the fact that he had a clear path to a bench spot in Atlanta this spring, he seemingly fumbled the bag as he slashed .125/.200/.250 in 17 games. Again, numbers aren't everything in spring training, but they do matter a lot more when there is actually a competition happening.

Ultimately, Williams' struggles along with Forrest Wall going off this spring seems to have turned the Braves' bench roster battle in Wall's favor leaving Williams on the outside looking in.

Jarred Kelenic

Jarred Kelenic might have been the Braves' most interesting move this offseason. In terms of cost, the Braves had to leverage their payroll a bit and take on some bad contracts to land the former top prospect, but there is no denying his upside when he is right as he has an All-Star ceiling. However, a certain amount of skepticism was warranted given his struggles in Seattle in the big leagues.

Kelenic was never really at risk of losing his roster spot this spring. Everyone knew that he was going to have to make some adjustments and that he could be a work in progress heading into the 2024 season. However, after posting a paltry .223 OPS this spring despite playing quite a bit, it is fair to wonder if Atlanta's investment in Kelenic is going to pay off.

The downstream effects of the uncertainty surrounding Kelenic have been significant. The Braves are now carrying Forrest Wall on their Opening Day roster as a back-up plan and they also went out and signed old friend Adam Duvall on a surprisingly cheap one year deal to platoon with Kelenic as well.

Braves fans shouldn't be looking to drop Kelenic off on the side of the road just yet. He is young, tooled up, and extremely talented to the point that they need to try to figure out how to get him in a good spot. However, his performance this spring is a reminder that nothing is guaranteed in the game of baseball and the Braves have done well to have a strong plan B in the event that it doesn't work out.

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