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Many experts had Tyler Pastornicky tabbed as the Braves' shortstop of the future, however young Andrelton Simmons is stating his case as well.
1. CF Michael Bourn
2. LF Martin Prado
3. 3B Chipper Jones
4. C Brian McCann
5. 2B Dan Uggla
6. 1B Freddie Freeman
7. RF Jason Heyward
8. SS Tyler Pastornicky/Andrelton Simmons
9. SP Jair Jurrgens
The Atlanta Braves are looking to put last year’s collapse completely behind them, and they’ll be doing it with essentially the lineup that brought them crashing down to earth in late September.
Braves GM Frank Wren made virtually no moves during the offseason, save for the Derek Lowe deal with the Cleveland Indians. Shortstop Alex Gonzalez departed via free agency, handing the reins over to young Tyler Pastornicky, who thus far is hitting .091 in seven spring games.
However, not so fast. Another young shortstop in the Braves' system, 22-year-old Andrelton Simmons, has dazzled thus far in camp with his superior defense, and is hitting .300 this spring after leading the Carolina League in batting last year. No less than 40-year-old veteran Chipper Jones has been blown away by Simmons' abilities.
"This kid has got it all," Jones said. "When you haven't played a game above [Class] A ball and everybody who sees you says you're Major League-ready defensively, that's saying something.
"He's confident, but he's not outwardly showy. He's like another former player from Curacao (Andruw Jones) who knew the game came easy to him. That's fun to watch."
Jurrjens draws the Opening Day starter nod with Tim Hudson shelved until early May. Jurrjens allowed six walks in his start against the Yankees on Saturday, however his right knee, which plagued him the second half of last season, appears to be healthy.
The Braves will clearly be aided by a full year of Michael Bourn at the leadoff spot, and right fielder Jason Heyward will be expected to bounce back from a miserable sophomore season.