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spring-training-battles | February | 2005 Articles

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Spring Training Battles

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Spring Training is right around the corner, and for some players it will be an audition for their respective positions. Left field is considered an open position. Brian Jordan, Ryan Langerhans, John Barnes, Roosevelt Brown, Esix Snead, and Jeff Francoeur are all considered as candidates for the starting position and for the backup position. The favorite to win the position is Brian Jordan, a Brave in his 2nd tour of duty who was signed to a one year contract this offseason. The factors against him are that he is a 38 year old injury prone player who hasn't had a decent season since 2002. Langerhans had a breakout season in Richmond last year and is a left-handed hitter. He is out-of-options. It is likely that he could platoon with the right-handed hitting Jordan and the player who doesn't start on a particular day is the 4th outfielder. The other players--Barnes, Brown, and Snead--are non-roster invitees and are dark horses for either the starting position or (more likely) the 4th outfielder spot. It appears the Braves will only have one backup outfielder because they will have two utility players (more on that later). The players who don't make the team out of spring training will likely start at Richmond (unless it's Jordan or Langerhans). Francoeur, a top prospect, hasn't seen any time above Double A and hasn't established himself at AA. He likely will start the season there but will factor into the outfield plans in 2006. There are two utility spots on the bench that are considered to be open. Nick Green was a utility player on the team last year and filled in for Marcus Giles when he was injured (and played well). Green is favored to take one of the utility spots this year. The factor against him is that he doesn't have much experience at any other position other than 2nd base. He started off his minor league career as a shortstop, but was moved from there to 2nd base. His defense was great at 2nd base last year; very sure-handed with good range and an adequate arm. He could probably play shortstop adequately if need be from a utility standpoint. Prospect Wilson Betemit was once highly-touted, but has spent the last 3 years at Richmond and hasn't seemed to progress. Last year he was pretty good hitting-wise; it was his best year at Richmond. He is very athletic, and spent a little bit of time in the big leagues last year impressing Bobby Cox on defense early in the season. He progressed through the minors as a shortstop but was moved to 3rd base at Richmond. He could play shortstop and 3rd base in the utility role, and to remain a Brave he has to make the big league team as he is out-of-options. He could potentially start at shortstop in 2006 if Rafael Furcal leaves as a free agent. Prospects Tony Pena Jr., Luis Hernandez, and/or a free agent could also compete for that job but that's another story for another year. Pete Orr had a good year at Richmond last year. However, he has options left and will probably be the 2nd baseman for Richmond again this year. Orr had never had a good full season offensively before in the minor leagues, so he needs to prove that he can do it again at Triple A and show that it wasn't a fluke before he is ready for the major leagues. I don't know much about his defense; I assume it's good. All of the utility players will probably need to know how to play a corner outfield position as well since the Braves will probably only carry one backup outfielder. The utility players will double as the 5th/6th outfielders. Julio Franco has a spot for sure on the team as a part-time starter at 1st base and a top pinch hitter off the bench. Eddie Perez appears to be set as the backup catcher for 2005.
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