Scouting Reports, 2014 Projections for Atlanta Braves Pitchers and Catchers
Pitchers and catchers report in less than two weeks for the Atlanta Braves, marking the fast-approaching 2014 season.
This offers the first glimpse at how the players look after the offseason, although many of them will say "they are in the best shape of their lives."
Still, fans and media get a chance to see how the players look and it generally adds to the excitement for the upcoming season.
The Braves didn't overhaul their roster after winning the National League East in 2013.
Therefore, many of the scouting reports will be familiar to Braves fans, but there are some new faces on this year's team.
Here's a look at scouting reports and projections for pitchers and catchers for the Atlanta Braves' 2014 season.
2013 Season: 5-0, 1.52 ERA
2014 Outlook: Can Luis Avilan match his 2013 season in which he played a key role in the Braves' top bullpen?
Avilan features a fastball in the low 90s with good movement, as well as a slider, curveball and changeup.
His arsenal of pitches are not overwhelming (SO/9 dropped to 5.3 in 2013) but effective.
He mixes his pitches well with good control over all of them, as evidenced by his 0.954 WHIP.
Fans should monitor his workload (65 innings in 75 games last season) as well as his strikeout rate dropping significantly from 2012 to 2013.
2014 Projection: 3-1, 1.82 ERA
2013 Season: 2-1, 4.50 ERA
2014 Outlook: Will Brandon Beachy return to his 2012 form?
The 2013 season was essentially a lost one for Beachy as he recovered from Tommy John surgery that cut his 2012 season short.
If healthy, Beachy's fastball sits in the low 90s and mixes in with a slider, changeup and curveball.
Fangraphs shows Beachy was much more reluctant to throw his slider in his five games in 2013 (8.3 percent) than he was in 2012 (18.3 percent).
Perhaps Beachy did not have full confidence in his elbow last season.
Obviously, the big thing for fans to watch with Beachy is his health. Is he willing to throw the slider more? Where is his fastball velocity at?
Beachy is a total wild card at the moment.
2014 Projection: 4-5, 4.10 ERA
2013 Season: 4-1, 1.78 ERA
2014 Outlook: How does David Carpenter rebound from giving up the deciding home run in Game 4 of the National League Division Series?
Carpenter arguably has the best fastball in the Braves bullpen— a bullpen that has the game's best closer in Craig Kimbrel.
That fastball hits the mid-90s with ease and touches the upper 90s. His secondary pitch is a plus-slider, and he also has a changeup that he rarely uses.
The key for Carpenter is throwing strikes and having respect for his slider to prevent hitters from sitting on his fastball.
Carpenter will have success in 2014 if he keeps his walks down.
Fans should watch for Carpenter's control throughout the 2014 season.
2014 Projection: 2-2, 3.31 ERA
2013 Season: .247/.314/.396, 14 home runs, 55 RBI
2014 Outlook: How big of a role will Doumit have with the Braves?
The Braves were in search of an upgrade for their bench this offseason and found that guy in Doumit.
The 32-year-old brings some versatility to the club as he can play catcher, outfield and even some first base.
Doumit isn't a spectacular player, but he is sufficient in many areas.
He had one of his most productive offensive seasons in 2012 with the Minnesota Twins when he hit .275 with 18 home runs and 75 RBI.
His 2013 season was not as productive, but still posted a respectable .314 OBP.
It will be interesting to see where Doumit sees the majority of his playing time in Atlanta.
For Braves fans, less playing time for Doumit could be good news, as it would likely mean Evan Gattis and B.J. Upton are playing well.
2014 Projection: .268 BA, nine home runs, 38 RBI
2013 Season: 0-4, 5.18 ERA
2014 Outlook: How effective will Gavin Floyd be coming off his arm injury?
Floyd has always had talent, which helped him get drafted fourth overall in the 2001 MLB draft.
His fastball sits in the low 90s, and his secondary pitch is a big curveball that is almost 15 mph less than his fastball.
The 31-year-old right-hander put it all together in 2008 when he finished with a 17-8 record for the Chicago White Sox.
While his record was uninspiring from 2009-2012, his ERA didn't jump that high, and he threw over 165 innings in each of those seasons.
To date, I think Braves fans have undervalued the Floyd pickup.
He wasn't the ace everyone hoped for, but he posted some solid seasons in the tougher American League.
The big question will be his return off the arm injury.
2014 Projection: 7-4, 3.93 ERA
2013 Season: 4-7, 4.37 ERA (two teams)
2014 Outlook: Can Freddy Garcia give the Braves more quality innings?
Who would have guessed that Garcia would be the Braves' Game 4 starter in the division series last year? That was the position the Braves found themselves in, and the 37-year-old delivered a fantastic performance.
That performance was good enough for the Braves to re-sign him to a minor league deal.
Garcia relies on heavy movement from his pitches as he's lost velocity on his fastball (mid-upper 80s). He likes to throw a split-finger fastball to help him induce a high number of ground balls.
Will Garcia continue to be effective, and will the Braves have him in the rotation, bullpen or minors?
I think he begins in the bullpen as a long-relief pitcher who gets called on for emergency starts.
Consider me a skeptic that he finishes the 2014 season on the MLB roster.
2014 Projection: 2-3, 4.32 ERA
2013 Season: .243/.291/.480, 21 home runs, 65 RBI
2014 Outlook: How does Evan Gattis handle the job as the full-time starter?
With Brian McCann's exit in free agency, the catching duties have been handed over to Gattis.
The 27-year-old is the definition of raw power. He is quick enough and strong enough to turn on any fastball, as evidenced by his towering home run off Stephen Strasburg in 2013.
