Spring Training Weekend Wrap-up 3.7-8.15

The Atlanta Braves finished a weekend that included three games in two days with a unique outcome, even for Spring Training.

Nine Braves pitchers combined to no-hit the Houston Astros through 10 innings Sunday in Kissimmee, Fla., including three hurlers who could find themselves on the Gwinnett Braves’ roster in 2015. Houston still pushed across two runs in the seventh when right-hander Mauricio Cabrera walked two and hit a batter to begin the inning before consecutive groundouts gave the Astros a 2-1 lead.

A pair of potential G-Braves tied the game at 2-2 in the eighth. Outfielder Joey Terdoslavich led off the inning with a double and scored three batters later on a sacrifice fly by outfielder Todd Cunningham. The game ended after 10 innings with the scored tied at two.

Potential G-Braves pitchers’ Sunday stats:

RHP Cody Martin, 2.0 IP, 2 BB, 3 K.

RHP Brandon Cunniff (H, 1), 1.0 IP.

LHP Ian Thomas (H, 2), 1.0 IP, 3 BB, K.

Potential G-Braves position players’ Sunday stats:

Terdoslavich (1B), 1-for-2, 2B, R.

Cunningham (RF), 0-for-3, RBI.

Jace Peterson (SS), 2-for-4, R.

Phil Gosselin (2B), 0-for-4.

Cedric Hunter (LF), 0-for-3, BB.

Pedro Ciriaco (3B), 0-for-4, 2 K.

Eury Perez (CF), 2-for-3.

Jose Peraza (2B), 0-for-1.

Yenier Bello (DH, pinch hit), 0-for-0, BB.

Braeden Schlehuber (C), 0-for-0, BB.

The Braves lost a pair of split-squad games Saturday. The New York Mets defeated Atlanta 3-1 in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and the Detroit Tigers topped the Braves 12-6 at Atlanta’s Spring Training home, Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Despite the losses, the Braves got their first look at right-handed pitcher Mike Foltynewicz, who they acquired during the offseason in a trade with the Astros that sent Evan Gattis to Houston.

Foltynewicz gave up a leadoff double to Wilmer Flores in the second followed by a run-scoring single by Michael Conforto that put New York ahead 1-0. Otherwise, Foltynewicz gave up two other hits and walked two with one strikeout in 1 2/3 innings.

Other potential G-Braves pitchers vs. New York:

RHP Aaron Kurcz, 0.1 IP, K.

LHP Manny Banuelos (L, 0-1), 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (ER).

RHP Jose Veras, 1.0 IP, 2 BB, K.

RHP Matt Capps, 1.0 IP, 2 H.

RHP Sugar Ray Marimon, 2.0 IP, H, BB, K.

Possible G-Braves position players vs. New York:

Peraza (SS-2B), 0-for-4, 2 K.

Sean Kazmar (3B), 1-for-1.

Matt Kennelly (C), 0-for-1.

Perez (LF), 1-for-3, R.

Jesus Flores (DH, pinch hit), 0-for-1.

Six players who could suit up for Gwinnett started in the field against Detroit, and potential G-Braves accounted for eight of the team’s nine hits.

Peterson (2B), 0-for-3, BB, 2 K.

Gosselin (3B), 0-for-2, BB.

Terdoslavich (1B), 2-for-3, 2 2B, 2 R, K.

Mycal Jones (LF), 2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI.

Cunningham (CF), 2-for-3, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB.

Hunter (RF), 0-for-3, BB.

John Buck (C), 1-for-2, 2B, 2 RBI, BB.

Ciriaco (3B), 1-for-2, R.

Schlehuber (C), 0-for-1.

Corban Joseph (DH), 0-for-2, R, K.

Potential G-Braves pitchers vs. Detroit:

RHP Williams Perez, 1.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, K.

LHP Donnie Veal, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, BB, K.

RHP Todd Coffey, 1.0 IP, H, 2 K.

The Braves will travel to Viera, Fla., for a 1:05 p.m. game Monday against the Washington Nationals. Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez will start for Atlanta against fellow lefty Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals.

-JM

Spring Training Report 3.6.15

The Atlanta Braves came up short in a 9-8 slugfest Friday against the Washington Nationals at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.  However, a pair of potential 2015 Gwinnett Braves provided much of Atlanta’s firepower.

Infielder Pedro Ciriaco and outfielder Cedric Hunter were the only two Braves to play the entire game, and they accounted for four of the team’s 14 hits.

Ciriaco fell a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with a solo home run in the third inning and a two-out, two-run double in the fifth that gave the Braves an 8-7 lead.  Hunter scored the go-ahead run after he had singled in the preceding at-bat.  He finished 1-for-5.

Other possible G-Brave position players:

Jace Peterson (2B), 2-for-4, 2 R.

Braeden Schlehuber (C), 1-for-3, RBI, threw out attemping basestealer in the fifth inning.

Joey Terdoslavich (1B), 0-for-2, 2 K.

Jose Peraza (2B), 0-for-1.

Todd Cunningham (CF), 0-for-1.

Jose Yepez (C), 0-for-0, HBP.

Three pitchers who project to make Atlanta’s Opening Day roster, Alex Wood, Jason Grilli and Josh Outman, covered the first four innings on the mound.  Manager Fredi Gonzalez then turned to four potential G-Braves to cover the final five frames.

RHP Juan Jaime, 0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 3 BB.

RHP Michael Kohn, 1.1 IP, 2 BB, K.

RHP Arodys Vizcaino (BS, 1; L, 0-1), 1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, WP.

RHP Tyrell Jenkins, 2.0 IP, 2 H, K.

The Braves will enter their first of three split-squad days of Spring Training on Saturday.  Part of the team will remain at Champion Stadium to take on the Detroit Tigers at 1:05 p.m., while another portion will face the New York Mets at 1:10 p.m. in Port St. Lucie, Fla.  The club will then come back together for a 1:05 p.m. contest Sunday against the Houston Astros in Kissimmee, Fla.

Spring Training Report 3.5.15

The Atlanta Braves tallied their first Grapefruit League victory of the exhibition season Thursday as they topped the Detroit Tigers 6-4 in Lakeland, Fla.  Several players who could help make up the roster for the 2015 Gwinnett Braves made large contributions.

Infielder Phil Gosselin got the Braves on the scoreboard in the fifth inning with a two-out single up the middle to score 2014 G-Braves teammate Joey Terdoslavich along with John Buck, which put Atlanta ahead 2-1.  Gosselin finished 1-for-4 with an RBI and a strikeout while spending time defensively at second base and third base.

