Braves invite former Astros closer Ken Giles to spring training

AP photo by Brandon Wade / Houston Astros relief pitcher Ken Giles (53) is congratulated by teammates after the team's 10-inning win against the host Texas Rangers on July 4, 2018.
AP photo by Brandon Wade / Houston Astros relief pitcher Ken Giles (53) is congratulated by teammates after the team's 10-inning win against the host Texas Rangers on July 4, 2018.

ATLANTA — Former Houston Astros closer Ken Giles and top prospect Hurston Waldrep were among 23 nonroster players invited to spring training Friday by the Atlanta Braves.

The six-time reigning National League East Division champions will have a total of 60 players in their MLB camp at North Port, Florida, including 37 members of the 40-man roster.

The 33-year-old Giles was signed to a minor-league deal. He had 34 saves for Houston's World Series-winning team in 2017, notched 26 while splitting the following season between the Astros and the Toronto Blue Jays, then added 23 saves for Toronto in 2019.

He has been plagued by injuries since then, even undergoing Tommy John surgery. He made only nine appearances in MLB games over the past four seasons, missing all of 2021 and spending last season mostly with the Los Angeles Dodgers' Class AAA affiliate. Now, though, Giles hopes to earn a spot with a team that already features a deep bullpen led by closer Raisel Iglesias.

Waldrep, the Braves' first-round pick in the 2023 draft from the University of Florida, made a rapid rise through the minors in his first pro season. He posted a 1.53 ERA in eight starts across Class A, High A, Double-A and Triple-A, recording 41 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings.

The 21-year-old could work his way into the Atlanta rotation at some point this season, though 2025 is considered more likely as he looks to improve his command.

The Braves' other nonroster invitees: left-handed pitchers Ben Bowden and Hayden Harris; right-handed pitchers Tommy Doyle, Grant Holmes, Jake Walsh and Taylor Widener; catchers Drake Baldwin, Tyler Tolve, Chadwick Tromp and Sebastián Rivero; infielders Ignacio Alvarez, Phillip Evans, David Fletcher, Leury García, Alejo López, Andrew Velazquez, Luke Waddell and Luke Williams; outfielders Luis Liberato, Jordan Luplow and Eli White.

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