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Inbox: Will Jenkins join Atlanta's rotation in 2016?

Beat reporter Mark Bowman answers questions from Braves fans
MLB.com @mlbbowman

Braves fans seem to be more optimistic than management about this upcoming season, especially with the new lineup. Can you offer your opinion, please?
-- Lee J., Tallahassee, Fla.

While it's important to remain somewhat realistic, management seems rather optimistic about how this year's team might fare. Yes, depth could significantly strengthen the bullpen and the offense could benefit from a healthy Freddie Freeman and a consistent Ender Inciarte in the leadoff spot. But there's a reason teams place a heavy emphasis on starting pitching. And the inexperience that will exist within the Braves' rotation is reason enough to avoid becoming too optimistic about what this year's team might do.

Braves fans seem to be more optimistic than management about this upcoming season, especially with the new lineup. Can you offer your opinion, please?
-- Lee J., Tallahassee, Fla.

While it's important to remain somewhat realistic, management seems rather optimistic about how this year's team might fare. Yes, depth could significantly strengthen the bullpen and the offense could benefit from a healthy Freddie Freeman and a consistent Ender Inciarte in the leadoff spot. But there's a reason teams place a heavy emphasis on starting pitching. And the inexperience that will exist within the Braves' rotation is reason enough to avoid becoming too optimistic about what this year's team might do.

My feeling is that the Braves are capable of notching somewhere in the neighborhood of 78 wins -- which would be a 11-win improvement from 2015. If all goes according to plan, it should be fun watching the likes of Sean Newcomb, Aaron Blair, Tyrell Jenkins join an already-young rotation at different points this season. But in the process of getting a sense of how future rotations might look, you must be willing to accept the immediate effects, also known as growing pains.

Video: Top Prospects: Sean Newcomb, LHP, Braves

Do you think Tyrell Jenkins could join the rotation at some point this season?
-- Marshell T., Atlanta

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It does not seem like the Braves are planning to break camp with Jenkins in the rotation, but the right-hander could certainly reach the Majors at some point during the season's first few months. Before getting a look at Newcomb, Blair and maybe even Chris Ellis or Lucas Sims, the Braves will get a better sense of what they have in guys like Jenkins, Mike Foltynewicz, Manny Banuelos and Williams Perez.

Video: Chipper believes Braves are poised for strong future

There is a chance that the rotation will prove to be as stable. But somewhere in the midst of mixing all of these young arms into the fold, the Braves might at least be able to enter next offseason with a better sense of where they might stand in 2017.

Can you tell us a little about Kevin Maitan and what interest the Braves have in him?
-- Jonathan B., Christchurch, New Zealand

It seems safe to say that virtually every team has interest in Maitan, a 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstop who is widely considered the top available prospect on this year's international market. The Braves may reached have already reached an unofficial agreement with Maitan. This doesn't mean the Braves will definitely sign Maitan when the July 2 signing day arrives. But as things currently stand, it would be a surprise to see him sign elsewhere.

A look at Maitan's clean, powerful swing provides clear indication why some scouts have compared him to Miguel Cabrera. But at the same time, a review of recent history has reminded us that there is a lot of unpredictability in this market, which requires evaluators to project still-maturing 16-year-old players.

Yes, there is reason for Braves fans to get excited about Maitan. But at the same time, they should remember that Wilson Betemit, Andy Marte and Edward Salcedo also drew lofty comps back when they were teenagers.

What are your thoughts about the National League adopting the designated hitter?
-- Jake P., Norfolk, Va.

When discussing performance-enhancing drugs, many fans were angry that sacred records were being broken or challenged by players using drugs. I was actually much more concerned about the clean players and prospects who were losing playing time or roster spots to those players who chose to bend the rules. With the DH argument, I also take a little different perspective. It's easy to see the on-field competitive advantages and disadvantages that exist as National League and American League teams are forced to make adjustments based on where an Interleague or World Series game is being played.

But again, my thoughts with this issue actually go a little different direction. The AL clearly has an advantage with a certain category of free agents. We saw this when the existence of the DH provided the Angels comfort to give Albert Pujols a few more years than any NL team would have been comfortable providing. Then this disadvantage hit a little closer to home when the Yankees signed Brian McCann to a five-year deal a few months shy of his 30th birthday. How many NL clubs were going to be comfortable enough to gamble on the possibility that McCann could have stayed healthy enough while catching 100-plus games over five years?

Still, given that nothing has changed while this off-field disadvantage has long existed, I am forced to assume the NL and the AL will continue to exist with this one rule difference.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Atlanta Braves