Terdoslavich also scored in the sixth on a double by Buck, while potential 2015 G-Braves outfielder Eury Perez walked and stole home as part of a double steal in the ninth to give the Braves their final run of the game.  Terdoslavich, who played left field and first base, was 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored.  Perez spent the entire game in center field but did not reach base in any of his other four at-bats.

Potential G-Braves position players:

Pedro Ciriaco, 2B-3B, 0-for-2, K.

Todd Cunningham, RF, 1-for-2, K.

Jesus Flores, C, 0-for-1, K.

Elmer Reyes, 0-for-3, K.

Jose Peraza, pinch ran for Terdoslavich in the ninth.

The Braves also sent six pitchers to the mound, with right-handed starter Julio Teheran the only member of the group guaranteed a spot on Atlanta’s Opening Day roster.

Potential G-Braves pitchers (by order of appearance):

LHP Eric Stults, 2.0 IP, 2 H.

RHP Brandon Cunniff, 1.0 IP, BB, K.

LHP Ian Thomas (H, 1), 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, K.

RHP Jason Hursh (BS, 1; W, 1-0), 2.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, K.

RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (SV, 1), 1.0 IP, K.

The Braves will return to their home Spring Training complex to face the National League East rival Washington Nationals at 1:05 p.m. Friday at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

-JM

New to the Mix – Jacob Mayer, Media Relations Trainee

This season, the G-Braves welcome aboard ten new full-time trainees to the staff. To get fans more familiar with the recently added staff, we will be having weekly staff features here on the blog. The first newbie is Media Relations Trainee Jacob Mayer.

How did you end up with the G-Braves and what previous sports experience, if any, got you to the position you currently hold? 

Jacob started as a sports writer for the Amarillo Globe-News in Amarillo, TX. After three years with the Globe, he decided to transition into the business side of baseball.

“I felt that it was time for something new,” said Mayer.

As it turns out, Jacob would earn his first internship with the New Orleans Zephyrs, Triple-A Affiliate of the Miami Marlins. Mayer spent the 2014 season as the Media Relations Intern with the Zephyrs. After completing the season, it became a waiting game until the Winter Meetings in San Diego. That’s when Mayer met North Johnson, General Manager of the Gwinnett Braves. After Jacob met with North, Dave Lezotte, Media Relations Manager, reached out.

“He interviewed me over the phone, and later extended me an offer,” said Mayer. “I spent Christmas packing and getting ready to move here for my new position with the Gwinnett Braves.”

As a new member of the staff, what are you looking forward to most when it comes to working for a new team? 

After working for a Pacific Coast League team last summer, Jacob is excited to work in the International League with the G-Braves.

“I’m excited to see the other half of Triple-A baseball,” said Mayer.

That isn’t the only thing Jacob is excited about during his time in Gwinnett.

“I think anytime you get a chance to work for a first-class organization that is exciting.”

What is your dream job in sports and how does it compare to what you wanted to be as a kid? 

“I wanted to play professional baseball growing up,” said Mayer. “My dream job now is to work in Media Relations at the Major League level.” 

We asked each new staff member a number of questions to find out some things you might not figure out by just looking at the online staff bios. 

Outside of baseball, Jacob is an avid hockey fan. Growing up in southern Illinois, naturally he became a St. Louis Blues fan. If you see a fan wearing a Blues shirt at a Gwinnett Gladiators game, it is likely him.

Let’s get to the Q&A! First up… movies and actors.

Q: Jim Carey or Adam Sandler? Well for Mayer, it was an easy decision.

A: “I’d have to go with Happy Gilmore and Adam Sandler.”

Q: Major League, Mighty Ducks, or the Sandlot?

A: Major League

Who doesn’t love talking about food? Here are some of Jacob’s answers.

Q: Italian or Mexican?

A: “Growing up, I ate more Italian,” said Mayer. “After moving to Texas, I found that Mexican food is my favorite.”

Q: McDonalds or Burger King?

A: Mickey D’s

Q: Chick-Fil-A or Zaxby’s?

A: “I’ve never had Zaxby’s so I’d have to go with Chick-Fil-A.”

Q: Peanuts or Popcorn?

A: Popcorn

Alright, alright, enough about food. Here are a few more general things you should know about Jacob. His favorite band is the Zac Brown Band, but he is a fan of the blues genre. Jacob also prefers TV shows over movies. His favorite is none other than the Newsroom which aired on HBO. If he could have dinner with three celebrities, they would be his favorite NASCAR driver Bobby Labonte, his favorite baseball player Ron Gant and John Candy for a dose of comedy. As for a super power he would like to have, the ability to fly tops the list. Last but not least, his walkup song would be Peter Gunn Theme by The Blues Brothers.

FUN FACT: Jacob was present at the St. Louis Cardinals game that Mark McGwire tied the home run record of 61.

Spring Training Report 3.4.15

The Atlanta Braves kicked off their Grapefruit League schedule Wednesday with an 8-2 loss to the New York Mets.  Several potential members of the 2015 Gwinnett Braves were among the 26 players who participated in the opener at Champions Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, one of a handful of contenders for the No. 5 spot in the Braves’ starting rotation who could also end up with Gwinnett, started the game.  Four Mets batters reached base in the first inning on two hits and two walks, but Rodriguez limited the damage to one run in his only inning of work.

Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang is another candidate for the final rotation spot after spending the entire 2014 season at the Triple-A level.  He held New York scoreless in the third and fourth innings with three hits allowed and three strikeouts.  Potential Gwinnett left-handed reliever Donnie Veal threw a scoreless 1 1/3 innings, giving up one hit and a walk with one strikeout.

Infielder Jace Peterson started at shortstop and scored the Braves’ second run of the first inning after he drew a walk in his first at-bat for Atlanta.  Peterson, acquired during the off-season from the San Diego Padres in the Justin Upton trade, finished 1-for-1 with two walks and a ground-rule double.  He left the game after five innings in favor of 2014 G-Braves’ shortstop Elmer Reyes, who picked up a one-out single in the seventh.

Second baseman Phil Gosselin, who ranked second in the International League with a .344 batting average in 2014, also notched one of Atlanta’s six base hits on the afternoon. He entered the game in the fifth inning to take over third base from Chris Johnson, who top-ranked prospect Jose Peraza pinch ran for in the fourth.  Peraza was picked off of first but played the remainder of the game at second base.

