Braves: Johan Camargo remains favorite in third base battle with Austin Riley

Through the first week of spring training games for the Atlanta Braves, the third base battle is becoming a fun one to watch with two good options at the moment.

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Johan Camargo #17 of the Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

It's only been a weeks worth of spring training games for the Atlanta Braves, but we've got a pretty good indication of how the third base battle is going to go.

Coming into spring training it felt like it was Johan Camargo's job to lose.

Not only has the 26-year-old switch-hitter proven he can handle the job over a full season, but he's come into camp in better shape and has looked good at the plate with 4 hits in 12 at-bats, including a home run.

And it's not like Austin Riley hasn't been impressive as well with 4 hits in 13 at-bats and only 1 strikeout. But I've always thought that if the two were close to even performance-wise in spring training, the nod would go to Camargo.

Again, Camargo is the more experienced player with a history of success over a full season.

Riley is still just 22 years old and could benefit from some more time in the minors to work on the issues he had at the big leagues.

I know he would love to make the big league team out of camp, and that's certainly still possible, but hopefully he understands that we need to see the adjustments he's made over the offseason in real games.

While everything looks good in spring training, you have to keep in mind that these are still just spring training games. And it's not like you're facing Max Scherzer three times in a game.

But right now Brian Snitker and the Braves have to be pretty happy with the competition because both guys look really good.

This raises the question, can both guys make the roster?

Can both be on the roster?

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Outfielder Austin Riley #27 of the Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

I've been saying for a while now that I think it could make sense to keep both on the roster if they are both swinging the bat well.

With both of them having plenty of position flexibility, you can find ways to get them both at-bats. Granted, not everyday at-bats for both of them, but enough to keep them in rhythm.

Riley can play in the outfield when there is a lefty on the mound, Camargo can spell Dansby Swanson at shortstop when a tough righty is on the mound -- there are ways to make it work.

But recent comments from Brian Snitker (paywall) pretty much shot that down saying both guys need regular work.

And I get that, and it makes sense.

What I find hard to accept from that article is the fact that Snitker doesn't think Camargo is ready to handle a super-utility role. That seems like the best fit for Camargo in the future, and it makes me worry that he just wasn't happy with that kind of role last year.

If Riley does win the third base job I just always assumed Camargo would go to the bench as a super-utility guy. But it sounds like that's not the case -- he would instead go to Triple-A to get everyday at-bats.

To me, that hurts the value of Camargo.

Either way, it looks like Snitker would rather they both not be on the roster at the same time and would prefer they both play every day.

Of course, a season has a way of working these things out and the Braves might be forced into a situation where they have to have each guy on the roster.

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What next

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Austin Riley #27 of the Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

There is still a lot of time left in spring training so things can certainly change. But it almost feels like Riley would have to go on a tear to be the Braves Opening Day third baseman.

As much as Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer has praised the adjustments Riley has made in the offseason and spring training, at the end of the day it's still just spring training. We need to see him carry those adjustments into real games.

That's why I think it's almost a lock that Riley starts the season at Triple-A unless he just goes bananas over the next couple of weeks, which is certainly possible.

Or, if there is an injury in the outfield -- and I certainly hope there's not -- then perhaps Riley makes the team out of spring training to play in the outfield.

But you also still have Nick Markakis and Adam Duvall.

For Camargo, we just need to keep seeing good at-bats and solid defense.

I honestly haven't been able to see much of Camargo on defense, but I know he still has a rocket arm and can pick it over there.

At times it looks like Camargo just doesn't care -- almost Robinson Cano like -- but watching the Braves behind the scenes episode showed me a different side of him that has me really excited about his future with the Braves.

Next: Chipper joins ESPN

Both players should get around 50 at-bats this Spring, so they have a lot of swings left. This race is far from over, but right now Camargo remains the heavy favorite.