The Braves have invited 22 non-roster players to participate in major-league spring training, highlighted by pitcher Jason Hursh and infielder Tommy La Stella, MLB.com reports. The Braves' other invitees include pitchers Lay Batista, J.R. Graham, Mark Lamm, Cody Martin, Yunesky Maya, Daniel Rodriguez, Gus Schlosser, Atahualpa Severino, Shae Simmons and Ian Thomas; catchers Matt Kennelly, Steven Lerud, Braeden Schlehuber and Jose Yepez; outfielder Matt Lipka; and infielders Mat Gamel, Phil Gosselin, Tyler Greene, Mark Hamilton and Edward Salcedo. The Braves' first-round pick in the 2013 amateur draft, Hursh allowed two earned runs in 27 innings while striking out 15 and walking 10 at Class A Rome in his first season with the organization. La Stella, who could compete for a starting role at second base, hit .343/.422/.473 with four home runs, 41 RBI and seven stolen bases in 283 at-bats with Double-A Mississippi last season.
Braves starting pitcher prospect Jason Hursh is off to a fast start in his pro career. The 2013 first-round pick (31st overall) hasn't allowed a run in his first four starts (9 2/3 innings) for Class A Rome. The right-hander has had some command issues, walking six batters, but he has managed eight strikeouts and allowed just three hits. "He's going to be a good one. He has a good throw," Rome pitching coach Derrick Lewis said, per MLB.com. "The way he goes about his business is very professional. From when he came in on Day 1 and got his feet wet, he's got on with everybody well. He blends right in. He's a guy coming in with a lot of eyes on him because he's a first-round pick, but he is very competitive and wants to get better. He wants to improve every day. His goal is to get to the big leagues, but he wants to get better. You would like to see everybody have his type of mentality." Hursh missed the 2012 season at Oklahoma State as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. However, he bounced back in 2013, going 6-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 16 starts. He struck out 86 batters and walked 28 in 106 1/3 innings.
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