Well, to be honest, we’ll see about that. Here in Charlotte, spring came a tad bit early. And by a tad bit early I mean literally the first day of February. If March decides to fight back in wintery fashion, I will have spent a massive chunk of springtime weirded out by why the weather was the way it was, meaning that there wasn’t much relaxation involved.
Anyway, enough of that. We’re here to focus on Spring Training. It’s underway, ladies and gents!
With that in mind, I thought we needed to celebrate the kicking off of the most hopeful Braves season in recent memory by taking a quick look at the club’s top storylines and players to watch this Spring. Let’s take a trip down to Disney World and get into it!
PROSPECTS TO WATCH
- Travis Demeritte, 3B: Demeritte’s Arizona Fall League performance has Braves fans thinking they’ve got themselves a steal. (For those of you that don’t remember, the Braves acquired Demeritte from the Rangers for two journeymen pitchers last summer.) The athletic and quick-handed Demeritte looks poised for a breakout 2017. His tremendous upside is very much worth keeping an eye on this spring.
- Ozzie Albies, 2B: The trade for proven veteran Brandon Phillips suggests the Braves clearly aren’t in any real hurry to get Albies to the bigs, but the second basemen should be called up at some point this year. Albies is the Braves’ prospect to watch this spring for two reasons: The obvious, because he’s the club’s top prospect with Swanson in the bigs, and the second, which is that he will be playing for the first time since he fractured his elbow on a check swing last September. The injury serves as a setback for Albies, who would have gotten a look at a roster spot this spring training. Instead, the 20 year old is now more likely a September call up.
NEW ADDITIONS TO WATCH
- The new veteran rotation members: The Braves patched up their rotation this offseason by adding three veteran starters in knuckleballer RA Dickey, 43-year-old Bartolo Colon, and Jaime Garcia, who spent the past 8 years in St. Louis. Obviously there’s a big risk factor with these signings, but the hope is that the three provide stability to a horrifically shaky Braves’ rotation or play well enough to build up enough trade value that the Braves can take advantage of if they’re out of the picture by the deadline.
- Can Dansby Swanson be an everyday player? The Braves’ no. 1 prospect, Swanson looked solid in his 38 appearances last year. Good enough to suggest he’s ready to become the Braves everyday shortstop, though? Swanson is ridiculously talented, but it’s unclear whether he’s completely ready to have a full-time starting job this early in his career. It’ll be interesting to see if he shows any signs of a sophomore slump this spring.
- Is this the year?: The consensus is that the Braves are a year away, but you really can’t count this team out for a potential Wild Card spot. After the Matt Kemp trade, the Braves put runs on the board at a high clip, and a full season of Dansby Swanson should provide a boost. Expecting Atlanta to make the playoffs could be a bit of a stretch considering their performance over the past three years, but people are really underselling this team. 72 wins as the Vegas over-under? C’mon. If everyone stays healthy and the rotation holds up, the Braves will be a team to keep an eye on this year.