Coppolella marvels at 'much-improved' talent

Coppolella marvels at 'much-improved' talent

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Atlanta general manager John Coppolella has engineered a massive rebuilding process that has evolved quicker than initially envisioned. Just two years after beginning it, the Braves have the potential to exceed many expectations and enrich the memories created during SunTrust Park's inaugural season.

Having had a chance to get a glimpse of his team during the early portion of Spring Training, Coppolella talked to MLB.com about what he has seen, what he hopes to see and what he might do before the regular season begins.

MLB.com: What has stood out for you during the first full week of Spring Training?

Coppolella: Really, just the much-improved talent level. Seeing the starting pitching we have, one through five, we feel like we have a chance to win every night. Then we get the lineup [manager Brian Snitker] has talked about, where we get Ender [Inciarte], Dansby [Swanson], Freddie [Freeman], Matt Kemp, Nick Markakis and Brandon Phillips. That's a pretty good lineup. Just seeing how much talent we have this year as opposed to years past is really exciting.

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MLB.com: Do you anticipate watching games for a couple weeks before deciding whether you need to make any additional moves?

Coppolella: We feel good about the starting pitching. We feel good about the everyday lineup, and we feel good about the bullpen. The one area where we could possibly improve is off the bench, where there isn't that proven bench bat. That could be a trade or it could end up being somebody in camp right now. There's a lot of talent here, and we'll see how it shakes out.

MLB.com: Have you been encouraged by what you've seen from some of the elite prospects you have in camp?

Coppolella: They've all looked really good, and you start to realize they're not that far away. As we've tried to build our farm system, it's like, how do you build a skyscraper? From the bottom up. So we went with a lot of young high school kids [in recent drafts]. As good as it is right now, the best is yet to come.

MLB.com: How do you view your bullpen depth?

Coppolella: We have a lot of depth, and we have more on the way. We've talked about A.J. Minter as somebody who can fight for a spot and probably be the best homegrown Braves bullpen guy we've had here since Craig Kimbrel. We really like what we've seen out of Viz [Arodys Vizcaino]. He's been healthy and looks really good. He has the same sharpness to his stuff he did the first half of last year. We have as much depth in the bullpen as we have had at any point within the past four or five years.

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MLB.com What are you looking forward to seeing when games begin?

Coppolella: Seeing how that lineup gels is going to be really exciting. Then seeing that starting pitching get pushed back. You still have Julio [Teheran] number one, and then maybe Bartolo [Colon] number two, Jaime Garcia three, R.A. Dickey four, one of Mike Foltynewicz, Aaron Blair, Matt Wisler or John Danks at five. You've got some depth. Looking at the five starters we had at this point last year and the five starters we have this year, it's a marked difference, and we're really excited about what that difference means for us.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.