Pitching notes from spring training

Matt Capps could help the Braves this season in a different way than on the mound. Bill Shanks has that and more in pitching notes from Florida.

Pitching notes from spring training…

- I think Eric Stults is going to do well. He said he fixed his tempo late last season, and that was the reason for his success in August and September. The Braves would really benefit from him pitching well for four months and then trading him near the deadline. They could get a decent prospect in return if he’s doing well. A contender might give them a decent return, considering the desperate need for pitching.

- What a pleasure Jason Grilli was to meet and talk to. He is a good guy and will be great for the bullpen. Sometimes it does matter what type of people you have in a clubhouse. Grilli has taken the approach that even though he’s not the closer, he’s going to close out whatever inning he’s pitching in. I also heard Michael Kohn say the same thing, so that means Grilli’s impact is being felt by the others.

- Cody Martin deserves to be on the roster. I’ll be disappointed if he’s not in Miami Monday at 4:00. What else does he need to do to get a chance? He might flop, or he might stick for years, but he’s done all he can do to deserves a chance at pitching in the big leagues. I think he’ll get that opportunity.

- Really disappointed that Michael Kohn didn’t pitch well enough to make the staff. But it proves you can’t walk people in spring training and get away with it. Kohn will help out at some point, but he’s got to improve his command. Maybe he can work on that in Gwinnett.

- Also disappointed that Arodys Vizcaino didn’t make it. They wanted him to have a job, and he just seemed scared or something. It’s amazing when kids that have the stuff have one thing that keeps them from realizing their potential.

- They say Jim Johnson’s sinker is back, and if so, he’ll likely have a decent season. Consider him a trade candidate if he does well and teams come calling for relief help in July.

- Please Manny Banuelos… get 140 innings in Gwinnett so we can see what you are. He must develop a better breaking ball. Banuelos had a curve before he got hurt, but it’s just not back yet. But the key for him is innings. Let him stay healthy and maybe we can see if he can be a starting pitcher for 2016.

- Brady Feigl is perhaps the best story in spring training. Pitching in a men’s summer baseball league two years ago, and at some point this season he will be in Atlanta. He still has a shot to break camp with the team, but if he does well we will likely see him at some point this season.

- Williams Perez opened a lot of eyes in camp. Roger McDowell likes him a great deal. He’ll likely go to Triple-A, and if the Braves need a starter and he’s doing well don’t be shocked at all if Perez gets a call. He’s a big burly guy but the ball really explodes out of his arm. I had a Braves minor league coach tell me year ago that Perez would be a big league middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher one day. He’s done nothing to dispel that possibility with his strong 2014 season and his impressive camp.

- Not sure if they’ll keep either or both of them, but the Braves love what Matt Capps and Todd Coffey bring to the table with leadership. Coaches really liked how they talked with the younger pitchers. They are veteran pitchers that have been around the block a time or two, and they can only lend great advice to the young pitchers. We’ll see if they are in Gwinnett or not.

- For me, Jason Hursh is going to be a reliever in the big leagues. I just think he’s more of a reliever than a starting pitcher. The Braves will likely keep him in a rotation for now, but you have to wonder if they’ll make him a reliever at some point in the minors to prepare him for his potential future role.

- Lucas Sims sounds ready to have a solid season. He learned a lot last year about himself and I think he knows with more solid pitchers around him that he needs a breakout year to maintain his prospect status. That’s good. It’s good to have other talented pitchers around to make you do better. I can’t wait to see what he does in Double-A this season.

- Andrew Thurman, part of the return for Evan Gattis, is impressive. I can see why he was a high draft pick, but I can also see why he struggled a bit last year. It was obvious he was learning how to be a pitcher, considering his velocity increased a bit. So now, as he heads to Carolina, how will he do?

- The Rome rotation should be loaded. Not sure who will all be in there yet, but the candidates are Alec Grosser, Ricardo Sanchez (who I for some reason never saw in 16 days at spring training), Garrett Fulenchek, Chris Diaz, Max Povse and Chad Sobotka.

- We are all going to have to be patient and wait on Dan Winkler and Max Fried, but count me as excited about their potential once they recover from Tommy John surgery. Both young men are mature and realize they will not be rushed, which will only help. Pitchers with TJ now realize with all the guys having it for a second time that they cannot take that for granted. They must be careful. But if they come back healthy, the Braves are going to have two very good prospects for the future. Winkler was close to being called up by Colorado last season before he was injured, while Fried was one of the best pitching prospects in the game. Can’t wait to see them a year from now to see where they are in their development.


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.

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