With pitchers and catchers reporting, the Braves have released their list of non-roster invitees, and you can check that out here. A lot of these guys are career minor leaguers, top prospects, or free-agent veterans who may be on their last ride if they don’t make the cut. It’s hard to gauge development of some of these players, especially with 2020 being a lost season, but let’s see who I think gets the call for the 40-man roster:
Jason Creasy is an older guy that started with the Pirates in 2011. He had a nice run in Mississippi during 2019 but gave up 23 earned runs in 37 innings while saving only three games in Gwinnett. Connor Johnston is another player who was solid during the 2019 season in Mississippi, but he has had minimal work in Gwinnett. Freddy Tarnok was a third round pick in 2017 and was raw coming out of high school. He hasn’t played great in High A and simply isn’t ready yet. Kurt Hoekstra is an interesting name. He has played all over the infield throughout his minor league career, but the Braves have him listed as a pitcher. Not sure if that’s a clerical error or if it was for minimum roster purposes, but he’s a guy that is getting close as a hitter. I love Logan Brown as a prospect, but he’s not ready, especially for a catcher that hasn’t even made it to AA. CJ Alexander was awesome in 2018, yet he struggled with injuries in 2019 and lost 2020. Justin Dean is a deep prospect who hasn’t played a single AA game yet.
Would Be Cool, But Unlikely
Hernandez, Kingham, Vodnik, and Woods all fall into the same category: exciting live arms in the minors that could be lightning in a bottle. None of them have made it past High A, but I’d like to get an extended look at them. I’m so excited about Langeliers’ potential, especially defensively, but catcher is one of the toughest positions to develop in baseball. Every Braves fan was calling for Bryce Ball in 2020 when he was added to the taxi squad, and while his power is very exciting, he still hasn’t taken a swing above Rome. Braden Shewmake would be an awesome addition to the bench, but I doubt he skips Gwinnett and goes straight to Atlanta. With the wealth of outfield talent Atlanta has, I don’t see them rushing the toolsy Michael Harris or steady-hitting Trey Harris just yet. Like everyone else, I’m ready for some Drew Waters. I think he’s one of the 25 best prospects in baseball. However, I think he starts in Gwinnett. He could be a mid-season addition if he blows it up.
On The Fringe
Thomas Burrows wasn’t selected in the Rule 5 Draft, and while Atlanta does have a wealth of bullpen lefties, you have to think his time is coming soon. Jonathan Morales had an outstanding AAA debut in 2019 but only had 121 at-bats. He will be a name to watch if Tyler Flowers or another catcher isn’t brought in. Ehire Adrianza is a vet signing who isn’t inspiring with a bat but makes up for it with his defensive versatility. Sean Kazmar is a name that has been with the Braves forever that I don’t see leaving Gwinnett, even with a solid 2019 season. Despite his presence on the playoff roster for a brief time, I don’t think Pablo Sandoval makes the team.
Likely To Make the Team
These are the three guys I see as locks making it out of camp. I actually really like Nate Jones, and he will be a steal of a signing if he’s healthy. Carl Edwards Jr. has been rock solid multiple times throughout his career, and if he gets back on track during camp, he’ll probably be starting in Atlanta on Opening Day. Jason Kipnis might be the best bench bat in Atlanta (as it stands), so you have to give him a shot with Alex Jackson, Ender Inciarte, and Johan Camargo being other bench names.