What will Hector Olivera bring to the table?
Perhaps no player in the Braves organization has more questions than Olivera, heck we could devote all five questions in this piece to Olivera. Expectations are high for the player acquired last season from the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 30-year-old player from Cuba is a key offensive piece for the Braves rebuild. Olivera was hampered by a hamstring injury most of last year, and upon making his Major League debut in Atlanta he produced a less than inspiring .253 average with two HR and 11 RBI in 79 at-bats.
His primary position has been third base, however the Braves are attempting to transition him to left field. This winter he was assigned to the Puerto Rican League to hone his skills in the outfield. Unfortunately Olivera was released, amid conflicting reports, after just 18 games. During his short stint in Puerto Rico, Olivera hit .275 with no HR and two doubles. While the Braves have not entirely given up the idea of him still playing third, it’s clear they prefer his skills in the outfield. Olivera is a lean 6’2”, 220 lbs and according to scouts has solid gap-to-gap power; the Braves are counting on him to be a force in the middle of their lineup for the next several seasons. 2015 was a whirlwind year for the Cuban, as he had to adjust to life in the United States, battle injury, and handle being traded to a new clubhouse. Olivera will have a very long leash to prove he can excel in the Major Leagues, but early indications are he has work ahead of him.