Braves Spring Training Stock Watch: Which Players Are on Fire and Slumping?
Just 12 games into the Grapefruit League schedule, the Atlanta Braves have already displayed the extremes of their club.
They have launched towering home runs and they have struck out. They have extinguished late-inning fires and they have given up big flies.
They haven't however, had enough reps to allow fans to draw final conclusions regarding certain players (i.e. Dan Uggla).
It's early (and it's Spring Training, where statistics mean very little), but here are the Braves who are hot and not.
*Statistics courtesy of MLB.com and updated as of March 5.
Terdo and the Hot Hitters
Joey Terdoslavich: 11 hits/19 at-bats, one home run, 1.361 OPS
Evan Gattis: eight hits/19 at-bats, one home run, 1.139 OPS
Tyler Pastornicky: nine hits/22 at-bats, two home runs, seven RBI, 1.117 OPS
Freddie Freeman: ten hits/26 at-bats, one home run, .962 OPS
Chris Johnson: eight hits/22 at-bats, two home runs, .984 OPS
Juan Francisco: nine hits/25 at-bats, one home run, .920 OPS
Ramiro Peña: seven hits/20 at-bats, three walks, .435 OBP
B.J. Upton: eight hits/25 at-bats, one home run, five RBI, three doubles
Jordan Schafer: seven hits/22 at-bats, two doubles, three walks, two steals, .400 OBP
Justin Upton: seven hits/24 at-bats, two home runs, six RBI, .945 OPS
Again, it's early, but these Braves are exhibiting really positive signs. Seeing Terdoslavich hit is encouraging, and watching Freeman and the Upton brothers get into the swing of things in the early going is nice as well.
Also, hearing reports of a 450-foot blast off the bat of Justin Upton is pretty fun.
The real stories lie with those trying to make the roster, though. It's no surprise that Gattis is continuing his impressive spring and now pressing for a roster spot, but the brilliant performance from Pastornicky has been particularly of note.
Not to be outdone, Peña has also strung together a decent start to the Grapefruit League as he battles Pastornicky for a bench role.
The Braves are hoping that either Francisco or Johnson comes forward to seize the starting third base job, but it seems that both players want the gig; they're in a dead heat in the opening weeks.
Lastly, Schafer has started camp out off on the right note, showcasing a little pop, patience and speed. He should continue to have a good spring as he tries to win the fifth outfielder role.
Uggla and the Uglies
Jason Heyward: five hits/23 at-bats, .280 OBP
Reed Johnson: four hits/21 at-bats, .227 OBP, .418 OPS
Blake DeWitt: three hits/16 at-bats, .628 OPS
Ernesto Mejia: three hits/17 at-bats, .535 OPS
Dan Uggla: three hits/23 at-bats, .520 OPS, 12 strikeouts
These Braves are off to slow starts, but it is far more inconsequential for Heyward to have a slow start (which is paired with three home runs, by the way) than roster hopefuls DeWitt and Mejia, who aren't doing themselves any favors with poor performances in the first couple weeks.
Johnson's bat should come around in time, but it is Uggla that has Braves fans moaning with his 12 strikeouts and paltry three hits.
A streaky hitter, Uggla came to camp in great shape and should begin hitting once he learns how his new, more flexible body can swing the stick. With time, there is a good chance Uggla returns to form.
Teheran Leading the Pitchers
Luis Avilan, Cory Gearrin, J.R. Graham, David Hale, Wirfin Obispo, Gus Schlosser, Anthony Varvaro, Alex Wood: 0.00 ERA
Kris Medlen: five innings, four strikeouts, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP
Julio Teheran: five innings, seven strikeouts, 1.80 ERA, 0.40 WHIP
Unless Jordan Walden finds himself on the Disabled List to start the season, the group of pitchers at the top is of little to no consequence.
The two starting pitchers underneath, however, are very encouraging names to see begin Spring Training so hot.
After coming seemingly out of nowhere, there are many skeptics out there that believe Medlen's second half was a mirage. If the early going is any indication, those skeptics should be proven wrong this season.
Teheran is perhaps an even more encouraging name to see start to well. He's been dominant through his first five Spring Training innings, and hopefully will carry the momentum into the regular season.
Maholm Getting Bombed
Ryan Buchter, Jonny Venters: three innings, 6.00 ERA
Craig Kimbrel, Cristhian Martinez: four innings, 6.75 ERA
Sean Gilmartin: five innings, 7.20 ERA
Daniel Rodriguez: three innings, 9.00 ERA
Paul Maholm: 4.2 innings, 9.64 ERA
David Carpenter: 3.2 innings, 12.27 ERA
Yohan Flande: four innings, 15.75 ERA
Again, with the bullpen and rotation essentially set, the only starts that carry any real gravity are those of Maholm and Gilmartin.
Gilmartin and Maholm are simply finding a lot of good wood early into March. As crafty southpaws relying on control and deception, it could take a little bit of time before they find their groove.
With Teheran looking like he will seize a rotation spot and Maholm re-upped for $6.5 million, expect Gilmartin to improve this spring but ultimately be shipped back to Triple-A to get more seasoning.