Left fielder Cedric Hunter led Double-A Mississippi in 2014 with 14 home runs and 72 RBIs and could find himself in Gwinnett to begin the season.  He went 0-for-2 at the plate Wednesday, but he made a highlight-reel catch at the wall in the second inning to rob Mets designated hitter Kevin Plawecki of at least a double and possibly a home run.

Potential future G-Braves catcher Yenier Bello, who the Braves signed in 2014 out of Cuba, and former Gwinnett outfielder Joey Terdoslavich both entered the game as defensive replacements and did not record a hit.

The Braves will face the Detroit Tigers at 1:05 p.m. Thursday in Lakeland, Fla., as they continue to prepare for the upcoming season.

-JM

Three former G-Braves receive Spring Training non-roster invitations

Cody Martin is an Atlanta Braves' non-roster invitee for the second consecutive season. (Photo by Karl Moore)

Cody Martin is an Atlanta Braves’ non-roster invitee for the second consecutive season. (Photo by Karl Moore)

Right-handed pitcher Cody Martin will have a chance to take his 2014 Gwinnett Braves Most Outstanding Pitcher honors with him to to the Major League side of Spring Training camp when he arrives at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., later this month.

Martin and former G-Braves catchers Jose Yepez and Matt Kennelly are three of 24 players to receive non-roster invitations to Spring Training, the Atlanta Braves announced Tuesday.

Martin, 25, tied fellow right-hander Gus Schlosser for the most wins on the Gwinnett staff with seven, and he led the team with a 3.52 ERA, 26 starts, 13 quality starts, 156.0 innings pitched and 142 strikeouts. He also finished third in the International League in strikeouts, fourth in innings pitched, tied for fourth in starts, fifth among starters with an 8.12 strikeouts-per-9-innings ratio and sixth in ERA.

His premier performance as a G-Brave came on June 25 when he held the Toledo Mud Hens to one run on three hits with two strikeouts in a 7.0-inning, complete-game 7-1 victory at Coolray Field. He is 10-12 with a 3.51 ERA in 40 career appearances, including 37 starts, with Gwinnett, and this will be his second consecutive year as a non-roster invitee for spring training.

Yepez, 33, is the longest-tenured former G-Brave of the group, as he spent the entire past three seasons with Gwinnett. He compiled a .241 batting average with 27 doubles, three home runs and 62 RBIs through 163 games. He threw out 30.8 percent of attempted basestealers in 14 games a year ago, as he battled injuries that sent him to the disabled list three times.

Kennelly, a 26-year-old from Western Australia, spent the 2014 season at Double-A Mississippi after re-signing with the Braves in the previous offseason. Kennelly began the 2013 season with the G-Braves, going 5-for-12 (.417) with a double, a home run and four RBIs in five games before the Braves released him in May. He spent the rest of the year in the Cincinnati Reds’ organization.

Yepez and Kennelly were also non-roster invitees in 2014, as were fellow 2015 invitees Jason Hursh, a right-handed pitcher who was the Braves’ first-round selection (31st overall) in the 2013 June draft and played for Mississippi last year, and catcher Braeden Schlehuber, who also spent the season with the M-Braves.

Atlanta invited nine pitchers overall, including right-handers Michael Kohn, Sugar Ray Marimon and Chien-Ming Wang, as well as lefties Brady Feigl, Wandy Rodriguez, Eric Stults and Donnie Veal.

Those pitchers are accompanied by eight catchers, including Yenier Bello, John Buck, Jesus Flores, Tanner Murphy and Chris O’Dowd.

The Braves also invited infielders Johan Camargo, Daniel Castro, Pedro Ciriaco, Kelly Johnson and Rio Ruiz, as well as outfielders Cedric Hunter and Mallex Smith.

Braves camp opens Feb. 20 when pitchers and catchers report. Full-squad workouts begin Feb. 26, and the team opens its Grapefruit League schedule with a game at 1:05 p.m. March 4 against the New York Mets at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista.

JM

G-Braves Hot Stove: 2014-2015 Transaction Tracker

Sean Kazmar, a member of the Gwinnett Braves for the past two seasons, re-signed on November 12.  (Taylor Botta / Gwinnett Braves)

Sean Kazmar, a member of the Gwinnett Braves for the past two seasons, re-signed with Atlanta on November 12. (Taylor Botta / Gwinnett Braves)

As the Hot Stove season continues, here’s an overview of Atlanta Braves’ transactions that could directly affect the Gwinnett Braves roster in 2015.  Moves that pertain to the Major League club only are not included.  All information has been obtained through the Braves.com Transaction Report and Baseball America Minor League Free Agent Tracker.  Please note that the official Gwinnett Braves 2015 Roster will not be announced until early April, and all roster projections are my opinion only.

This post was last updated on February 10.


Acquired via trade:

