Cuban prospect Hector Olivera is expected to make his much-anticipated major league debut with the Atlanta Braves early next week.
Olivera, acquired in a three-team, 13-player deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins at the trade deadline, could be in the lineup as early as Monday for the start of Atlanta's nine-game homestand.
The power-hitting third baseman, considered the prime chip for the Braves in the blockbuster trade, collected a pair of hits and drew a walk in four plate appearances Thursday night in his debut at Triple-A Gwinnett. Olivera said he expects his stint with Gwinnett to be brief.
"I'm very excited. This is something I've strived for and now I'm close to experiencing it and being at that level," Olivera said via a translator. "I'm three or four games away from being ready to go up and face that challenge."
Signed by the Dodgers to a six-year, $62 million contract with a guaranteed $28 million signing bonus, the 30-year-old Olivera struggled badly in his first six games with Atlanta's Gulf Coast League and Class A affiliates. Still, he caught the eye of Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.
"It's like Evan Gattis hitting balls," Freeman said in comparing Olivera to the former Braves catcher. "He can hit them a long, long way."
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