Atlanta Braves: Analyzing the Non-Roster Invitees: Infield Edition

Brett KettyleCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 20:  Joe Thurston #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals plays second base against the Kansas City Royals during the game on June 20, 2009 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With only 17 days remaining until the Braves kick off spring training, only one infielder is on the list of non-roster invitees.

While some prospects inside the organization will likely net invites, I don’t see the Braves bringing in anymore free agents.

Also, in this section, I will include the two catchers that are non-roster invitees, as they likely wouldn’t be going except that teams always need a ton of catchers in spring training.


Joe Thurston:

The only infielder currently on the NRI list, Thurston has some major league experience and could provide the Braves depth as the season goes on.

As for Thurston’s Major League experience, he has played parts of six seasons in the majors, with his only significant action coming last year with the St. Louis Cardinals.

In his 333 career at-bats, Thurston has compiled a .225/.306/.324 line.

However, a look at Thurston’s minor league record shows that there may be reason to believe he could offer some production if he gets a shot with the Braves.

During his 10 minor league seasons (7 in AAA) Thurston has compiled a .295/.358/.421 line. More impressively, he has totaled 182 stolen bases in his minor league career, with 19 coming in 2008 (he only played in the majors in 2009).

Aside from his speed, the biggest asset Thurston could bring to the Braves is his versatility.  Between the majors and minors, Thurston has played second and third base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions.

Predominantly a second baseman, Thurston played mostly third base during the 2009 season, but has played more short than third in his minor league career.

Thurston could have a chance to be the last hitter on the Braves roster if he really impresses during spring training.

What’s more likely though, is that Thurston will spend some time in the minors in 2010 before getting the call to Atlanta as a result of an injury.


J.C Boscan and Orlando Mercado

The two catchers currently listed on the NRI list, neither Boscan or Mercado has (and likely won’t ever) played in the Major Leagues.

Boscan originally signed with the Braves back in 1996, and has played all but two of his professional seasons in their organization.

Only once in his career has he had over 400 at-bats in a season, and even back when he was getting semi-regular playing time, he struggled hitting the ball

For his career, he is a .225/.316/.309 hitter in just under 3000 minor league at-bats.

Mercado is entering his first season with the Braves. He spent his entire professional career (dating back to 2003) with the Diamondbacks prior to 2010.

Although he hit well in 2009 (.293/.383/.378 in 329 at-bats) across AA and AAA, looking over the rest of his minor league numbers don' give us any reason to think he can repeat that success.

Only a .256 hitter in around 1500 minor league at-bats, Mercado was only brought to the Braves organization to catch some in spring training and fill out the organizational ranks.


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