Atlanta Braves’ reliever David Carpenter made the start for the G-Braves as he began his minor league rehab assignment. In his first start since the age of 16, the right-hander went one inning, facing four batters and striking out one. He threw 22 pitches, 16 for strikes. I checked in with carpenter after the game.
JD: How did you feel about your first game action since June 16?
DC: “I felt good. I was happy to be back out there. I was happy to go out there and compete. It seems like forever for me even though it was just a few days. I was just happy to be back out there and throw the ball.”
JD: How did your elbow/bicep feel?
DC: “Everything was feeling really good. I needed a few days off to work back into things. I was pretty pleased with how everything turned out”
JD: 22 pitches, 16 for strikes. You were sharp and had full command of the zone. How was that? Were you result oriented tonight?
DC: “It’s always a plus. The breaking ball felt really good today. I had good snap on it. The fastball felt really good. There was a lot of life behind it. I left a few up, but that was expected being out for a while.
JD: What was your repertoire tonight? Did you just throw sinker and sliders?
DC:“I went four-seamer and slider. I was trying to work both sides of the plate with the slider and get my fastball over. The last pitch of the day to Danks had a little sink-action, which wasn’t designed but it was nice to have.”
JD: What’s next?
DC: “I’ll come out here to do some long tossing tomorrow and get ready for another outing in Charlotte on Monday. Hopefully if everything goes well, I’ll be activated by Atlanta on Wednesday.”
“Look Good, Feel Good, Play Good” -JD
Tue: Aaron Northcraft (0-0, 0.00) vs. LHP Duane Below (6-1, 3.94)
Wed: Cody Martin (4-6, 3.17) vs. LHP Kyle Lobstein (4-7, 3.62)
Thu: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-8, 4.55) vs. Drew VarHagen (3-7, 4.07)
Fri: Yunesky Maya (3-1, 2.39) vs. LHP Robbie Ray (4-3, 3.08)
The Gwinnett Braves and the Toledo Mud Hens open a four game series on Tuesday, June 24 at 6:35 PM at Coolray Field. Both teams enter the series playing right at .500 baseball. Gwinnett is 4-6 in their last ten games, while Toledo is 5-5.
Pitching: Toledo will run three lefties against the Braves this week. Duane Below has the best record, winning a team-high six games and sporting a 3.94 ERA in 14 starts. He is on a three game winning streak, tossing three straight quality starts from June 8 through June 19. In the month of June, he is 3-0 with a 4.21 ERA.
Below has more wins, but Ray is the most promising lefty of the three. Ray was traded along with Steven Lombardozzi and Ian Krol for Doug Fister in the offseason. The lefty has enjoyed his time in the Detroit system, as he was called up on May 6 and made four appearances for the Tigers. He went 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA. With the Mud Hens, Ray is 4-3 with a 3.08 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 52.2 innings. Prior to the start of the season, Ray was ranked the 5th-best prospect in the Washington Nationals organization. He will take the ball in the finale.
The Braves will counter with three right-handers and one southpaw. Aaron Northcraft will make his Triple-A debut on Tuesday night. The right-hander went 7-3 with a 2.88 ERA (21 ER in 65.2 IP) over 13 appearances, 12 starts for the M-Braves. In five starts during the month of May, he went 4-1 with 1.98 ERA (6 ER in 27.1 IP). His success in the first half of the season earned him a Southern League All-Star Game roster spot.
While, Northcraft makes his debut on Tuesday, Maya will hope to continue his recent success on Friday night. Maya has turned six straight quality starts. In the month of June, he is 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA in five starts.
Batting: The G-Braves offense has sputtered during the month of June, batting a combined .254 with 64 runs scored in 22 games. The power has also been in short supply, clubbing seven total homers during the month. Ernesto Mejia, who left the team in early May, still leads the team with eight homers on the season.
With most of the position players around the diamond struggling, the catchers have held it together for the Braves. Christian Bethancourt enters playing batting .314 (22-for-70) with three doubles, one homer and seven RBIs for the Braves, while Steve Lerud is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with two doubles and one triple.
Toledo will counter with Ezequiel Carrera. The outfielder is hitting .305 (73-for-239) with 10 doubles, three triples, three home runs and 25 RBIs. He leads team in hitting, while his 32 stolen bases lead the IL.
