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Braves set player pool; 4 spots remain

@mlbbowman
June 28, 2020

ATLANTA -- Less than three weeks after being drafted, Jared Shuster was placed in the 60-man player pool the Braves submitted to Major League Baseball on Sunday afternoon. Shuster is not expected to make his MLB debut this year. But his inclusion on this list creates the opportunity for him

ATLANTA -- Less than three weeks after being drafted, Jared Shuster was placed in the 60-man player pool the Braves submitted to Major League Baseball on Sunday afternoon.

Shuster is not expected to make his MLB debut this year. But his inclusion on this list creates the opportunity for him to spend the next couple of months working out with some of the top members of the Braves’ development staff.

FAQ: Roster and transaction rules for 2020

First and foremost, these 60-man player pools were designed for teams to designate which members of their organization will be eligible for the 60-game regular season, which is slated to begin on July 23 or 24. But with a Minor League season this year seeming unlikely, teams also chose to fill some of these spots with their top prospects. The Braves’ pool actually includes each of their top 12 prospects (per MLB Pipeline’s rankings). But only two or three of those prospects has a shot of being added to Atlanta’s active roster at some point this year.

The members of this prospect group who could be used by Atlanta this year include outfielders Cristian Pache and Drew Waters, right-handers Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, Jasseel De La Cruz and Huascar Ynoa, and left-handers Kyle Muller and Tucker Davidson.

Shuster, a left-handed pitcher taken in this year's Draft with the 25th overall pick out of Wake Forest, is part of the group of prospects added to this list just to get some experience this year. The others who fit this description are infielder Braden Shewmake and the club’s top two catching prospects, Shea Langeliers and William Contreras.

FAQ: All you need to know about 2020 season

The Braves opted to place just 56 players on this list for now. This will allow president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos some flexibility should he want to add free agents or other internal pieces over the next few weeks and months.

When a team’s pool is maxed out at 60 players, to add another player, a player must be removed.

Players on a 40-man roster can be removed via trade, waiver claims, return of Rule 5 Draft selection, release, outright assignment, designation for assignment, placement on the 45-day injured list, placement on the COVID-19-related injured list, or placement on the suspended list (by the club) or voluntarily retired, restricted, disqualified or ineligible lists.

Non-40-man-roster players may be removed by trade, release, placement on the COVID-19-related injured list, or placement on the suspended list (by the club) or military, voluntarily retired, restricted, disqualified or ineligible lists. Any injured non-40-man-roster players will continue to count against the team’s player pool unless they are removed through one of the aforementioned transactions.

Details on the Braves' upcoming season

Here's a look at the Braves' player pool:

Catchers (7): Logan Brown, William Contreras, Travis d’Arnaud, Tyler Flowers, Alex Jackson, Shea Langeliers, Jonathan Morales

It would seemingly benefit the Braves to find somebody more dependable than Jackson to be the top backup option should something happen to d’Arnaud or Flowers. But while the club’s MLB-ready catching depth might be thin, Langeliers and Contreras both provide significant hope for the long-term value Atlanta could receive from this position.

Right-handed pitchers (18): Ian Anderson, De La Cruz, Mike Foltynewicz, Shane Greene, Felix Hernández, Luke Jackson, Chris Martin, Mark Melancon, Darren O’Day, Chad Sobotka, Mike Soroka, Josh Tomlin, Touki Toussaint, Jacob Webb, Patrick Weigel, Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, Huascar Ynoa

Anthopoulos has indicated most of his starters will work 3-4 innings within their first couple starts. So, with the active roster consisting of 30 players during the season’s first two weeks, expect the Opening Day roster to include a few long relief options like Wright, Toussaint and Wilson. Hernández will likely be competing against Sean Newcomb for the rotation’s last spot. One could start the year in the rotation and the other in the bullpen.

Left-handed pitchers (12): Tucker Davidson, Grant Dayton, Max Fried, Cole Hamels, Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter, Kyle Muller, Sean Newcomb, Philip Pfeifer, Chris Rusin, Jared Shuster, Will Smith

Hamels, Fried and possibly Newcomb could all begin the season in the rotation. Pfeifer and Matzek both made strong showings during Spring Training earlier this year. But the plan to carry an extra long reliever or two, combined with the three-batter minimum rule, could lessen the possibility that either of these two relievers begins the season in the bullpen, which was bolstered with the offseason signing of Smith.

Infielders (12): Ozzie Albies, Yonder Alonso, Johan Camargo, Charlie Culberson, Freddie Freeman, Adeiny Hechavarría, Pete Kozma, Peter O’Brien, Austin Riley, Braden Shewmake, Yangervis Solarte, Dansby Swanson

Now that the National League will have a designated hitter, you could argue there’s more reason to think Alonso could earn a roster spot. But the club has some better options, including Riley and Marcell Ozuna. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that the Braves' 40-man roster has just one vacancy. Culberson, Solarte and Alonso are all non-roster invitees. The ease of finding room for one of them will be more difficult if a spot also has to open for Hernández and possibly Tomlin.

Outfielders (7): Ronald Acuña Jr., Adam Duvall, Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Marcell Ozuna, Cristian Pache, Drew Waters

Really, the only question is how will manager Brian Snitker use Ozuna. If Ozuna is used as the primary DH, the Braves could platoon Markakis and Duvall in left field. There’s also a chance Camargo could be used as an outfielder. Had the start of this season not been delayed, Pache and Waters might have already made their respective big league debuts. Time will tell if either experiences that thrill this year.

According to MLB's Operating Manual, all players on a 40-man roster “that the Club anticipates participating” during the season will be part of the player pool, while the rest will be made up of non-40-man roster players under contract. Any 40-man-roster players who are not included in a player pool (for example, maybe a prospect who isn’t deemed ready for the Majors) will still be paid during the season.

No team will be allowed to exceed the limit of 60 players in its player pool at any time during camp or the regular season.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.