The Shanks Report - March 1

The Braves Show's Bill Shanks has some thoughts on the Braves win over Houston and some notes from the minor league side.

* Tom Glavine looked very good back out there in a Braves' uniform Saturday. Tommy is a little grayer and you can tell he's not that young kid that came up in the late 1980s anymore, but there's no doubt he can still pitch. It was just the same ole Tom Glavine out there. Not much has changed in five years except the color of his hair. The most impressive part of his postgame comments to the reporters was the fact that he knows exactly what this team needs out of him: to be the third starter. He's so okay with that and comfortable with that. Glavine still has gas left in the tank folks. I'm not saying he's going to be a lock to win fifteen games, but nothing will surprise me with Glavine this season.

* Glavine faced Astros' first baseman Lance Niekro, whose dad Joe was a former Braves pitcher and of course his uncle is Hall of Famer Phil Niekro. Glavine and Phil Niekro were teammates for one day at the end of the 1987 season when Niekro returned for his final game in a Braves' uniform.

* Glavine gave up a run on a home run by Ty Wigginton on a pitch he called 'stupid.' But after that two inning performance it was a revolving door on the mound with six Atlanta pitchers. Ryan Drese, a former big league starter coming off Tommy John Surgery, gave up two runs in two innings. Drese is a longshot for the long reliever position in the Atlanta bullpen.

* Royce Ring and Jeff Ridgway, two lefties trying to win a job in the bullpen, did not give up a run but were not particularly solid either. Ring got behind most of the hitters he faced. Another lefty, Francisley Bueno, allowed two runs in the eighth inning to give the Astros a temporary lead.

* Yunel Escobar had two more hits and is just a machine out there. He doesn't seem overwhelmed by his new role as the starting shortstop on this team.

* Josh Anderson replaced Jeff Francoeur midway through the game in right field. Francoeur had a three-run home run, but Anderson displayed his speed with a stolen base late in the game.

* Brandon Jones is off to a slow start this week. He's struggled at the plate and in the field, prompting talk that he might be better served to start the season in Triple-A Richmond instead of with the big league club. Jones is going to get some competition from Anderson, Gregor Blanco, and Joe Borchard. And don't count out the outside chance that Jordan Schafer will continue to impress the brass and win a job. Either way, Jones is no longer locked into a spot on this roster and needs to get going.

* Everyone is anxious for Mike Hampton's spring debut on Sunday when the Astros travel to Disney for a 1:05 start.

* On the minor league side this morning, more live batting practice sessions for the pitchers. I saw the following throw: Tommy Hanson, Chad Rodgers, Ryne Reynoso, Steve Evarts, Jose Ortegano, and Brett Butts.

* I just like tall pitchers. There are some people who don't, arguing that taller pitchers have more to worry about with their mechanics. Well, I think if you've got teachers in the minors you don't have to worry about it. Just let the coaches do their job. Tommy Hanson is really one of my favorites. He looks really good. It's so funny when these kids start to mature physically and you can see they are now men instead of boys. Yesterday it was obvious Jeff Locke had gotten bigger, and Saturday with Hanson on the mound even he looked like he was filling out completely. Hanson will start the season in Myrtle Beach, but it will be a shock if he's still there in September.

* There are rumors that the Braves might move Reynoso to the rotation. He's got the stuff that does make you wonder how good he might be in that role, but remember this guy just started pitching full-time a year and a half ago after mainly playing the outfield at Boston College. It sounds like he wants to remain in the bullpen, but we'll see this spring.

* Evarts is a very deliberate pitcher. He thinks a lot about every pitch he makes on the mound. I'm anxious to see him get a full season in Rome this year.

* Butts is clearly a very advanced pitcher. It won't be a shock if he's placed in Myrtle Beach to start the season. He was Auburn's closer last season and did well in his pro debut after being drafted by the Braves.

* Wes Timmons, who has mainly played third base since joining the organization, played at third, second base, and shortstop this morning in infield drills. He could play all three spots in Richmond this season.

* Eric Campbell was taking infield drills today and looked good. Several coaches believe he's ready for a breakout season.

* Jon Gilmore, another third baseman, looks bigger physically than Campbell or Van Pope.

* Speaking of third baseman, I talked Friday about Samuel Sime, who could win the third base job in Rome. I watched him take grounders at third and he's a very solid defender. He reminds me of Edwin Encarnacion with the Reds. Sime is someone to keep in mind as a breakout candidate this season.

* This Jason Heyward fellow? He's the real deal folks!

* Tomorrow I finally get to see seventeen-year- old right-hander Julio Teheran, who is creating a buzz around camp. I'll share a report with you after the Atlanta game against the Astros.


Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta and 105.5 the Fan in Macon. Email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com.


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