Spring Training Blog - March 7

Bill Shanks with Tuesday's spring training blog.

Spent a few hours on the minor league fields Tuesday. Here are a couple observations.

As usual, several pitchers threw live batting practice. Chris Waters was particularly impressive. Waters is primed for a big season in 2006. He started seventeen games in Myrtle Beach last season, his first year back after shoulder surgery. Waters delivery is looking smoother than ever, and his velocity is slowing getting back to normal.

David Williams, our 37th rounder last season, was impressive. He's got somewhat of a sidearm movement that looked funky. Williams was dominant last year in the GCL and in Rome (1.76 ERA in 20 games, 4 walks, and 37 strikeouts in 30.2 innings).

Jeff Lyman, our second round pick last year, is a moose. That's a big kid.

I'm particularly interested in watching Jairo Cuevas more this spring. He didn't throw Tuesday, but I saw him on the side. He's much bigger now - maybe 6'3" and 205. When I first saw him a few years ago, he was a baby. Now he's really growing up.

Kala Ka'aihue, signed as a non-drafted free agent last summer, has some pretty good power. He'll compete for the first base job in Rome this month.

Primed to have a big year: Jo Jo Reyes. He looks healthy to me. He could lose a little weight, but if he's pitching well, who cares. He's just a big kid. Remember, before he got hurt, he was on a fast track.

I really like Chris Vines. That kid just has something that is impressive. He's such a big kid, maybe pushing 6'6", and his stuff just moves well. He might go back to Rome to start the season, but he'll end up in Myrtle. He's got a chance to start out with the Pelicans, but I think he might be a candidate to start back in Rome.

I wish I could pay more attention to other position players, but frankly, I can't stop watching Elvis. This kid is something.

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional front office philosophies. Email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com.

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