A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE BRAVES
They could lose 100 games.... Christian Bethancourt has had some struggles with the ball away, the breaking ball, but he's a dangerous mistake bat right now.... Freddie Freeman has bat speed and lift in his swing. He's clearly their biggest power threat.... Alberto Callaspo isn't a starting second baseman on a first-division club. He's probably more of a utility guy. Everything's kind of fringy.... Melvin Upton's got a double bat-wrap swing, and he just can't catch up. He flexes his bat twice. He's the type of guy who can get a hitting coach fired. It's really hard to watch sometimes.... The kid I like is Jace Peterson. The fielding is average, but the bat—he stays in the middle of the field, sees pitches. He'll be starting at some point this year.... Julio Teheran's pitchability got better last year as far as not overthrowing and being able to throw his off-speed pitches for strikes.... Shelby Miller's got a big arm, fastball, slider, but his direction to the plate is a little bit across his body, and he has a tendency to get flat with his fastball.... Alex Wood has a very unconventional delivery. He moves the ball around, he's throwing strikes, funky, deceptive. You think, There's no way this can work, and then next thing you know, he's painting the corners.... Craig Kimbrel is just about automatic. Power fastball, power slider. He pitches up in the strike zone a little bit, but guys can't cheat on him because he's throwing so hard. He might not get many save opportunities.
Jace Peterson was the third prospect in the package the Braves received from the Padres for Justin Upton. A supplemental first-round pick in 2011, Peterson showed good contact skills and strike-zone judgment moving through the Padres' system, with a 13% strikeout rate and 233/217 K/BB in four minor league seasons. Though Peterson was a shortstop for most of his career, the Padres moved him across the diamond last year, and he now projects as a second baseman in the majors—perhaps as soon as this season. The Braves are going to be among the worst OBP teams in the league, with glove men at catcher and shortstop and offensive black holes in leftfield and centerfield. Playing Peterson at second base could help address that problem, and as compared with veteran Alberto Callaspo—who is more of a third baseman at this point—there would be little to no defensive cost.
LEAGUE RANK 12
MANAGER FREDI GONZALEZ 5TH SEASON WITH BRAVES
2015 PROJECTED STATISTICS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
TODD KIRKLAND/AP (FREEMAN)