Inciarte headlines list of new Braves in 2016

Flowers, Norris and Blair also among Atlanta's notable offseason additions

Inciarte headlines list of new Braves in 2016

ATLANTA -- When Craig Kimbrel arrived for Spring Training last year, he handed out T-shirts that were embroidered with "Hello My Name Is" stickers on the chest. A little more than a month later, Kimbrel was walking through the Padres' clubhouse, introducing himself to his new teammates.

This offseason might not have created quite as much turnover as the previous one, but there will be plenty of new faces when the Braves welcome center fielder Ender Inciarte and their other newcomers in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., next week. This is the latest installment of's Spring Training preview: The new guys.

CF Inciarte: While top prospect Dansby Swanson might become the crown jewel of the Shelby Miller trade, Inciarte also has the potential to be a valuable gem as he prepares to fill two key roles -- center fielder and leadoff hitter. The versatile defender displayed Gold Glove-caliber defense while stealing 21 bases and recording a .747 OPS for the D-backs last year. Inciarte's value is enhanced by the fact that he can be contractually controlled until after the 2020 season.

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C Tyler Flowers: After being non-tendered by the White Sox in December, Flowers jumped at the opportunity to rejoin the hometown Braves, the franchise that drafted him in 2005. The suburban Atlanta native will share the catching duties with 39-year-old A.J. Pierzynski, who will not be asked to catch 100-plus games for a second straight season. Flowers has established himself as a cerebral catcher who communicates well and stands as one of the game's top pitch framers.

Flowers' RBI ground-rule double

RHP Bud Norris: The 30-year-old righty was successful enough to earn two playoff starts with the Orioles in 2014, but he made just 11 starts before being released by Baltimore last year. The Braves are hoping that Norris' experience will prove valuable within their young starting rotation.

RHP Aaron Blair: The 23-year-old righty was the third jewel collected in the trade that sent Miller to the D-backs on Dec. 9. Though Blair is not expected to be Major League-ready by the end of Spring Training, he is regarded as a polished prospect who could reach Atlanta before the All-Star break. ranks him as the Braves' fourth-best prospect.

2B Gordon Beckham: Like Flowers, Beckham has returned to his native Atlanta, where he'll be trying to bounce back from a rough season (.209/.275/.332) with the White Sox. The sure-handed infielder is slated to share the second-base position with Jace Peterson. The versatile veteran might benefit from a change in scenery. Beckham produced a .674 OPS over 839 games with the White Sox. His only other MLB experience came as he hit .268 in 26 games for the Angels in 2014.

Beckham's tough scoop

SS Erick Aybar: It goes without saying that Aybar faces a challenge as he attempt to replace Andrelton Simmons from a defensive perspective. But the veteran shortstop will also be attempting to rebound offensively, as he produced a .639 OPS last year -- the third worst amongst qualified shortstops.

LHP Sean Newcomb: Though the Braves might have been hesitant to trade Simmons, they became less reluctant when the Angels offered Newcomb, who is ranked as the fourth-best left-handed pitching prospect in all of baseball by The hard-throwing lefty has battled some command issues, but once he starts hitting his spots on a more consistent basis, he'll quickly ascend toward a spot in Atlanta's rotation.

RHP Jhoulys Chacin: Recognizing that they might need to give some of their young pitchers a little more time to develop, the Braves will bring Chacin and fellow veteran starter Kyle Kendrick to Spring Training as non-roster invitees. Chacin produced a 3.47 ERA over 31 starts for the 2013 Rockies, but he has posted a 4.80 ERA while totaling just 15 starts over the past two seasons.

RHP Kendrick: The former Phillies right-hander seems to be the early favorite if the Braves were to choose to begin the season with another veteran in their starting rotation. Kendrick produced a 6.32 ERA over 27 starts for the Rockies last year. He had a 7.62 ERA over 13 starts at Coors Field and a 5.24 ERA over 14 road starts.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.