It seems unlikely that the Braves will go into the season with only Infante as a backup infielder, but there are some options situations that may tempt them to carry five outfielders, and of course carrying “only” eleven pitchers would be insane. Willy Aybar is out of options, but also out of favor after missing the entire 2007 season with drug problems. He should have a chance to win his way back into the team’s plans this spring, and he’s easily more talented than the Prados of the world. I wish that MLB and the MLBPA would agree to something like a “redshirt year” for players like Aybar; he needs to get back up to speed in the minors and forcing him onto an MLB bench as a 25th man would only retard his development. His best chance is to get cut by the Braves and sign a minor league deal, but his status as a once-hot prospect may get him onto someone’s major league roster.
Martin Prado is almost completely uninteresting, a singles-hitting infielder who can’t play shortstop, or at least hasn’t (seven career games there). 55 percent career basestealer in the minors, 15 career homers. Does have a career .300 batting average in the minors, but that really shouldn’t be enough to get him a job. Has almost as many career GIDP (34) as homers and triples combined (37). He does appear to be a legitimately excellent second baseman, but the Braves have a second baseman already.
I don’t see any reason to put Brent Lillibridge on the roster yet. I like him a lot, but it would seem to me that his best chance would be either to make it because of an injury to Escobar or Johnson, or (if Kotsay gets hurt in spring rather than waiting two weeks in) to be part of a centerfield combination (which would help the chances of Prado or Aybar, since he would give the team another backup shortstop). By far the best basestealer among the infield candidates, and probably the team’s best leadoff option, but sticking him on the bench to play six innings a week would be foolish.
Javier Guzman has been invited to spring training. He’s so bad he can’t even make it with the Pirates, and makes Prado look like Charlie Gehringer. His only chance to make the ballclub is for Infante to get hit by a bus… driven by Lillibridge. Pass.
Willy Aybar Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com
Martin Prado Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com
Brent Lillibridge Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com
Javier Guzman Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com