Spring training for the Braves this year will be of particular interest to Braves fans given the high profile prospects that they have and their proximity to the major leagues. Last spring gave us some of our first glimpses against major league competition for guys like Ronald Acuna and Austin Riley, but they were most assuredly not going to make the team last year.
This year however, with several roster positions seemingly up for grabs including in the outfield, rotation, and the bullpen, folks will be very anxious to see if some of this next wave of talent will be able to break camp with the team. Well, the Braves announced their non-roster invitees for 2018 spring training and there are a lot of familiar names.
There are nine members of Talking Chop’s top 30 prospects that have been extended invitations to spring training in Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright, William Contreras, Alex Jackson, Austin Riley, Ronald Acuna, Cristian Pache, and Dustin Peterson. The inclusion of Contreras is particularly interesting given that he has yet to play in full season ball, but getting some extra instruction as a catcher could be invaluable for his development (this applies to Alex Jackson as well as he continues his transition back to catching).
Guys like Ronald Acuna, Mike Soroka, and Kolby Allard are hardly surprising and are definitely well-deserved as are among the best prospects in the Braves’ system (and in all of baseball really) and will all likely be playing in at least Triple-A to start 2018. Wright, despite his lack of pro innings so far, is an advanced college arm and is expected to move quickly through the minors so his invitation makes perfect sense as well. While Cristian Pache may be young and just completely his first season of full season ball, he also has among the greatest amount of helium in terms of his prospect stock in the Braves’ farm system and it is fairly certain that the Braves want to see what they have in him, especially at the plate.
A couple other minor notes: Ray-Patrick Didder, despite being a stellar outfielder defensively, is listed as an infield and he did see extensive playing time in the infield in 2017 for the Fire Frogs (he played well over 300 innings last year at either second base or shortstop). If he can improve at the plate over his 2017 performance, his speed, defensive ability, and versatility could make him, at the very least, one of the more fun players to watch in 2018.
Beyond that, the non-roster invites include some older minor league signees as well as some potential options including Josh Graham and Phil Pfeifer, but no real surprises beyond that. Get ready folks, spring training is right around the corner and before you know...we will have actual baseball to watch again.