  • Arodys Vizcaino (RHP) – acquired from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Tommy La Stella on November 16.  As mentioned in a previous post, the hard-throwing Vizcaino is back in the Braves’ organization after two-plus seasons with the Cubs.  He rebounded from 2012 Tommy John surgery to go 1-1 with a 3.51 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 41.0 minor league innings last year, some of that time spent with Triple-A Iowa.  The 24-year-old also pitched out of the Major League bullpen in September, going 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA in five relief appearances with the Cubs.  Vizcaino is on the Braves’ 40-man roster and will compete for a bullpen spot this spring, but his limited MLB resume could land him in Gwinnett.
  • Tyrell Jenkins (RHP) – acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals along with Shelby Miller for Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden on November 17.  The Cardinals’ 50th pick in the first round of the 2010 June draft is now one of the top pitching prospects in the Braves’ organization.  Jenkins, 22, put up solid numbers with Advanced-A Palm Beach in 2014, going 6-5 with a 3.28 ERA in 13 starts.  He was also impressive in Arizona Fall League action, going 2-2 with a 2.22 ERA in six starts with the Peoria Javelinas.  He’s slated to make his Double-A debut with Mississippi in 2015, but he could be a candidate for a late-season promotion to Triple-A.
  • Aaron Kurcz (RHP) – acquired from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Anthony Varvaro and cash considerations on December 17.  Kurcz, 24, was a teammate of Bryce Harper at the College of Southern Nevada when the Chicago Cubs selected him in the 10th round of the 2010 June draft.  The Cubs then sent him to Boston in March 2012 as part of the compensation package for hiring Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations.  Kurcz made his debut at Double-A Portland in 2012, going 3-4 with a 3.04 ERA, four saves and 72 strikeouts in 50.1 innings over 29 relief outings.  Unfortunately, Tommy John surgery on his right elbow forced him to miss August and all of the 2013 campaign.  He came back strong with Portland in 2014, going 3-2 with a 2.14 ERA, three saves and 54 strikeouts in 42.0 innings over 34 outings.  Kurcz held opponents to a .204 batting average and didn’t allow a single home run last year.  With plenty of late-inning experience at the Double-A level, he should fill a similar role with Gwinnett in 2015.
  • Jace Peterson (2B) – acquired from the San Diego Padres along with left-hander Max Fried, third baseman Dustin Peterson and outfielder Mallex Smith in exchange for Justin Upton and Aaron Northcraft on December 19.  The 24-year-old Peterson is the only player the Braves received in the J-Up blockbuster that has played above Advanced-A.  San Diego’s first round pick in 2011 out of McNeese State University, Peterson reached the Majors for the first time in 2014, batting .113 with a pair of stolen bases in 58 plate appearances.  The rest of his season was split between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso, where he combined to hit .307 with 24 doubles, six triples, three homers, 46 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 86 games.  Atlanta signed veteran infielder Alberto Callaspo to be the likely stop-gap second baseman until Jose Peraza is ready, but Peterson could contend for that role with a good Spring Training performance.  If he doesn’t make the big club, he could be in the crowded Gwinnett infield mix.
  • Manny Banuelos (LHP) – acquired from the New York Yankees in exchange for David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve on January 1.  Like Kurcz and Fried, Banuelos is another promising prospect set back by recent Tommy John surgery.  The 23-year-old Mexico native was rated the No. 4 prospect in the Yankees’ system by Baseball America prior to the 2011 season.  He made his Triple-A debut that year with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, going 2-2 with a 4.19 ERA in seven starts.  On August 29, 2011, he one-hit the Pawtucket Red Sox over 7.0 scoreless innings, striking out six.  Banuelos returned to Scranton to open 2012, but made just six starts before suffering the left elbow injury in May.  After missing all of 2013 while rehabbing, the southpaw made his return in 2014.  Over 26 appearances between Advanced-A Tampa, Double-A Trenton and Scranton, he went 2-3 with a 4.11 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 76.2 innings.  His final four starts came in the International League, where he went 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 15.0 innings for the RailRiders.  Banuelos has yet to make his Major League debut, but is currently a factor in the Braves’ search for a No. 5 starter.  If he doesn’t win the spot, he’ll likely start in Gwinnett.
  • Michael Foltynewicz (RHP) – acquired from the Houston Astros along with right-hander Andrew Thurman and third baseman Rio Ruiz in exchange for Evan Gattis and James Hoyt on January 14.  Foltynewicz, Houston’s first round pick in 2010, jumps to the head of the class when it comes to Braves’ prospect pitchers.  The 23-year-old made both his Triple-A and Major League debuts in 2014, going 7-7 with a 5.08 ERA in 21 games with Oklahoma City and 0-1 with a 5.30 ERA in 16 games with the Astros.  A power pitcher who has reportedly touched triple digits with his fastball, Foltynewicz will look to improve his control and cut down his ERA in his first season with the Braves.  He could immediately challenge for a Major League bullpen spot this spring, but Atlanta may choose to develop him as a starter in Gwinnett.

Claimed off Waivers:

  • Eury Perez (OF) – claimed off waivers from the New York Yankees on January 23.  The 24-year-old Perez is a top-of-the-order Triple-A hitter that has speed and can play all three outfield spots.  He has had brief call-ups with the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees over the past three seasons, but has been primarily plying his trade in Triple-A Syracuse.  Over 193 games with the Chiefs since 2012, Perez batted a combined .310 with 38 doubles, eight triples, eight home runs, 49 RBIs and 63 stolen bases.  With G-Braves’ all-time hits leader Jose Constanza out of options, Perez could be the guy to take over his table-setting role in Gwinnett.  (EDIT: Constanza, DFA’d on January 28, cleared waivers and was assigned back to Gwinnett on February 5.)

Acquired via Rule 5 Draft:

  • Daniel Winkler (RHP) – selected from the Colorado Rockies in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft on December 11.  Normally, a Major League Rule 5 selection must spend the entire season on his new club’s 25-man roster or be offered back to his old team, but Winkler is an interesting exception.  He is coming off Tommy John surgery performed last June, meaning the Braves can keep him on the Major League disabled list while he rehabs.  Atlanta will likely assign him to minor league rehab outings (potentially with Gwinnett) early in the season, but will have to call him up to the active roster for 90 days to retain him past 2015.  Winkler went 13-7 with a 2.98 ERA and a MiLB-best 175 strikeouts in 2013, then went 5-2 with a 1.41 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 12 starts with Double-A Tulsa last year.
  • Steve Rodriguez (C) – selected from the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Double-A roster in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft on December 11.  Rodriguez, 24, was Arizona’s 15th round pick in the 2011 June draft out of UCLA.  In four seasons in the D-Backs’ system, he batted .225 with 30 doubles, two triples, four home runs and 56 RBIs in 158 games.  He made his Double-A debut with Mobile last year, batting .267 with nine doubles and 11 RBIs in 39 games.  While he didn’t do much with the bat in 2014, he did throw out 50% (19-of-38) of attempting base-stealers in 38 errorless games with the BayBears.  Rodriguez hopes to ride his defense to a Triple-A debut in 2015.

Re-Signed with Braves:

  • Sean Kazmar (INF) – signed to a minor league contract on November 12.  Kazmar, 30, has been a versatile defender and steady bat for the G-Braves for the past two seasons.  After batting .228 in 95 games with Gwinnett in 2013, he posted the highest batting average of his career in 2014, a .297 mark in 67 games.  His production was halted by a left hand fracture suffered in late May, but Kazmar returned in July and batted .299 in 27 games in August.  He capped his season by earning the Gwinnett Braves “Most Competitive Player Award” for 2014.  Expect to see Kazmar at Coolray Field once again in 2015, backing up at second base, third base and shortstop.


