Atlanta Braves Minor League Report (June 2012)
Photo courtesy of Kyle Hess
Atlanta Braves (31-25, 2nd place)
The big league club plays in arguably the toughest division in Major League Baseball, alongside the American League East. However, the Braves are having another solid season and are in line for one of the five playoff spots in the 2012 MLB Playoffs as they trail the Washington Nationals by 2 games in the NL East standings. Atlanta is succeeding with a host of players from their deep minor league system. Everyone knows about the quick ascentions of Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman and a year earlier with Tommy Hanson and Jason Heyward, but how about the contributions from former Gwinnett Braves such as; Jose Constanza, J.C. Boscan and Randall Delgado this season? Enough can’t be said for the guys in Gwinnett who’ve already made their presence felt in Atlanta like; Tyler Pastornicky, Jair Jurrjens and Cory Gearrin. The Braves most highy-piblicized promotion this season came from Double-A Mississippi, when the Braves promoted Andrelton Simmons to Atlanta. Since entering the Major League fold, the highly touted shortstop has been brilliant both defensively and offensively. He was one of the top ranked shortstop prospects in minor league baseball and the No. 4 overall prospect in the Braves system according to Baseball America. The Braves are 19-5 this season when Chipper Jones is in the starting line-up, so look for more good times ahead as the living legend is eligible to return from the DL on Friday, amidst his final season in an illustrious Hall-of-Fame career.
Gwinnett Braves (33-27, 2nd place)
Photo courtesy of Chris Roughgarden
The G-Braves have been struggling as of late, from both an offensive and pitching standpoint. In their last two games, Gwinnett has allowed 15 runs to their opposition, while the G-Braves offense has accumulated just five hits and two total runs over that span. For the month of May, Gwinnett registered a 15-15 record after securing the best mark in the International League (17-7) in April. The G-Braves are now 1.5 games behind the IL South leading Charlotte Knights after Gwinnett squandered a maximum first place lead in April of 7.0 games. Julio Teheran is the unquestionable ace of the staff and Todd Redmond has been the most consistent starter in 2012. In fact, Redmond was named the IL Pitcher of the Week the same week as teammate Ernesto Mejia was awarded the IL Batter of the Week. You can’t talk about the offense without mentioning the guy who got them going and the G-Braves 2011 MVP, Stefan Gartrell. Gartrell was named the IL Batter of the Week the first week of May after transforming his batting average from .165 on April 29 to .263 a month later on May 29. Luis Durango and Christian Marrero were also instrumental to the G-Braves offense through the month of May. Cory Gearrin has solidified the closer’s role in the bullpen and has six saves on the season. Jaye Chapman, Anthony Varvaro, Jose Lugo and Buddy Carlyle have excelled out of the bullpen this month for Gwinnett.
Mississippi Braves (26-34, 5th place)
Photo courtesy of Melinda Pease
The Double-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves has a great deal of star-power, but that has yet to be realized 100-percent with their 10-9 record in the month of May. Mississippi, as a team, does not have a great deal of power or speed, totaling just 18 home runs all season and not one player on the M-Braves has double-digit stolen bases. Mississippi is led by one of the best catching prospects in baseball in the form of Christian Bethancourt. This season, the do-it -all catcher is batting .257 with 29 hits, 10 RBI and 31 total bases. In 43 games with Mississippi this season, Simmons batted .292 with 28 runs scored, 50 hits, nine doubles, two triples, three home runs, 21 RBI, 10 stolen bases and an extraordinary 1:1 walk to strikeout ratio with 20 of each, prior to his promotion. Ian Gac and Evan Gattis supply a majority of the power for this team, as the two have combined for 10 home runs and 41 RBI in 2012. Todd Cunningham is their one-base guy, as he boasts a team-leading .325 batting including his team-high 54 hits and .371 on-base percentage. The former Independent League star Gary Moran has transitioned to affiliated ball brilliantsly this season after coming over from the River City Rascals of the Frontier League. This year, the big righty has a 1-4 record with a 3.00 ERA, alongside 41 strikeouts to just 19 walks in 57.0 innings of work. Zeke Spruill leads the team in wins with five and Mark Lamm is the team -leader in saves with six in eight opportunities. Don’t forget the Braves first round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, Sean Gilmartin who has 3-5 mark with a 3.39 ERA in 11 starts, including 52 stirikeouts and 17 walks in 69.0 innings pitched.
Lynchburg Hillcats (29-28, 1st place)
Photo courtesy of Karl Moore