Three early Braves spring training takeaways

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It’s been two weeks since pitchers and catchers initially reported to Spring Training, and games are officially underway, with the Braves finishing their third this afternoon. As always, it’s important to take results this far away from the season with a grain of salt, so most of my takeaways aren’t going to have a ton to do with stats unless a player is battling for a roster spot, but there are several early developments worth watching closely as Spring Training continues.

Tyler Matzek is back

Right before the 2022 postseason began, it was revealed that Tyler Matzek had a torn UCL which required Tommy John surgery. He hasn’t pitched in a game since… until today, as he made his Spring Training debut, tossing an inning of work. He did allow two baserunners (one hit and one walk), but he did not let a run cross the plate. Matzek was among the best relievers in the game a few years ago and is beloved in the clubhouse. It would be a massive boost if he were to regain form heading into the 2024 season.

Keep an eye on Ignacio Alvarez

Ignacio Alvarez is starting to gain some serious steam as a prospect, already considered by some outlets to be among the top 100. He’s set to turn 21-years-old soon and has shown the ability to handle the shortstop position along with a well above average contact bat with improving power. Alvarez is my pick to be the Braves surprise prospect of the 2024 campaign, and he’s off to a nice start in Spring Training, racking up three hits in six at-bats. He’ll likely begin the season in AA, but if he starts the year hot, he could be knocking on the door of the majors in no time.

Reynaldo Lopez is the favorite for final rotation spot

I’ll be releasing my first updated Opening Day roster predictions since the start of Spring Training very soon, so keep an eye out for that, but I’ll give you a sneak peek right now. Lopez is going to be in the rotation to start the season as long as he looks competent over the next few weeks. By using him as a starter, it will allow the Braves to keep an extra reliever. I also believe the Braves want to get a good look at him as a member of the rotation because of the potential upside. Lopez has a ridiculous arm, and if he can blow batters away for 5-6 innings every five days, that’s much more valuable than a reliever. It’s a fun experiment that I believe the Braves are serious about, and if that’s the case, he has to start the season in the rotation.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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