Who will start at second base?

Here is a look at the candidates to win the second base job.

Here are the candidates who will battle it out in spring training to be the starting second baseman. The winner of this competition could be in place temporarily until prospect Jose Peraza is ready sometime in midseason.

Alberto Callaspo
The Braves signed the veteran Callaspo to play at second and third. He’s really played all over, so that versatility will be valuable for a team in transition. If Callaspo hits in March, the Braves will give him a chance. He’s a switch-hitter, which could be valuable. Callaspo needs to go back to his 2013 numbers, when he split the season between the Angels and A’s. He hit .258 with a .333 OBP, 10 homers and 58 RBI. That type of production would be decent if he is in place for only half a season. If he’s there longer, it might be an issue.

Kelly Johnson
The former Braves phenom is coming back home. He’ll be 33 this season, which is hard to believe. Johnson’s offense has slipped in the last few seasons. He went from hitting .284 with a .370 OBP with the Diamondbacks to now hitting over .235 in a season since. Johnson has played 814 games at second base, four times more than any other position on the diamond. Like Callaspo, if Johnson hits, he’ll likely win the job. But the Braves could allow him to get some time at third base to platoon with Chris Johnson or in left field.

Phillip Gosselin
The Braves fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft did a decent job when he was called up last season to spell Tommy LaStella at second base once LaStella started to struggle. Gosselin hit .266 with a home run and three runs batted in with a .304 on base percentage. He plays defense well and the Braves liked his gritty play in the field. As far as being a stopgap, Gosselin could be fine for a few months. He also has the versatility to play shortstop, third base and the outfield. He even played at first last season for one game in Gwinnett. Gosselin really turned the corner in the last two years at Gwinnett, showing he can be a decent offensive player. He’s hit .316 in Triple-A, his best average at any level. Gosselin hit only .242 in Doble-A and .258 in High-A. The Braves feel he has developed his offensive game and can be a serviceable player in the big leagues.

Jace Peterson
Once again, offense is the question here. Peterson hit just .113 in 58 major league plate appearances last season with the Padres. Was he rushed to the big leagues and was simply not ready, or is he going to struggle with the bat? He’s hit .287 so far in his minor league career with a .381 OBP, so that is impressive. Plus, of all the competitors not named Peraza, Peterson has the best speed. He stole 66 bases two years ago in High-A Lake Elsinore. That might help his case if all the March batting averages are similar. However, the Braves might prefer to let him play more in Triple-A to see more of what they have got. But with Peraza likely headed there to start at second, where would Peterson play? Third base? Shortstop? He does have versatility to play all three positions, which could help his case to make the Atlanta roster, even as a reserve.

Tyler Pastornicky
This is highly unlikely. The Braves are trying to trade Pastornicky, who was a favorite of the previous front office. But if he is in camp Pastornicky might get one more look. He’d have to show his value and it would not be easy considering his defensive issues.

Pedro Ciriaco
Don’t forget about this guy. He’s 29 years old and is a right-handed hitter. Ciriaco has had cups of coffee for each of the last five seasons in the major leagues. Ciriaco has mainly been a shortstop and third baseman but he has played 34 games at second base.

Again, this position will belong to Peraza eventually. Sure, he could go to spring training and prove to the Braves he’s ready from day one. But the Braves would like to see him get a little more time in the minors. Plus, that would allow them to have him for an additional year if he comes up sometimes after June 1. So one or two of these six players could be a band-aid for the position until Peraza is ready to go. The competition should be one of the more interesting storylines for spring training.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

Atlanta Dugout Top Stories