I've already made the "this time last year" argument when it comes to the talented Tyler Pastornicky. But looking at his spring training stats, it is astonishing that Pastornicky is still probably going to start the year in Gwinnett to continue his development into an extremely versatile utility player.
Through 19 games, Pastornicky is scorching hot with a .364 batting average, 2 home runs and a .997 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
With both Andrelton Simmons and Ramiro Pena out of camp for a while to play for the Netherlands and Mexico, respectively, in the World Baseball Classic, Pastornicky has easily outperformed his 2012 spring training that ended as the starting shortstop for the Atlanta Braves.
As a bit of a project to develop into a utility player able to play most defensive positions, Pastornicky's bat is leaving nothing to chance. In 24 fewer at-bats, he has more hits, total bases, triples home runs, RBI's, walks and stolen bases than he had in his whole 2012 spring training numbers.
It is possible his hot bat could make him more attractive than Ramiro Pena as a backup infielder who had interesting numbers in World Baseball Classic for Mexico. Pena went 3 for 13 before Mexico was eliminated. The curious part is that all of Pena's hits were doubles.
Both Pena and Pastornicky are competing to back up both Simmons and Dan Uggla as a utility infielder. With the potential platoon at third base taking up two roster spots, the Braves may keep Evan Gattis on the roster to be a 5th outfielder because he can also play catcher and first base.
That would leave a spot on the 25 man roster for the 4th outfielder, a back up infielder and back up catcher then the full compliment of a pitching staff.
Pena's switch hitting and experience as a pinch hitter still give him a slight edge over Pastornicky, who should have his eye on the Braves' roster in September. Pastonicky's season will probably start in the middle of the order in a made over Gwinnett Braves team.