If something bad happens to McCann or Ross, the Braves will turn to J.C. Boscan as their next option. In other words, nothing better happen to McCann or Ross. Boscan has 15 years of minor league ball behind him, mostly in the Braves organization, and has absolutely proven he can’t hit. His career line is .224/.311/.307, so at least he’ll take a walk. Another catcher with an NRI is minor league lifer Jose Yepez, a career .270/.357/.387 hitter in the Blue Jays and Mariners organziations. The Braves keep getting players who can’t hit from those teams. It’s a sickness. There are always lots of catchers around in spring training and I’m sure they’ll take a long look at Christian Bethancourt, and maybe Braeden Schlehuber. I wouldn’t expect much. Evan Gattis, who quit baseball, came back to play in college, and was drafted by the Braves in 2010, is a great story and hit .322/.386/.601 with 22 homers last year in Rome, but he was old for the league (24, average hitter age 21.4) and very suspect defensively.
By my count there’s a spot left open for one more infielder on the bench. The only infielder left on the 40-man is Brandon Hicks; it says a lot that I think he might be the best choice as the starting shortstop. Not that I think Hicks is likely to be good, though in his second short major league stint last year he looked a lot less like someone who just picked up a bat for the first time a few days ago. It’s a comment more on the alternatives. Hicks actually hit an intriguing .252/.333/.446 for Gwinnett last year, highlighted by 18 homers, and if he could maintain those secondary skills and field well, he’d be a useful player. I don’t have much hope of that.
Hicks will compete with a couple of NRIs (unless the Braves sign someone else) for that last roster spot. Wanting to corner the market on bad infielders named “Wilson”, the Braves signed veteran Josh Wilson to a minor league contract. He’s like Jack without the couple of good years or the past as a great glove man. He’s hit .227/.279/.318, playing for seven teams in five years. He must be doing something right or teams wouldn’t keep employing him, but it’s pretty obvious what he’s doing wrong so they keep getting rid of him. Drew Sutton, another NRI, is a bit more intriguing. A career .280/.378/.437 hitter in the minors, he’s hit .258/.322/.403 in limited action for three teams in the majors over the last three years. He somewhat resembles Brooks Conrad (and has also spent a lot of time in the Astros organization) but is supposedly a better fielder who can sort-of play shortstop. Andrelton Simmons also got an invite, but he’s years away if he ever arrives.
There wouldn’t seem to be a spot left over for an outfielder, barring injury, which is bad news for Jose Constanza. Constanza’s hot start last year was a fluke, and he cooled off considerably, but he can be a useful bench player for the right team. There are a couple more NRIs. Luis Durango has even less power than Constanza, but a career .403 OBP in the minors. My opinion, as I’ve stated before, is that this type of guy can’t succeed in the modern major leagues because pitchers will simply blow them away with fastballs because there’s no reason to fear they’ll hit a homer. Also, despite Durango’s speed, his career minor league stolen base record is poor (67%). There is also Jordan Parraz, one of those guys who looks okay in a lot of areas but doesn’t seem to have any really plus skills to recommend him. The Braves could also look at Mycal Jones, who is the closest thing to a position prospect left in the upper minors but hasn’t done anything yet to look like more than a possible fourth outfielder. Joe Terdoslavich may be a corner outfielder of the future, and has a camp invite, but the chances of him making the team in spring are very low.