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FORT MYERS, Fla. — When attempting to predict who will fill the final spots available in Atlanta’s bullpen, it’s important to remember what Braves manager Brian Snitker said while meeting with reporters ahead of the Braves’ 4-2 loss to the Twins on Monday.

“Options are huge this time of year,” Snitker said. “Somebody might not make the team because they have an option. I tell players Cheap Atlanta Braves Jerseys all the time, ‘Until you have [no] options, you have no control.’ You’re going to look at the depth of your club.”

In other words, to maintain or create the club’s pitching depth, the Braves may choose to keep a non-roster invitee like Carl Edwards Jr. or Nate Jones, instead of starting the year with Sean Newcomb or Jacob Webb in their bullpen.

Because Newcomb and Webb both have options remaining, they can be sent to the Minors without risk of being lost to another club. As for Edwards and Jones, they both could end up in another organization if they are not placed on Atlanta’s Opening Day roster.

• Predicting Braves’ 2021 Opening Day roster

So the preference would be to continue controlling as many arms as possible for as long as possible over the course of the season.

Here are a few of the questions that will influence or determine whom the Braves choose to fill their bullpen:

Who are the near-locks for the bullpen?
Will Smith, Chris Martin, Tyler Matzek, Josh Tomlin and A.J. Minter

How many relievers will the Braves carry?
Though they don’t need a fifth starter until their sixth game, the current expectation is they will begin the season with an eight-man bullpen.

Who are the top candidates for the final three spots?
40-man roster members: Luke Jackson, Grant Dayton, Huascar Ynoa, Webb and Newcomb

Non-roster invitees: Edwards, Jones

Which of these candidates are out of options?
Jackson and Dayton.

Here is a breakdown of each of the top candidates:

The former closer was a non-tender candidate after posting a 6.84 ERA while striking out just 15.2 percent of the batters he faced last year. But the Braves kept him around, hoping he’d get back to where he was in 2019, when he produced a 33.7 percent strikeout rate. While Jackson was valuable as the club searched for more reliable high-leverage options, he also saw 25.6 percent of the fly balls he surrendered result in home runs.

Jackson has held opponents scoreless in three of his five outings this spring, and the only home run he has surrendered came in the second frame of his only multi-inning appearance. There’s a chance Atlanta will take at least one more gamble on him.

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We take a look at Atlanta Braves prospect Braden Shewmake and how he could help out the big league team as soon as this upcoming season.

As I continue to hunt for ways to improve Custom Atlanta Braves Jerseys the depth of that Atlanta Braves bench in 2021, I stopped to consider the possibility that Braden Shewmake could play a role.

The 23-year-old shortstop was the 21st overall pick by the Braves in the 2019 MLB Draft out of Texas A&M.

He only has 65 games of professional baseball under his belt, but he did move from Single-A to Double-A in that first year after being drafted because his bat is so advance.

However, he did struggle at Double-A — granted a small sample size of 14 games — with his K% shooting up to 21.2% from just 12.8% in A-ball.

Shewmake was part of the alternate site camp during the 2020 season so he at least got some reps there to help continue his progress.

Had it been a normal 2020 season, Shewmake likely spends the entire year at Double-A and is knocking on the door of the big leagues in 2021.

I’m not nearly as high on Shewmake as a lot of prospect evaluators are. Some think he has the ability to be an everyday guy, but I see him more as a super-utility player who mostly comes off the bench and can fill in at multiple infield spots to give guys a rest.

My history of watching Shewmake is extensive as I can remember him as a freshman with A&M and looking like a potential first-overall pick when he hit .328 with 11 home runs in 64 games.

However, the power didn’t progress like many thought it would, and his numbers just kind of remained the same, which were still really good numbers.

His left-handed swing looks a little awkward. He kind of comes around the baseball with his hands, which causes a lot of pull-side groundouts (reminiscent of Jason Heyward’s swing when he’s struggling).

Of course, it’s been nearly two years since I’ve seen him swing a bat, and perhaps some adjustments have been made. That’s certainly something I’ll be looking out for in Spring Training — if we get to see much game action.

NEXT: Don’t Blow it, Riley
Playing in the SEC, you’re essentially playing in Single-A. Shewmake is a very mature hitter, and if he makes some decent strides with his swings it would not be surprising if he gets called up later in the year and becomes a big part of the Braves bench.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. — Right fielder Jason Heyward always has been known as a leader in the Cubs’ clubhouse, and the speech he gave during the rain delay of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series will live on in team lore.

But in the years since, Heyward has become an even bigger presence in the clubhouse. He has served as a sounding board for younger players and another leader for veterans.

And with the Cubs going through a transitional period, having a player who can relate to so many people in the organization goes a long way.

‘‘I think it’s my responsibility, it’s my time,’’ Heyward said of his role as a clubhouse leader. ‘‘When I was 20 coming into the game, there were a lot of firsts. Just having [then-Braves teammates] Tim Hudson, [now-Cubs manager] David Ross, Eric Hinske, Michael Bourn, Martin Prado, Chipper [Jones], Brian McCann, Billy Wagner [around], people like that just kind of gradually gave me information.

‘‘Of course, you’ve gotta be willing to be open to it and want to receive that stuff. But, yeah, I feel like it’s just kind of my time, my responsibility to be one of those people that passes things along to the next generation of players.’’

Kimbrel a work in progress

Closer Craig Kimbrel has started slowly this spring, and the results haven’t been pretty. Kimbrel, the majors’ active leader in saves, has allowed nine Wholesale Atlanta Braves Jerseys runs and seven hits in 2„ innings in his first two outings.

Kimbrel had some mechanical issues in 2019 that lingered into 2020, and the focus for him and the Cubs is getting those issues sorted out as soon as possible.

‘‘[Friday] was the first day I thought kind of looked a little like some of the older characteristics that we identified last year,’’ Ross said Saturday. ‘‘I think that’s what they’re kind of looking at this morning and trying to re-evaluate those keys. If we need to get him in the lab while we’re here, we have that resource. . . . [Friday] was probably one of the outings that most resembled some of his struggles.

‘‘That second or third outing for a lot of these guys has not been sharp. So I think Craig falls in that category, as well. The ball wasn’t coming out like it normally could [Friday]. It didn’t look like it had much behind it in general, even though the radar gun said 94 or 95 [mph]. It just wasn’t as explosive as it normally is. . . . He will try to tackle that to make sure he feels good or gets back to defining those keys and mechanics that we’ve identified.’’