02/11/10 10:00 AM EST
Pair of newcomers figure big for Braves
Glaus aims to regain power; Melky could start in right
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
1. How does Troy Glaus look?
While a lot of the camp's attention will be placed in the direction of Jason Heyward, there are seemingly more questions to answer regarding Glaus. It will be interesting to see how healthy this 33-year-old former third baseman proves to be as he looks to show he still possesses the power potential that was on display before he underwent shoulder surgery last year.
2. Is Derek Lowe showing signs of regaining his successful form?
Lowe's inaugural season in Atlanta began in impressive fashion and ended with him going 3-3 with a 6.65 ERA in his final nine starts. Still, the veteran sinkerballer, who has attempted to adjust a mechanical flaw in his delivery this offseason, ended the year with a team-high 15 victories.
With Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson in place, the Braves have plenty of candidates to serve as the rotation's ace. While Lowe is still capable of earning this tag, Atlanta simply wants him to find the consistency that was absent last year.
3. What kind of value could Melky Cabrera bring the club?
There hasn't been much fanfare about Cabrera since he was acquired from the Yankees in December. But the switch-hitting outfielder did hit .274 with a .752 OPS for the defending World Series champs last year.
If Heyward doesn't make the club out of camp, Cabera would likely begin the season as the club's starting right fielder. His showing in camp will influence whether the Braves choose to send Heyward to the Minors to begin the season.
86-76, third in the National League East
1. CF Nate McLouth:
.256 BA, .352 OBP, .436 SLG, 20 HR, 70 RBI in 2009
2. 2B Martin Prado:
.307 BA, .358 OBP, .464 SLG, 11 HR, 49 RBI in 2009
3. 3B Chipper Jones:
.264 BA, .388 OBP, .430 SLG, 18 HR, 71 RBI in 2009
4. 1B Troy Glaus:
.172 BA, .250 OBP, .241 SLG, 0 HR, 2 RBI in 2009
5. C Brian McCann:
.281 BA, .349 OBP, .486 SLG, 21 HR, 94 RBI in 2009
6. SS Yunel Escobar:
.299 BA, .377 OBP, .436 SLG, 14 HR, 76 RBI in 2009
7. LF Matt Diaz:
.313 BA, .390 OBP, .488 SLG, 13 HR, 58 RBI in 2009
8. RF Jason Heyward:
.323 BA, .408 OBP, .555 SLG, 17 HR, 63 RBI in 2009 (Minors)
1. Tim Hudson, 2-1, 3.61 ERA in 2009
2. Derek Lowe, 15-10, 4.67 ERA in 2009
3. Jair Jurrjens, 14-10, 2.60 ERA in 2009
4. Tommy Hanson, 11-4, 2.89 ERA in 2009
5. Kenshin Kawakami, 7-12, 3.86 ERA in 2009
Closer: Billy Wagner, 1-1, 6 holds, 1.98 ERA in 2009
RH setup man: Takashi Saito, 2.43 ERA in 2009
LH setup man: Eric O'Flaherty, 3.04 ERA in 2009 The new guys
Glaus: His power potential is still present. Glaus averaged 30.5 homers per season from 2005-08.
Wagner: When Wagner returned from Tommy John elbow surgery in August, he led manager Bobby Cox and a number of scouts to believe he could still be a dominant closer at the Major League level. The hard-throwing left-hander posted a 1.98 ERA in the 15 appearances he made for the Mets and Red Sox after he returned from a lengthy rehab process.
Saito: The veteran righty doesn't have the dominant stuff he possessed as the Dodgers' closer during the 2006 and '07 seasons. But the Braves believe this 40-year-old reliever can still be a reliable setup man while also occasionally spelling Wagner in the closer's role.
Cabrera: The switch-hitter, who was acquired in the December trade that sent Javier Vazquez to the Yankees, can play each of the outfield positions.
IF-OF Eric Hinske: Having been a part of each of the past three American League pennant winners, Hinske could prove to be a good-luck charm in Atlanta. He will occasionally spell Glaus at first base and serve as the club's primary pinch-hitter.
LHP Mike Dunn: The hard-throwing left-hander, who was also acquired in the Vazquez deal, could lessen the workload of O'Flaherty, the club's primary left-handed reliever. Control has been a problem in the Minors.
RHP Jesse Chavez Acquired from the Rays in exchange for Rafael Soriano, Chavez established himself as a reliable reliever with the Pirates last year. He will fight for one of the final spots in the bullpen.Prospects to watch
Heyward: Recognized by MLB.com and numerous other media outlets as the game's top prospect, this 20-year-old phenom will come to camp with the opportunity to begin his reign as Atlanta's right fielder. With his power potential and athleticism, this 6-foot-4, 230-pound outfielder has a chance to be an immediate difference maker.
LHP Jose Ortegano: Braves bench coach Eddie Perez said that Ortegano has been the best pitcher he's seen in the Venezuelan Winter League the past two years. He further impressed during the Caribbean World Series and could make his Major League debut later this year.
RHP Craig Kimbrel: Referred to as the right-handed Wagner, the hard-throwing reliever will come to camp with a chance to win one of the final spots in the bullpen. Control was an issue for Kimbrel during the 2009 season and during his tenure in the Arizona Fall League.
LHP Mike Minor: Taken with the seventh overall selection in last year's First-Year Player Draft, this 22-year-old left-hander had completed just 14 innings before producing a solid showing in the AFL. He likely needs a full year in the Minors, but if necessary could make his way to Atlanta near the end of this year.
On the rebound
Hudson: While making seven September starts after returning from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery last year, Hudson impressed the Braves enough to earn a three-year contract extension. Now he looks forward to regaining the top-flight form he possessed before he began dealing with fatigue in his elbow and shoulder.
Jones: Through the season's first two months, Jones looked like the same impressive offensive threat he'd been the previous three seasons. But while hitting .229 with a .720 OPS in his final 95 games, the veteran third baseman endured one of the worst slumps of his career.
McLouth: A hamstring injury hampered the center fielder's mobility during the final two months of the season and prevented him from showing some of the speed that helped him win a Gold Glove in Pittsburgh the previous season.
OF Jordan Schafer: Schafer's 2008 season was wrecked by a 50-game suspension, and his '09 introduction to the Majors was marred by a wrist injury that forced him to the Minors after just 50 games. The former top prospect will begin this season in the Minors, but could possibly reach Atlanta during the summer months.
Vazquez: Last year's dominance earned the right-hander a fourth-place finish in the NL Cy Young Award balloting and a ticket to return to the Yankees' rotation. Vazquez's presence as an innings-eater will be missed.
1B Adam LaRoche: After sparking the Braves' offense during the final two months of the 2009 season, LaRoche had to settle for a one-year deal with the D-backs.
2B Kelly Johnson: The infielder's inconsistencies combined with the emergence of Prado led to him being non-tendered. Johnson will now play second base in Arizona.
OF Garret Anderson: The veteran outfielder's one-year stay in Atlanta proved to be uneventful. Anderson is currently seeking employment.
OF Ryan Church: Now a Pirate, Church will forever be remembered in Atlanta as the guy who was acquired in exchange for Jeff Francoeur.
OF-IF Greg Norton: Norton's struggles off the bench last year led him to contemplate retirement even before the season concluded.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.