Atlanta Braves Spotlight: Casey Kotchman

Kevin MarkumCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2009

Casey's just one of those guys with a face only a mother could love.

Good thing he has a good bat to go with it...

Instead of talking about the normal Jeff Francoeur bounce-back predictions, the Garret Anderson signing, and the controversy around the Tom Glavine signing, how about a topic of a lesser known Atlanta Brave?

Casey Kotchman is a guy that the Braves acquired last season in a trade with the Angels while the Braves rid themselves of Mark Teixeira's expiring contract.

Generally, the only time Casey Kotchman is mentioned is in the context of Mark Teixeira. Honestly, it's about time for him to get a few notes written about him. No longer will he be just "the other guy" in the poster getting struck out by "fill-in-superstar pitcher here"

The fact is that Casey Kotchman is still a young first baseman that has room to grow. In fact, he just turned 26 yesterday. Happy birthday Casey!

This offseason, the Braves avoided arbitration with the first baseman by signing a one-year, $2.885 million contract. I think by avoiding arbitration, the Braves showed that they have faith in the guy. Hopefully he will return the favor.

The fact is that last season, Kotchman put up a BA of .272, 14 HRs, and 74 RBI.  The downside is that Kotchman only hit .237 after coming over to Atlanta.

Part of his struggles could have been the fact that he was trying to overdo it and prove he was worth the trade for the superstar Mark Teixeira. Now he realizes he isn't a superstar, and that he doesn't need to be.

Casey will have a good season at the plate for the Braves in 2009 now that he can relax with his new team. I really believe that.

One thing about Kotchman that might go overlooked by some is his defense.

He could be a candidate for a Golden Glove at 1B in 2009 and beyond. He put up a .998 FPCT with the Angels in 2008, committing only two errors. With the Braves he was even better with a 1.000 FPCT and no errors. He might not have Teixeira's bat, but he can play defense with the best of them.

I feel certain that Kotchman will play a full season for the Braves in 2009 (unless there is an unexpected trade).

2010 is the real question concerning Kotchman's future. The problem is a guy by the name of Freddie Freeman that is knocking the cover off the ball in the minors. Kotchman is blocking his path the majors, and it is only a matter of time before Freeman gets the call.

2009 is a contract year for Kotchman, and he will be playing for not only a contract but also his starting job in 2010.

Look for Kotchman to have a stellar year, even though he isn't Mark Teixeira. The main beauty of Casey for the Braves is that he's an above average player that doesn't cost nearly what Mark Teixeira does.