LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Glance around the crowded Braves spring-training clubhouse and you'll notice several lockers on the major league side of the room that are being shared by two prospects apiece, and the pairings and location of those lockers are anything but coincidence.
Top shortstop prospects Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies -- Albies just 19 and on the big-league side of the clubhouse -- are in one stall, next to veteran shortstop Erick Aybar.
Center-field prospect Mallex Smith is paired with his friend, pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins, in a stall between veteran outfielders Ender Inciarte and Michael Bourn.
Outfield prospect Braxton Davidson and third-base prospect Rio Ruiz are paired in a stall two down from veteran right fielder Nick Markakis.
With so many non-roster invitees (29) in spring training, there were going to be plenty of NRIs on the big-league side of the clubhouse. But what stands out is how many of them are prospects, including some with no chance of making the opening-day roster -- but the expectation of being key pieces for the Braves in the not-too-distant future.
The Braves rebuilt their farm system in a 15-month span, turning what had been rated a bottom-five system into what ESPN's Keith Law this month rated the No. 1 system in baseball. The Braves then invited most of the top prospects from that group to camp, to begin bonding together and getting a taste of big-league life.
"I think that's the reason, and I think the other reason was, we talked about pairing some of these guys with some of the guys (who can help them)," said Dave Trembley, Braves director of player development. "Like I say, I can teach you how to play, I can teach you the fundamentals, but I can't show you. The best teacher is the guy who's done it."
Not only are some of those prospects lockered next to highly respected veterans who play the same position as them, they also will be paired in groups with those players in drills early in camp. The Braves' first full-squad workout is Thursday.
Set your set
Fox Sports Network and Fox Sports Southeast will televise six Braves spring training games in March.
The first chance to see the newest Braves in action will come when the Braves visit the St. Louis Cardinals on March 11, a 1 p.m. Friday game on Fox Sports Network.
Here are the games set for television:
Day, Date, Opponent, Time, TV
Friday, March 11, at Cardinals, 1 p.m., Fox Sports Network
Tuesday, March 15, at Tigers, 1 p.m., Fox Sports Southeast
Thursday, March 24, vs. Phillies, 6 p.m., Fox Sports Southeast
Friday, March 25, vs. Astros, 1 p.m., Fox Sports Network
Saturday, March 26, vs. Mets, 1 p.m., Fox Sports Southeast
Monday, March 28, vs. Astros, 6 p.m., Fox Sports Network