Braves camp extras
We’re off and running with our Top 20 lists. And I’m back with my second Spring Training extras blog post, this time on the Braves (You can still feel free to check out my Mets extras at your leisure).
OK? Let’s start with a few more comments from Braves’ 2013 first-rounder Jason Hursh. Hursh had Tommy John surgery in college, so I asked him if, in retrospect, having to sit around and wait post-surgery, had some value.
Hursh: Definitely. I can always go back and remember watching guys and not being able to play, and let that fuel my fire. If I’m in the weight room, I go back to the days when I couldn’t do anything, lift a weight, it was all rehab. I use that to fuel my fire and work harder.
Then we talked about his repertoire and working as a pro to mix his pitches more. The question was basically about how much he’s realized that he can’t just get away with his fastball only like he could at times in college.
Hursh: That’s one of the biggest things for me, getting into pro ball. Getting those secondary pitches down, the changeup, the curveball, whether it’s a cutter, working on all that to try and find what I’m most comfortable with. That’s what I’m really going to focus on here, just developing my changeup and my curveball and see if this year, it all clicks and we can get going a little bit.
What have you been able to glean from the big league arms here? Have you been able to pick their brains at all?
Hursh: Here and there, a little bit. Not so much pick their brains, but just observe from the side what they do in their bullpens, when they throw these pitches, how they work on this and that. I think from that aspect, it’s been really good to see how they go about their business.
Between your brief taste of professional ball and being here, what’s been the biggest surprise about pro ball you didn’t realize that you’re quickly gaining an understanding for?
Hursh: Just keeping the ball down and hitting your spots. In college, I could get away with it a little bit. Here, especially in big league camp, they’ll let you know if you didn’t execute a pitch to your spot. That was probably the biggest thing. All of your mistakes, they’ll let you know.
You’re a guy who lives down in the zone anyway, right? If you’re up, you’re going to get hit?
Hursh: Exactly. I know I’m on if I’m getting that sink to the fastball. That’s when I have my best days, for sure.
I also spent time talking to Braves assistant general manager John Coppolella. Much of that conversation is reflected in the Spring Training report, so there’s no need to get into too much more detail there. But I did want to pass along the names of two very young recent international signees the Braves are very excited to get going this year.
Both are from Curacao. Ozhaino Albies (signed for $350,000) and Kevin Josephina ($300,000) are both shortstops. They both looked very good at instructs last fall. They obviously have a long way to go, but sometimes players that young — both are 17 — can show a lot of progress quickly, just because of natural physical maturation.
Finally, here’s One More Guy from the Braves system:
Matt Lipka, OF: The Braves’ top pick in 2010, he’s dealt with adversity, he’s dealt with injury (hamstring tear), he’s dealt with a position switch (shortstop to outfield). His speed is still very much an exciting tool. He was healthy for all of 2013, a good first step. He’ll be just 22 for the 2014 season, so there’s time yet here. The bat does need to develop, but if it does, he could still be the top-of-the-lineup type catalyst the Braves envisioned when they took him.