Prospects Joey Terdoslavich and Christian Bethancourt were among four Braves cut from the spring training roster Monday and manager Fredi Gonzalez said the pair could be back before long.
Terdoslavich hit .395 with an .958 OPS in 43 at-bats in Grapefruit League play and the switch-hitter showed he could play adequate defense at either corner outfield position and first base.
Bethancourt, the strong-armed catching prospect, demonstrated improvement in most aspects of his game but still has work to do, particularly hitting.
The Braves reassigned Terdoslavich to the minor league camp (he’ll play at Triple-A Gwinnett), optioned Bethancourt to Double-A Mississippi, and reassigned infielder Blake DeWitt and outfielder Jordan Parraz to minor league camp. That left 34 on the camp roster with one week until opening day.
The Braves still have a backup outfield job open, but it’s expected to be filled by Jordan Schafer, who is out of minor-league options and would have to clear waivers before being sent to the minors. Terdoslavich will be on the short list if they need a corner outfielder later.
“I told him how impressed I was with him, that he was able to pick up outfield play and also be able to play first base,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “If something happened, if we needed him, I would feel comfortable bringing him up.”
Terdoslavich was bumped up two levels to Triple-A and moved to third base for the 2012 season. After struggling at the plate and in the field, he was demoted to Double-A in June and moved back to first base.
He got back on track, eliminated bat movement from the top of his swing, got stronger over the winter and resumed hitting line drives like he did in 2011, when he had a Carolina League-record 52 doubles and 20 homers at high-A Lynchburg.
“I knew it was going to be really tough for me to make the team (this spring),” he said. “Now I’ve just got to go down and get my at-bats and continue to build on what I started here. I’m just excited to start the season and get things rolling and just build on what I did here. I’m assuming I’m going to play a few different positions. That’s what I’ve heard so far.”
The Braves need another catcher to pair with Gerald Laird until Brian McCann completes his recovery from shoulder surgery. Evan Gattis has slugged his way to favorite status for that job, with Matt Pagnozzi the other candidate.
Bethancourt played in 12 Grapefruit League games and went 2-for-15 with a double.
“I told Bethancourt that he was close to being ready to play in the major leagues,” Gonzalez said. “I told him that the 2 1/2 months that he missed last year (pulled hamstring, broken hand in Double-A) might have set him back a little bit this year. Which is fine; he’s still a 21-year-old kid.
“I think he’s going to start at Mississippi and it may be a short trip from Mississippi to the big leagues. He can catch and throw and he can hit. You see improvement. You see him getting bigger and stronger.”
Parraz, who hit .293 with three doubles and three homers in 41 spring at-bats, will likely return to Gwinnett to begin his 10th minor league season. He’s never had a major-league call-up. Parraz, 28, also had a good spring last year for the Braves, but then broke his hand twice during the season.
“He’s a guy that just needs an opportunity to play,” Gonzalez said. “He needs somebody to give him an opportunity to be a fourth or fifth outfielder and he could do that job very easily.”
DeWitt, 27, has hit .257 with a .324 OBP in 1,243 at-bats over five seasons with the Dodgers and Cubs. He can play second base, third base and left field.
“He’s a winning piece,” Gonzalez said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if we see him during the course of the season.”