Minor League Free Agents:

  • Pedro Ciriaco (2B) – signed to a minor league contract on October 13.  Ciriaco, 29, is a well-traveled Major League infielder, having logged time with the Pittsburgh Pirates (2010-11), Boston Red Sox (2012-13), San Diego Padres (2013) and Kansas City Royals (2013-14).  In 188 career big league games, he has batted .270 with 24 doubles, six triples, four home runs, 36 RBIs and 31 stolen bases.  Despite that experience, Ciriaco played primarily with Triple-A Omaha in 2014, batting .302 and posting a .766 OPS in 62 games.  He brings postseason success with him to Gwinnett after batting .342 in nine playoff games for the Triple-A National Champion Omaha Storm Chasers last year.
  • Sugar Ray Marimon (RHP) – signed to a minor league contract on November 4.  The Braves are just the second organization for Marimon, who spent his previous eight seasons in the minors with the Kansas City Royals.  The 26-year-old made his long awaited Triple-A debut in 2014, going 5-4 with a 3.56 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 83.1 innings for Omaha.  Like Ciriaco, he was an important September piece for the Triple-A National Champion Storm Chasers, going 1-1 with a 1.74 ERA in his two playoff starts.  Marimon is just 27-46 with a 4.14 ERA in 137 career outings (121 starts) in the minors, but may benefit from a fresh start with the Braves.  He should be a strong candidate for the Gwinnett rotation.
  • Greg Smith (LHP) – signed to a minor league contract on November 4.  The veteran southpaw has pitched for seven different organizations prior to joining the Braves, including Arizona (2005-07), Oakland (2008), Colorado (2009-10), New York Yankees (2011), Boston (2011), Los Angeles Angels (2012) and Philadelphia (2013-14).  He has seen time on the Triple-A roster for all seven of those clubs.  Smith’s standout year was 2008, when he made 32 Major League starts for Oakland and went 7-16 with a 4.16 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 190.1 innings.  G-Braves fans will more likely remember him as a staple of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ rotation, where he went 9-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) a year ago.  Consider Smith a challenger for a Gwinnett rotation spot.
  • Francisco Rondon (LHP) – signed to a minor league contract on November 7.  Rondon, 26, has spent all nine of his minor league seasons in the New York Yankees system, going 29-18 with a 3.61 ERA, seven saves and 431 strikeouts in 436.0 innings.  After tastes of Triple-A in 2012 and 2013, he finally caught on with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for a longer stretch in 2014, going 3-1 with a 3.32 ERA over 12 relief outings.  The Santo Domingo, D.R. native could be a relief option in Gwinnett or Double-A Mississippi next year.
  • Donnie Veal (LHP) – signed to a minor league contract and invited to Spring Training on November 10.  As mentioned in a previous post, the 30-year-old Veal will compete for an Atlanta bullpen spot this spring, but could spend ample time with Gwinnett in 2015.  In 100 Major League outings with the Pittsburgh Pirates (2009) and Chicago White Sox (2012-14), he’s 3-3 with a 4.87 ERA, one save and 70 strikeouts in 64.2 innings.  He spent the majority of 2014 with Triple-A Charlotte, going 4-5 with a 5.94 ERA in 37 relief outings.
  • Chien-Ming Wang (RHP) – signed to a minor league contract and invited to Spring Training on November 10.  Also mentioned in a previous post, the 34-year-old Wang is the most notable addition to the Gwinnett pitching staff thus far.  Seven years and several injuries removed from his consecutive 19-win seasons with the New York Yankees in 2006 and 2007, Wang is now considered a Triple-A workhorse.  He led the International League with 28 starts in 2014, going 13-8 with a 4.12 ERA between the Louisville Bats and the Charlotte Knights.  His strikeout ratio was low (73 SO in 172.2 IP), but his groundout/flyout ratio was an impressive 1.78.  Wang should headline the Gwinnett rotation in 2015.
  • Victor Mateo (RHP) – signed to a minor league contract on November 13.  Mateo, 25, joins the Braves after spending his first eight minor league seasons in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.  He hasn’t yet reached the Triple-A level, but is coming off back-to-back solid seasons as a starter for Double-A Montgomery.  In 2013, he went 7-9 with a 3.93 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 153.1 innings for the Biscuits.  Last season, he matched a career high with 12 wins, going 12-11 with a 3.90 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 166.0 innings.  Mateo appears poised to advance to Triple-A for the first time in 2015, but a glut of experienced starters in Gwinnett could mean a trip to Mississippi.
  • Corban Joseph (1B) – signed to a minor league contract on November 19.  The New York Yankees’ fourth round selection in the 2008 June draft, Joseph spent seven seasons with the club before being released on August 27.  He made his Triple-A debut in 2012 with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, batting .266 with 25 doubles, 13 home runs, 56 RBIs and an .840 OPS.  His 2013 season was highlighted by his Major League debut with the Yankees — a two-game stint as the 26th man during a doubleheader on May 13 — but also included a torn labrum injury in his right shoulder that required surgery in June.  He returned to Triple-A in 2014 and hit .268 with four homers and 28 RBIs in 70 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Joseph, 26, could be a potent left-handed bat for the G-Braves as he seeks to play a full season for the first time since 2012.

