Atlanta Braves Opening Day Roster Prediction version 1.0
By Eric Cole
Ronald Acuna Jr.
Michael Harris II
Left field is obviously the roster spot with the most intrigue so we will start there. Rosario has looked decent enough at the plate to at least get the lion's share of the playing time early on against righties to start the season. However, I do think the Braves will do a fair bit of platooning in 2023 in left. I am not going to be shocked if we see more plate appearances out of Kevin Pillar than we may have projected and there is a chance that Ozuna sees a couple starts here and there in left.
In center field, we have the reigning NL Rookie of the Year Michael Harris and this is another one of those mortal lock spots. His all-around game, including already being one of the better defensive centerfielders in the league right now, makes him an interesting dark horse MVP pick. No surprises here.
Finally, we have one of the most talented players in all of baseball in Ronald Acuna Jr. Ronnie certainly didn't look like his usual self after he returned from season ending knee surgery in 2021. However, he still hit 15 home runs and stole 29 bases in 533 plate appearances. Now that he has had a full offseason to heal up completely and looks very motivated, expect a big season from him and you probably won't be disappointed.
Yeah, I hate it, too...but this is pretty much a given. Snit said that Ozuna was going to make the team and this is the spot where at least trying to get something out of him makes sense as his outfield defense at this point is atrocious. I expect whichever catcher isn't playing in the field to get plenty of DH plate appearances, but early on we could see a healthy mix of Ozuna in there. If he can actually be productive and avoid getting arrested this season, the Braves could be able to trade him. If not, they may finally pull the plug and release him.
Gone are the days when you had to have a dedicated pinch-hitter on the bench, so this is about covering one's bases. With Grissom projected at short, Arcia becomes the bench infielder and that pushes Ehire Adrianza out. Kevin Pillar has played well this spring, has a good defensive track record, and could fill in at any of the outfield spots if need be.
Sam Hilliard doesn't have any minor league options left, but I am not sure how much that will matter for the bench. Eli White has played really well this spring, but I will bet on Hilliard's tools and strong spring for now despite his past contact issues. This last spot could change and I could see the Braves covering their bases and stashing the guys with minor league options away. Jordan Luplow is still in the conversation as well, but he has a hurt oblique and hasn't played this spring yet, so I am not holding my breath.