Projecting Atlanta Braves' Final 25-Man Roster at the Start of Spring Training
The Atlanta Braves have completed their first week of spring training, and the roster is already starting to take shape.
There is still a month left to fully determine who will be on the Opening Day roster, but we still have a general idea of what it's going to look like.
To this point, some of the highlights have included the play of Dan Uggla (3-for-7), Tommy La Stella (7-for-15) and Matt Lipka (4-for-12).
Meanwhile, some of the early disappointments are B.J. Upton (1-for-7), Evan Gattis (1-for-8) and Brandon Beachy (10.80 ERA).
Either way, it is a welcome sight to see baseball being played again.
With that said, here's the first projection at what the Braves' 25-man roster will look like on Opening Day.
Catchers (2): Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird
Barring an injury, the catcher position looks set with Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird (Ryan Doumit will serve as third catcher).
Despite the early struggles for Gattis (.125 average), he is a lock to make the team and will be the starting catcher on Opening Day.
Gattis proved throughout last season that he was an MLB player and has earned his spot.
Meanwhile, Laird left his first spring training game with a back injury. However, the injury is not supposed to be serious and shouldn't hinder him from being ready by the start of the season.
Prospect Christian Bethancourt caught Alex Wood on Sunday and has one hit in five at-bats thus far in spring training.
He will likely begin the season in Triple-A.
Infielders (6): Freddie Freeman, Chris Johnson, Tyler Pastornicky, Ramiro Pena, Andrelton Simmons, Dan Uggla
The obvious locks to make the team include Freddie Freeman, Chris Johnson, Andrelton Simmons and Dan Uggla.
Ramiro Pena should also be considered a near-lock and has been swinging a good bat so far in spring training (4-for-9 with two doubles and three RBI).
That leaves Tyler Pastornicky as the player on the bubble, and I believe he will make the 25-man roster for Opening Day.
Part of this is due to Mike Minor likely starting the season on the disabled list (more on this later).
Pastornicky has yet to play a spring training game as the Braves stated they would bring him along slowly as he returns from his season-ending ACL injury.
In the end, I think Pastornicky's speed and bat will help him sneak onto the roster when we get to Opening Day.
Outfielders (5): Ryan Doumit, Jason Heyward, Jordan Schafer, B.J. Upton, Justin Upton
Similar to the catchers, this group looks set.
The starters on Opening Day will be the Upton brothers and Heyward. The Braves acquired Doumit in the offseason to serve as a backup outfielder and catcher, and Schafer is a valuable commodity with his speed.
One player who could be added to this group is Joey Terdoslavich. The 25-year-old made his MLB debut in 2013 and played 55 games with the club.
If Pastornicky struggles in his return, Terdoslavich would probably occupy the last bench spot.
He will need to heat up at the plate to grab a spot, as he has just one hit in eight at-bats this spring.
Look for Terdoslavich to be up and down with Atlanta in 2014. He's a bubble guy to make the Opening Day roster.
Starting Pitchers (4): Brandon Beachy, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Alex Wood
The surprise omission on this list is Mike Minor, but don't panic, Braves fans.
While Minor will likely miss the entire spring training and start the season on the disabled list, he should be able to rejoin the team during the regular season's first week, as noted by MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
Obviously it is disappointing that Minor won't be available for spring training, but the news could be much worse.
The Braves could choose to go to a four-man rotation for the first week, and each pitcher would still be on regular rest.
I also believe Wood will be one of the pitchers in the rotation.
While some have plugged Wood into the bullpen to start the season, I have consistently believed that he will be a part of the rotation in 2014.
I will stand by that projection after the first week of spring training.
Relief Pitchers (8): Luis Avilan, David Carpenter, Freddy Garcia, Cory Gearrin, David Hale, Craig Kimbrel, Anthony Varvaro, Jordan Walden
I admittedly struggled to pinpoint exactly what the bullpen will look like to start the season.
I feel confident that Avilan, Carpenter, Garcia, Kimbrel, Varvaro and Walden will make up the group, with Garcia serving as a long reliever and spot starter.
With the final two spots, I went with Gearrin and Hale over Ryan Buchter and Luis Vasquez.
Gearrin was up and down in 2013 but still managed to compile a 3.77 ERA. The Braves know what he can do, so he would seem to have a good chance to be on the Opening Day roster.
The last spot could come down to Hale and Buchter, as Vasquez has yet to pitch this spring with a lat injury.
Buchter's advantage is being left-handed, as Avilan would be the only other left-hander in the bullpen in this scenario.
However, Hale impressed at the end of the 2013 season and is the type of power arm who has the ability to also get out left-handers.
The Braves could choose to start Hale in the minors in order to not shuttle him back and forth when Minor returns from the disabled list.
The final relief spots will likely be determined by performances over the next month.
There are some spots up for grabs.
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