Spring Training: Just About Everyone Present & Accounted For

Spring Training:  Just About Everyone Present & Accounted For
File-This Sept. 14, 2018, file photo shows Atlanta Braves left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) hitting a ball for a triple in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals in Atlanta. Acuna, helped the Atlanta Braves accelerate their rebuilding schedule in 2018, when they were the surprise winners of the NL East. The next challenge will be for the Braves, preparing for their last spring training at their Disney complex in Kissimmee, Florida, to defend that division title and move closer to their first World Series since 1999. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

As week two begins for the Braves in central Florida, just about everyone is present and accounted for. That includes a number of position players that showed up well ahead of Wednesday’s deadline, as the full squad is set to have their first official workout on Thursday morning. One of those early reports was Ender Inciarte, who spent a lot of time this offseason in the Orlando area training. Inciarte, one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, has traditionally been a slow starter at the plate. That’s something he’s looking to turn around with a fresh start this season.

Looking back to 2018, Inciarte started 54 games at the top of the order, before eventually turning those duties over to Ronald Acuña Jr who flourished in that role. But, as things currently stand here in mid February, it seems as though Brian Snitker is leaning more towards putting Inciarte back in the leadoff spot to start the year. “I’m going to bring my second half mentality from Spring Training on. Hopefully, I’m going to be more consistent this year” Inciarte said on Monday morning. A consistent Inciarte would do wonders for the length of the Atlanta lineup this season and allow Ronald Acuña to be utilized in more run producing situations behind Freddie Freeman.

While a lot can change between now and Opening Day, my early prediction is to have Inciarte leadoff, followed by Donaldson, Freeman and Acuña. As for where the club could go beyond that, Markakis could fit fifth, followed by switch hitting Ozzie Albies sixth, whoever is catching that night seventh and Dansby Swanson in his familiar eighth spot. That said, Inciarte knows if he gets off to another slow start, the leash could be shorter atop the order, and things could go back to the way they were in 2018.

Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet since 2012