In just a matter of days, Rome Braves’ fans will be able to see the answer to that question, live and in person.
Lipka, who is rated by Baseball America as the No. 6 overall prospect in the Atlanta Braves farm system, is among the headliners on the Rome Braves’ opening-day roster, which was released on Sunday. (For full roster, see 2B).
Lipka is expected to be the everyday shortstop for the Braves, and will likely make his Rome debut — along with new skipper Matt Walbeck — on Thursday night, when the Braves host Hagerstown in their season opener.
Joining Lipka on the Rome roster are numerous other touted prospects, including pitchers Carlos Perez, David Filak and Tyler Stovall (a former star at Hokes Bluff), along with second baseman Elmer Reyes.
The list also features highly-regarded catcher Christian Bethancourt and infielder Edward Salcedo, who each played in Rome last season.
“We are excited about our team,” said Rome general manager Mike Dunn. “We look forward to another exciting season of Rome Braves baseball and can’t wait for the season to start.”
As they often do, the Braves will once again be fielding a young team, with four players on the roster who have yet to celebrate their 20th birthday.
However, some of the youngest players on the team also happen to be among the most highly regarded.
Lipka, for example, is still two weeks shy of turning 19, and Perez — who is rated by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in the Atlanta system — turned 19 last November.
Bethancourt and Salcedo are both 19, and Reyes is 20.
This year’s team has the potential to be one of the most athletic clubs that Rome has had since the team moved to town in 2003.
Lipka was a multi-sport star in Texas. Last summer, he turned down a baseball scholarship to play at the University of Alabama, and instead signed with the Braves for $800,000.
Reyes, a native of Nicaragua, has impressed some scouts with his natural baseball instincts, and will likely be a key factor in the Braves’ success this season.
The Braves will also have plenty of speed in the outfield, with returnees Kyle Rose, Ramon Flores and David Rohm and newcomer Keenan Wiley.
As normal, the Braves pitching staff appears to be deep and talented. It features six lefties among the 13-pitcher staff.
NOTE: Thursday’s game will not only be the debut for Walbeck, but also for his staff: Batting coach Carlos Mendez and pitching coach Derrick Lewis.
Rome Braves Roster: