The Braves have a lot of stuff to figure out this Spring Training, and very little has gone as expected. Ian Anderson and Bryce Elder have already been optioned to Gwinnett in favor of Dylan Dodd and Jared Shuster. At least one rookie appears to be headed for the Opening Day roster, and over the weekend, it was revealed that another first-year player could be in the mix — 2019 first-round selection Braden Shewmake. With about a week left in Spring Training, I have three predictions for the remaining questions Brian Snitker and company are facing as we approach Opening Day.
Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd both make the Opening Day roster
Coming into Spring Training, it was thought that only one rotation spot was up for grabs. However, with Kyle Wright making his first appearance of the Spring today — scheduled to throw around 45 pitches — it’s become apparent he will not be ready for Opening Day. He will miss at least the first week of the season, if not more. That leaves two spots in the rotation available, and Dodd and Shuster have both done enough this Spring to earn an opportunity. I like the Braves to give them each a shot to begin the season, allowing the competition to brew even further. Whoever performs better will be kept around when Wright is ready to go.
Marcell Ozuna establishes himself as the permanent DH
Ozuna began the Spring slow, but he’s turned it on over the last few weeks, and Brian Snitker likes what he’s seeing from his approach at the plate. The Braves have hung onto him for this long for a reason. They still believe he can be a significant piece of the puzzle moving forward. They wouldn’t continue to deal with the PR backlash if they viewed him as a depth option. They will give him every opportunity to earn the job as the everyday designated hitter, and I think he’ll run with the opportunity moving forward.
Vaughn Grissom wins the job as the starting shortstop
Brian Snitker said it himself that the job for the starting shortstop is up for grabs between Braden Shewmake and Vaughn Grissom. It’s a development that’s come out of nowhere this Spring Training, and Mark Bowman of MLB.com believes Shewmake is now the favorite to win the job out of camp. I’m not there yet. I’m happy Shewmake is performing well during Spring Training, and he’s the better defensive option. With that being said, I can’t look past what he’s done at the plate over the last two seasons, recording a combined OPS below .700 between AA and AAA. Grissom is the better option, and the only reason I see the Braves riding with Shewmake over him is to allow Grissom to build some confidence at the AAA level first.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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