Fri: Cody Martin (4-6, 3.42) vs. Brett Marshall (0-2, 16.20)
Sat: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-8, 4.83) vs. Chien Ming Wang (7-5, 3.57)
Sun: Gus Schlosser (3-3, 4.84) vs. LHP David Holmberg (0-4, 7.39)
Mon: Yunesky Maya (3-1, 2.22) vs. Josh Smith (8-1, 3.83)
Gwinnett and Louisville start a four-game series on Friday, June 20 at 7:05 PM at Coolray Field. This will be their second meeting of the season, as the Bats took three of four from the G-Braves last week. Both squads are going in opposite directions, as the G-Braves are 3-7 in their last ten, while the Bats are 7-3 in their last ten games. Louisville is two games up on Gwinnett in the Wild Card standings.
Pitching: Louisville enters the series with the worst ERA in the IL, sporting a 4.85 ERA in 74 contests. However, they have some reliable arms that they will turn to in the series. Chien Ming Wang will take the ball in game two of the series. The former New York Yankee hurler is having a great season with the Bats. He is second on the team in wins, starts and ERA, while leading the squad in innings pitched with 88.1. In his last start against the Gwinnett Braves on June 14, the right-hander tossed 7.1 scoreless en route to his seventh win of the season.
He wasn’t alone in twirling a gem against the G-Braves, as Josh Smith went 7.0 innings of two-run baseball to beat the Braves on June 12. Smith enters the series with the team lead in wins and strikeouts (69). He will pitch the finale.
The G-Braves will try to battle the starting rotation in hopes to avoid Jumbo Diaz in the backend of the bullpen. Standing 6-foot, 4-inches tall and weighing 315 pounds, the right-hander is a big load, but is also the most dependable arm in the pen. In 44 games with the Bats in 2013, he went 3-4 with a 1.66 ERA and 13 of 14 in save chances. He has continued his dominance in 2014, going 2-2 with 18 saves in 30 games.
Gwinnett will counter with Martin, Rodriguez, Schlosser and Maya. Maya has been the G-Braves best hurler this season. On June 17, Maya pitched 6.2 scoreless and allowing five hits to extend his active scoreless streak to 15.1 innings dating back to June 7. He walked two and struck out five in his win over Indianapolis. The right-hander leads the team in ERA and is third in wins.
Batting: Christian Bethancourt and Ozzie Martinez have been the G-Braves most productive hitters in the last ten games. Bethancourt is batting .379 (11-for-29) with one homer and four RBIs in his last seven games, while Martinez is batting .394 (13-for-33) with four runs scored and three RBIs in his last ten games.
While the Braves have scuffled offensively in the last ten games, the Bats offense is taking off. In their last ten games, the Bats have scored 49 runs and hit .297 as a team.
Ruben Gotay and Tucker Barnhart have paced the attack. Gotay is hitting .324 (12-for-37) with one homer and three RBIs over his last ten games, while Barnhart is batting .435 (10-for-23) with two RBIs in his last seven games. Barnhart is 8-for-11 in his last three games.
G-Bites: In the last two days, the Atlanta Braves have recalled Juan Jaime and Ryan Buchter, while the G-Braves added James Hoyt from Mississippi. Hoyt, 27, went 2-2 with a 1.21 ERA (4 ER in 29.2 IP) and six saves in 27 relief appearances for the Mississippi Braves this season. As of his promotion, he led the team in saves, appearances and ERA. Hoyt was signed by the Atlanta Braves organization on November 15, 2012 after spending part of two seasons with three different independent league teams. The Boise, ID native spent his college career at Centenary College (LA).
“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.” – Bob Feller
Daniel Rodriguez is having a rough month of June. In three starts, he is 0-2 with a 12.41 ERA (17 ER/12.1 IP). He has allowed more runs in three June starts than he allowed in the entire month of May (16 ER/ 37.0 IP).
Things haven’t been all bad this season. On May 13, Rodriguez matched a season-high with 7.0 innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits en route to his fourth win of the season. With the victory, he lowered his ERA to 3.00, while adding to his team-leading fourth win of the year.
However, it has all gone downhill from there. The southpaw has been roughed up in his last six appearances. He is 0-5 with a 7.47 ERA (26 ER/ 31.1 IP). He has struck out 26 batters during that span, but 18 of those strikeouts came in his first two starts of the losing streak.
His struggles have not come from lack of command around the zone. Instead, he has been too good in the strike zone in 2014.
Last season, Rodriguez struggled with his command, walking 38 batters in 58.0 innings. This year, he has been fare better, walking 25 batters in 76.1 innings. Batters are beginning to take notice of his command around the plate, as they are hitting .289 (85-for-294) against him in 2014. The number is over 40 points higher than a season ago when he held hitters to a .246 batting average.