  • Jake Brigham (RHP) – signed to a minor league contract on November 20.  Brigham, 26, has experienced a lot in eight minor league seasons prior to joining the Braves.  Originally selected by the Texas Rangers in the sixth round in 2006, Brigham underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007 and missed all of 2008.  He returned from the injury in 2009 and reached as high as Double-A Frisco in 2012, going 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 21 starts.  The Rangers traded him to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for catcher Geovany Soto at the 2012 trade deadline, but got him back from the Cubs via trade the following November.  Brigham made his Triple-A debut with Round Rock in 2013, going 5-5 with a 4.51 ERA in 26 games (18 starts).  The Rangers didn’t re-sign him after 2013, and he moved on to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.  Last year at Triple-A Indianapolis, he went 3-5 with a 4.29 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 92.1 innings over 18 games (14 starts).  Brigham profiles to be in Gwinnett, but a definite fit isn’t clear.
  • Travis Mattair (1B) – signed to a minor league contract on November 20.  The 25-year-old Mattair has yet to play above Double-A, but is an intriguing prospect that could be ready for the next level.  Originally drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the second round of the 2007 June draft, Mattair was selected during the Triple-A phase of the 2012 Rule 5 Draft by the Cincinnati Reds.  In two seasons with the Reds’ Double-A affiliate in Pensacola, he combined to hit .240 with 42 doubles, 26 home runs and 126 RBIs in 263 games.  He also struck out 239 times in that span, a rate he’ll have to cut down in order to proceed to Triple-A.  Mattair could be headed for Gwinnett, but is more likely to be in Mississippi.
  • Jairo Heredia (RHP) – signed to a minor league contract on November 20.  Another former Pinstripes prospect, Heredia joins the Braves after seven seasons in the New York Yankees’ system.  The 25-year-old Dominican Republic native was rated the Yankees’ No. 12 prospect by Baseball America back in 2009.  He spent most of 2014 with Double-A Trenton, going 4-1 with a 3.53 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 71.1 innings over 26 games (10 starts).  Heredia also pitched five times for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year, going 1-0 with a 7.53 ERA and 16 strikeouts over 14.1 innings in five games (1 start).  He likely starts out in Double-A Mississippi in 2015.
  • K.D. Kang (OF) – signed to a minor league contract on November 21.  Though born in South Korea, the 26-year-old Kang has ties to Gwinnett County.  He attended Parkview High School in Lilburn, GA, the same school that produced former Braves outfielder and current Philadelphia Phillies farmhand Jeff Francoeur.  The Tampa Bay Rays drafted Kang in the 15th round in 2006, and he spent seven seasons in their minor league system before signing with Baltimore for 2014.  The left-handed hitter has batted .269 with 150 doubles, 38 triples, 68 home runs, 307 RBIs and 37 stolen bases in 726 minor league games, stats reflecting decent power and speed.  He has yet to reach the Triple-A level, however, spending nearly all of his time with Double-A affiliates the past four seasons.  Last year, Kang batted .282 with 22 doubles, three triples, 12 homers and 37 RBIs in 100 games with Bowie of the Orioles’ system.  He looks poised to make his Triple-A debut in Gwinnett sometime in 2015.
  • Michael Kohn (RHP) – signed to a minor league contract and invited to Spring Training on December 4.  Like Veal, Kohn is a reliever with quality Major League experience that the Braves will take a long look at this spring.  Over parts of four seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, he combined to go 5-6 with a 3.67 ERA, two saves and 107 strikeouts in 110.1 innings.  In 2014, Kohn made 25 big league appearances, going 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA.  He’s also a veteran of four Triple-A seasons with Salt Lake, where he went 5-6 with a 3.62 ERA in 110 relief outings.  The Camden, SC native could end up a G-Brave, but certainly has the ability to pitch for Atlanta as needed.
  • Joe Benson (OF) – signed to a minor league contract on January 7.  The Minnesota Twins’ second round pick in 2006, Benson was regarded by Baseball America as the Twins’ No. 2 prospect in 2008.  He spent seven seasons with the Twins, making a 21-game Major League debut back in 2011 (.239, 17-for-71, 2 RBI, 2 SB).  Benson has not since returned to the Majors in stints with the Texas Rangers and Miami Marlins, and he spent most of 2014 with Miami’s Double-A affiliate in Jacksonville (.264, 10 HR, 62 RBI in 124 games).  Though he’s logged 861 minor league games — including 70 games with Triple-A Rochester from 2012 to 2013 — he’s still just 26 years old and has upside.  Time will tell how he fits into a Gwinnett outfield that could return Todd Cunningham, Edward Salcedo and Joey Terdoslavich.
  • Leyson Septimo (LHP) – signed to a minor league contract on January 7.  The continued search for left-handed relief depth led to the 29-year-old Septimo, who pitched for Southern Maryland of the independent Atlantic League last season (0-0, 14.85 ERA in 8 games).  Septimo was originally signed as an outfielder by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2003 and began his conversion to the mound in 2008.  The Chicago White Sox claimed him off waivers in June 2011, and he spent most of 2012 and 2013 working out of the Triple-A Charlotte bullpen.  He went 2-1 with a paltry 1.31 ERA in 24 outings for the Knights in 2012, but followed up with a 2-1 record and 4.42 ERA in 28 games in 2013.  Septimo does have big league experience, 21 appearances with the White Sox in 2012 when he went 0-2 with a 5.02 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 14.1 innings.  If Septimo regains his 2012 form, he could be another sleeper Independent League find for the Braves on the order of Carlos Fisher last season.
  • David Carpenter (RHP) – signed to a minor league contract on January 17.  The OTHER David Carpenter joins the Braves after six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.  The Angels’ ninth round pick in 2009, Carpenter has spent parts of the last three seasons with Triple-A Salt Lake.  In 60 games with the Bees, he combined to go 7-2 with a 5.58 ERA, six saves and 67 strikeouts in 80.2 innings.  After posting a 9.48 ERA in 24 outings with Salt Lake in 2013, he dropped his ERA down to 3.34 in 21 games last season.  Carpenter has logged 30 appearances in the Majors with Los Angeles, but 28 of those came back in 2012 when he went 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA.  He is likely to spend some time in Gwinnett next season.
  • John Buck (C) – signed to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training on January 25.  The well-traveled Buck has played for Kansas City, Toronto, Florida/Miami, New York (NL), Pittsburgh, Seattle and Los Angeles (AL) over an 11-year Major League career.  In 1,090 big league games, he has combined to bat .234 with 134 home runs an 491 RBIs.  Back in 2010, he was an American League All-Star with the Blue Jays thanks to career highs in batting average (.281), homers (20) and RBIs (66).  The 34-year-old did spend 33 games with Triple-A Salt Lake in the Angels’ system last year, and could end up in the same role within the Braves’ system — veteran catcher providing depth in Gwinnett.
  • Jesus Flores (C) – signed to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training on January 26.  Flores is another seasoned catcher added with depth in mind.  He spent five years with the Washington Nationals from 2007-12, batting .241 with 23 homers and 127 RBIs in 311 games.  Last season, he made the move to the Kansas City Royals’ system, but played in just 40 games with Triple-A Omaha before being released on July 23.  Flores is one of eight catchers the Braves extended non-roster invites to, but he and Buck stand as the most Major League ready backstops of the group.

Notable 2014 G-Braves that have gone elsewhere, or are currently free agents:

  • Mitch Atkins (RHP) – signed with the Texas Rangers.
  • Pedro Beato (RHP) – currently a free agent.
  • Brandon Boggs (OF) – currently a free agent.
  • Ryan Buchter (LHP) – signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Terry Doyle (RHP) – signed with the Baltimore Orioles.
  • James Hoyt (RHP) – traded to the Houston Astros.
  • Tommy La Stella (2B) – traded to the Chicago Cubs.
  • Steve Lerud (C) – signed with the Washington Nationals.
  • Ozzie Martinez (INF) – signed with the Baltimore Orioles.
  • Donnie Murphy (INF) – currently a free agent.
  • Aaron Northcraft (RHP) – traded to the San Diego Padres.
  • Daniel Rodriguez (LHP) – traded to the Baltimore Orioles.
  • Edward Salcedo (OF/3B) – traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Gus Schlosser (RHP) – traded to the Colorado Rockies.
  • Chasen Shreve (LHP) – traded to the New York Yankees.
  • Atahualpa Severino (LHP) – signed with the Los Angeles Angels.
  • Zach Stewart (RHP) – signed with the Los Angeles Angels.

