Two other outfielders are on the 40-man, these being Gregor Blanco and Jordan Schafer, both of whom had 2009 seasons they would rather forget. Blanco, who spent all of 2008 with the Braves, wound up spending most of 2009 in the suburbs, and did not hit either there or in his major league action. You’re all familiar with Blanco, a player who has identifiable strengths, mostly his walk rate and ability to work pitchers, plus some speed, but whose complete lack of power and high strikeout rates keep him from being a really valuable player.
Schafer, meanwhile, started off the season with a homer, but after that did not play well, and it turned out he was hiding a wrist injury. He is expected to be full strength, but in the interim the Braves traded for Nate McLouth to fill his spot. It is not clear to me that the best alignment for the team would not be Schafer in center and McLouth in a corner, but from all I can tell Schafer is expected to play in AAA. All indications remain that he will be a quality major leaguer in time, and he is still only 23.
Two outfielders have received non-roster invites to spring training. The more interesting is Mitch Jones, who had been putting up gaudy numbers in the PCL for the last several years when he got a callup to the Dodgers last year, where he hit .308 with a .400 OBP. Those PCL numbers have a lot of helium in them, but it’s worth giving him a shot. Brent Clevlen comes from the Tigers organization, where he’s spent parts of the last three seasons not hitting in the majors but being okay in AAA. He looks like pure fodder to me.
The Crab Man, Brian Barton, spent a brief period on the Braves’ roster but all he did was get into one game as a pinch runner, in which he was caught stealing. He put up fifth outfielder type numbers in Gwinnett, but the Braves only carry four outfielders. He’s fun to have around, but there’s no future there. Also on the Gwinnett roster is Matt Young, the Pocket Schafer, a 5-8 centerfielder who has hit .286 with a .392 OBP in his minor league career, albeit without much power. Last year he hit .284/.414/.403 in AA and AAA, and he probably deserves a shot.
Realistically, the Braves’ other outfielders are Hinske and Infante. It’s probably not a good sign if either or both play a lot, but it’s possible that they’re actually the best corner options.