He will need to work off the zone some to keep batters honest. Last season after giving up a career-high nine runs in his second start of the season, Rodriguez turned in three of five quality starts in his next five turns. The G-Braves will need him to do so to get back on track this year.
“If you get, give. If you learn, teach.” -Maya Angelou-
Wed: Gus Schlosser (3-2, 4.66) vs. LHP David Holmberg (0-4, 10.50)
Thu: Yunesky Maya (2-1, 2.79) vs. Josh Smith (6-1, 3.77)
Fri: LHP Alex Wood (0-0, 0.00) vs. Jair Jurrjens (1-1, 4.91)
Sat: Cody Martin (4-5, 3.58) vs. Chien-Ming Wang (6-5, 3.89)
The Gwinnett Braves will hit the road and beginning an eight-game road trip with a four-game set against the Louisville Bats at Louisville Slugger Stadium. Gwinnett is coming off a 3-5 homestand, while Louisville returns home after a 4-4 road trip. Louisville enters the series two games behind Gwinnett in the wild card standings.
Pitching: Alex Wood will make his season debut with Gwinnett on Friday night. The left-hander went 5-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 18 games, seven starts with Atlanta this season. The Braves’ second round pick in 2012 out of the University of Georgia, Wood is 8-9 with a 3.26 ERA over 49 career Major League games with Atlanta, including 18 starts.
Wood will be thrown in the middle of three right-handers Schlosser, Maya and Martin. Martin was dominant in his last start, going 6.2 innings in the win over the Rochester Red Wings on Monday night. The Dos Palos, CA native struck out five and allowed one earned run in the contest, snapping his three game losing streak.
The G-Braves will go up against the worst pitching staff in the IL, as the Bats enter the series dead last in the IL in ERA (4.91). Louisville has allowed 355 runs (14th in the IL) and has walked 255 batters (13th).
Josh Smith has been there best pitcher all season. The right-hander is 6-1 with a 3.77 ERA in 71.2 innings. He started the season 6-0, but has struggled in the month of June. In two games during the month, he is 0-0 with a 7.27 ERA in 8.2 innings. He would look to return to his April form (4-0, 2.45 ERA) on Thursday night.
Former G-Braves’ hurler Jair Jurrjens will take the ball on Friday night. In his final season with the G-Braves, Jurrjens went 4-6 with a 4.98 ERA in 14 starts for Gwinnett. He struck out 39 batters in 72.1 innings. He will be making his third start of the season on Friday.
Batting: The G-Braves are lead by Christian Bethancourt. The right-handed hitter is batting .262 (48-for-183) with 11 doubles, one triple, two homers and 28 RBIs in 50 games with the G-Braves. In ten games during the month of June, he is hitting .353 (12-for-34) with three doubles and five RBIs. He leads the G-Braves in hitting, hits (12) and doubles during the month. After going 0-for-1 on June 1 at Rochester, Bethancourt has rattled off a nine-game hitting streak from June 2 through June 10.
The model of consistency for the Gwinnett Braves in 2014 has been Phil Gosselin. The infielder has batted .326 (75-for-230) with 16 doubles, three triples, one homer and 16 RBIs. He leads the team in hitting, doubles and triples.
Louisville will rely on Ruben Gotay on offense. In 61 games with the Bats, he is hitting .267 (64-for-240) with 13 doubles, one triple and 42 RBIs.
In addition to Gotay, Neftali Soto will look to provide another quality bat for the Bats. With injuries at the big league level Soto began the season with Cincinnati Reds. However, after a slow start he was optioned to Louisville on May 24. Since joining the Bats’, he is batting .322 (19-for-59) with one homer and five RBIs.
““It’s forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would’ve annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness, there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness.” Gregory David Roberts
Atlanta Braves’ Jordan Walden made his second rehab appearance with the Gwinnett Braves on Sunday afternoon. The right-hander went one inning, walking one and striking out two. He hurled 19 pitches, 12 for strikes in the G-Braves 4-2 win over the Rochester Red Wings. After his start, I caught up with the Braves reliever.
JD: How did the Hamstring feel?
JW: “Hamstring felt good. I didn’t have any issues with it again, so that was a positive.”
JD: Was there any shoulder/arm issues associated with skipping your last scheduled rehab?
JW: “My arm just needed an extra day of rest. It was my first time out (on Thursday) and I just needed another day so that’s why I threw today.”
JD: You threw 19 pitches, 12 for strikes. Did you feel like you commanded the zone a little better today?
JW: “I mean, I walked the first guy. I wasn’t very happy with that. I didn’t feel like the command was there, but I battled through and got a couple strike outs.”
