The Braves have had a great offseason, making a flurry of moves that have boosted them into the upper echelon of farm systems throughout the league. This system features tremendous pitching depth, and the bats are slowly but surely coming. In the past few months, the team has added prospects such as Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley, who both appear to have the potential to be big-time bats in our lineup in the coming seasons. However, it’s no secret that the lineup the Braves are putting on the field this season isn’t going to cut it. Will it be improved? Absolutely. Freddie Freeman’s wrist has healed, Nick Markakis figures to have regained a lot of his strength, and the team made upgrades offensively at the shortstop and centerfield positions in Erick Aybar and Ender Inciarte, respectively. Nevertheless, this lineup still seriously lacks power. Freeman led the team with 18 homers last season, and that simply isn’t going to cut it. The team is going to have to extract every ounce of offense they can this season to stay competitive.
A guy that the team should be looking into is former first round pick Kyle Parker. The former Clemson quarterback has put together some great seasons in the Rockies’ farm system, never hitting below .280 and consistently putting up great slugging numbers. Though he has struggled in a small sample size in the big leagues, hitting just .182 in 132 at bats, the Braves have not shied away from former first round picks they feel can serve as reclamation products. The team can start him in the minor leagues and see how he fares in Gwinnett, and ideally he can replace Nick Swisher as a more productive offensive player who can play both the corner outfield positions and back up at first base. While there is somewhat of a logjam in the Braves’ outfield, it’s better to have more options than less. And let’s face it: the Braves are going to have to eat that Swisher contract unless they ship off some serious assets, Bronson Arroyo style. He won’t be on the Opening Day roster.
Parker’s knock has been his tendency to whiff, but working with the likes of Kevin Seitzer could be exactly what he needs. A lot of his problems stem from his plate discipline, something that is not easy, however is possible to fix. Sometimes a change in scenery can go a long way, and considering the Braves are in a rebuild, they have nothing to lose. They need some pop in that lineup, and Parker could offer just that off the bench. Considering Parker was born in Evans, Georgia and went to Clemson, he’s also familiar with Braves Country. If the Braves claim the two-sport athlete and it pans out, they cost-control him through the 2022 season. Perhaps he ends up being just another AAAA player. But you can’t tell me Parker doesn’t boast more potential than Joey Terdoslavich, a AAAA player in his own right who the team kept around forever. Parker is 26-years old, and has the ability to contribute as soon as this season. I think the Braves should most definitely take a flier on him, and if so, I feel like there’s a fairly decent chance that move could pay dividends.