LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Braves manager Brian Snitker evaluates who might serve as his closer, A.J. Minter has made it clear he wants to be the guy who is consistently called upon to handle high-leverage threats that develop in late innings."I want to be in the game when
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Braves manager Brian Snitker evaluates who might serve as his closer, A.J. Minter has made it clear he wants to be the guy who is consistently called upon to handle high-leverage threats that develop in late innings.
"I want to be in the game when the game is on the line, the best hitters are up," Minter said. "Whether that's the seventh, eighth or ninth inning, I want to be facing the toughest part of the lineup. Of course, I want to be the closer who is closing games out and getting saves. But the way baseball is going now, I want to be the Josh Hader. I want to be the guy who when he comes in the ballgame, you know it's over.":: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Though the Braves are not going to suddenly make Minter a multi-inning option like Hader, they do have the comfort of knowing both he and Arodys Vizcaíno have already proven capable of handling any late-inning role.
"In our world here, hopefully there are too [many save opportunities] for one guy to handle," Snitker said. "That would be the best scenario. On any given day we could do a little bit of what we did last year when we went with matchups in the eighth and ninth. That would be pretty good."
Barring the slim possibility Craig Kimbrel's free-agent market drops to the point where the Braves may be comfortable with his ask, Vizcaino and Minter stand as the primary options to serve as Atlanta's closer.
• Ten Braves to watch this spring
Vizcaino will need to prove he has distanced himself from the right shoulder discomfort that sidelined him last summer and led to Minter handling the closing duties during most of the season's final three months.
Multiple MRIs showed no structural damage last year, and Vizcaino has progressed through the early days of Spring Training without any restrictions. But time will tell whether his shoulder can handle a reliever's normal regular-season workload.
"I want to be the closer," Vizcaino said. "But we have other guys who can do the job. It doesn't matter if it's the seventh inning or the ninth, I just want to pitch."
Dallas Keuchel was among the former Astros teammates who texted Mike Foltynewicz to let him know how much he will appreciate the chance to work with veteran catcher Brian McCann this season.
"I got multiple texts saying that when we got McCann, not only how much the team got better, but how much better I was going to get this year," Foltynewicz said. "When I met him, it felt like I'd already known him for 10 years. I think that relationship he has with me and some of the other younger pitchers is going to be a special one."
While spending the past five seasons with the Astros and Yankees, McCann kept close tabs on the Braves and longed for the opportunity to rejoin the organization. After gaining the opportunity in November, the seven-time All-Star went to SunTrust Park a few times to watch video of Foltynewicz and some of the other pitchers he will work with this season.
The Braves will not stage their first full-squad workout until Thursday. But Nick Markakis and Charlie Culberson are the only two position players projected for the Opening Day roster who have not yet arrived in camp.
While Ronald Acuña Jr., Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Ender Inciarte and other position players are spending these early days focusing on hitting, Snitker has taken advantage of the chance to get a better feel for his club's impressive collection of pitching prospects.
This collection of arms is led by Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson and Touki Toussaint, who all rank among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects. But some of the lesser-known prospects like Kyle Muller and Joey Wentz have also made a good impression.
"I can't wait to get the games started to watch these kids play because it's a very impressive group," Snitker said. "You don't know who is going to do what. When you look out at this time of year and see these kids, from an overall organization standpoint, it's pretty impressive."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.