Braves’ Spring Training strugglers

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Listen, there is usually very little reason to put any weight into Spring Training stats. Most of these guys are working on specific aspects of their game as they prepare for the regular season, especially this early, but some players are battling for their roster lives. Those are the ones you should worry about if they make this list. Calm down; Ronald Acuña and Marcell Ozuna are going to be just fine.

Ronald Acuña Jr.

Since I mentioned Acuña above, I might as well start with him. The Braves phenom is off to a slow start, batting .105 this Spring… but it’s only been 19 at-bats. I saw an article the other day titled “Time to worry about Acuña?” I literally spit out my drink in laughter. I’ll leave it unlinked because there is no reason to drag their name through the mud, they do it to themselves. Acuña is once again going to flirt with 40/40 this season — maybe even 50/50.

Marcell Ozuna

I’m sure Braves fans were thrilled to get their first glance at Marcell Ozuna with a tomahawk across his chest, but there’s been no excitement thus far. He’s 0-13 in the five games he’s played this Spring with seven strikeouts. But once again, there’s no reason to be worried here. Ozuna’s track record speaks for itself.

Drew Waters

The Braves #2 ranked prospect, according to our list, hasn’t had much success in Florida, batting .188 over 16 at-bats. That’s not what is noteworthy, though. Coming into 2020, the primary knock on Waters was his high strikeout rate, and he’s been fanned 11 times this Spring. This isn’t abnormal for a 21-year-old highly touted prospect that only has a handful of AAA at-bats under his belt, but it does show he’s a ways away from being major league ready.

Charlie Culberson

This is one that matters a bit more than the others. Culberson is in a battle for the final roster spot, and it will likely hinge on his performance this Spring — which has been underwhelming. In 15 at-bats, he’s hitting just .133 with two singles. Charlie Clutch is a fan favorite, but that won’t be enough to earn him a spot on the roster.

Alex Jackson

Jackson is beginning to look like your prototypical AAAA player — a guy who thrives in AAA but looks lost against major league competition. He struggled mightily at the plate in his brief stint with the Braves last year but had 28 homers in just 85 games for Gwinnett. So far this Spring, Jackson is 1 for 11, with that one hit being a single.

Kyle Muller

Muller is getting his first taste of major league competition and is still a ways away from making his major league debut, so there’s no reason to put too much weight into this. But in his two appearances this Spring, he’s only made it through one combined inning and surrendered six earned runs.

Jacob Webb

Webb finally returned from an injury that cost him the end of last season, but his first two appearances of Spring were rough, as he allowed four earned runs over 1.1 innings. However, that’s to be expected after such a long layoff. Unsurprisingly, it was announced the Braves optioned him to AAA Gwinnett today. Webb needs a bit more time before returning to the majors, but he could be a substantial contributor by mid-season.

Shane Greene

No reason to overreact here. Greene has given up five earned runs in just 2.2 innings, but it’s so early and such a small sample size. However, I will say that I don’t expect him ever to be the shutdown closer he was in the first half of last season with the Tigers again.

Mike Foltynewicz

Again, no reason to worry here. Folty has tossed 3.1 innings and surrendered four earned runs, but this is a prototypical case of a guy working on things early in Spring Training. He’s an X-factor for the Braves this year, so you’d like to see him go out there and dominate, but that isn’t important this time of the year.

Grant Dayton

Dayton’s place on the roster is far from guaranteed. He is in a battle for the last bullpen spot, and so far, I wouldn’t say he’s winning. Dayton’s allowed four runs to cross the plate in just three innings, while other lefties like Chris Rusin and Phil Pfeifer have impressed.

Bryse Wilson

In the slew of moves the Braves made this morning, Wilson was optioned to Gwinnett, which officially ends his bid for one of the final rotation spots. He’s still young and has plenty of time to develop, but his inability to throw anything but his fastball with success is beginning to get a bit worrisome. However, when he figures out his secondary offerings, watch out.

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