None of these guys will really make any impact whatsoever in 2010, but I guess I had better at least talk about them for a little bit.
The Braves are bringing in 4 extra catchers this spring to give their pitchers some people to throw to, and also let the regular catchers get a little bit of rest. Those 4 men are Braeden Schlehuber, Jesus Sucre, JC Boscan, and Orlando Mercado. We'll start with Schlehuber, the youngest of the bunch. He spent 2009 in Rome and proved to not be able to hit the ball whatsoever, finishing with an unsightly line of .199/.265/.308. He was downright dire against lefties, posting a .454 OPS. That is not a typo at all. The one real positive about Braeden is that he's still young at 22, and might improve a little bit. Don't expect him to move past Myrtle Beach this season, at absolute best. He'll be a backup this season to Christian Bethancourt, or so I hope.
Next up is Jesus Sucre, who spent the year between Rome and Myrtle Beach, and was slightly better than Schlehuber. His combined line was .290/.317/.407. He was actually very good in Rome with a .784 OPS and .325 average, but things fell apart once he was promoted and that OPS dropped to .672. Sucre has absolutely no eye whatsoever, and posted a walk rate of just 3.7%. Thats...TURRRRRRRRIBLE. He did put up 23 doubles, so I guess thats something. I expect him to be in Myrtle Beach, possibly in Mississippi this season.
Our third catcher is JC Boscan, the veteran of the crew at 30 years old. Like the other 2 men I mentioned, he can't hit at all, posting a .654 OPS at Gwinnett and mostly at Mississippi. He's actually got some good plate discipline, with a 10.6% walk rate. He only had 16 extra base hits over the course of the entire year, all doubles. His ISO was a Gregor Blanco-esque .054. My god, how lovely. He'll spend the year as either a backup or starter in Mississippi, probably the former.
And finally, Orlando Mercado. Unlike our other 3 catchers, Mercado can actually hit, posting a .761 OPS last season as a member of both Mobile of the Southern League and Reno of the PCL as a member of the Diamondbacks organization. In the Puerto Rican winter league this offseason, Mercado RAKED, OPSing .900 in 92 at bats. Mercado has shown fantastic plate discipline, walking 42 times compared to only 27 strikeouts in 325 plate appearances last year. Unfortunately, the power really isn't there...OBP higher than SLG? Doesn't happen all that often. Regardless, he'll be a welcome addition to the organization, and will probably back up Clint Sammons in Gwinnett, though he could start in Mississippi.
Alright guys, we're down to 4 players left to discuss in the NRI section of the previews...then we can get to the 40-man roster, and everyone will be happy. I've gotta pick things up if I want to get this done by the time the season starts...
One more programming note. Next Friday, I'll be leaving for Orlando for a week of Braves spring training games. I'll be doing various picture posts and such, along with some in person analysis. And I'll be busting out player previews. If you don't feel like waiting until the evening for pics, follow me on
for TwitPic updates. Hooray!