In a season to forget for the Braves' organization as a whole, Tyler Flowers was a bright spot, offensively. After seven below-average seasons with the White Sox, the 30-year-old catcher put together the best season of his MLB career, at least in terms of rate stats. He continued to struggle with plate discipline, striking out in 28.0 percent of his plate appearances, but Flowers hit the ball hard when he did make contact (43.8 percent hard-hit rate). While Flowers is not the team's catcher of the future, his 2017 playing time seems relatively safe with 33-year-old Anthony Recker probably only worthy of two-to-three starts per week. The skills aren't worth paying a premium for, but Flowers is a reasonable second catcher option in 15-team mixed leagues.
Flowers went 3-for-4 with a double, a run scored and two RBI in Monday's Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. He's caught fire in the waning days of spring training, banging out seven hits in his last 14 at-bats including two doubles and a homer. Flowers may have trouble repeating his .374 BABIP and .270 batting average from 2016, but the 31-year-old should still be productive (for a catcher, anyway) hitting near the bottom of an improving Braves offense.
Flowers went 2-for-4 with a double in Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Mets. After going 1-for-11 to start the spring, Flowers has picked up the pace over the last couple of weeks, hitting .273 (6-for-22) with his first spring homer. The 31-year-old remains set to begin the season as the Braves' starting catcher.
Flowers went 2-for-4 with a solo home run, his first long ball of the spring, in Tuesday's Grapefruit League game against the Nationals. He's been pretty thoroughly outhit by Kurt Suzuki this spring, but Flowers doesn't seem to have lost his hold on the starting job behind the plate for the Braves despite a .185/.267/.296 slash line in 27 at-bats. Should those struggles continue into the regular season, though, the 31-year-old could start to lose playing time to Suzuki.
Flowers went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in Wednesday's Grapefruit League game against the Phillies, and is now hitting .091 (1-for-11) this spring. With such a small sample, it'll only take one or two solid performances from Flowers to make that batting average more palatable, but it's still a disappointing start to spring training for the Braves' No. 1 catcher. If he takes those offensive struggles forward into the regular season, he could begin to lose playing time to Kurt Suzuki.
Flowers is expected to be the Braves' starting catcher headed into 2017. The team did bring in veteran backstop Kurt Suzuki in the offseason, but after Flowers posted a career-high .777 OPS last year, the starting gig should be his come Opening Day. There's a good chance the 31-year-old will take a step backwards offensively given his .374 BABIP in 2016, but Flowers has maintained a BABIP north of .320 for three straight seasons now while improving his strikeout and walk rates each year, so the regression may not be as severe as you might expect. The bigger impact on his numbers could come from how SunTrust Park, the Braves' new stadium, plays relative to Turner Field, which had tended to be slightly pitcher-friendly over the last few seasons.