Here are the candidates for the Carolina Mudcats in 2015. Please note: last year’s Braves team in the Carolina League was the Lynchburg Hillcats.
Last year for the Lynchburg Hillcats Edison Sanchez (57 games), Levi Hyams (42 games) and Justin Bloxom (36 games) started the most games at first base. Bloxom is no longer in the organization.
The 23-year-old Sanchez hit only .218 with one home run and 19 RBI in 235 plate appearances. Sanchez could return to High-A since he didn’t do particularly well last season.
Hyams split time between first, second base (31 games) and third base (16 games). He hit .238 with two home runs and 41 RBI. His versatility and his age (25) could allow the Braves to place him wherever they need a reserve infielder, whether it’s back in High-A or up to Double-A Mississippi.
Last year’s first baseman in Rome, Jake Schrader, will be 24 years old on opening day. That, combined with his success (.290 batting average, .347 on base percentage, 11 home runs and 55 RBI in 360 plate appearances), make Schrader ready to move up to the Mudcats and start at first base.
SUMMARY: Schrader should have the inside track on the job.
After Jose Peraza moved up to Double-A last season, Hyams got 31 games at second base. Eric Garcia, a 20th round pick for the Braves in 2012, has split the last two seasons between Rome and Lynchburg. He could return to play second base if needed. Garcia hit .238 with Lynchburg last season.
Ross Wilson and Reed Harper combined to play 66 games at second base for Rome. They are both older players who can play multiple positions. They’ll fight it out for the starting job in Carolina.
Emerson Landoni is still around. He has split the last three seasons between High-A and Double-A for the Braves. Last year between the two teams Landoni hit .270 with two home runs and 33 RBI.
SUMMARY: It’s a wide open competition. Hyams, Garcia, Wilson, Harper, Landoni could all fight it out in spring training for the job.
Last year Daniel Castro played 70 games at shortstop for the Hillcats. He then was promoted to AA Mississippi and did well. Landoni and Garcia also combined for 48 games at the position.
Johan Camargo is ready to move up to Carolina. The 21-year-old switch-hitter batted .267 last season in 115 games with 40 RBI. Camargo then got a short stint with Lynchburg and hit .259 in 17 games and actually hit a home run. He’s a career .290 hitter in his 1037 pro at bats. Camargo is finding himself on the prospect list, but with newcomers in the system he needs a good solid season in Carolina.
SUMMARY: It’s Camargo’s job to lose in spring training.
Kevin Ahrens, a former first round pick of the Blue Jays in 2007, played in 129 games for Lynchburg last season. He was resigned over the offseason, so there’s a chance he could be at either Carolina or Mississippi.
Newly acquired Dustin Peterson is expected to be the starting third base for the new Carolina Mudcats. Peterson was in Low-A last year for the Padres. He hit .233 with 10 home runs and 79 RBI in Fort Wayne. It’s likely the Braves will want to promote the 20-year-old Peterson to the Carolina League.
Carlos Franco has been Rome’s main third baseman in both of the last two seasons. He needs to go up to Carolina, but it’s doubtful he’ll be able to start at third with Peterson around. Franco has played one game at shortstop and one game at first base in his pro career, so he’s limited to third base. It’s doubtful Franco will go to Double-A with Rio Ruiz scheduled to be the starter at third base there. We’ll see what the Braves do with Franco.
SUMMARY: Peterson will be the starter. Ahrens could be back as a utility player or may be placed in Double-A. Franco will need a good spring training to show he deserves at bats.
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