Buy or Sell: Braves Spring Training Storylines

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Spring Training is a funny time of the year. Players that often nobody has heard of can look like All-Stars, while former All-Stars look like they belong in the minors. It’s why I often remind people to take the results lightly. Just because someone has success in March doesn’t mean they will be a valuable piece to the major-league club in April. With that in mind, I want to take a look at the storylines thus far through Braves Spring Training, and how much weight fans should be putting into each one leading up to the start of the regular season.

Matt Olson, Michael Harris II, and Austin Riley will all be MVP candidates

These three guys could be placed back-to-back-to-back in the Braves lineup, and so far this Spring, they all look like MVP candidates. Matt Olson is currently hitting .500 through 18 at-bats with three homers. While Riley and Harris have also added a couple of homers each while hitting at least .300. I’ve said it before; the Braves have four legitimate MVP candidates on their roster — these three guys, along with Ronald Acuña Jr. This Spring is only making me feel better about that prediction.

Buy or Sell: Buy

Eli White could be an option to start in left field

When the Braves acquired Eli White this offseason, they knew they were getting elite speed and defense. What’s been a surprise this Spring has been his offense. He has seven hits in 20 at-bats, including a homer. The Braves have consistently been one of the best in the business over the years at helping players tap into their strengths. However, I’m not buying White turning things around so quickly. His offensive spark to begin the Spring is likely a flash in the pan. White might make the roster, but it’s because of what he brings defensively off the bench, not because he’s all of a sudden a competent offensive player.

Buy or Sell: Sell

Ian Anderson remains lost

Anderson has had a less than stellar start to Spring Training. He owns a 6.14 ERA over 7.1 innings, but what’s been even more discouraging is the way he looks on the mound. Anderson isn’t just walking batters, he’s throwing tons of uncompetitive pitches, and I’m still not sold on what we’ve seen from his new slider. Right now, I don’t know how the Braves could put him on the Opening Day roster from what we’ve seen this Spring. If it doesn’t get better over the next couple of weeks, it’s time to take a real hard look at what the future holds for Anderson as a member of the Braves organization.

Buy or Sell: Buy

Jared Shuster could make the Opening Day roster

On the flip side, Braves top prospect Jared Shuster has been fantastic this Spring, allowing just one run over 8.2 innings. I would never have thought it coming into the season, but because of Anderson’s struggles and the injuries to Kyle Wright, Mike Soroka, and Kolby Allard, I think there’s a good chance Shuster begins the year in Atlanta.

Buy or Sell: Buy

Sam Hilliard could be an option to start in left field

Eli White isn’t the only fringe outfielder impressing in Spring Training. Sam Hilliard is hitting .320 with four extra-base hits over 25 at-bats. Because he has no options, he should be on the Opening Day roster. But beyond that, I actually believe Hilliard has a chance to steal starts away from Eddie Rosario and Marcell Ozuna in left field. He’s far better defensively and offers a lot of pop at the plate. I think the banning of the shift will help Hilliard tremendously as a left-handed bat. Don’t be shocked if he’s starting in left field early in the season.

Buy or Sell: Buy

The Braves will lose the Joe Jiménez trade

This is a bit of a harsh title, considering Jiménez has only appeared in three games this Spring, but those three outings could have gone a lot better. He’s been crushed early on, allowing four earned runs through just two innings. However, what’s even more worrisome has been his lack of velocity. He’s a couple of miles down on both his fastball and slider from a year ago. If that isn’t fixed, this could go on to be a trade the Braves regret tremendously. With that being said, I’m not going to be that grim in the preseason. Jiménez is coming off offseason back surgery, which is likely the reason for his lack of velocity. If this continues for the first couple of months during the regular season, I may sing a different tune, but I’m not panicking just yet.

Buy or Sell: Sell

Ehire Adrianza could make the Opening Day roster

I didn’t give Ehire Adrianza much of a chance to make the Opening Day roster coming into Spring Training, but he’s been one of the Braves best players, racking up eight hits in 17 at-bats. I still give the likes of Sam Hilliard, Kevin Pillar, and Eli White much better odds of cracking the Opening Day roster, but Adrianza can’t be counted out, given his experience with the team and positional versatility.

Buy or Sell: Buy

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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