Power-hitting prospects Austin Riley and Alex Jackson were reassigned to minor league camp Tuesday, each having showed some strengths and the areas they need to keep working on before they’ll be ready for the majors.
Reliever Luke Jackson also was reassigned to minor league camp, leaving 45 active players on the Braves camp roster after starting the spring with 62.
Riley and Jackson could be the Braves’ third baseman and catcher of the future – Riley could be at the hot corner by 2019 -- but each has played less than a half-season above Single-A ball and both knew they would be sent to minor league camp at some point in spring training.
Minor league spring games begin this week and each can start to play every day in those games, while playing time would be harder to come by with the big-league team in the final two weeks of camp as lineup regulars play more and more.
Riley, 20, could be the Braves’ third baseman at some point in 2019 and possibly get a late-season call-up this year if continues the strides he made last season after a promotion to Double-A Mississippi, where he hit .315 with eight homers and a .900 OPS in 48 games.
Alex Jackson. 22, moved back to catcher a year ago after the Braves got him in a trade from the Mariners, who had played him in the outfield for three minor league seasons after making him the sixth overall pick of the 2014 draft out of a San Diego high school. He impressed pitchers and Braves officials with his catching and game-calling skills last year and hit .267 with 19 homers and an .808 OPS in 402 plate appearances in high-A and Double-A.
In Grapefruit League games this spring, Riley hit 5-for-24 (.208) with two mammoth homers, three walks and 10 strikeouts, while Jackson was 4-for-18 (.222) with a double and nine strikeouts.
As for Luke Jackson, when he was removed from the 40-man roster in the fall, it made it unlikely he would win an opening-day roster spot given the number of pitchers on the roster competing for the final spots in the bullpen, including two with Rule 5 roster requirements, Anyelo Gomez and Dan Winkler.
Jackson had a 10.80 ERA in four Grapefruit League appearances with six hits, five runs (four earned) and three walks allowed in 3 1/3 innings.