Originally posted on The Victory Formation  |  Last updated 3/15/12

Entering spring training, the presumptive replacement at short for Alex Gonzalez was 22 year old Tyler Pastornicky. Given how the spring has unfolded, that may not in fact be the case. Andrelton Simmons, a 22 year old from Curacao (home of former Brave Andruw Jones and current starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens) has turned heads with flashy defense and a strong arm, and hasn’t been too bad at the plate, either. Simmons is hitting .294 (5 for 17) so far this spring, and has only struck out three times in 19 plate appearances, with two walks.

Per AJC beat writer Dave O’Brien, “There is growing speculation around camp that Simmons will get serious consideration for the shortstop job over fellow 22-year-old Tyler Pastornicky, the rookie thought to have the job entering camp.”. When camp opened, Simmons was a non-roster invitee, and has yet to play any higher than high-A ball in the minors. Should he make the roster and earn the starting shortstop spot, his rise would mirror that of another player that bypassed AA and AAA on the way to the bigs, former Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal.

In what has been an uneven spring for the Braves thus far, things are starting to look up. Along with Simmons’ impressive performance, 2B Dan Uggla and RF Jason Heyward seem to be rounding into form, and the young pitching staff is showing signs of improvement. The team will need all of those pieces to gel sooner rather than later, as the NL East looks to be one of the more competitive divisions in baseball yet again.

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