February 2013

2013 Spring Training – Weekly Update

Ernesto Mejia is 1-for-6 in four games in Grapefruit League.

Ernesto Mejia is 1-for-6 in four games in Grapefruit League.

Spring Training is underway and the Atlanta Braves have got off to a slow start, losing three of their first four games. With new faces around camp and early departures for the World Baseball Classic, the Braves are not worried about win-loss records, but concerned with building a continuity to prepare for an exciting summer of baseball.

With several regulars leaving for the WBC, it has allowed for former 2012 G-Braves to make an impact in Lake Buena Vista, FL. Twelve of 15 Braves that wore the G-Braves uniform in 2012 have seen the field this spring.

Joe Terdoslavich made a big splash, hitting a solo-homer on Feb.22 against the Detroit Tigers. His home run was the lone run for the Braves, as they were stymied by seven different pitchers in a 2-1 loss.

Tyler Pastornicky has flourished since Andrelton Simmons left to Taiwan to prepare for the WBC. In his last two games, Pastornicky has picked up two hits and an RBI.

The other three positions players, Ernesto Mejia, Jordan Parraz and Jose Yepez have one hit each through the first four games. Jose Constanza, who is having visa issues in the Dominican Republic, is yet to report to camp.

On the hill, the race for five went from luke-warm to steamy. Sean Gilmartin and Julio Teheran matched each other on Sunday afternoon with two scoreless frames. Both hurlers picked up two strikeouts and allowed one base runner each. Gilmartin gave up a single, while Teheran walked one.

If the race for five was not enough, the bullpen battles are starting to get hot. Cory Gearrin has tossed two scoreless frames, allowing one hit and recording two strikeouts, while Dusty Hughes hurled a perfect frame with one strikeout.

Lefties Ryan Buchter, Yohan Flande and Daniel Rodriguez have struggled through the first few days of camp. Buchter has allowed two runs on three hits in one inning. Flande has given up six runs on seven hits in two innings of baseball. Rodriguez’ control issues continue to give him trouble, walking three and giving up three runs in his lone appearance.

The players return to action today at 1:05 p.m. at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, FL against the Washington Nationals.

-JD

2013 Spring Training – Familiar Faces, New Places

Stephen Gartrell (left) slugs home run, while J.C. Boscan (right) walks off the field.

Stefan Gartrell (left) slugs home run, while J.C. Boscan (right) takes the field.

With the off-season almost in the books, a new crop of G-Braves is forming at Atlanta Braves Spring Training in Lake Buena Vista, FL.  We’ve already taken a look at some of the potential returnees from last year’s club as well as some of the new faces that could impact Atlanta or Gwinnett’s roster.  For this post, we’ll check in with 2012 G-Braves who are no longer with the Braves organization.

Catcher J.C. Boscan signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Cubs this off-season. The longest tenured G-Brave spent four seasons with Gwinnett. In 210 games, the right-handed hitting backstop hit .210 with eight home runs and 54 RBI. He is fifth in Gwinnett Braves history in games and fourth in at bats (689) dating back to 2009.

While Boscan spent four years with Gwinnett, shortstop Josh Wilson’s tenure was short-lived, as the slick-fielding infielder wore the G-Braves uniform for one season. Wilson signed a free agent contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the off-season. He spent all of 2012 with the G-Braves after spending a part of the last four seasons in the big leagues. In 122 games with Gwinnett, Wilson hit .241 with five home runs and 43 RBI.

The outfield lost three notable players in Luis Durango, Stefan Gartrell and Felix Pie.

Durango signed a free agent contract with the Kansas City Royals. He played all of 2012 with Gwinnett, finishing the season fourth on the team in RBI (45), third in batting average (.289), second in triples (5) and first in stolen bases (46). Durango’s 46 stolen bases led the International League and are second all-time in Gwinnett Braves history.

Pie was another welcomed addition to the club last season, hitting .285 with six home runs and 51 RBI. He led the squad in triples (7) and was a perfect 16-for-16 in stolen bases. Pie signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Gartrell’s tenure with the G-Braves may be the most celebrated from a hitter’s standpoint. In two seasons, the outfielder has made his stamp in the Gwinnett record books. He is second all-time in doubles (50), RBI (146) and runs (134), while coming in third in hits (217), games (238) and at bats (849). His 45 home runs top the charts. Gartrell signed with the Chicago White Sox in the off-season and receive an invitation to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.  The White Sox originally drafted Gartrell in the 31st round of the 2006 draft, but shipped him to Atlanta in a 2011 trade.

On the mound, the G-Braves saw a few hurlers leave for free agency, while two others were involved in big trades this off-season.
Buddy Carlyle moved on to Canada, signing a free agent deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. The right-handed pitcher made his mark with the G-Braves in 2009, posting a 3-1 record with a 1.76 ERA. Last season, he went 5-4 with a 3.43 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 76 innings.

