Rome Braves manager Rocket Wheeler is no exception, having to leave the fields at the team’s spring-training complex each day to attend post-workout meetings that help the coaching staff evaluate the players.
Today, however, will be the “mother of all meetings” when the roster for the first-ever Braves team in Rome will be penciled in as the final week of preseason camp at Disney’s Wide World of Sports begins.
“It’s going to be the longest meeting we’ve had,” Wheeler said about the gathering that will not only begin the final selection process for the Class A Rome Braves but also for the organization’s minor league teams in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (advanced Class A), Greenville, S.C. (AA) and Richmond, Va. (AAA).
“We haven’t been told yet who we will officially have,” he added, “but the meeting will help semi-set the clubs.
“It’s starting to shape up, but there are all kinds of scenarios we have to take into account, like ‘what if this happens, or what if that happens.’”
The first thing that will happen to dictate who will play where, Wheeler points out, will be the final roster the Atlanta Braves decide upon.
“It all depends of what happens at the top,” Wheeler said, “and it all trickles down from there. Out team will be set before the end of the week.”
When camp breaks next weekend, Wheeler, hit coaching staff and the players who will make up the team will head North for Rome, arriving Monday, March 31, get settled and work out at their new home, State Mutual Stadium.
The team then hits the road for its season opener April 3 in Savannah against the Sand Gnats, the first of a four-game South Atlantic League series. After a three-game road trip against the Albany Waves, the Braves are back in Rome April 11 their inaugural home opener against the Gnats.
“We do know that certain players will start in Rome,” Wheeler said. “Jeff Francoeur (last year’s top draft pick), Luis Hernandez and Jonathan Schuerholz — those are three gimees.
“But everyone else are still playing for spots,” he said.
Wheeler pointed out that 180 players in camp are vying to be one of 95 to earn a slot on the four minor-league teams with Rome and Myrtle Beach each having 25 on the roster, while Greenville and Richmond will have 24 each.
Those who don’t secure a spot will stay in extended spring training.
“All of them have taken this serious all along,” Wheeler said. “The competition has been great. But everything plays a part in the final selection, not just how well they do on the field but also their character and make-up off the field.
“I do know we will have a great group of players,,” he said. “I’m really anxious to get going.