Braves announce surprise reliever signing with list of non-roster invitees

The Braves have extended Spring Training invites to the following players. 

2023 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship
2023 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship / Jay Biggerstaff/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves are getting set for Spring Training and are beginning their quest for another World Series title. Part of that preparation is to send out non-roster invitations in hopes to find a diamond in the rough before the season begins. On Friday, Atlanta announced their non-roster invitees for 2024. 

This list has a couple of names that Braves fans will recognize and some that may be a surprise. Players like Ken Giles, Phillip Evans, David Fletcher, Luke Williams, Jordan Luplow and Eli White have MLB level experience and could be in the running for roster spots if they become available. 

Wait, Ken Giles? Since when did he sign with the Braves? Jon Heyman reported at 10:25 a.m. (after the Braves released this list that Ken Giles has joined the Braves on a minor league contract. If he makes it to the majors, he will earn $1.75 million. This is well worth the risk given Giles’ past success. 

In 2014, Giles finished 4th in Rookie of the Year voting. He has surprisingly never been an all-star but has a career 2.71 ERA which is more than respectable. Not that long ago (2019), Giles posted a 1.87 ERA in 53 innings of work. If Atlanta could get him remotely close to that version of himself, the bullpen could have another major weapon.

We all know that no team can ever have enough arms so it is no surprise that 8 of the 23 invitations were sent to pitchers. It is a little surprising that invitations were sent to the same number of infielders. The Atlanta Braves typically like to carry at least one “utility” player on the bench and with Nicky Lopez’s departure, one of these 8 infielders could be looking to take the role he vacated. 

As far as the outfield goes, it is safe to say that the big league ball club has their outfield spots figured out with Jarred Kelenic, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Michael Harris. Luis Liberato, Jordan Luplow and Eli White could be battling for minor league spots and be prepared if unfortunate injuries occur. 

The name on this list that should catch a lot of attention is Hurston Waldrep. Waldrep, just 21 years of age, was drafted by the Braves with the 24th overall pick in 2023. He accelerated through the Braves farm system and made his Triple-A debut with the Gwinnett Stripers in September last year. With the promise he has shown and performing well at every level he has seen, Waldrep could potentially steal the fifth spot in the Major League rotation by the end of the season.