With most of the roster set, expect to see a heavy dose of youth when the Braves begin their exhibition season this weekend.
The Braves don’t have many questions around their roster: There’s the third-base competition between Johan Camargo and Austin Riley, the jockeying for a couple rotation spots in the season’s early going, and a bullpen spot or two.
Some players who are cemented on the team probably won’t get many reps in the coming spring games, according to manager Brian Snitker. The team will instead get a look at its younger players, which includes fringe players competing for eventual call-ups and prospects trying to get noticed.
Snitker specifically cited outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Nick Markakis, along with catchers Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers, as players who won’t play much early.
“Some of these guys, I’m not worried about getting Ozuna, Markakis, the catchers; I’m not rushing to get them in there,” he said. “We have a lot of time. I’ll probably nuzzle up to the older guys, Freddie (Freeman), all them. Some of the young guys, when we go on the road, they’re going to have to play. The rest of them I’ll check on. Ozuna, Markakis, two catchers, I’m in no hurry to get them out there. We have a lot of time to get those guys ready.”
The Braves have a surplus of outfielders, but they also have two top prospects – Drew Waters and Cristian Pache – who would benefit from more spring reps. In the catchers’ case, youngsters Alex Jackson, William Contreras and Shea Langeliers are among those who hold intrigue.
Snitker hasn’t yet decided who will play in the first few games, but the Braves are prepared to set several of their starting pitchers Friday.
“We’ll know after (Thursday),” Snitker said. “We wanted to check with a couple of those guys to see how they were after they threw their sides. By (Friday), we’ll have the first two or three days pretty much set.”
The Braves begin Grapefruit League play Saturday at home against the Orioles. They’ll play 33 exhibition games this spring, with 17 coming at CoolToday Park.
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