Please check back for further updates as the offseason continues, and remember to follow @GBravesMedia for baseball-related G-Braves news.

-DL

G-Braves Hot Stove: La Stella Traded for Vizcaino

The Atlanta Braves traded one former G-Brave for another yesterday, sending infielder Tommy La Stella and an international bonus pool slot (No. 4) to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for right-hander Arodys Vizcaino and three international bonus pool slots (No. 2, No. 3, No. 4).

Time for a G-Braves-centric look at the trade:

La Stella entered 2014 with plenty of hype, having earned the Braves’ “Best Hitter for Average” and “Best Strike Zone Discipline” distinctions from Baseball America.  Though he didn’t display much power in his Triple-A debut, he was as-advertised for Gwinnett, batting .293 with a .384 on-base percentage in 47 games.  He ranked among International League leaders in lowest TPA/SO ratio (2nd, 1 SO/14.21 TPA), walks (T-8th, 25) and on-base percentage (10th) as of May 28, and Atlanta rewarded him with his first Major League call-up.

A few more of La Stella’s Gwinnett highlights:

  • He reached base safely in 21 consecutive games from April 10 to May 2, batting .325 (27-for-83) with one double and 14 RBIs.  It was the longest on-base streak by a G-Brave in 2014.
  • In 23 games at Coolray Field, he batted .346 (27-for-78) with two doubles and eight RBIs.
  • In his final game with Gwinnett on May 27 at Pawtucket, he belted his first career Triple-A home run, a two-run shot off RHP Matt Barnes.

La Stella started hot in the Majors, batting .411 with nine multi-hit games over his first 16 contests.  He leveled off, however, batting .251 with 16 doubles, one home run and 31 RBIs in 93 total games with the Braves.  By season’s end, he saw decreased playing time with the emergence of fellow former G-Brave Phil Gosselin.

In sending La Stella to the Cubs, the Braves have helped clear up their second base log-jam.  Gosselin is a good bet to be the Braves’ starting second baseman next April, but he may only be a placeholder for Jose Peraza.  The Braves’ top prospect and 2014 Minor League Player of the Year, Peraza batted .339 with a .364 on-base percentage and 60 stolen bases between two levels last season, but hasn’t yet played above Double-A.  He could follow the same path as La Stella, starting the year in a Gwinnett uniform before earning a Major League call-up during the season.  Second base sets up to be an intriguing spot for the G-Braves in 2015, as Gosselin, Peraza or Tyler Pastornicky could see time at the position.

Yesterday’s trade also brings the hard-throwing Vizcaino back to the Braves organization.  Before Tommy John surgery in 2012 and a trade to the Cubs that July, he was included with Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado as the next wave of prospect pitchers bound for Atlanta.  The Coolray Field faithful saw him briefly during the pitching-rich 2011 season, when he went 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA, no walks and eight strikeouts in 7.0 innings with Gwinnett.  Vizcaino made his Major League debut with Atlanta that same season, going 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA, nine walks and 17 strikeouts in 17 games, 17.1 innings.

Vizcaino had a comeback year in 2014, as he went 1-1 with a 3.51 ERA, 18 walks and 42 strikeouts over 41.0 innings in the Cubs’ minor league system.  His September call-up to Chicago produced a 5.40 ERA in five outings, 5.0 innings.

Arodys Vizcaino went 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in six relief outings with Gwinnett in 2011.

Arodys Vizcaino went 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in six relief outings with Gwinnett in 2011. (Gwinnett Braves)

Though Vizcaino logged most of his appearances at Triple-A Iowa, he was certainly acquired to compete for a bullpen spot with Atlanta this Spring.  His addition also provides competition for another flame-throwing former G-Brave, right-hander Juan Jaime.  Jaime and his upper-90’s fastball have been impressive in both Gwinnett and Atlanta, but he’ll have to improve his control and limit his walks (45 in 53.1 combined innings) to stick in the Majors.

This deal in the long run seems to be more about the international bonus pool slots and the minor league depth the Braves can build with them, but it also helps Atlanta bolster their pitching staff while clearing up the picture at second base.

-DL

G-Braves Hot Stove: Almonte, Wang and Veal

Chien-Ming Wang went 13-8 with a 4.12 ERA in 28 Triple-A starts in 2014.  (Credit Tommy Viola / Charlotte Knights)

Chien-Ming Wang went 13-8 with a 4.12 ERA in 28 Triple-A starts in 2014. (Photo by: Tommy Viola / Charlotte Knights)

Following a historic front office revamp in October, the Atlanta Braves are preparing for their most important Hot Stove season in recent franchise history.  Here at the G-Blog, we’ll periodically take a look at some of the players that President of Baseball Operations John Hart and the new regime are bringing in, specifically those that will have an impact on the 2015 roster here in Gwinnett.

Yesterday marked Atlanta’s first foray into Major/Minor League free agency this offseason, as the club announced the signing of outfielder Zoilo Almonte to a one-year Major League deal and pitchers Chien-Ming Wang and Donnie Veal to Minor League deals.  While these acquisitions aren’t the most notable the Braves will make this winter, they are proof that Hart and company are committed to building a deeper organization through the addition of established veterans.

Anyone who follows the Gwinnett Braves or the Triple-A International League closely will be familiar with all three players.  Almonte, Wang and Veal all spent significant time in the IL last season, and each played against the G-Braves on more than one occasion.

Almonte, on Atlanta’s 40-man roster, will contend for a spot on the 25-man Major League roster this Spring.  He’s the youngest of the three acquisitions at age 25, and he’s logged brief stints with the New York Yankees in each of the past two seasons. Almonte has never quite settled in at the plate in the big leagues, batting .211 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 47 career games, but he’s done plenty at the Triple-A level to make him an intriguing prospect.  In 105 games with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders last year, he batted .261 with 18 doubles, 18 home runs and 69 RBIs.  His banner performance of 2014 occurred against Gwinnett at Coolray Field from July 23-24, a game that took two days to complete due to rain.  Almonte went 4-for-6 with three homers and seven RBIs in a 12-4 rout of the G-Braves, launching solo and three-run shots off Kanekoa Texeira and adding another three-run clout off Carlos Fisher.