Gattis still has improvements to make behind the plate, but did enough for the Braves to feel confident in turning the job over to him.
It will be interesting to see how Gattis adjusts in 2014.
Pitchers now have the book on Gattis to throw him soft stuff away from his hands.
Gattis will need to stay patient at the plate this season.
2014 Projection: .237 BA, 30 home runs and 83 RBI
2013 Season: 4-3, 1.21 ERA, 50 saves
2014 Outlook: Will anything slow down Craig Kimbrel?
Kimbrel is one of the more dominant players in baseball and clearly the best closer in baseball.
The 25-year-old has an electric fastball and devastating breaking ball to give him some nasty stuff.
He fell two strikeouts short of his third consecutive 100-strikeout season, but did hit 50 saves in a season for the first time.
At this point, it's all about health for Kimbrel. He has proved to be one of the most untouchable pitchers in the game. If healthy, nothing should slow down the fireballer.
2014 Projection: 3-3, 1.38 ERA, 48 saves
2013 Season: .281 BA, one home run, 13 RBI
2014 Outlook: How much playing time will Gerald Laird see in 2014?
For Braves fans, the less Laird sees the field will likely be good news. This would mean Gattis is thriving as the starting catcher.
However, Laird offers a definite value to this club. The veteran catcher has proved to be able to call a game, manage a rotation and play solid defense.
These are all skills that Gattis needs to improve on and where Laird can step in.
Laird also isn't afraid of key situations, having been in the league for 11 years with ample postseason experience.
2014 Projection: .253 BA, 15 RBI
2013 Season: 15-12, 3.11 ERA
2014 Outlook: Will Kris Medlen be pitching with something to prove in 2014?
Medlen is one of the more competitive pitchers on the roster, which could help the Braves in 2014.
Tim Hudson is gone, the Braves supposedly lack an ace and Medlen's postseason ability has been questioned after the past two seasons. Medlen is also pitching on a yearly basis, as he'll be eligible for arbitration once again after this season.
All of this could add up to a determined pitcher in 2014.
For his career, Medlen is a 2.96 ERA pitcher as a starter.
Despite the question marks, he has shown to be a consistent starter.
2014 Projection: 13-9, 3.01 ERA
2013 Season: 13-9, 3.21 ERA
2014 Outlook: Can Mike Minor continue to progress as one of the top left-handed pitchers in the National League?
From start to finish, Minor was the Braves; most consistent starter in 2013.
Once again, the 26-year-old will play a key role in the starting rotation.
Minor features a quiet delivery with a deceptively quick fastball (low 90s) and has plus offspeed pitches. He has become more comfortable with all of his pitches and is more willing to throw his slider and curveball.
Fans should still monitor his walks and home runs allowed, which can get him into trouble.
2014 Projection: 16-7, 3.33 ERA
2013 Season: 14-8, 3.20 ERA
2014 Outlook: How does Julio Teheran follow up his outstanding rookie campaign?
The 23-year-old backed up the hype surrounding his rise through the minors with his 2013 season.
After a rocky April, Teheran cruised through the 2013 season without any major hiccups.
The right-hander has good life on his fastball, a potentially great changeup and breaking pitches with some bite.
There is not a pitcher I'm more excited to watch in 2014.
Teheran has the chance to be a great pitcher for the Braves. How does he follow a great 2013 rookie season?
2014 Projection: 11-10, 3.45 ERA
2013 Season: 3-1, 2.82 ERA
2014 Outlook: Will Anthony Varvaro be able to maintain a position in the bullpen?
He quietly put together a very solid 2013 season. The 29-year-old saw his workload steadily increase as the season progressed and pitched in meaningful action.
Varvaro is mainly a two-pitch pitcher with a fastball and slider, but he does mix in a changeup.
Varvaro can't afford any setbacks in 2014. With a deep bullpen, the Braves can afford to ride the hot hand and promote from the organization if needed.
2014 Projection: 1-2, 3.78 ERA
2013 Season: Did not pitch
2014 Outlook: What can Jonny Venters provide?
Venters missed the 2013 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his elbow. The recovery will linger into this season, as he will not be ready to go on Opening Day.
When healthy, Venters featured one of the more devastating pitches in the game with a 95-mph sinker. His slider was good enough, and he was just wild enough that hitters never could get comfortable in the box.
The Braves would love to have that Jonny Venters return in 2014. However, his best days are likely behind him.
2014 Projection: 0-2, 4.71 ERA
2013 Season: 4-3, 3.45 ERA
2014 Outlook: Will Jordan Walden be the primary setup man for closer Craig Kimbrel?
General manager Frank Wren made a great trade to pick up Walden in exchange for Tommy Hanson.
Walden served as the primary setup man in 2013 after the season-ending injuries to Venters and Eric O'Flaherty. That very well could happen again in 2014 with O'Flaherty gone and Venters a question mark.
The other candidates for the job are Luis Avilan and David Carpenter.
The fact that Walden has closing experience gives him an early leg up, but it is worth monitoring closely.
2014 Projection: 2-3, 3.28 ERA
2013 Season: 3-3, 3.13 ERA
2014 Outlook: Will Alex Wood stay in the starting rotation all season?
This could depend on the health of the other starters, but there's no denying Wood will have a huge opportunity to start the season.
I'm a fan of Wood and think he projects as a starter in the long-term. While his delivery is quirky, there is no denying the life on his fastball, a plus changeup and calm demeanor on the mound.
However, the Braves used him out of the bullpen on multiple occasions in 2013 and seem to like his value in that role.
Wood's 2014 season will be one of the more interesting ones to watch and is very difficult to project.
2014 Projection: 6-4, 2.99 ERA