The Braves made another round of cuts, one of the last before Opening Day. One has pretty much determined a roster spot that was uncertain all spring.
According to David O'Brien, five Braves were optioned to AAA: Jordan Schafer, Juan Abreu, Jairo Asencio, Diory Hernandez and Mike Minor.
What does this mean? It means the announcement about Brandon Beachy being the fifth starter over Minor is now official. The Braves feel Beachy represents more value right now, and I can't disagree with that. Minor is probably the long-term option, but he has time to work in AAA as long as Beachy gives the Braves quality innings.
It also means Ed Lucas is the likely candidate for the infield role, beating out Hernandez, who I had pegged at the beginning of spring as the utility man. The Braves must feel Lucas has enough range to play shortstop behind Alex Gonzalez, and they certainly know more about this than anyone else, so I just hope it's true. He also can play the outfield in a pinch, which means more value than Hernandez in that respect. This isn't an official announcement, but it looks like the Braves are leaning this way.
Schafer, Abreu and Asencio were pegged for AAA at the beginning of spring, so these aren't surprising. Schafer needs daily work to try to return to where he was prior to his wrist surgery, and playing center field everyday in AAA will give him that. Abreu and Asencio could likely get some innings in Atlanta at some point this season, but they are a step below both Scott Proctor and Cristhian Martinez on the ladder. Where Stephen Marek fits on that ladder, who knows? That is unfortunate.
Matt Young remains, which only furthers my prediction and hope that he makes the team as the backup outfielder. He had a good day at the plate today, as well. The Braves have 33 left on the roster, so eight cuts remain before March 31.