Michael Harris II homer propels the Braves in first spring training game

Atlanta's spring training started on the right foot thanks to their talented center fielder.

Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves
Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves competed in the first game of Spring Training on Saturday. Yes, you heard that right. Braves baseball is officially back and fans couldn't be more excited.

It's wild to think it's been just over a year since Atlanta began what would become a record-shattering season in 2023. It feels like the team broke every record that existed in franchise history.

Fans would be crazy to not be excited for the 2024 season after such an impressive season despite the sour way things ended. We recently did our first pass at a roster projection for Opening Day that you may find interesting.

Things got off on the right foot in the first game of the spring as Michael Harris II decided to do his best Ronald Acuña Jr. impression, homering on the very first pitch he saw against the Tampa Bay Rays. Harris could have an incredible season if he can get things started on the right foot as he has MVP potential.

Harris II is one of the most impressive left-handed bats in all of baseball as he has sneaky power in his bat and can hit the ball to all fields. His speed also makes him a similar threat to Ronald Acuña Jr. on the basepaths. If he can play well all season long, the NL East is in for a long year.

With the Braves keeping essentially the same core of players, fans probably aren't shocked to learn their high-powered offensive team just carried that into the first competitive game of 2024. Atlanta ended up scoring 6 runs and beat the Rays 6-5 in the first game of the Spring.

Spencer Strider started this game on the mound and was easily pumping 99 mph fastballs over his 2 innings of work. He allowed one hit, walked one batter, and struck out four over that time frame as well.

Strider worked in his new breaking ball that many are calling a curveball but it seems to just be a changed grip on the slider that is giving the pitch a new look. Whether the pitch is a curve or not, it seems to have worked well for him on the mound and he will use it more according to Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ($).

If Strider develops yet another pitch for opposing hitters to worry about, it's going to be an incredible season for the Braves ace. Phillies fans like to act like Strider isn't an ace but he has proven time and time again that he is one of the best pitchers in baseball.

There is a Cy Young in Strider's future and adapting a new pitch will make the quest for 300 strikeouts an easy one for Spencer. The Braves are in a very good place as we head into 2024.

Only a few of Atlanta's expected Opening Day lineup took the field on Saturday but most of the ones who did not play today will likely play on Sunday against the Red Sox.

Notable performances from Saturday's game

Michael Harris II: 2-3, HR, RBI

Marcell Ozuna: 1-2, BB, K

Jarred Kelenic: 0-3, K

Luis Guillorme: 1-3, K

Nacho Alvarez: 2-2, 2 RBI

Forrest Wall: 1-2, RBI

Atlanta's next game is against the Red Sox on Sunday at 1:05 pm EST from CoolToday Park in North Port, Florida. The game can be listened to on 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan. Bryce Elder takes the mound for Atlanta and will be opposed by Red Sox pitcher Brayan Bello.

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