Promising prospects invited to spring camp
Terdoslavich, Gilmartin among players to showcase skills
ATLANTA -- Joe Terdoslavich and Sean Gilmartin introduced themselves to many Braves fans in impressive fashion last summer. Now these two promising prospects will have a chance to introduce themselves to Chipper Jones and some of the Major Leaguers they followed during their youth.
Terdoslavich and Gilmartin are among the non-roster players who have been invited to participate in Atlanta's Major League camp when Spring Training begins next month. Christian Bethancourt, Andrelton Simmons, Todd Cunningham and Zeke Spruill are among the other notable non-roster prospects who have been invited to big league camp.
After Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman drew plenty of attention during Spring Training the previous two years, the Braves provided another impressive crop of prospects -- Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Randall Delgado and Tyler Pastornicky -- a chance to experience their first big league camp last year.
By the end of the 2011 season, Teheran, Vizcaino and Delgado had all made the jump to the Majors and gained valuable experience in pressure situations. As for Pastornicky, he'll be coming to his second big league camp next month to prepare to serve as Atlanta's starting shortstop.
Given that he was preparing to complete his college career at Florida State at this time last year, it might seem far-fetched to project Gilmartin will reach the Majors at some point this year. But he's essentially in the same position fellow first-round selection Mike Minor was in when he was first invited to big league camp in 2010.
Less than a year removed from Vanderbilt University, Minor impressed Bobby Cox, Dale Murphy and many others during his first camp. By the time August arrived, the young left-hander was filling the injured Kris Medlen's spot in Atlanta's rotation.
After the Braves took him with the 28th overall selection in last year's First-Year Player Draft, Gilmartin made his first five professional starts over the summer and then pitched in the Arizona Fall League. The 21-year-old left-hander recorded 30 strikeouts and issued two walks in 21 1/3 innings for the Class A Rome Braves. He surrendered three home runs during that short span and five more in 29 innings in the AFL.
Bethancourt, Terdoslavich and Cunningham also spent the early portion of the offseason competing in the AFL.
Recognized as one of the game's top catching prospects, Bethancourt made the most of his time in Arizona. The 20-year-old catcher with a tall athletic frame combined to hit .289 with five homers in 2011 with Rome and Lynchburg. He then caught the attention of many talent evaluators when he batted .306 with five homers in 72 at-bats in the AFL.
Terdoslavich significantly enhanced his stock while hitting .286 with a Carolina League-record 52 doubles for Class A Advanced Lynchburg last summer. The switch-hitting corner infielder batted .321 with three homers in 22 AFL games. He is projected to begin this season as Double-A Mississippi's starting third baseman.
With Jones nearing the end of his career, there has been some speculation that Terdoslavich could be his successor at third. But the young infielder has plenty to prove before he is given that opportunity.
Based simply on defensive skills, some scouts believe Simmons is ready to play at the Major League level. The athletic 22-year-old shortstop also enhanced optimism about his offensive skills while easily winning the Carolina League batting title this past summer with a .311 batting average. With just 839 career plate appearances at the professional level, he might need a little more time to strengthen his offensive skills.
Cunningham hit .257 with four home runs in just 87 games with Lynchburg in 2011. A second-round selection in 2010, the 22-year-old center fielder will draw some attention this year as the Braves evaluate their options in the event Michael Bourn exits via free agency after the season.
Spruill posted a 3.19 ERA and recorded 108 strikeouts while combining to complete 174 2/3 innings for Lynchburg and Mississippi in 2011. Atlanta took the 22-year-old right-hander in the second round of the '08 Draft. The club then took '11 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner Craig Kimbrel in the third round.
The club's other non-roster invitees will include Stefan Gartrell, Jordan Parraz, Josh Wilson and Drew Sutton. Wilson and Sutton will compete to begin the season as Pastornicky's backup.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.