Spring Training 2013 – New Faces
Filling out a 25-man MLB roster is always tricky. Most teams try to build within the minor league system, adding a few pieces via free agency or trades. However, Spring Training allows for 40-man extras and non-roster invitees to come in and win over the staff.
This season, the Atlanta Braves roll into camp with 19 non-roster invitees in addition to the 40-man roster. Most of the players have been with the Braves organization for a few years, but there are several new faces trying to make an impression on the organization.
Pitchers David Carpenter and Wirfin Obispo are two of those faces coming to Braves camp for the first time.
Carpenter signed a contract and the off-season and was placed on the 40-man roster. Last season, he split his time with the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays organizations. He made 33 appearances in the Major Leagues, recording a 0-2 record with an 8.07 ERA. The 27-year old right-hander has made over 60 appearances in the Majors and can add depth to the back end of the pen.
Obispo’s resume is not as deep, but he has been around since 2004. The right-hander started his career with the Cincinnati Reds in 2004. After the 2005 season, Obispo spent five years in Japan, playing for the Japanese Central and Pacific Leagues. He returned to the states in 2012, posting a 5-3 mark with 3.00 ERA through two different levels (Double-A Pensacola & Triple-A Louisville).
He will probably be throwing to two new catchers in camp. Luis De La Cruz and Matt Pagnozzi will make their first appearances with the Atlanta Braves. De La Cruz comes from the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Last season, he spent the majority of the season with the High-A Palm Beach Cardinals. He made a brief appearance in Triple-A Memphis, but did most of his damage in the High-A level. In 67 games, he hit .300 with one home run.
Pagnozzi comes to the Braves after spending the majority of his career with the Cardinals organization. He has been a part of four different organizations (Cleveland, Colorado, Pittsburgh and St. Louis), while spending some time in the Major Leagues with the Cardinals, Pirates and Rockies. In 33 MLB games, he has hit .310 with one home run and 13 RBI. Last season, he spent the year with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers.
On the diamond, Blake DeWitt and Ramiro Pena will compete for a backup spot. DeWitt comes from the Chicago Cubs organization, spending the last two seasons with the Cubs. DeWitt scuffled with the Pirates organization after two stellar seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, the left-handed hitting infielder provides great versatility on the diamond and can be a valuable asset off the bench. In 346 MLB games, DeWitt has recorded a .257 batting average with 21 home runs and 135 RBI.
While DeWitt adds versatility on the corners and second base, Pena can play both middle infield spots and the hot corner. The switch-hitting Pena comes from the New York Yankees, where he spent his whole career. After making great strides in 2010 and 2011, cracking the big league roster, Pena spent all of 2012 with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
Finally, Jordan Schafer returns to the Braves for another opportunity to make the MLB roster. After being sent away to Houston in the Michael Bourn deal, Schafer hopes to regain the form that made him one of the most coveted young players in the game. Schafer adds excellent versatility, as he can play all three outfield spots. Last season, he hit .211 with four home runs and 27 stolen bases. Schafer, a G-Brave from 2009 to 2011, will compete with Jose Constanza, Evan Gattis and Reed Johnson for one of the bench spots.
The competition for spots officially begins today, as the Braves started their first full practice at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, FL.
With Spring Training underway, G-Braves baseball is around the corner. Don’t miss your chance to catch the action at Coolray Field, as the future Braves stars of tomorrow start here. The Gwinnett Braves open the season on Thursday, April 4th at 7:05 p.m. against the Charlotte Knights at Coolray Field. For more information on the G-Braves, visit Gwinnettbraves.com, facebook.com/GwinnettBraves1 and twitter.com/GwinnettBraves.