Jair Jurrjens moved on and signed a contract with the Baltimore Orioles. Jurrjens made 17 career starts for the G-Braves from 2010-2012. In 17 games, he went 6-7 with a 4.93 ERA while striking 51 batters in 91.1 innings.

Jair Jurrjens went 4-6 with 4.98 ERA in 14 starts for the G-Braves in 2012.

Jair Jurrjens went 4-6 with 4.98 ERA in 14 starts for the G-Braves in 2012.

Tommy Hanson made one rehab start for the G-Braves last season and was the opening day starter for the G-Braves’ inaugural season in 2009. The right-hander was shipped off to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for reliever Jordan Walden. Hanson was always outstanding with Gwinnett, recording a 4-3 record with a 1.39 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 71.1 innings of work.

Finally, Randall Delgado was a part of one of the blockbuster trades this off-season, as the Braves traded him and four others to the Diamondbacks in exchange for outfielder Justin Upton and infielder Chris Johnson. Delgado, rated one of the top prospects in the Braves organization, spent two stints with the G-Braves in 2011 and 2012. In 12 starts, he went 6-5 with a 4.09 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 66 innings.

The lists of other G-Braves that have found a new home are as followed:

Lyle Overbay- Boston Red Sox (Free Agent)
Rusty Ryal- Los Angeles Dodgers (Free Agent)
Miguel Batista- Colorado Rockies (Free Agent)
Erik Cordier- Pittsburgh Pirates (Free Agent)
Peter Moylan- Los Angeles Dodgers (Free Agent)
Adam Russell- Baltimore Orioles (Free Agent)

First-year Gwinnett Braves manager Randy Ready will lead the 2013 edition of the Gwinnett Braves for the first time on Thursday, April 4 as the club opens the season at Coolray Field with a 7:05 PM game against Charlotte.  For tickets, merchandise and more information, visit GwinnettBraves.com.

-JD

Spring Training 2013 – New Faces

Jordan Schafer with the Gwinnett Braves in 2010.

Jordan Schafer with the Gwinnett Braves in 2010.

Filling out a 25-man MLB roster is always tricky. Most teams try to build within the minor league system, adding a few pieces via free agency or trades. However, Spring Training allows for 40-man extras and non-roster invitees to come in and win over the staff.

This season, the Atlanta Braves roll into camp with 19 non-roster invitees in addition to the 40-man roster. Most of the players have been with the Braves organization for a few years, but there are several new faces trying to make an impression on the organization.

Pitchers David Carpenter and Wirfin Obispo are two of those faces coming to Braves camp for the first time.

Carpenter signed a contract and the off-season and was placed on the 40-man roster. Last season, he split his time with the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays organizations. He made 33 appearances in the Major Leagues, recording a 0-2 record with an 8.07 ERA. The 27-year old right-hander has made over 60 appearances in the Majors and can add depth to the back end of the pen.

Obispo’s resume is not as deep, but he has been around since 2004. The right-hander started his career with the Cincinnati Reds in 2004. After the 2005 season, Obispo spent five years in Japan, playing for the Japanese Central and Pacific Leagues. He returned to the states in 2012, posting a 5-3 mark with 3.00 ERA through two different levels (Double-A Pensacola & Triple-A Louisville).

He will probably be throwing to two new catchers in camp. Luis De La Cruz and Matt Pagnozzi will make their first appearances with the Atlanta Braves. De La Cruz comes from the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Last season, he spent the majority of the season with the High-A Palm Beach Cardinals. He made a brief appearance in Triple-A Memphis, but did most of his damage in the High-A level. In 67 games, he hit .300 with one home run.

Pagnozzi comes to the Braves after spending the majority of his career with the Cardinals organization. He has been a part of four different organizations (Cleveland, Colorado, Pittsburgh and St. Louis), while spending some time in the Major Leagues with the Cardinals, Pirates and Rockies.  In 33 MLB games, he has hit .310 with one home run and 13 RBI.  Last season, he spent the year with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers.

On the diamond, Blake DeWitt and Ramiro Pena will compete for a backup spot. DeWitt comes from the Chicago Cubs organization, spending the last two seasons with the Cubs. DeWitt scuffled with the Pirates organization after two stellar seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, the left-handed hitting infielder provides great versatility on the diamond and can be a valuable asset off the bench. In 346 MLB games, DeWitt has recorded a .257 batting average with 21 home runs and 135 RBI.

While DeWitt adds versatility on the corners and second base, Pena can play both middle infield spots and the hot corner. The switch-hitting Pena comes from the New York Yankees, where he spent his whole career. After making great strides in 2010 and 2011, cracking the big league roster, Pena spent all of 2012 with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

Finally, Jordan Schafer returns to the Braves for another opportunity to make the MLB roster. After being sent away to Houston in the Michael Bourn deal, Schafer hopes to regain the form that made him one of the most coveted young players in the game. Schafer adds excellent versatility, as he can play all three outfield spots. Last season, he hit .211 with four home runs and 27 stolen bases. Schafer, a G-Brave from 2009 to 2011, will compete with Jose Constanza, Evan Gattis and Reed Johnson for one of the bench spots.

