Atlanta Braves: Who Replaces Martin Prado as Mr. Super Utility?
When the Atlanta Braves traded Martin Prado the Arizona Diamondbacks, most thought the Braves got a good deal in return. After all, the Braves received Justin Upton and Chris Johnson in a deal that saw the Braves give up a bunch of prospects in addition to Prado.
However, with the loss of Prado, there is one question on many people's mind: Who becomes the new super-utility guy for the Braves?
The biggest advantage to having Prado was that he could play anywhere on the field except for pitcher and catcher. Since becoming a full-time player in 2009, Prado has played 235 innings at first base, 1,438 innings at second base, 92.1 innings at shortstop, 1,119 innings at third base and 1,841.2 innings in the outfield.
That versatility is what allowed the Braves to be successful when injuries to Chipper Jones, Andrelton Simmons and Tyler Pastornicky happened, as well as the time Dan Uggla was benched for being unproductive.
Prado provided a lot in terms of defense. Now, the Braves must look elsewhere for that super-utility guy.
So, who are the candidates to be that for the Braves?
Pastornicky seems to be the favorite to take over the super-utility role, according to Fox Sports writer Cory McCartney.
Last year's Opening Day starter at shortstop, Pastornicky is getting used to the idea of playing all over the field, including the outfield, which he noted he's never played before:
I don't think I've ever played an inning in the outfield my whole life, so it's definitely an adjustment, he said. But all the drills and stuff have been going well and it's one of those things where I'm an athletic kid, so if the ball's hit in the air, go and catch it. Don't overthink the situation and don't do too much with it.
Having never played the outfield will be a definite adjustment for Pastornicky. But it's a necessary one if he hopes to make the roster.
Terdoslavich struggled when he made the jump from High-A to Triple-A last year. In 53 games at Gwinnett in 2012, he batted .180 with four home runs and 20 RBI. Not to mention, he had 22 errors at third base in 50 games.
Because of his struggles offensively and defensively, Terdoslavich was demoted to Double-A, where he only played six games at third, but played 68 games at first.
The decision to move him across the diamond to first base seemed to reduce some stress and focus on his offensive approach. Now, he will increase his defensive options by learning to play the outfield.
Until Terdoslavich can learn how to play third base at a high level, it seems the super-utility role will be his best fit if he wants to make the big league roster.
Who will win the super-utility role?
Most people wouldn't think of Gattis as being a candidate for the super-utility spot, but his experience at three positions will only help his cause. Last year, Gattis played 37 games in left field and 27 games at catcher across three levels.
While the other two players have more experience at higher levels than him, Gattis has shown to have some pop in his bat. In 2011, he hit .322 with 22 home runs and 71 RBI at Class-A Rome. Last year, he hit .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI.
The one knock on Gattis is that he's never played more than 88 games in a season. For a guy entering his fourth year of professional baseball, that's not a good sign.
Will there even be a super-utility player?
It's impossible to predict if any of these three will make the big league roster.
Currently, there is a bench spot taken up with the platoon of Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco at third base. Then, there's the spot guaranteed to fourth outfielder Reed Johnson and backup shortstop Paul Janish. Throw in infield utility man Ramiro Pena, and there might not be a spot for any of these three.
It's still very early in spring training, so only time will tell if the Braves will have a super-utility player in 2013.
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