Almonte is reportedly out of options and would have to clear waivers should the Braves ever want to send him to Gwinnett, so it’s unlikely that he’ll bring his homer show back to Coolray Field in 2015.  That’s not to say his addition won’t have an effect on the G-Braves’ roster.  IL veterans Todd Cunningham and Joey Terdoslavich, also competitors for the Atlanta bench, are now more likely to return to Gwinnett for their third and fourth seasons, respectively.  Cunningham (.287, 8 HR, 58 RBI, 19 SB) and Terdoslavich (.256, 15 HR, 61 RBI) both had productive Triple-A seasons a year ago.

In contrast to Almonte, Wang appears to be specifically signed to help the Gwinnett roster.  The Taiwanese right-hander posted back-to-back 19-win seasons with the New York Yankees in 2006 and 2007, but suffered a career-altering foot injury in 2008 and has since seen his profile transition to Triple-A workhorse.  Since the start of 2011, the 34-year-old has made twice as many starts in the International League (50) as he has in the Major Leagues (22).  Last year, Wang made an IL-best 28 starts with two organizations, going 13-8 with a 4.12 ERA with the Louisville Bats (Cincinnati Reds) and the Charlotte Knights (Chicago White Sox).  He struck out just 73 batters over 172.2 innings, but kept the ball on the ground with a 1.78 groundout/flyout ratio and only six homers allowed.

Much like Almonte, Wang had success facing the G-Braves last year.  He went 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA in two starts while with Louisville, then finished 3-0 with a 3.54 ERA in three starts with Charlotte.  He worked at least 6.0 innings in four of his five meetings with Gwinnett, including 7.1 scoreless, nine-hit frames in a win with the Bats on June 14.

If he joins Gwinnett, Wang would be the elder statesman of a starting rotation that could include returnees Cody Martin (7-8, 3.52) and Aaron Northcraft (7-10, 4.70) and Double-A standouts Jason Hursh (11-7, 3.58) and Williams Perez (7-6, 2.91).  Another season of 170-plus innings from Wang would also help keep the bullpen fresh in 2015.

Speaking of the Gwinnett bullpen, that’s where you might find the left-handed Veal come April.  Veal, a second-round pick by the Chicago Cubs back in 2005, has had a taste of the Majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago White Sox.  In 100 total games from 2009 through 2014, he went 3-3 with a 4.87 ERA and one save.  His best year was 2011, when he went 0-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 24 relief outings with the White Sox.  Far more of his time has been spent at the Triple-A level, where he logged 25 games with the Indianapolis Indians from 2009-2011 and 89 games with the Charlotte Knights from 2012-2014.

After going 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 17 relief outings for Charlotte in 2013, Veal took a step back in 2014, going 4-5 with a 5.94 ERA in 37 appearances.  Against Gwinnett, he went 0-0 with a 9.00 ERA in three meetings.  Though his recent numbers don’t impress, the 30-year-old southpaw will get a look in Major League camp this Spring.  Should he fail to make the Atlanta roster, he’ll be an asset for a Gwinnett bullpen in flux.  Of last year’s G-Braves relief staff, right-hander Pedro Beato and left-handers Ryan Buchter and Atahualpa Severino are all Minor League free agents.  That trio combined to make 131 appearances for the club last season.

Yesterday’s moves don’t represent a “big splash” at the Major League level, but they are the Atlanta Braves’ first steps toward building better organizational depth — and a better Triple-A club — in 2015.

-DL

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (54-67) vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (68-54)

Pitching Probables

Mon: Zach Stewart (5-3, 4.42) vs. LHP Chris Hernandez (4-7, 4.15)

Tue: Cody Martin (6-7, 3.84) vs. Steven Wright (5-2, 2.70)

Wed: Aaron Northcraft (0-6, 6.33) vs. Anthony Ranaudo (13-4, 2.58)

Thu: Kanekoa Texeira (3-3, 4.59) vs. Matt Barnes (5-8, 4.36)

The Gwinnett Braves and the Pawtucket Red Sox meet for the final time in the 2014 season starting on Monday, August 11 at 6:35 PM at Coolray Field. The two squads split the series in Rhode Island during the month of May. Since then, the teams are going in opposite directions as the G-Braves have fallen to last place in the South division, while the Red Sox are closing in a playoff berth for the second straight season.

Joe Leonard (Photo Credit: KarlLMoore)

Joe Leonard (Photo Credit: KarlLMoore)

Pitching: Gwinnett will go with four right-handers for their series against the Red Sox.

Stewart is the only one with experience against the Red Sox this season. On May 29, he tossed 7.1 innings, scattering six hits, allowing three runs with three strikeouts to pick up his third win of the season. Since, Stewart has spent some time on the DL and worked out of the bullpen in his last four appearances. He will make his first start since June 3.

Pawtucket, featuring the second-best staff in the International League with a 3.50 ERA, will look to tame the fourth best offense in the league.

Hurlers Steven Wright and Anthony Ranaudo will look to continue their dominance of IL opponents. Ranaudo has a league-best 13 wins, while his 2.58 ERA ranks third in the league. On May 26, he tossed 6.2 scoreless innings against the G-Braves to collect his fifth win of the season. Ranaudo made his MLB debut on August 1 against the New York Yankees.

Wright joined Pawtucket halfway through the season. In 12 starts for the Red sox, he is 5-2 with a 2.70 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 72.2 innings. He second on the team in ERA, fourth in starts and tied for third in wins. After posting a 4-1 record with a 2.04 ERA in eight starts prior to the All-Star break, Wright has gone 1-1 with a 4.18 ERA in four starts since the mid-summer classic.

Batting: Gwinnett enters the series 13th in homers (70) and 11th in runs scored (497), but fourth in batting average (.268). The Braves have struggled with runners on base, leaving a total of 878 runners behind.

Joe Leonard is on fire. He has hit in six straight games and is batting .526 (10-for-19) with two doubles, one homer and six RBIs during the month of August. The infielder clubbed his first career Triple on August 6 at Charlotte. It was his first homer in over 208 games.

Joining Leonard with a hot bat has been Ozzie Martinez. The middle infielder is hitting .429 (9-for-21) with one double and three RBI in six game during the month of August.

Pawtucket’s offense will be led by Mookie Betts. In 38 games with the Paw Sox, he is batting .325 (50-for-154) with eight doubles, two triples, five homers and 27 RBI. He has nine stolen bases in 13 attempts.

G-Bites: Chasen Shreve has been a great addition to the Gwinnett bullpen. Since being optioned to Gwinnett, the lefty is 0-0 with two saves in four appearances with the G-Braves. He has allowed three hits and has six strikeouts in 4.0 innings.

“Good things come to those who believe, better things come to those who are patient, and the best things come to those who dont give up.”

-JD-

 

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