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Augusta GreenJackets Release opening day roster

The Braves Low-A affiliate is loaded to open the 2023 season, especially on the pitching side of things.

2022 MLB Draft Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Augusta GreenJackets released their 2023 roster this afternoon, and what a roster it is for the Braves Low-A affiliate. The team has arguably the most talented Braves minor league pitching staff since the Rome Braves (then a Low-A affiliate) that included Mike Soroka and Max Fried among others.

Now we take a look at the roster and who is officially on it.



Spencer Schwellenbach, Owen Murphy, JR Ritchie, Seth Keller, Jared Johnson, Adam Shoemaker, and Didier Fuentes are all here. That’s seven guys we are excited to watch on this one team, and not even touching on other intriguing names like Cedric De Grandpre.

Schwellenbach was the team’s 2nd rounder back in 2021 after being Big Ten Player of the Year as a two-way star at Nebraska. He has yet to appear as a pro due to injury, so a nearly two year wait to watch him as a pro is nearly over. He’s got plenty of upside concentrating on pitching full time and now healthy.

Murphy and Ritchie were the Braves first round picks last year and both of these high school arms flashed potential after signing last summer, with each making a couple of appearances in full season ball. Now we get to see what they look like after their first full off season as pros with the Braves system.

Keller is another high school pitcher from the same draft class, an over-slot sixth rounder. Unlike Murphy and Ritchie, Keller only made two short appearances in the FCL last summer, so this will be our first real look at him.

Johnson and Shoemaker are a pair of former high school pitchers the Braves drafted. Johnson was a high upside 14th rounder back in 2019, but injuries have slowed his early career and he missed last year completely. Shoemaker opened in Augusta last year but struggled and got sent back to the FCL. He was the over-slot 11th round lefty out of Canada with plenty of projection back in 2021 and he’s now had almost two years to fill in his 6’6” frame.

Fuentes is a guy to watch for sure, the rare 17-year-old in full season ball and doesn’t turn 18 until mid-June. The kid from Colombia made 11 starts in the DSL last year and looked good. The DSL stats are hard to decipher in almost every case, but 50 strikeouts to 10 walks in 44 innings after starting that season as age-16 is impressive. He also had a 2.25 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in the DSL.

Cedric De Grandpre was the team’s 13th round pick from traditional JUCO power Chipola JC and had a good showing in the MLB Draft League last spring. He threw 8.2 innings after signing last summer, making it up to Augusta by the end of the season.

Jorge Bautista, Chad Bryant, Jason Franks, Rob Griswold, Landon Harper, Hayden Harris, Elison Joseph, Jhancarlos Lara, Nolan Martinez, and Tyree Thompson are the rest of the roster. Bautista showed some promise in the FCL last year, but struggled when given the chance in Augusta. Franks and Harper were draft choices last year. Joseph hasn’t always been consistent early in his career, but he’s never had a K/9 under 10. Lara is a 20-year-old up from the DSL after posting a high strikeout rate in a small sample. Martinez is a former third round pick by the Yankees out of high school back in 2016, but injuries have limited him to just 119 career innings.


Three catchers made the opening roster, Andrew Keck, Nick Clarno, and Dawson Dimon. Keck was the Braves senior sign 10th round pick out of Southeast Missouri State last year after hitting 17 homers there last spring. He only appeared in eight games after signing, but four of them were in Augusta. Keck has an interesting bat, but is a guy scouts have doubts on his ability to stick behind the plate.

Clarno was an undrafted free agent from Lenior-Rhyne last year and played in six games after signing, five coming in Rome. Dimon is a former 34th round pick by Tampa who came to the Braves midway through last year and appeared in games for the FCL, Rome, and even Gwinnett. This isn’t a group with a ton of pro experience, and Dimon’s career 189 plate appearances make him the most experienced of the group.


The big name for the hitters has to be Ambioris Tavarez, the Braves top international free agent in January 2021. Tavarez sat in 2021 as the Braves didn’t participate in the DSL that year and made his pro debut with the FCL team last summer. Tavarez started a little late coming off an injury, but the now 19-year-old hit .277/.304/.385 in 69 plate appearances. He is one of the highest upside bats in the system, able to hit for power and average potentially, and now seems like a guy who could stick at short defensively.

Mahki Backstrom is also back after hitting .205/.355/.414 with 10 homers in 324 plate appearances here last year. Backstom’s overall slash line isn’t eye opening for a bat first prospect, but he did have a strong second half after a slow start and the hope is that he is able to continue to build on that this year.

David McCabe was the team’s fourth round pick out of Charlotte last year, and another big bat in the system if he is able to hit enough to take advantage of his power. After 16 homers and a 1.297 OPS in college last year, McCabe hit .245/.336/.330 in 125 plate appearances between here and the FCL after signing. He is a guy who will get some chances to show he can stick at third defensively, though most expect him to move to first longterm.

EJ Exposito, Francisco Floyd, Justin Janas also are on the roster. Janas was the 12th round pick out of Illinois last year and the first baseman is a very good contact guy without a lot of power. He had 105 plate appearances last year, mostly with Augusta, and hit .228/.314/.315. Floyd is a 20-year-old infielder who bounced back and forth between here and the FCL last year and hit a combined .233/.326/.341 in 266 plate appearances - though had a .702 slash in 156 plate appearances here. Exposito was the 16th rounder last year out of LIU and a strong performance at the MLB Draft League. He is another guy who played here last year, hitting .229/.352/.352 in 125 plate appearances between Augusta and the FCL.


Just four outfielders make the team, though there is reason to watch this group. Tyler Collins, the team’s over-slot 8th round pick in 2021 who slashed .877 in the FCL that summer, is the biggest name. Collins was expected to start here last year, but an injury started his season late and he began back in the FCL - only to get injured almost immediately and get limited to just four games played on the season. Collins is an exciting speed, defense, and hit type of throwback leadoff hitting center fielder.

Jair Casanova, Jeremy Celedonio, and Ethan Workinger are the other three outfielders on the team. Casanova is a 19-year-old who played mostly right and center in the FCL last year while hitting .289/.391/.356 in 179 plate appearances while facing competition quite a bit older than he was. Beyond Collins, Casanova is the most interesting outfielder to watch on the team this year.

Celedonio, who is 21, was limited to 13 games in the FCL last year, but the right fielder hit .177/.391/.412 with two homers in that very small sample size. He’s got some promise, but 13 games last year, just two in 2021, and no season in 2020 have limited how much work he’s gotten since 2019. Workinger is back after splitting time between here, Rome, and the FCL last year. The 2021 undrafted college free agent hit a combined .246/.313/.433 in 249 plate appearances.

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