Spring Training Primer Part 1

By:  Matt Sharp

Jason Getz/USA TODAY

With Pitchers and Catchers set to report next month lets break down the  roster a little bit and see what we are working with. We will start with the pitchers and make our way down the list. Its an almost completely new Atlanta Braves. for 2016, so let’s get to it!

Manny Banuelos is familiar to Braves fans as he had a few starts in the 2015 season. He went 1-4 with a 5.13 ERA in 26.1 innings. The win/loss record doesn’t mean much given the offense we had, but of more concern is his ERA. Without going deep into splits and pitch selection, 5.13  won’t get it. It’s not good anyway you slice it. Of interest is his injury history. He has had Tommy John surgery and successfully returned from the procedure, after being shut down again in 2015 with  elbow soreness we were relieved to learn it was only a bone spur which was removed in September. It will be interesting to see what he does with himself after having that issue resolved and having the off season to tighten back up. He is a good bet to be in the starting 5 come opening day.

Danny Burawa is probably less familiar to Braves fans. Picked in the 12th round of the MLB Draft by the Yankees he was claimed by the Braves after being DFA by the Yankees. He went 0-0 with a 6.23 ERA in 12 games with the Braves after being called up in September. He had 11 strikeouts. He showcases a 2 seam FB at about 95mph. Chances are good he will get a chance in the Bullpen this season. We hope he makes the most of it.

Mauricio Cabrera An old hand with the farm system who may be familiar to Braves fans, he is really exciting with a consistent 100+mph fastball. He is only 22 and has yet to debut in the Majors. He kept his ERA in double digits during the start of his Minor League career, but has since brought it down to 6.something where it has stayed since 2014. He had some injuries to work out in 2012 which may have contributed to that initial 12+ ERA. In any case he must bring that down. It may be a case of relying on that nuclear powered fastball. He throws a changeup in the low 90’s and he has been working on a much needed curveball, which if developed and properly utilized could make Mauricio a decisive pitcher. He is on the 40 man roster and someone we should keep on eye on in the Spring.

Mike Foltynewicz  He had a good many starts in 2015 with mixed results. Maybe best remembered for a few dramatic hits including a homerun which briefly earned him in the nickname “Babe Ruth” Foltynewicz. He struggled down the stretch with control and went back down to AAA Ball only to be called back up when Banuelos went down with injury. He ended up 4-7 with a 5.64 ERA in 105 innings. Hopefully he continues to develop and has a breakout season as he has a great shot at starting in 2016.

John Gant Came over in a trade with the Mets in July 2015 and immediately made a splash in AA Mississippi. The Savannah Georgia native pitched 59.1 innings in the Mets AA Organization with a 3.52 ERA. After coming to Atlanta and with a minor change with his Mechanics he went 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA with AA Mississippi. For the season he was 8-5 with a 3.08. That will get it done. John has shown steady improvement every year in the game and a steadily increasing strikeout rate. At 23 years old its about time for him to make his move to the Bigs. While the plan seems to be for him to take a  rotation spot in 2017, look for him to debut sometime this year. With question marks all over the starting rotation John has a chance to get a taste of the action at some point during the final season at Turner Field.

That will be enough for now. Next time will keep going down the list. Only 89 days until the season opener!

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