Leadoff: Five observations from Braves spring training


Good morning. This is LEADOFF, today’s early look inside Atlanta sports. 

Here are five takeaways from a few days spent at the Braves’ spring-training camp: 

1. Ronald Acuna, hitting .435 through eight Grapefruit League games, is a fun-to-watch player who looks ready for the big leagues offensively and defensively. But it would make no business sense for the Braves to have him on the roster for the first couple of weeks of the season and potentially accelerate his free-agency eligibility from fall 2024 to fall 2023. That could amount to trading Acuna’s full 2024 season for two extra weeks in 2018 – a bad trade. (And even if the Braves and Acuna wind up agreeing to a long-term contract before 2024, the price goes up if he is a year closer to free agency.) So I’d look for him to start the season at Gwinnett and, assuming he again thrives there, make his SunTrust Park debut during the Braves’ second homestand. 

2. The two most exciting young position players in the Braves’ camp are outfielder Acuna and second baseman Ozzie Albies. It’s worth noting both were in the Braves’ organization before the long rebuild began. And another player who was in the organization pre-rebuild, Johan Camargo, is the leading candidate to be the opening-day third baseman. So the farm system obviously wasn’t quite as barren as the Braves said back then. 

3. There’s no consensus agreement on who is the Braves’ top pitching prospect, with most prospect-evaluation sites bunching several of the organization’s talented young arms closely together. Baseball America ranks Luiz Gohara as the Braves’ top pitching prospect, while MLB.com goes with Kyle Wright and Baseball Prospectus with Kolby Allard. But for now, the one who seems to be drawing the most attention in spring training is Mike Soroka. 

4. A $112 million player payroll, which is approximately where I project the Braves’ to be on opening day as things currently stand, would have ranked 21st among the 30 MLB teams at the start of last season. 

5. Ticket prices posted at Saturday’s Braves-Cardinals game at Disney were awfully high for spring training. Lower-level seats were $64, upper-level seats $48, and it cost $25 to sit on the grass berm beyond left field. You can get into SunTrust Park for the Braves’ regular-season opener March 29 for less.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Could this SEC school wind up with America’s No. 1 recruiting class?
Could this SEC school wind up with America’s No. 1 recruiting class?

June has been kind to the Tigers. At the beginning of the month, there was mixed sentiment about the direction of LSU’s 2019 recruiting class. On one hand, the nation’s top cornerback, Derek Stingley Jr., had announced a June 20 commitment date with the in-state program as the heavy favorite. However, LSU had just...
Indiana baseball coach Chris Lemonis will reportedly be next coach at Mississippi State
Indiana baseball coach Chris Lemonis will reportedly be next coach at Mississippi State

According to Kendall Rogers of D1 Baseball, Indiana baseball coach Chris Lemonis will leave Bloomington and become the next coach at Mississippi State. Lemonis posted on Twitter Sunday evening that, according to sources, Lemonis will be headed to Starkville and be joined by current Mississippi State assistant coach Jake...
Mazi Smith commits to Michigan: Wolverines add DT, second 4-star prospect of the night
Mazi Smith commits to Michigan: Wolverines add DT, second 4-star prospect of the night

3-star WR Fabian McCray lists Illinois, Minnesota in final 4 schools
3-star WR Fabian McCray lists Illinois, Minnesota in final 4 schools

Illinois and Minnesota are now one step closer. The Fighting Illini and Golden Gophers got word through social media on Sunday night that 3-star wide receiver recruit Fabian McCray announced his final four schools. McCray, according to 247Sports, is ranked as the No. 110 WR recruit in 2019 and the No. 17 player in the state of Illinois...
3-star ILB has Nebraska and Indiana in his top 12
3-star ILB has Nebraska and Indiana in his top 12

More Stories