The Atlanta Braves are looking for a franchise shortstop, someone who they can rely on for the next decade. Going through several shortstops in recent years, the Braves are leaning towards IMG Academy baseball program Alum, Tyler Pastornicky, for the starting nod come opening day.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzales spoke about the shortstop in a Bleacher Report article by Alex Welch
"We're going to give him every opportunity. But it's up to him,â said manager Fredi Gonzales.
Pastornicky isn't letting this opportunity slip away, as he has put in his hours this offseason, gaining 12 pounds while staying lean and improving his speed. After spending time at the IMG Academy baseball program this offseason, Pastornicky has spent the last week before Spring Training working out in California with veteran Braves shortstop, Jack Wilson. With a full infield in Wilson's backyard, the two look to work on fine-tuning their fielding, with Wilson acting as a mentor for Pastornicky.
His double play partner, Dan Uggla, also weighed in on the young shortstop in an interview with David O'Brien from the Atlanta Journal Consitution.
âHaving a guy like Jack around is going to make him [Pastornicky> that much better. The only other guy who might be able to pick it a hair better than Jack is Gonzo [former Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez, whom Pastornicky is to replace>,â said second baseman, Dan Uggla, when interviewed by Brave's beat writer, David O'Brien.
Even with Uggla's struggles last leason, he finished strong with a 33-game hit streak and earned respect from the Brave's organization for working his way out of the inevitable hitting slump. Striving for a better year in his second season with the Braves, Uggla is not only confident in his future, but Pastornicky's future as well.
âHe's a great kid,â Uggla said of Pastornicky. âI got to know him last year in spring. He works hard. He's ready.â
Pastornicky is proving that he's ready. In 459 Minor League at bats last season between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett, Pastornicky hit .314 and stole 27 bases. With the hard work that he's put in at the IMG Academy baseball program and with Wilson, Spring Training should be a buzz. Buzzing about the play of IMG Alum Tyler Pastornicky.
Pastornicky and Wilson are scheduled to arrive in camp on Friday, the official report date for Braves' position players. The Braves will open up their Spring Training schedule against the Detroit Tigers on March 3rd.