Mar 14, 2014; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

RECAPPING Atlanta Braves 5 Bold Thoughts For Spring Training


Prior to the 2014 Spring Training season, I wrote an article with my five bold thoughts for the Atlanta Braves after ST.  Everyone has their own opinions but to foresee the future is a difficult task.

First, Lets Look Back

5. Gavin Floyd will pitch during Spring Training and pitch well.  Fredi Gonzalez will decide to slot Floyd in the starting rotation heading into the regular season and make his first start April 5th against the Washington Nationals.

Mar 25, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves pitcher Ian Thomas (83) throws a pitch during the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

4. The 6’4″ 210 lb left handed pitcher, Ian Thomas will impress the Braves organization and fans.  The 26-year-old from the Virginia Commonwealth University pitched in Double A Mississippi last season and is a 2014 non roster invitee.  He won’t make the roster but will make an impact to move to Gwinnett in 2014.

3. Tommy La Stella shows the Braves Nation that you should remember his name for the future.  He makes a great combination with our young shortstop, Andrelton Simmons, turning double plays throughout the month of March.  Tommy comes up short of making the roster out of Spring Training but heads to Gwinnett looking for the opportunity if Dan Uglla and Tyler Pastornicky slips.

2. Jordan Schafer will play extremely well this spring and actually beat out B.J. for the center field position.  On March 31st he will be the Braves center fielder and be slated in the leadoff spot in the lineup.  This will have a trickle affect in the lineup and make the Braves 1-8 dangerous.  Fredi loves the left-right-left-right lineup and will do this to start the season.  The new lineup looks like this…

Mar 22, 2014; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Jordan Schafer (17) bunts the ball during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

1. Jordan Schafer

2. Andrelton Simmons

3. Jason Heyward

4. Justin Upton

5. Freddie Freeman

6. Evan Gattis

7. Chris Johnson

8. Dan Uggla

1. Craig Kimbrel will win his arbitration hearing on February 17th and the Braves will be looking for a new closer in the next year.  This will put a stamp on the Braves probably not resigning him long term.  But this will free up money to sign Simmons, Kris Medlen and Mike Minor to long term contracts.  These three will have contracts by the season begins and continue with the John Hart theory of locking up the young guns.

Recapping

You never want to dwell on your flaws or call yourself out for wrongly predicting something but three of the five thoughts – I was off.

#5Gavin Floyd did not pitch an inning during the 2014 Spring Training but is progressing.  Floyd has thrown live batting practice and is hopeful to return to the Braves some point after April 20.  The 31-year-old, 6’6″ right-handed pitcher will begin the season on the 15-day DL.  He will most likely get a few starts in Gwinnett early to mid April.

#4 – Looking back on my picks, this was the highlight.  Ian Thomas has officially made the 2014 Atlanta Braves opening day roster.  Five years after going undrafted out of Virginia Commonwealth University, the 26-year-old has made his first big league roster.

“This is everything I’ve always been working for my whole life,” Thomas said. “It was tough. Out of college, I didn’t get signed. I was living pretty much hand-to-mouth all in the indie leagues. Now, it’s here. It’s going to change a little bit.”

Ian pitched in 11 games during ST, pitching 10.1 innings with a 2.61 ERA and 13 strikeouts.  Opposing hitters batted .194 and he held a 1.16 WHIP.  With Jonny Venters still recovering for Tommy John surgery, look for Thomas to play a big part in the Braves bullpen.

Mar 16, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman Tommy La Stella (84) hits an RBI double during the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

#3 – Tommy La Stella didn’t really blow the hat off anyone’s head this ST but he did play well and hit well.  He batted with a slash line of .255/.340/.340 with 12 hits in 47 at bats.  He hit four doubles, drove in five runs and had six walks.  He did however strikeout seven times.

Something not appealing to the eye is the amount of errors Tommy had.  He played a total of 89 innings and had three errors.  Not to many but more than any other second basemen for the Braves (Dan Uggla had two).

La Stella did however turn eight double plays and had 16 putouts.  He and Tyler Greene were able to get many games in prior to Tyler Pastornicky coming back from injury.

#2 – My extreme long shot.  Jordan Schafer actually didn’t have the Spring Training he had hoped for.  A slash line of .246/.281/.393, Schafer had 15 hits in 61 at bats.  Four doubles, a triple and a home run is what he ended the spring with.  Jordan also added three stolen bases.

He was credited with one error in the outfield and 12 strikeouts which seemed pretty high, but than I looked to B.J. who had 21K’s.

B.J. who had a decent spring, will obviously get the start in centerfield.  He batted .267/.343/.383 with two doubles, a triple and a home run.  Also added four stolen bases but was caught stealing twice.

#1 – The Atlanta Braves were able to avoid arbitration with Craig Kimbrel and signed him to a four-year deal worth $42M dollars.  A huge signing for both the Atlanta Braves and Kimbrel.

In 9.1 innings pitched, Craig had a 3.86 ERA with 10 hits given up including five walks and only eight strikeouts.

Don’t fret on these stats though….if you remember, in 2013 Craig put up the same numbers in the spring and think of the season he had last year.

Next Braves Game View full schedule »
Tuesday, Sep 22 Sep7:10Philadelphia PhilliesBuy Tickets

Tags: Atlanta Braves