We take a look at non-roster invitee Ehire Adrianza and his case for making the Atlanta Braves Opening Day roster as part of the bench.
The bench for the Atlanta Braves is starting to take shape, and while it certainly still isn’t a great part of this team, it does look much better than it did a few weeks ago.
If I had to pick right now, the bench would include Alex Jackson as the back-up catcher, Johan Camargo as the super-utility player, Jake Lamb as the back-up corner infielder, and Ender Inciarte as the pinch-runner/defensive replacement in the outfield.
That leaves one more spot on the bench left available.
Why Ehire Adrianza Should Be on the Braves Bench
The most likely candidates for that last bench spot include Ehire Adrianza, Jason Kipnis, Pablo Sandoval, Phil Ervin, Abraham Almonte, and Guillermo Heredia.
Those last three have a leg up on the first three because they’re already on the 40-man roster, but I actually like the chances of Adrianza, Kipnis, or Sandoval to make the Opening Day roster more.
But I really like Adrianza and think he should get a lot of consideration for the bench.
The main thing going for him is he’d be the only true back-up at shortstop where he’s played nearly 1,300 innings at the big league level and was an above-average defender in 2020.
Camargo can play the position and the Braves have already put him there in Spring Training, but his last time playing the position in 2019 it did not go well for him. He had -4 DRS in just under 200 innings at shortstop.
Adrianza is also very versatile and has played every position except catcher and center field — and that includes pitching.
What I like most about Adrianza is his ability to put the ball in play. While he certainly doesn’t have elite K% numbers, he’d likely be second on the team behind Freddie Freeman in putting the ball in play.
He projects to have a K% just under 20 percent. Only Freeman, Nick Markakis, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Ender Inciarte had a K% under 20 last season for the Braves.
In 2019, Adrianza struck out just 17 percent of the time.
It seems like several times last year we just needed someone to put the ball in play and we couldn’t get it done.
Adrianza would be a great bat off the bench in those situations late in the game.
While it’s a small sample size in Spring Training so far, he’s yet to strike out in 4 at-bats.
His versatility, experience at shortstop, and ability to put the ball in play make him an intriguing option for the Braves bench. And depending on how Camargo does in Spring Training, Adrianza could take his spot on the roster. That might be the matchup to keep an eye on the most.