Left field hopeful Evan Gattis and a top pitching prospect J.R. Graham are among the 21 non-roster invitees the Braves will bring to spring training when camp opens in early February – a list the club announced Thursday.
Gattis made quite a splash with his spring training invitation last season, raising eyebrows among Braves teammates and manager Fredi Gonzalez with his home run-hitting prowess. He will look to continue the work he started in winter ball, hitting 16 home runs in Venezuela. He has a chance to make the Braves bench as a potential part-time left fielder and backup catcher.
This will be the first time in big league camp for Graham, the right-hander with a mid-to-upper 90s fastball who was named the Braves organizational pitcher of the year for 2012 in September.
Also among the first-time invitees are last year’s second round pick from the University of Georgia left-hander Alex Wood, standout shortstop from the University of Connecticut Nick Ahmed and third baseman Joe Leonard, a third-round pick in 2010 from the University of Pittsburgh. The list also includes former Cub Blake DeWitt, the utility infielder who signed a minor league deal with the Braves in December.
Left-hander Sean Gilmartin, the Braves first round pick in 2011 out of FSU, returns to camp where he made three appearances last spring including one start. He went 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA, allowing two runs in six innings. He’s likely to open the season in Triple-A but could find his way to the majors before the season is through.
The complete list includes nine pitchers: left-hander Ryan Buchter, left-hander Yohan Flande, Gilmartin, Graham, left-hander Dusty Hughes, right-hander Wirfin Obispo, left-hander Daniel Rodriguez, right-hander Gus Schlosser and Wood.
Six catchers: Luis De La Cruz, Gattis, Matt Kennelly, Matt Pagnozzi, Braeden Schlehuber and Jose Yepez. Three-infielders: Ahmed, DeWitt and Leonard. Three-outfielders: Todd Cunningham, Joe Terdoslavich and Jordan Parraz.
Braves pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Lake Buena Vista Fla. on Monday, Feb. 11, with position players to follow on Thursday, Feb. 14.
Fan club to honor Chipper
The Braves 400 Fan Club will honor Chipper Jones at their annual winter banquet on Jan. 26 at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center.
The reception will begin with a silent auction and memorabilia raffle at 5 p.m., with an awards dinner and program to follow at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $70 for members and $75 for non-members. The deadline for purchasing tickets is Jan. 20.
For more information, go to www.braves400.org.