All eyes on G-Braves' young slugger

Staff Photo: John Bohn Joe Terdoslavich, a first baseman with the Gwinnett Braves, took part in Media Day at Coolray Field Wednesday.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Joe Terdoslavich, a first baseman with the Gwinnett Braves, took part in Media Day at Coolray Field Wednesday.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- As a preview to last week's Future Stars versus All-Stars game at Coolray Field, a face rising in familiarity covered the front page of the Atlanta Braves' team website.

Unshaven and grimacing, Joey Terdoslavich looked gruff in the spring training picture taken before the Braves optioned him to the minors.

The headline under his picture read, "Watch live as Braves get glimpse of future."

Coolray Field was packed for the game, a record crowd, with most eyes trained on the Atlanta Braves' current stars. But of the prospects, most eyes were drawn to Terdoslavich.

A player who spent last season in anonymity in Class high A Lynchburg, Terdoslavich's name, face and stats found headlines when long-time Braves third baseman Chipper Jones announced this season would be his last. It forced the latent question who's next to the fore, and the answer was Terdoslavich.

A third baseman for much of his career, Terdoslavich played first a season ago. He spent the early days of spring training readjusting to his old position and listening to and watching the big leaguers before he was optioned to the minors after 17 games. During that time he hit a solid .240 with three doubles and three RBIs.

But seeing major league-quality pitching wasn't the learning Terdoslavich needed. He saw plenty during the Arizona Fall League.

"It was a great experience. I learned a lot," the 23-year-old said. "I got some valuable time over there. I spent some time there with Chipper. I learned some things defensively. Just how they go about their business up there, you learn a lot of little things that they do and there is a reason why they are up there."

To hear Jones talk about it, Terdoslavich fought as hard as he could to stay with the big club.

"JT is the next in line," Jones said. "He came into camp with a good attitude that he was going to try to make this ballclub this year and I wouldn't have had it any other way. I would have said his shot was long, but that's a good attitude to have and a good experience for him this spring because he knows what to expect next spring when he's got a very, very legitimate chance to make this ballclub."

Read: Once I'm retired.

Terdoslavich said he soaked up his time with the multiple All Star and 1999 NL MVP to learn the little things about third base, like positioning and how to adjust defensively, to certain situations.

Terdoslavich, a lifelong third baseman, said returning to the position went smoothly during the spring. The sixth-round draft pick out of Long Beach State in 2010 took time during last season to work on his defense at third, despite playing exclusively first base.

"I feel comfortable over there. I am working on it every day," he said. "There is still a lot of things I need to work on, but it's coming."

On the G-Braves' first road trip, Terdoslavich struggled in the field with four errors. Three in one game against the Norfolk Tides and he added one more in Wednesday's comeback win to end the road trip.

Struggles, however, were expected.

"He's making the jump from A-ball. Are there going to be struggles? Absolutely," G-Braves manager Dave Brundage said before the season. Then he added another question. "Can he hit? There's no question."

On his way to earning the Braves' organization's minor-league player of the year honor last year, he set a new Carolina League record with 52 doubles. Then he went to the Arizona Fall League where he hit .321 with six doubles in 22 games. He made it to the Rising Stars game where he hit a towering home run in the first inning off of Gerrit Cole of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"He supplied most of the power," Terdoslavich said of the home run. "The ball flies out there. It was cool to get it on national television and MLB Network and that game is a very prestigious game. It was fun. I had a great time out there. It was phenomenal, it was a great experience. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to go out there and be a part of that. It's been a great ride."

And that is just how Terdoslavich views this season. Starting the year with Class AAA Gwinnett was just another surprise.

"I was just as shocked as anybody else," he said of his promotion past Class AA. "From what I had heard, nobody skips double-A. That's a step a lot of guys need to go to. I was very excited."

So far, he's hitting .238 with a pair of doubles and a home run in 21 at-bats. He's trying not to worry about his position, its aura and what it means in Atlanta.

Worry he can avoid, but he can't escape the eyes. They will always find him.

"For a long time, when I was younger, I worried about that stuff," Terdoslavich said. "It's a lot easier if you take it one day at a time and get better each day. That's the approach I have taken the last couple of years. I am not worried about what is going on up there (in the big leagues). I am just trying to play well here and just try to get better here."