The first week of spring training is in the books, and before you can blink, Opening Day will be here. It’s an exciting time for all baseball fans, but especially for Braves fans, who are eager to get the sour taste out of their mouths from last year’s NLCS. In this series, I’ll be breaking down the hottest players of each week during spring training, with some insight on how it might impact their standing on the Opening Day roster.
The Braves offense has the potential to be even better than last year, but the only way that happens is if Riley turns into the #1 prospect the Braves expected him to be. The power is overwhelmingly evident, which is why it is promising to see him just make good contact early this spring. He leads the team in hits, but they’ve all been singles. The only discouraging sign is all four of his outs have been strikeouts. Still, the Braves will take 5-9 all day.
Harris probably won’t get a ton of at-bats this spring, but he’s made the most of them so far, smacking a couple of singles in five tries. I wrote the other day; it won’t be long before the 19-year-old (he turns 20 on March 7) is a Top-100 prospect in all of baseball.
Kazmar has as many RBIs as at-bats; that’s never a bad thing. His first knock was a two-run homer, and yesterday, he drove in two with a go-ahead double against the Twins. Kazmar hasn’t been in the majors since 2008, so I don’t imagine that will change this year, but it’s awesome to see him making the most of his opportunity.
These two will likely share an outfield in Gwinnett to start this season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both of them made their MLB debuts in 2021. They also have had a fantastic start to spring, combining for four hits in just seven at-bats.
It’s the first time a lot of these guys have thrown in a game in quite some time, so rust is to be expected, especially when most of these pitchers are working on specific things. But you wouldn’t know that from the look of the Braves starters thus far.
Kyle Wright struggled in his first outing but bounced back yesterday with three scoreless innings while facing the minimum. A double-play quickly erased the only hit he allowed. Bryse Wilson was nearly perfect in his two first innings of the spring, and so were Ian Anderson, Huascar Ynoa, and Drew Smyly. We haven’t Max Fried, Mike Soroka, or Charlie Morton yet, but I’m pretty sure everyone is aware of what they will bring to the table.
There are plenty of bullpen arms that have had unblemished box scores early this spring, but I’ll point out one that the Braves desperately need to bounce back in 2021. Smith hasn’t allowed a baserunner and has three strikeouts in two innings this spring. As of now, it looks like he’ll be the team’s closer, which means the Braves will need to see a lot more of that beyond the past first week of Spring Training.