JD: First time out you said you had trouble from the stretch, how did you feel about it this time around?
JW: “I tested myself early by walking the leadoff batter. It wasn’t a good thing that I walked him but I tested myself from the stretch and it felt a lot better this time around. Especially from the last time I threw from the stretch (Thursday night).”
JD: What’s next?
JW: “I’m not sure. Hopefully I get to meet up with the team in Colorado, but at this point I have to wait and hear what they have to say.”
“The difference between a successful person and others is not the lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.” -Vince Lombardi-
Sat: Jordan Walden (0-1, 27.00) vs. Alex Meyer (3-2, 3.65)
Sun: Zach Stewart (3-3, 4.07) vs. LHP Logan Darnell (1-3, 2.58)
Mon: Cody Martin (3-5, 3.82) vs. LHP Kris Johnson (6-2, 2.44)
Tue: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-6, 3.67) vs. Trevor May (5-4, 2.80)
The Gwinnett Braves and the Rochester Red Wings meet up for the second time in less than a week on Saturday, June 7. The Red Wings took three of four in Rochester, NY last week. Since meeting, the teams are going in opposite directions. The G-Braves have lost three of ten, while Rochester has won seven of ten.
Pitching: Jordan Walden will make his second rehab appearance with the G-Braves on Saturday. The right-hander went .2 innings, allowing two runs on one hit Thursday night. He struck out the side, but a wild pitch on the third strike to the third hitter allowed him to reach, setting the stage for a two-run homer by Elliot Johnson.
Right-hander Stewart and Martin will follow, while left-handed Rodriguez will throw the finale. Both Martin and Rodriguez will look to ride the ship, as they have lost three straight games.
Rochester will counter with the best staff in the IL. Highly-touted right hander Meyer and May will through the opener and the finale, while Johnson will take game three.
May was named IL Pitcher of the week after going 2-0 with 0.00 ERA in 12.0 innings of baseball. May has now won four straight starts overall and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 26 innings of work. After tossing 5.0 innings of a comfortable 10‐5 Red Wings victory over Syracuse on Memorial Day, May returned to the hill Saturday evening to face Gwinnett. May gave his club 7.0 more scoreless innings against the Braves, walking two and striking out four on the way to a 6‐1 Rochester triumph. Mayʹs ERA has dropped to 2.62, the 7th‐best mark in the League this season. Opposing hitters have posted a mere .196 average against him (2nd in the IL).
While May has been on fire, Johnson has been the Red Wings most consistent hurler. The lefty is on a five game winning streak, spanning from 4/24 to 6/4. In the month of May, Johnson went 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in five starts. He has struck out 54 batters in 59.0 innings.
Batting: The G-Braves offense has sputtered of late. In the last week, they have gone from the top batting team to the No.5. The losses of La Stella (promotion) and Todd Cunningham (injury) have slowed the offense. Christian Bethancourt is swinging a hot bat of late. The catcher has a five-game winning streak. During the streak, he is batting .388 with two runs scored and two doubles.
Gosselin continues to be the most consistent bat in the G-Braves lineup. The infielder recorded three hits on Friday night. He has 23 multi-hit games on the season. He is batting .327 (70-for-214) with 15 doubles, two triples, one homer and 14 RBIs in 53 games.
After starting the season batting .100 with one RBI through the first four games, Colabello has recorded seven RBIs in his last three games. The 2013 IL MVP and Rookie of the Year is hitting .171 with one homer and 10 RBIs in 10 games with the Red Wings.
While Colabello finds his stroke, the Red Wings will rely on the hot bat of Deibinson Romero. The third baseman is batting .305 (57-for-187) with 13 doubles, one triple, four homers and 24 RBIs in 55 games with Rochester.
G-Bites:Third baseman Joe Leonard has been promoted to Gwinnett from Double-A Mississippi and outfielder Andy Simunic was signed as a free agent and assigned to Gwinnett on Friday. The two new additions replace outfielder Cunningham, who was placed on the disabled list retroactive to June 4 with a left thumb sprain, and outfielder Derrick Mitchell, who was transferred to Double-A Mississippi.
Atlanta Braves’ right-hander Jordan Walden, recovering from a left hamstring strain, made his first rehab start for Gwinnett. Walden threw two thirds of an inning, allowing two runs on one hit, striking out three and issuing one wild pitch. Of his 23 pitches, 14 were strikes. Columbus scored twice against Walden in the first inning. He was electric early, striking out Jose Ramirez looking and Tyler Holt swinging. He struck out Adam Abraham as well, but his third strike was a wild pitch sending Abraham to first base. With the inning extended, former Atlanta Brave Elliot Johnson belted a two-run home run, ending Walden’s night.
