Video: Former G-Braves Flourishing in Atlanta
Photo courtesy of Kyle Hess
The best closer in baseball title belongs to the former Gwinnett Braves farmhand Craig Kimbrel. This season with the Braves, the right-hander has recorded 30 saves (2nd in MLB) alongside an insane 1.35 ERA and 0.65 WHIP. He has struck out an impressive 67 batters in just 40.0 innings of work, while we has walked just 10 hitters all season.
The days of playing at Coolray Field on a regular basis are long gone for Kimbrel. The right-hander consistently registers between 97-99 mph on the radar gun, as is quickly becoming one of the most respected relievers in all of baseball. This former Gwinnett Brave is creating a path to greatness.
Forever connected will Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman be in the minds of Braves fans. They both came up to Atlanta together after stellar Gwinnett career’s, and both set the league on fire upon their emergences. Freeman just lost the National League Rookie of the Year voting to his teammate, but was happy for Kimbrel nevertheless.
This season the first baseman is coming into his own, hitting .270 with 13 home runs, 61 RBI and 22 doubles with Atlanta. Not only is his offense on the rise, but his defense has never been better. Freeman, when on the field, has been one of the more consistent Braves this season. With time, he will grow into one of the most feared hitters in baseball.
Photo courtesy of Melinda Pease
The Braves prized product is finally producing in the way the Braves imagined when they drafted the 22-year old. This season Heyward has taken the next step in his career, further enhancing his growth in the game. Heyward is batting .270 with 15 home runs, 49 RBI, 18 doubles and 15 stolen bases alongside fantastic defense in right field.
He has become a full-time player in 2012, starting almost every game against left-handers as well. There is no question the future is still indeed very bright for Heyward, as he continues to scratch the surface of his immense talent.
Photo courtesy of Kyle Hess
Most fans probably assumed that the fourth name would be Tommy Hanson, however Mike Minor has been far more impressive at certain points this year. The southpaw had a rough start to 2012, but he has resurrected his season as he surges to the finish. The lefty is churning out quality starts as if they were going out of style. Minor has worked 6.0 innings or more in each of his last four starts, including striking out nine while he walked none in his sixth win this season during his last start against the Phillies.
The left-hander has trimmed his ERA to a respectable 5.17, alongside a 6-7 record with 98 strikeouts in 113.0 innings of work, yielding 42 free passes. The future ace of the Atlanta Braves rotation? Possibly. He could surprise you as most of these former G-Braves standouts have already done with early success in their young MLB careers.
Photo courtesy of Leslie Watts
By: Tony Piraro