Pressure? There’s No Pressure, Sam
On November 6th of last year, Alex Anthopoulos made an under the rader move, acquiring Sam Hilliard for MILB pitcher Dylan Spain. When Braves Winter Fest rolled around, the Braves GM had a chat with Hilliard to alleviate some pressure off of the outfielder by telling him that he was acquired for his ability to play strong defense at all 3 OF positions. While it’s only spring training, Hilliard has responded well defensively, but it’s the bat that’s catching eyes, as he’s carrying a 1.065 OPS and a .500! OBP in 53 PAs. It’s not just BABIP luck either, as there’s been plenty of loud contact. I expect Hilliard starts the year off as a reserve, but could find himself in the regular lineup should he keep hitting the ball hard.
5 Most Promising Signs from Braves Camp
Mark Bowman, also affectionately known by our founder as “Peanut”, put up a piece over at the Braves Official site titled the 5 Most Promising Signs from Braves Camp. In the piece, he talks about a healthy Ronald Acuna, Matt Olson‘s demolition of baseballs, Eddie Rosario‘s Promising Spring (despite the numbers), the abundance of starting pitching depth, and the rise of Braden Shewmake. While all the stories are encouraging, Shewmake’s might be the one that we need to pay attention to the most as his name keeps getting dropped by various beatwriters. If he truly is the most improved player in the minors, then buying the MILB.TV package (which is really inexpensive) might be the best way to get a front row seat to prove or disprove the theory for Braves fans.
Braves Left with 31 Players in Camp
I don’t think it was ever realistic to think that Michael Soroka would break camp with the team. He needs innings and live game reps, but it was promising to see him pitch and pitch well, even hitting 96 in his one and only spring game. Hopefully we see him again in the MLB, but for now, like Shewmake, if you want to see Soroka on a regular, then MILB.TV is the way to go.
The Braves and Anthopoulos still have a few questions left to answer in camp, but it’s more logistical than anything.
- Will they only carry 4 SPs on Opening Day?
- Will they go with 9 Relievers?
- Will they have any outside additions?
- Does Kevin Pillar make the team?
The good news is outside of Raisel Iglesias, the roster seems healthy and that’s promising out the gate.
Seems like the roster is pretty well set to me. At 31, Ynoa and Matzek go to the 60-day IL, Allard and Iglesias go to the 10-day IL, and one of Shuster/Dodd is sent down. That leaves 26 with Pillar, Chavez, Adrianza, and Shuster/Dodd taking the 4 available 40-man slots. I also think the lean has to go to Shuster. The only reason to take Dodd is if you think he can swing between the rotation and bullpen more easily (aka early Strider).
The real wild card left is AA. We are just starting to see some interesting cuts from other teams.
MLBTR says both Schuster and Dodd will be in the rotation while Wright hits the 15(?) day IL.
Aw, it’s another dodge. They say Shuster goes north and Dodd will be called up a little later. Assuming they take Shuster, Pillar, Adrianza, and Chavez, the question becomes who is the odd man out when Dodd is called. I have to believe Tonkin is on the edge. Maybe Wright comes back early and Dodd stays in the minors. They could option Shuster when they call Dodd but there still has to be room on the 40-man roster for him. Still when Wright comes back someone has to go and when Iglesias comes back, someone has to go. Will the schedule ease up after the first couple of weeks and the Braves go with 4 SP when Wright returns? And both Shuster and Dodd get optioned? Then they have at least five choices when the next 5th SP is needed.
I gotta wonder how long any of Pillar, Adrianza, or Tonkin is gonna last.
Maybe its just me but I’d like to see how Shuster and Dodd do before I label them quality depth. I also don’t really understand keeping them both over Elder. Elder has a proven track record of success in limited IP in MLB. These two do not. Trust but verify.
New piece from Clint Manry! https://bravesjournal.com/2023/03/27/braves-prospects-to-watch-for-2023-season/