The Athletic recently released their Spring Training standout for each MLB team, and David O’Brien’s picks for the Braves are far from surprising — Dylan Dodd and Jared Shuster.
Shuster and Dodd came to spring training with seemingly no chance of making the Opening Day roster. Now they will each make a start on opening week. Shuster will start the third game of the season while Dodd will be activated before his turn in game 5. Shuster posted a 1.45 ERA in Grapefruit League play with 18 strikeouts and four walks in 18 2/3 innings, while Dodd had an 2.00 ERA with 20 strikeouts and four walks in 18 innings. — David O’Brien
With Kyle Wright beginning the year in Gwinnett to increase his workload, both Dodd and Shuster will continue their fantastic work on the major-league roster to begin the season. Whoever performs better in their mini-audition will win the job as the team’s fifth starter for the time being. My money is on Shuster.
A few other Braves that deserve recognition for their Spring Training performance are Matt Olson, Marcell Ozuna, Sam Hilliard, and Orlando Arcia.
There wasn’t a hotter player in the Grapefruit League than Olson, as he smashed a league-leading eight homers. His job was never in danger, but he’s on a mission to prove the Braves moving on from Freddie Freeman was not a mistake. If this success continues into the regular season, nobody will question Alex Anthopoulos’ decision ever again.
Ozuna’s Spring Training started out sluggish, but he turned it on over the last few weeks and ended with a .321 average and .859 OPS. The last two years have been ones to forget for the Big Bear, but if he produces like this in 2023, the conversations surrounding him will be a lot different.
Hilliard entered Spring Training competing for a roster spot, and he made sure the Braves didn’t have a choice, recording a .413 batting average with a 1.065 OPS. He’s a sneaky breakout candidate that could end up having a much bigger role than people initially anticipated when the Braves traded for him earlier in the offseason.
My final Spring Training standout is Orlando Arcia, who won the shortstop job over Braden Shewmake and Vaughn Grissom, much to the surprise of many. Arcia’s defense has never come into question, but it’s his offense that won him the job in Spring Training, as he hit .333 with a .957 OPS. The Braves are going to need more of that in the regular season if they want to capture their sixth straight NL East title.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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