There is some competition for the last two spots in the Atlanta bullpen. Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito, Peter Moylan, Eric O'Flaherty, and Kris Medlen have locked down the first five spots. But the other two positions are up in the air. Jesse Chavez was believed to be locked into one of those spots, but he's got an 11.56 ERA in four games. So Chavez's spot may not be so secure.
Scott Proctor will make his debut later this week, but it's unlikely he's going to be able to break camp with the big league team. One spot could be awarded to a left-hander to compliment Wagner and O'Flaherty. Four southpaws are making a good impression in camp and could be considered. Jo Jo Reyes (3.00 ERA in three games), Jonny Venters (2.08 ERA in four games), Mariano Gomez (2.45 ERA in four games), and Mike Dunn (1.69 ERA in five games) are all pitching very well. Reyes might be the front-runner, but it's a competition that could come down to the wire in early April.
Matt Young is going to be a big leaguer. It's just a matter of when it's going to happen. Young is doing well in camp, and while he'll start out in Gwinnett, keep his name in mind when the Braves need help in the outfield. He's a short, scrappy player who just goes all out, and the Braves love this kid. He was an undrafted player, but he's a phone call away from being in the major leagues.
Luis Valdez is still MIA from camp. Still having visa trouble. No one seems to care much.
Ryne Reynoso had a very impressive bullpen on Monday, which also happened to be his birthday. He was then invited over to be a backup Tuesday on the big league team. Reynoso gets lost in the shuffle from time to time, but he's got good stuff. He's got a shot to be in the Gwinnett rotation.
From all indications, Mike Minor will start the season in the Mississippi rotation.
Craig Kimbrel will be an interesting decision, and with Valdez still out Kimbrel will have a good chance to open the season in Gwinnett. Kimbrel has had a good spring in big league camp, and there's no doubt it's just a matter of time with him. Kimbrel has not allowed an earned run in three spring appearances. And if he keeps pitching well the next two weeks, Kimbrel might well make the Atlanta roster.
Yeliar Castro needs some attention. He's a kid who has done good work in the minors, but gets lost in the shuffle a bit. Castro has huge fingers, and the Braves are trying to get him to throw a split-fingered fastball. He doesn't have much of a breaking ball, so a split would give him something.
Adam Milligan is my newest, favorite prospect. He's got a great swing, and he's going to produce some power numbers. They'll probably have him start the season in Myrtle Beach as the left fielder, but he'll probably end up in Mississippi if he gets off to a good start.
The last two days the Braves minor leaguers have had 11-inning scrimmages with the Astros. Each pitcher got one inning of work. The minor league games start Saturday.
Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on
WFSM Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, Georgia and The Braves Show Talk Show. Shanks writes a weekly column for The Macon Telegraph. Email Bill at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks.
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