5 former Braves players off to troubling starts in spring training

Several former Braves players are not off to great starts down at spring training.

Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers
Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
3 of 3

For the most part, spring training stats aren't particularly predictive. The Atlanta Braves have had plenty of guys take spring training by storm only to completely wash out in the regular season and others who have struggled in camp only to go off once games start counting. Every guy is different and trying to read the tea leaves too much is a good way for someone to go mad.

Still, spring training performances do tell us SOME things. They show us which hitters are seeing the ball well at the plate and whose swing is in a good spot as well as which pitchers have the best feel for their pitches and who has knocked the offseason rust off first. Those things don't tell us who is going to be good or bad over the course of the 2024 season, but it can help figure out who is going to start the season well.

With that in mind, here is a look at some former Braves who are not off to the hottest starts this spring. Again, all of these guys could turn things around in short order, but their struggles this spring could take some of the sting out of them leaving Atlanta.

Jason Heyward

The trade that sent Jason Heyward to the Cardinals was the unofficial start of the Braves' rebuild. Heyward was thought to be the next face of the franchise when he came up from the minor leagues, but he did not develop offensively the way many thought and by the end of the 2014 season, the two sides were not on the same page in terms of both a contract and the direction the team needed to take.

In the nine seasons since then including a lengthy stint with the Cubs, Heyward has posted a .727 OPS at the plate while remaining one of the game's best outfield defenders. However, Heyward is now in the twilight of his career with the Dodgers and spring training has not been treating him well so far. In seven games this spring, Heyward has slashed .211/.250/.211 without an extra base hit thus far. One hopes that he will be able to string together at least one more solid year before his career comes to an end.

Justyn-Henry Malloy

Malloy isn't a household name with Braves fans because he was sent to the Tigers in the deal that brought Joe Jimenez to Atlanta. That deal has worked out pretty well for the Braves as Jimenez has become a key part of their incredibly deep bullpen, but Henry-Malloy is no slouch. In 611 plate appearances with Detroit's Triple-A affiliate last year, he slashed .277/.417/.474 with 23 home runs and is poised to be an impact player for the Tigers in the very near future.

Unfortunately for Malloy, this spring has not been a kind one to him. Malloy has played a good bit thus far in camp (11 games) and has a couple extra base hits, but he also only sports a .514 OPS down at spring training thanks largely to the fact that he only has three hits so far. Don't expect that to stick, though, as Malloy is really good at getting on base and is starting to grow into the power that he lacked when he was with the Braves.

Caleb Durbin

Caleb Durbin was a delightfully weird prospect from the day that the Braves drafted him. He never had much in the way of power largely due to the fact that is only 5'6, but he can really run, has great bat-to-ball skills, and his strikeout rate going back to his college days at Washington University in St. Louis is comically low. Coming off a great stint in the Arizona Fall League this year, it sure looked like the Braves were going to regret trading him to the Yankees in the ill-fated Lucas Luetge deal.

Atlanta's pain has been held at bay so far this spring as Durbin has struggled. In pretty limited playing time down at spring training. Durbin is slashing .167/.294/.167 and has surprisingly struck out more than he has walked (seriously, that never happens with him) and has yet to steal a base. This is another case where the small sample of spring training probably isn't going to predict very much. Expect Durbin to excel yet again in 2024 and potentially see time in the big leagues sooner rather than later.

Chris Martin

Chris Martin is one of the few cases from the Alex Anthopoulos era where the Braves made a mistake by not keeping a guy around. Martin did battle some injury issues from when Atlanta acquired him from the Rangers to when he left in free agency after the 2021 season, but pitched quite well when he was on the mound for the most part. Since then, Martin has posted a 2.10 ERA across 115 appearances with the Cubs, Dodgers, and Red Sox and it is hard not to wonder how much better the Braves' bullpen would have been had Atlanta hung on to him.

2024 spring training for Martin, however, is not off to the best of starts. Martin has yet to appear in a spring training game for Boston as he has been slowly ramping up on the backfields. More recently, a bullpen session resulted in a groin injury that was a minor setback in his progression. Everything points to the injury not being serious and he should be ready for Opening Day if everything goes to plan.

Eddie Rosario

Braves fans need not be reminded of Eddie Rosario's impact on the Braves franchise. While his last two seasons with Atlanta did not go nearly as well, his performance against the Dodgers in the 2021 NLCS where he basically carried the Braves to the World Series will go down in Braves history as an all-timer.

Unfortunately, Rosario's inconsistency the last couple of years ultimately led to the Braves moving on from him this offseason in favor of Jarred Kelenic. Rosario had to wait a long time to find employment which he eventually did with a minor league deal with the Nationals. In fact, it took so long that Rosario has yet to play in a spring training game as of 3/11 and his best case scenario at the moment is making the Opening Day roster of a team that might be one of the worst in baseball in 2024.

More Braves News from House That Hank Built