With all the movement up and down, managing in Class AAA remains a juggling act. But the Gwinnett Braves' Dave Brundage will have an extra player to work with this season.
The Class AAA roster limit has been expanded to 25 -- the same as the major leagues. In the past, the G-Braves could carry only 24 active players, excluding major leaguers on rehab assignments.
With strict pitch counts and players being called up to the majors quicker than a replacement could be brought in, Class AAA teams actually needed more available players rather than less.
Now at least Brundage will have the same roster limit in the International League as manager Fredi Gonzalez has in Atlanta.
If a player is called up from Mississippi to Gwinnett, the Southern League team will also be put in less of a bind. Class AA active rosters will also be increased to 25 players this season.
The expanded rosters in the high minors should also curb the practice of stashing players for a few days.
Moves in Class AAA were sometimes just paper transactions, with the player never really leaving his team for a lower classification. He was in reality just inactive for a few days.
Carlyle back with Braves
Buddy Carlyle is participating in Atlanta's early pitching camp at Turner Field after re-signing with his former team to a minor league deal that does not include an invitation to major league spring training.
Carlyle, 34, went to camp with the Yankees last spring after a year in Japan and got into eight games with New York early in 2011, posting a 0-1 record and 4.71 ERA.
He pitched most of the year at Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, going 2-2 with a 3.98 ERA in 27 International League games before being released in mid-August.
The right-hander was 8-7 as a starter with Atlanta in 2007 and appeared in 45 games as a relief pitcher the following season. Carlyle spent part of the 2009 season with Gwinnett after it was discovered while on the disabled list that he was diabetic.
Simmons rated ahead of Pastornicky
Tyler Pastornicky, slated to be Atlanta's regular shortstop this season, was promoted from Mississippi to Gwinnett at midseason last year.
The same thing could happen with Andrelton Simmons this season.
The 22-year-old Simmons, who won the Carolina League batting title last year, is ranked as the Braves' No. 4 prospect by Baseball America. Pastornicky is No. 7 on the list.
The Baseball America rankings have right-handers Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino and Randall Delgado at the top. All could pitch with Atlanta this year.
Left-hander Sean Gilmartin, the 2011 first-round draft choice from Florida State, is rated as the No. 5 prospect, with third baseman Edward Salcedo at No. 6.
Right-hander Zeke Spruill is No. 8, with catcher Christian Bethancourt at No. 9 and third baseman Brandon Drury at No. 10.
Shell draws 50-game suspension
Left-hander Dustin Richardson wasn't the only former Gwinnett reliever suspended 50 games for violating the minor league policy on performance enhancing drugs.
Right-hander Steven Shell, a free agent like Richardson, also drew a ban, which takes place once he signs with another organization.
Shell, 28, tested positive for the steroid metabolites of Stanozolol. Richardson, 27, tested positive for an amphetamine and four steroids.
Shell was 2-5 with a 4.85 ERA for the G-Braves last season after being released by Kansas City while pitching at Class AAA Omaha. He made seven starts and 21 relief appearances with Gwinnett.
Lucas hoping for fresh start
Ed Lucas went into last year with a chance to make the Atlanta roster as an utilityman and ended up in Class AA after struggling with the G-Braves. Now he will try to rebound with the Angels organization.
Lucas, 29, signed with Los Angeles as a free agent after hitting just .218 in 81 games with Gwinnett before being sent down to Mississippi, where he batted .270.
The infielder had hit .307 with Omaha of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League in 2010.