I was able to catch some extended Spring Training games this weekend and get a look at some of the newest additions to the club. The first game was the “opener” in Lakeland at the Tigers newly renovated backfields. Abrahan Gutierrez was behind the plate and looked solid back there, blocking a few breaking pitches in the dirt. He didn’t throw out the one baserunner I saw try to steal on him but it was a close play. Kevin Maitan was at short and seemed to have added even more muscle from the last time I saw him in September. He looked smooth at shortstop and crushed a triple to right center about 400’, showing off the power and wheels on one play. Gutierrez (Gooh-Tah-Rey) knocked him in a on a fielder’s choice and reached on an error.
The one pitcher who I hadn’t seen before that stuck out to me was Jhoniel Sepulveda who pitched the 6th and 7th inning. The first batter he faced was James Loney who just signed with the Tigers and was leading off most innings, Sepulveda went right after the MLB veteran and was forcing him to foul off a couple nice pitches before Loney laced a double into right center. Sepulveda left him stranded though and retired the next 3 batters. He had a rough 2nd inning of work but he showed off his mid 90s fastball and threw his breaking ball for strikes.
Kevin Maitan hit a 400' triple today at EST. pic.twitter.com/eQpvJkoAr0— Braves Prospects (@ProspectsBraves) April 14, 2017
When I got there the infield was Griffin Benson at 1st, Luis Ovando was at 2nd, Maitan at short and Yunior Severino at 3rd. In the 7th inning the whole infield came out for Ramon Osuna at 1st, Livan Soto at short and Alex Aquino at 3rd. Leudys Baez, Isranel Wilson, Rey Michel and Jeffrey Ramos all played in the outfield. Soto made a couple of excellent plays and Aquino and Maitan both flashed their plus arms. Dilmer Mejia entered in the 8th inning and struck out 3 over 2 scoreless innings only giving up a hit in the 9th. There wasn’t much offense to write home about from this game.
I headed up to Disney on Saturday to catch another game. Kyle Muller entered in the 3rd inning and looked good sitting 88-91 with a great looking curveball. Zach Rice and Taylor Hyssong came on in relief and both looked solid. The Braves won 5-1 if the scoreboard was right, with Ryan Howard getting a couple at bats in. He skied one to deep right field but it was caught at the track just in front of the wall. Maitan only got one at bat in in the game but was taking BP on the other backfield while I was there and was crushing the ball with relative ease.
Ryan Howard in a Braves uniform (HD version) pic.twitter.com/jGRGHZJVIj— Braves Prospects (@ProspectsBraves) April 15, 2017
Extended Spring Training is just that Training and it’s very early with most of these guys playing their first “games” in a month or so. The 2017 GCL Braves will be a ridiculous team with a prospect at almost every position and I’d guess that Osuna, Izzy Wilson, and Leudys Baez make it up to Rome before too long. If it wasn’t for Derian Cruz at Rome I’d wager Maitan ends up there eventually as he truly is a special player and sticks out down here almost as much as Loney and Howard.