Shortstop, pitcher competitions keep Braves interesting

Shortstop Andrelton Simmons, right, of the Lynchburg Hillcats, jokes with the Hillcats radio reporter, center, and coach Bobby Moore before a game against the Wilmington Blue Rocks on June 15, 2011, at City Stadium in Lynchburg, Va. (Tom Priddy / Four Seam Images)

So far this spring the Atlanta Braves have a miserable exhibition record (2-10), but interest is growing in four rookies competing for possibly just two spots on the roster.

While Tyler Pastornicky was predicted by some reporters as the likely starting 2012 shortstop, Andrelton Simmons is turning this spring into a competition.

Simmons won the Carolina League batting title in 2011 as the only league player to hit above .300. But never having played above High Class A, he was thought to need another year in the minors.

But as of Thursday morning Simmons is batting .295 with an OPS of .780 in spring games and Pastornicky just .100 and an OPS of .229. Game on.

Two young, highly regarded pitchers are competing for spots on the roster, too, possibly one in a starting role. Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado, both among the Braves’ top prospects, have been tag-teaming games this spring, one starting, one coming in later to pitch.

Teheran is 0-1 with an 11.00 ERA, and Delgado is 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA. So it’s possible neither will get the starting spot and both may be headed back to Triple A Gwinnett.

In any case, it keeps these spring games interesting, even as the Braves are less than inspiring at the plate.

RHP Julio Teheran of the Atlanta Braves at Spring Training camp on March 17, 2009, at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Tom Priddy / Four Seam Images)

RHP Randall Delgado of the Atlanta Braves throws during an intra-squad game on March 13, 2009, at Spring Training camp at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Tom Priddy / Four Seam Images)

 

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