We are now two weeks into Spring Training and just over two weeks away from Opening Day. The Braves, especially their bats, had a rough go of it this past week. Still, there were several players who found some success and bolstered their case to be on the Opening Day roster.
Without a doubt, Wright was this week’s biggest riser. After a rough start to spring in his first outing, he followed it up with seven straight scoreless innings over two separate appearances. The 25-year-old former top prospect showed off some of his potential at the end of 2020 and would be an incredible boost to the rotation if he found some consistency.
Harris was among the group of non-roster invitees that was assigned to minor-league camp yesterday, but while he was up, he was turning heads left and right. The 2019 third-round pick only had seven at-bats, but recorded three hits, including this opposite field home run.
Michael Harris. Braves #11 prospect.
Upper-90s FB from Pete Fairbanks & Harris goes to the opposite field for a solo HR to LF.
Above average power & hitter potential with quick hands.
Above average speed, solid defender with plenty of OF arm strength. pic.twitter.com/gaddzR1mo6
— hashim (@___hash___) March 12, 2021
Still, despite all the hype, I would be shocked if Harris made his MLB debut in 2021. He’s only played 22 games above rookie-ball in his career. However, a 2022 debut could certainly be in the cards for this five-toll prospect.
A couple of days ago, it was announced that Ender Inciarte has a sore thumb, and there is no timetable for a return. Clint wrote yesterday how this injury could signal then end of his tenure in Atlanta. If that’s the case, a spot on the Opening Day roster just opened up, and to this point, Irvin is the most likely to fill it. (stats)
Matzek allowed a run in his first outing of the Spring, but he’s been perfect since, tossing 3.2 scoreless innings. To this point, he has 8 strikeouts in just 4.2 innings. Just like last year, Matzek will be a critical piece to the back-end of Atlanta’s bullpen.
I paired these two together because they are both non-roster invitees competing for one of the final spots in the bullpen. Edwards Jr.’s walks are concern — he has four of them in our four innings — but he’s been able to work around them so for, allowing just one run — good for a 2.25 ERA. Jones has been much more efficient, recording three scoreless frames, allowing just one hit and striking out three. I would say there is a fantastic change Jones is on the Opening Day roster.
Arguably the top-two pitchers in the Braves rotation entering the season made their Spring Training debuts this week, and both looked in mid-season form. Morton had three strikeouts in three shutout innings, and Fried made it through four frames, allowing just one run before retiring the final eight batters he faced.
Woods was also apart of the group that was re-assigned to minor-league camp. Even still, he did impress during Spring Training with his high-90s fastball and hard-breaking slider. In his only appearance this past week, he struck out the side in order.
After a brutal 2020, Jackson isn’t guaranteed anything heading into 2021. However, after allowing a run in his first appearance of the spring, he’s put together back-to-back scoreless innings, including a save in his last time out. Given that Jackson is one of five Braves that are out of options, I imagine he will be included on the Opening Day roster regardless. Still, it’s nice to see one of the Braves top relievers from 2019 off on the right foot.
Kazmar is the feel good story of Spring Training thus far. The 36-year-old hasn’t played in the majors since 2008. That hasn’t stopped him from showing up this year, and he’s off to a scorching hot start. Kazmar has five hits in just eight at-bats with a couple of homers and seven RBIs. It’s a long shot he makes another appearance in the majors, but if he keeps raking like this, who knows.