After the G-Braves 6-0 loss, I caught up with Walden:
JD: How did you feel out there? How is the hamstring holding up?
JW: “I felt good. Hamstring felt good for the first time being out and seeing hitters for a little bit over a month, it felt good.”
JD: You threw 23 pitches, 14 for strikes, how would you access your command of the strike zone?
JW: “Yeah, I felt good until I got the runner on first base. Then I just felt a little rusty with a runner on base. Didn’t feel comfortable and threw a pitch where I didn’t want it and Elliot hit it out.”
JD: You played with Elliot (Johnson) last year. Was there some familiarity to your pitches that helped him out in his at bat?
JW:“I’m guessing he was sitting on a fastball and I just happen to throw it right down the middle of the plate. I played with him, he’s a good player and you just got to tip your hat to him for the swing he put on it.”
JD: Did you think you did a good job of executing your pitches tonight?
JW: “It was okay. I didn’t throw many off speed pitches, but the ones I did throw were pretty good.”
“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison
Tue: Zach Stewart (3-2, 4.03) vs. Gabriel Arias (0-2, 5.73)
Wed: Cody Martin (3-4, 3.36) vs. Danny Salazar (0-3, 7.11)
Thu: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-6, 3.38) vs. Tyler Cloyd (2-3, 4.91)
Fri: Gus Schlosser (3-2, 4.94) vs. Kyle Davies (2-3, 3.40)
The Gwinnett Braves open up an eight-game homestand at Coolray Field beginning Tuesday, June 3 against the Columbus Clippers, Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Gwinnett enters the contest one game out of first place in the Wild Card standings, while Columbus is 5.5 games back of the front-running Rochester Red Wings in the Wild Card race.
Pitching: Columbus enters the series with one of the better pitching staffs in the league, ranking sixth in the IL with a 3.75 ERA. The Clippers have lost left-hander T.J. House and right-hander Trevor Bauer to Cleveland, but still have a bevy of arms to rely on. Danny Salazar is off to a slow start in 2014, but features electric stuff. The right-hander has a mid-90’s fastball, hard slider and a change-up. In 12.2 innings with the Clippers, he has struck out 15 batters.
While Salazar works out his kinks in hopes to return to the Major Leagues, the Clippers will rely heavily on the bullpen during the series. With Mark Lowe and Vinnie Pestano in the back end of the pen’, the Clippers have MLB talent and experience to close out games. Lowe is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA and is 8-for-9 in save opportunities, while Pestano is 1-3 with a 2.41 ERA.
Gwinnett will counter with a talented bullpen of their own, as Juan Jaime, Ian Thomas and Atahualpa Severino are ready to close out games for the G-Braves. Jaime enters the series with a 1-0 mark and 3.10 ERA in 21 games. The right-hander is a perfect 10-for-10 in save chances, while striking out 32 in 20.1 innings.
Thomas returns from Atlanta after serving another short stint with the Braves. The lefty has dominated the Triple-A circuit, going 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 5.0 innings. He has fanned eight batters, while only allowing one hit. Thomas is working out his slider in Triple-A, which can prove to be an asset once he gets it going.
The addition of Thomas hasn’t slowed Severino, as the southpaw entered the series with a team-leading six holds. He is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 20 games. Severino has struck out 32 batters in 24.0 innings.
Batting: Gwinnett’s offense was cooled off on their current road trip, scoring 24 runs in eight games and was shutout twice. However, Gwinnett still has the No.2 offense in the IL. Phil Gosselin continues to pace the attack, batting .324 (66-for-204) with 14 doubles, two triples, one homer and 13 RBIs. Gosselin is tied for the team lead in runs (28), doubles and triples.
Tyler Pastornicky has taken his demotion from Atlanta in stride. In four games since being sent down, the infielder is batting .471 (8-for-17) with two runs scored and one double. Last season, Pastornicky hit .292 (84-for-288) with 13 doubles, two triples, four homers and 28 RBIs in 74 games with Gwinnett.
Columbus will rely on Roberto Perez to lead the offensive attack. The backstop is having a great season, batting .321 (27-for-84) with four doubles, five homers and 19 RBIs. He leads the team in batting, homers and is second in RBIs.
He will look to carry the offense that lost Jesus Aguilar to an early season promotion.
“Excuses are the nails that built the house of failure.” –Jenna Wyatt-