La Stella looking to show Braves he's ready
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Tommy La Stella has gained comfort in his progression through the early portion of his first big league Spring Training. Now the intriguing young second baseman is looking forward to showing the Braves he is capable of competing at the Major League level if he receives the call at some point this year.
"I'm definitely prepared to step in and do whatever is asked of me," La Stella said. "Whether that is at Triple-A, the big league level or wherever it happens to be, I feel like I am ready."
It appears La Stella will begin the upcoming season at Triple-A Gwinnett. While gaining some more seasoning at the Minor League level, the 25-year-old second baseman will have a chance to improve his still suspect defensive skills and strengthen the offensive approach that has proven successful through the early portion of his professional career.
La Stella batted .343 with a .422 on-base percentage and .473 slugging percentage in 324 plate appearances with Double-A Mississippi last year. He extended that success as he hit .290 with a .904 OPS in 62 at-bats during the Arizona Fall League.
Since being selected by the Braves in the eighth round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, La Stella has batted .327 with a .908 OPS. His advanced plate discipline has allowed him to walk more frequently (111 times) than he has struck out (88 times) in 999 professional plate appearances.
"Offensively, I was pretty pleased with my approach (last year)," La Stella said. "It still is an ongoing process. It's one of those things you never really stop learning. So, I made some strides last year and hopefully I can do that again this year."
The Braves will likely begin this season with Dan Uggla starting at second base and Ramiro Pena serving as the primary backup infielder. If Uggla were to extend his struggles and La Stella continues to impress at Gwinnett, there is a chance the intriguing young infielder could get a call to Atlanta at some point this season.