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Alex Anthopoulos, Brian Snitker, and Dom Chiti discuss upcoming season at Rome Braves hot stove event

Spring training invites. Top prospects. The stacked NL East. We talked shop with the Atlanta Braves front office for some insight on 2019.

The Atlanta Braves Brian Snitker and Alex Anthopoulos discuss prospects for 2019. Wayne Cavadi

ROME, GA - The Rome Braves hosted their annual Hot Stove event on Jan. 28 at the Forum River Center. After a quick Q&A with the Rome coaching staff and Braves front office, Talking Chop sat down with Alex Anthopoulos and Dom Chiti for a few quick questions of our own on the 2019 Atlanta Braves prospects.

Wayne Cavadi: We here at Talking Chop haven’t hid our excitement about C.J. Alexander. We saw he was invited to spring training. Any quick thoughts?

Director of Player Development, Dom Chiti: From the time he was drafted last year, this kid’s done nothing but hit. He’s left handed, he has a really good swing, he’s a strong kid. We’re looking at great things. Look at challenge and opportunity, they’re usually pretty good things.

WC: Austin Riley has always been one of my personal favorites in the system. What are you’re thoughts on his development?

DC: For me, Austin Riley is a clone of Troy Glaus. A big-bodied guy, who moves better than he thinks he does, he has a plus arm, and he has power.

WC: There is no getting around the trade rumors this offseason, with JT Realmuto and even some others. When you have a wealth of prospects like this, does anyone become untouchable?

Alex Anthopoulos: We call Dom [Chiti] and ask him who he would trade [Laughs]. There’s no one that’s absolutely no way, but our depth is important. We’re open to moving guys, but we have to factor in what we’re getting back, how many years of control we’re getting back. So again, we call Dom and the name Troy Glaus comes out of his mouth describing Austin Riley, that becomes a hard guy to move.

WC: After the success of last year’s pitchers, do you see the same path for the Kyle Mullers and Joey Wentzes out there?

DC: Yes. The capabilities of all these kids are endless. They mature at their own rate and our job is to make sure they’re continuing to be challenged. When they’re ready, we’ll go.

WC: Alex, last year you came in here and this farm system was arguably the best in baseball. Then you got to live it, watching Ronald Acuña, Jr. hit a grand slam in the postseason in just one year. Just some thoughts on that first season.

AA: Like you said, it was a highly-regarded farm system. The big thing for me was the takeaway of what our player development team did. Look at [Touki] Toussaint who had a five-something ERA, people had they’re doubts. He and a Bryse Wilson, ideally, they would have had more time down there. But we had a need, we wanted to win the division, and they got those guys prepared for us.

A guy like a Kyle Muller made huge strides, [William] Contreras and [Drew] Waters, they all just got better. We see it all the time. Yea, you got to identify the talent, draft them, and sign them, but it’s the development that gets them through and gets them ready. That’s the encouraging thing.

WC: Last season these guys were moved aggressively up the ladder. We’re you happy with their success and do you foresee the same thing this season?

AA: There’s no doubt. The kids that were here in Rome last year are going to be in camp with us this year. We look back at it and it was a good experience for them and now a good chance for us to lay eyes on them. Dom and his staff have done a tremendous job. The organization is in a very healthy place. As you saw, if we think a guy is going to help us win a game, we’re going to do it. I don’t think anybody thought Bryse Wilson would be up, but he pitched a huge game against the Pirates for us on the road in a much-needed start.

WC: Brian, are there any guys on the spring training invite list you haven’t seen that you are particularly excited about seeing?

NL Manager of the Year, Brian Snitker: All of them I haven’t seen, really. That’s the beauty of our spring training. We bring in really, young talented players. Last year I couldn’t wait to see Alex Jackson and Cristian Pache, and now there’s a whole new group of them. We’ll run them out there, too. They’re going to play and get a lot of exposure. Young, talented players do a lot for you. It keeps you young because they are exciting to watch. We’re at that point where we were waiting for them, but now they’re here.

Some other quick hits from the press conference:

Kevin Karel asked Snitker what he thought of the new-look National League East:

I think we pissed everybody off. Everyone got a lot better. But so did we. I feel like with a year’s experience with what those guys went through last year, we’re going to be better, too. We’ve made some great additions. Brian [McCann], the biggest thing he was talking to me about is how he’s anxious to impart his wisdom on our club. Josh Donaldson is so excited about being here. He feels good, he’s healthy, this guy’s a really good player. I think those guys are going to be great for our young guys, they got a resume.

Matt Tuiasosopo on his first managerial job for Rome:

It’s awesome. My kids gave me a lot of grief last season when I had to go up to New Britain. I’m excited, they’re excited. It’s like a family. Being able to come back, it’s close to home. It’s first class people from top to bottom. There’s talent all over the place.

Rome Braves long-time hitting coach Bobby Moore on working with guys he’s coached:

Yea, I’m old. [Laughs] I’m blessed. We got a great group of guys, they haven’t changed, they’ve been this way since they were younger. It’s going to be a challenge, I’m going to pick their brains as well. You’re never too old to learn.

Wigberto Nevarez on returning to Rome as a coach:

In the beginning everybody who stops playing wants to keep playing. There was some indecision in there. But I think I got used to it quick. I’m happy to be back. I’ve known Bobby [Moore] since I was drafted in 2014. I feel like I’m home.

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