Braves announce initial player pool for 2020 season

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

The Braves have released their initial player pool for the 2020 season. These are the players who will be eligible for the Braves throughout the 60-game campaign.

Pools include those currently on the 40-man roster and additional players who could be selected or promoted to the big-league club later. The maximum pool size is 60, though most teams’ first lists left room for additions.

In the Braves’ case, their initial pool included 56 players, 17 of whom are non-roster invitees. The list featured 30 pitchers, seven catchers, 12 infielders and seven outfielders. They can fill the four open spots at any time.

The following players comprise the Braves’ pool (non-roster players marked by asterisk):

Right-handed pitchers (18): Ian Anderson*, Jasseel De La Cruz, Mike Foltynewicz, Shane Greene, Felix Hernández*, Luke Jackson, Chris Martin, Mark Melancon, Darren O'Day, Chad Sobotka, Mike Soroka, Josh Tomlin*, Touki Toussaint, Jacob Webb, Patrick Weigel, Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, Huascar Ynoa

Left-handed pitchers (12): Tucker Davidson, Grant Dayton, Max Fried, Cole Hamels, Tyler Matzek*, A.J. Minter, Kyle Muller*, Sean Newcomb, Philip Pfeifer, Chris Rusin*, Jared Shuster*, Will Smith

Catchers (7): Logan Brown*, William Contreras, Travis d'Arnaud, Tyler Flowers, Alex Jackson, Shea Langeliers*, Jonathan Morales*

Infielders (12): Ozzie Albies, Yonder Alonso*, Johan Camargo, Charlie Culberson*, Freddie Freeman, Adeiny Hechavarría, Pete Kozma*, Peter O'Brien*, Austin Riley, Braden Shewmake*, Yangervis Solarte*, Dansby Swanson

Outfielders (7): Ronald Acuña, Adam Duvall, Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Marcell Ozuna, Cristian Pache, Drew Waters*

Note: A player(s) could still decide to opt out of the season because he or a family member is high-risk. General manager Alex Anthopoulos said last week he didn't expect anyone to opt out at this time, but the situation is fluid.

The Braves also announced reliever Jeremy Walker was placed on the 45-day injured list with a right shoulder impingement.

Opening-day rosters will consist of 30 players. That will drop to 28 players after two weeks and 26 players after a month. The pool players who aren’t on the roster will work out at the Braves’ Alternate Training Camp at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville.

The list didn’t contain any surprises. Like most teams, the Braves were expected to carry a handful of their top prospects. While not yet official, there won’t be minor-league baseball in 2020, meaning there’s value in carrying prospects even if they don’t play in the majors this season.

Anderson, Pache and Waters are the Braves’ top three prospects. Each could make his debut this season, though it’s easier to find opportunity for Anderson than it is the outfielders. The Braves already are dealing with a crowded outfield of veterans.

Each of the Braves’ top trio likely already was to debut over the course of a normal 162-game season. That still may be the case, but it’s impossible to project how rosters will unfold over the next few months.

Muller, the tall hard-throwing lefty, isn’t expected to join the Braves this season. Instead, he’ll likely continue his development at the alternate camp. The same can be said of Langeliers, whom the team drafted in the first round a year ago and hopes will become its backstop of the future.

Perhaps the most notable inclusion was Shuster, whom the team drafted 25th overall earlier this month. When camp opens, it will be Shuster’s first experiences in the organization.

As for the major-league team, Soroka, Fried and Foltynewicz headline the rotation. Hamels, who battled shoulder discomfort during the original spring training, is expected to be ready for opening day, according to Anthopoulos.

Hernandez, a former Cy Young winner, showed enough in the exhibition season to provide hope he’ll be able to cover innings. Newcomb was transitioning back into a starter after spending most of last season in the bullpen, and the Braves could rely on him in both roles this season.

The pool highlights the Braves’ young pitching depth. Wright, Toussaint and Wilson could play important roles, especially in the early part of the season as pitchers log fewer innings. Anderson, De La Cruz, Weigel and Davidson could make their MLB debuts.

The Braves’ bullpen is still deep, featuring former All-Stars Melancon, Greene, O’Day and Smith, along with the strike-throwing Martin. Tomlin and Jackson are expected to be important contributors again. Dayton, Sobotka, Webb, Ynoa, Pfeifer, Rusin, Minter and Matzek provide additional depth.

Acuna, Albies, Freeman and Ozuna top the Braves’ lineup, creating one of the better foursomes in baseball. Riley, Camargo, Swanson, Inciarte, Markakis, Duvall and the catching duo of Flowers and d’Arnaud round out a strong group of core position players.

Additional depth includes Culberson, Alonso, O’Brien, Kozma, Hechavarria, Solarte, Waters and Pache. Shewmake, the Braves’ second first rounder of 2019, isn’t expected to make his debut this season.

It’s reasonable to think the Braves will try to add another veteran catcher to the mix. If Flowers or d’Arnaud misses time, their third catcher is the inexperienced Jackson, who appeared in four major-league games last year. Contreras, who was added to the 40-man roster this offseason, could crack the bigs this summer but doesn’t solve the inexperience issue.

While teams cannot exceed the 60-player limit, they can make transactions that would alter their pools. Signings, releases, waiver claims, designation for assignment, the injured list and other standard moves are permitted during the season. The trade deadline is Aug. 31, just over a month into the season.

The deadline for initial player pools was 4 p.m. ET Sunday. Summer training camp begins Wednesday. Opening day is slated for July 23 or 24.