Spring Training is right around the corner and the Atlanta Braves announced on Tuesday the 24 non-roster players that they would be bringing to camp. The list is an interesting mix of prospects and veterans.
Young right-handers Jason Hursh (the team's No. 10 overall prospect, according to MLB.com's Prospect Watch) and Cody Martin (No. 19), left-hander Brady Feigl, catcher Tanner Murphy, third baseman Rio Ruiz (No. 6) and outfielder Mallex Smith are among the invitees.
The other players invited to camp in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., include left-handed pitchers Wandy Rodriguez, Eric Stults and Donnie Veal; right-handed pitchers Michael Kohn, Sugar Ray Marimon and Chien-Ming Wang; catchers Yenier Bello, John Buck, Jesus Flores, Matt Kennelly, Chris O'Dowd, Braeden Schlehuber and Jose Yepez; infielders Johan Camargo, Daniel Castro, Pedro Ciriaco and Kelly Johnson; and outfielder Cedric Hunter.
Braves third base prospect Rio Ruiz is tabbed by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo as the best hitter not to make the Top 100 Prospects rankings.
Ruiz has hit 70 doubles over the past two years. He's hit 23 homers in that time while slugging at a career .429 mark. That doesn't sound like a prototypical third baseman's numbers, but those doubles should start turning into over-the-fence drives with more consistency in the future. Ruiz's approach, along with the ability to make adjustments he's shown, should allow him to continue to hit for average and tap into that power as well.
The Atlanta Braves have called Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex its spring training home since 1998 but they are eyeing a move when their lease ends in 2017. Venice has been mentioned as a possible destination if the Braves do indeed move.
In Venice, the Braves would be much closer to other teams. Eight of the 15 team Major League clubs that train in Florida are on the West Coast, including the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers, the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte, the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota and the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.
According to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, former Braves catcher Gerald Laird will sign a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Laird appeared in exactly 100 games for the Braves over the last two seasons.
MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports that Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton will have shoulder surgery and will be sidelined for the next 6-8 weeks. Hamilton missed time at the end of the 2014 season due to the shoulder which flared up again last week during a workout.