MLB Network gifted us with a Braves television broadcast on Wednesday afternoon, and baseball season is now in full swing.
It was the first glance we had of Sean Newcomb in 2020 as he competes for a rotation spot on Opening Day. Newcomb was a little rocky to start, which is to be expected at the beginning of Spring Training. Despite a few wild pitches, he did not issue a free pass but did give up two runs in the first inning due to a couple of hits, and Travis d’Arnaud not being able to get in front of a pitch. He came out in the second inning looking dominant, striking out the side, finishing two innings with 4 K’s.
d’Arnaud struggled a bit behind the plate and looked rusty. The Orioles scored three runs from balls going to the backstop. He did have an incredible throw down to second base, catching a base stealer in his tracks before Ozzie Albies accidentally dropped the ball. d’Arnaud undoubtedly looked ready to contribute with the bat, hitting a homer and later smacked a ball down the right-field line. He seems primed to give the Braves some additional production out of the catcher spot.
Adam Duvall also continued his excellent start to Spring Training and had an extended outing on Wednesday. He followed up yesterday’s double with a base hit today.
Perhaps the most encouraging development of the afternoon was prospect Bryce Ball leaving the park. A 24th round pick who fell due to signability issues, Ball has done nothing but mash in the lower levels of the minors and has emerged as the Braves top power bat down on the farm. He has a tough path to the big leagues as a first baseman in an organization with Freddie Freeman, but if adding the designated hitter to the National League comes to fruition next season, he could be the future of the team at that spot. He’s that talented.
I also have continued to fall more and more in love with Patrick Weigel. He was one of the next men up for the Braves before undergoing Tommy John Surgery a couple of years ago and has not missed a beat in his return. He has fantastic movement on his offspeed stuff. I like him as a starter in the long-term, but feel that he can play out of the bullpen as well. I have no doubt we will see him debut in 2020 in some capacity, and Weigel has a bright future ahead of him.
Braden Shewmake had a base hit, but outfield prospects Cristian Pache and Drew Waters had quiet days at the plate.
The Braves ultimately fell to the Orioles 4-3, but it is Spring Training, so it really does not matter. There were some positives to take away from Wednesday’s contest, which is all you are hoping for.