Braves announce spring training non-roster invitees
The Atlanta Braves announced their spring training non-roster invitees on Tuesday afternoon, the list that annually includes the likes veterans on minor-league deals and promising young players. The team is inviting 24 additional players to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., including nine pitchers and eight catchers.
There are a few names that were known to make the cut. Veterans Wandy Rodriguez, Kelly Johnson, Michael Kohn, Eric Stults and Chien Ming-Wang and John Buck each previously signed minor-league deals that came with an invite included. Johnson is expected to compete for a bench spot -- with possible playing time at multiple positions -- while Rodriguez, Stults and Ming-Wang will likely be given the opportunity to win the team's open fifth starter role.
Two of the more interesting invites will be prospects acquired this offseason: third baseman Rio Ruiz and Mallex Smith. Ruiz is ranked as one of the top third base prospects in baseball after coming over to the Braves from the Astros organization in the Evan Gattis trade. Just 20 years old, Ruiz is already being hyped as the team's third baseman of the future, so it will be intriguing to see where he stands against major-league competition this spring. Smith, the speedster who entered the Braves' farm system through the Justin Upton trade with the San Diego Padres, will also be a key name to watch out for.
Other invitees include former first-round pick Jason Hursh, the pitcher who was also invited to the big-league camp last season, pitcher Cody Martin and newly acquired minor-league catcher Chris O'Dowd, the son of former Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd.
Pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Feb. 20. Position players will follow on Feb. 25. Here's the full list of invitees:
Pitchers: Brady Feigl, Jason Hursh, Michael Kohn, Sugar Ray Marimon, Cody Martin, Wandy Rodriguez, Eric Stults, Donnie Veal, Chien-Ming Wang
Catchers: Yenier Bello, John Buck, Jesus Flores, Matt Kennelly, Tanner Murphy, Chris O'Dowd, Braeden Schlehuber and Jose Yepez
Infielders: Johan Camargo, Daniel Castro, Pedro Ciriaco, Kelly Johnson and Rio Ruiz.
Outfielders: Cedric Hunter and Mallex Smith