LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jose Peraza will likely establish himself as Atlanta's starting second baseman and leadoff hitter at some point this season. But until the Braves' top-ranked prospect is deemed Major League-ready, the Braves will have to determine how to best fill that second-base role.
When the Braves concluded their first full-squad workout on Thursday afternoon, manager Fredi Gonzalez confirmed that Peraza, Alberto Callaspo, Phil Gosselin and Jace Peterson are all entering camp with the chance to battle for regular playing time at second base. Non-roster invitee Kelly Johnson could also influence the decision if he uses Spring Training to prove he's indeed capable of serving as an effective super utility player.
"It's wide open," Gonzalez said. "It's all depending on how we want to work second base, the infield and even the bench."
Peraza stands as the one second-base candidate who would not be utilized in a platoon role. But given that the top prospect has played just 44 games at the Double-A level, there is reason to assume that he would have to really astound the Braves during the Grapefruit League season to avoid beginning the season with Triple-A Gwinnett.
If Peraza is indeed destined to get at least a few more months of seasoning in the Minors, the Braves will have to determine whether Callaspo is a better option than either Peterson or Gosselin to play second base and also spell Chris Johnson at third base against tough right-handed starting pitchers.
When the Braves signed Callaspo to a one-year, $3 million deal in December, they indicated recent concerns about his weight were alleviated by the fact that he had hired a personal trainer during the offseason. But the switch-hitting infielder, who batted .223 with a .580 OPS for the A's last year, certainly didn't have any reason to come to camp proclaiming that he is in the best shape of his life.
If Callaspo's unimpressive physique is an indication that he will extend the decline he has experienced while battling weight issues the past two seasons, Peterson and Gosselin might actually stand as the club's best options to play second base and also spend some time at third base.
Because of his speed, the left-handed-hitting Peterson might be a slightly better version than the right-handed-hitting Gosselin, whose advantage comes from the fact that he's at least had some success at the Major League level.
But if the Braves opt to stick with the $3 million investment made in Callaspo, then they might have to choose whether to keep Peterson or Gosselin, both of whom would be capable of filling in as a shortstop as necessary.
The Braves would also have the option to carry both Peterson and Gosselin. But if they were to go this route, they would likely not keep the much more experienced Johnson, whose value comes courtesy of his defensive versatility and capability to provide some power off the bench.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.