The competition for spots officially begins today, as the Braves started their first full practice at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

With Spring Training underway, G-Braves baseball is around the corner. Don’t miss your chance to catch the action at Coolray Field, as the future Braves stars of tomorrow start here. The Gwinnett Braves open the season on Thursday, April 4th at 7:05 p.m. against the Charlotte Knights at Coolray Field. For more information on the G-Braves, visit Gwinnettbraves.com, facebook.com/GwinnettBraves1 and twitter.com/GwinnettBraves.

-JD

2013 Spring Training – Competing to Make the Team

Ernesto Mejia led the G-Braves with 24 home runs in 2012.

Ernesto Mejia led the G-Braves with 24 home runs in 2012.

The 2013 Gwinnett Braves will see a lot of turnover as a majority of the team has moved on to different clubs. However, there is a great deal of players still connected to the Braves organization.  Here’s a look at some 2012 G-Braves heading to Atlanta’s Major League camp this year.

Former International League hitting champion Jose Constanza remains in the fold. The 5’9” outfielder remains on the Braves 40-man roster after leading the IL in hitting with a .314 batting average. Since being acquired through free agency in 2010, Constanza has been a solid pick up. In 174 games, he hit .318 (212-for-667) with two home runs and 52 RBI. He reports to MLB Spring Training fighting for one of the final Braves’ roster spots.

Constanza will not be alone fighting for a roster spot, as Ernesto Mejia looks to lock up one of the bench spots. The infielder came into his own last season, hitting .296 (152-for-514) with 24 home runs and 92 RBI. He was awarded the IL Rookie of the year and was added to the Braves’ 40-man roster at the end of the season.

Jose Constanza led the IL in hitting with a .314 batting average.

Jose Constanza led the IL in hitting with a .314 batting average in 2012.

While Constanza and Mejia head to camp as part of the 40-man roster, three former G-Braves will look to come out of nowhere and steal a spot on the roster.

Joe Terdoslavich, Jordan Parraz and Jose Yepez will push the veterans for a bench spot. Terdoslavich struggled in his first stint with the G-Braves in 2012, hitting .180 with four home runs and 20 RBI. He committed 22 errors in 53 games, but he turned it around after being sent down to Double-A Mississippi. He finished his second full season (third with organization) hitting .315 with five home runs and 51 RBI.

Parraz was solid as a utility outfielder last season. In 34 games, he hit .288 (34-for-118) with six doubles, two home runs and 19 RBI.  His 2012 campaign was significantly shortened by a pair of hand injuries.

Yepez will head to his second straight Spring Training, as he hopes to win the backup spot on the MLB roster while Brian McCann is out with an injury. Yepez played in 79 games for the G-Braves, hitting .264 with three home runs and 30 RBI.

With the Atlanta Braves offseason deal of Randall Delgado, an immediate spot in the rotation has opened up. Both Sean Gilmartin and Julio Teheran will go to Spring Training battling for the fifth and final spot in the rotation.

Teheran, who was IL Player of the Year and Atlanta Braves Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2011, is the front-runner for the rotation spot. In two seasons with the G-Braves, Teheran is second all-time in wins (22) and boasts the club’s best ERA (3.75).

Teheran will have to be careful, as Gilmartin is eager to win the final spot after completing his first full season with the organization. In 20 starts with Double-A Mississippi, he went 5-8 with a 3.54 ERA, while going 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA in seven starts for Gwinnett.

While Teheran and Gilmartin battle for a rotation spot, Cory Gearrin, Dusty Hughes and Anthony Varvaro will try to fit in the Atlanta bullpen. Gearrin has been outstanding, appearing in an all-time high 126 games for the G-Braves. Last season, he went 3-3 with a 2.30 ERA and 9 saves in 39 games for Gwinnett. He was even better in Atlanta, hurling 20 innings, allowing four runs (1.80 ERA) in 22 games for the Braves.

Hughes looks to crack the MLB team for the first time in his career. Having big league experience with the Kansas City Royals, Hughes knows what it takes to make the big team. The lefty had a solid 2012 in Gwinnett, posting a 3-2 record with a 3.31 ERA.

Varvaro rounds out the list of Spring Training invitees. He pitched well for Gwinnett before moving up to the big leagues. In 44.1 innings, the right-hander posted an 0-2 record with 2.23 ERA.

Ryan Buchter, Yohan Flande and Daniel Rodriguez also received invitations to camp. They will get an opportunity to win one of the 12 spots on the staff, but will have a tough hill to climb as all three have no MLB experience. Flande will go in with the most upside, as he spent all of last two seasons with the G-Braves. In 2012, he was 6-11 with a 4.21 ERA.

The bullpen may be a bit crowded with the acquisition of Jordan Walden from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but these six arms are up for the task.

While plenty of former G-Braves will look to make an impression on the Braves as full practices start tomorrow, there’s plenty of new faces in camp this year.  The next edition of the G-Blog will take a look at those new players, some of which could be heading to Gwinnett in 2013.

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