2013 Spring Training – Competing to Make the Team

Ernesto Mejia led the G-Braves with 24 home runs in 2012.

Ernesto Mejia led the G-Braves with 24 home runs in 2012.

The 2013 Gwinnett Braves will see a lot of turnover as a majority of the team has moved on to different clubs. However, there is a great deal of players still connected to the Braves organization.  Here’s a look at some 2012 G-Braves heading to Atlanta’s Major League camp this year.

Former International League hitting champion Jose Constanza remains in the fold. The 5’9” outfielder remains on the Braves 40-man roster after leading the IL in hitting with a .314 batting average. Since being acquired through free agency in 2010, Constanza has been a solid pick up. In 174 games, he hit .318 (212-for-667) with two home runs and 52 RBI. He reports to MLB Spring Training fighting for one of the final Braves’ roster spots.

Constanza will not be alone fighting for a roster spot, as Ernesto Mejia looks to lock up one of the bench spots. The infielder came into his own last season, hitting .296 (152-for-514) with 24 home runs and 92 RBI. He was awarded the IL Rookie of the year and was added to the Braves’ 40-man roster at the end of the season.

Jose Constanza led the IL in hitting with a .314 batting average.

Jose Constanza led the IL in hitting with a .314 batting average in 2012.

While Constanza and Mejia head to camp as part of the 40-man roster, three former G-Braves will look to come out of nowhere and steal a spot on the roster.

Joe Terdoslavich, Jordan Parraz and Jose Yepez will push the veterans for a bench spot. Terdoslavich struggled in his first stint with the G-Braves in 2012, hitting .180 with four home runs and 20 RBI. He committed 22 errors in 53 games, but he turned it around after being sent down to Double-A Mississippi. He finished his second full season (third with organization) hitting .315 with five home runs and 51 RBI.

Parraz was solid as a utility outfielder last season. In 34 games, he hit .288 (34-for-118) with six doubles, two home runs and 19 RBI.  His 2012 campaign was significantly shortened by a pair of hand injuries.

Yepez will head to his second straight Spring Training, as he hopes to win the backup spot on the MLB roster while Brian McCann is out with an injury. Yepez played in 79 games for the G-Braves, hitting .264 with three home runs and 30 RBI.

With the Atlanta Braves offseason deal of Randall Delgado, an immediate spot in the rotation has opened up. Both Sean Gilmartin and Julio Teheran will go to Spring Training battling for the fifth and final spot in the rotation.

Teheran, who was IL Player of the Year and Atlanta Braves Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2011, is the front-runner for the rotation spot. In two seasons with the G-Braves, Teheran is second all-time in wins (22) and boasts the club’s best ERA (3.75).

Teheran will have to be careful, as Gilmartin is eager to win the final spot after completing his first full season with the organization. In 20 starts with Double-A Mississippi, he went 5-8 with a 3.54 ERA, while going 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA in seven starts for Gwinnett.

While Teheran and Gilmartin battle for a rotation spot, Cory Gearrin, Dusty Hughes and Anthony Varvaro will try to fit in the Atlanta bullpen. Gearrin has been outstanding, appearing in an all-time high 126 games for the G-Braves. Last season, he went 3-3 with a 2.30 ERA and 9 saves in 39 games for Gwinnett. He was even better in Atlanta, hurling 20 innings, allowing four runs (1.80 ERA) in 22 games for the Braves.

Hughes looks to crack the MLB team for the first time in his career. Having big league experience with the Kansas City Royals, Hughes knows what it takes to make the big team. The lefty had a solid 2012 in Gwinnett, posting a 3-2 record with a 3.31 ERA.

Varvaro rounds out the list of Spring Training invitees. He pitched well for Gwinnett before moving up to the big leagues. In 44.1 innings, the right-hander posted an 0-2 record with 2.23 ERA.

Ryan Buchter, Yohan Flande and Daniel Rodriguez also received invitations to camp. They will get an opportunity to win one of the 12 spots on the staff, but will have a tough hill to climb as all three have no MLB experience. Flande will go in with the most upside, as he spent all of last two seasons with the G-Braves. In 2012, he was 6-11 with a 4.21 ERA.

The bullpen may be a bit crowded with the acquisition of Jordan Walden from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but these six arms are up for the task.

While plenty of former G-Braves will look to make an impression on the Braves as full practices start tomorrow, there’s plenty of new faces in camp this year.  The next edition of the G-Blog will take a look at those new players, some of which could be heading to Gwinnett in 2013.

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