ATLANTA -- As Ender Inciarte spends the next couple of weeks recovering from a left hamstring strain, Mallex Smith will have an opportunity to prove he is ready to contribute at the Major League level.Shortly after Inciarte was placed on the disabled list on Sunday afternoon, a Major League source
ATLANTA -- As Ender Inciarte spends the next couple of weeks recovering from a left hamstring strain, Mallex Smith will have an opportunity to prove he is ready to contribute at the Major League level.
Shortly after Inciarte was placed on the disabled list on Sunday afternoon, a Major League source confirmed that Smith would be recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill the vacated spot on Atlanta's roster.
The Braves will wait until Monday to officially announce Smith's promotion and which reliever will replace Daniel Winkler, who fractured his right elbow in Sunday's 12-7 loss to the Cardinals.
Smith was pulled from Gwinnett's lineup around the same time the Braves announced Inciarte had been placed on the 15-day disabled list because of the left hamstring strain that he suffered as he ran to first base during the first inning of Friday's game against the Cardinals.
Inciarte said he has experienced some improvement over the past few days, but he agreed with the club's decision to keep him sidelined until at least April 24.
"I know they are doing what is best for me," Inciarte said. "They are trying to keep me healthy. We all know right now I can't help the team. So I'd rather be recovering and do what I have to do."
Smith is expected to join the Braves on Monday for the start of a four-game series against the Nationals. The 22-year-old center fielder batted .346 in 26 Grapefruit League at-bats this year. He has recorded six hits, including two doubles and a triple, through his first 15 at-bats with Gwinnett. MLBPipeline.com ranks Smith as the Braves' 11th-best prospect.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was among the many who has heralded the potential of Smith. The fleet-footed center fielder will provide the Braves a chance to fill their leadoff spot with the same kind of speed that Inciarte would have offered.
After being acquired by the Braves in the December 2014 trade that sent Justin Upton to the Padres, Smith batted .303 and recorded 56 stolen bases (69 attempts) over 125 games with Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett in 2015.
The Braves were hoping to avoid placing Inciarte on the disabled list, but his leg did not improve enough over the past few days to create confidence that he would be available to return to action within the next week.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Capable of faring well in the batting-average, runs and stolen-bases categories, Inciarte should be retained in 12-team mixed leagues during his disabled-list stint. But those in 10-team formats may decide to send the outfielder to waivers if their reserve space is already tied up by key assets. Owners who need to replace Inciarte in deep-mixed formats should give strong consideration to Smith, as the two players boast similar skill sets. After posting a .306/.373/.386 slash line and stealing 57 bases across two Minor League levels in 2015, the speedster could help fantasy teams right away with his strong contact skills and fleet feet.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.