Tommy La Stella was called up to replace the struggling second basemen on the Atlanta Braves roster. Dan Uggla is hitting a dismal .175 with two home runs this year. For a power hitter, he has not produced at all and is lucky he has not been traded or released so far.
Ramiro Pena was only hitting .200 in 75 at-bats. He had as many home runs as Uggla but was one out away from falling below the Mendoza line. Tyler Pastornicky was given a chance to show what he could do, but he also managed only a .200 batting average and didn’t provide any spark to the Atlanta offense.
Enter La Stella, the eighth round secection in the 2011 draft for the Braves. Through seven games, the 25-year old rookie is hitting .409 at the bottom of the Atlanta lineup. That, along with timely defense, is all the Braves want from La Stella. And he has come through so far.
Atlanta’s offense only has two players (Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton) hitting at or above .290. There are power hitters throughout the lineup, and they need men on base to drive in. La Stella can be one of those players as he has a .458 OBP to start his Major League career.
There are few negatives to say about La Stella through his first week of games. He did have some issues in the field at Fenway Park as there were problems communicating with B.J. Upton and Andrelton Simmons. Besides that, La Stella has done his job. He gets on base and plays defense.
The Braves were not looking for an explosion of offense from La Stella when they called him up. He has never been a power hitter and likely will not be so during his career. Rather, if he can continue to get on base at the rate he has been and simply turn the lineup over for Atlanta, La Stella could find himself as a starter for a long time. He could even lookout for a long-term contract offer; Atlanta was not shy about signing their young talent to multi-year deals last offseason.
Uggla was supposed to be the starting second baseman for at least a few more years, but things have changed for the Braves. They have found a new young rookie to take the reign up the middle. He and Simmons could turn into a double-play tandem that NL East teams fear. He could turn into a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner. Every team has high hopes for their call-ups, and La Stella is proving Atlanta right so far.