Results tagged ‘ Atlanta Braves ’

Fred McGriff visits Gwinnett as part of new position with Braves

Former Atlanta Braves' first baseman Fred McGriff throws a ceremonial first pitch before the G-Braves' game on July 7 against the Norfolk Tides.

Former Atlanta Braves’ first baseman Fred McGriff throws a ceremonial first pitch before the G-Braves’ game on July 7 against the Norfolk Tides.

Former Atlanta Braves first baseman Fred McGriff stopped by Coolray Field for the first time during the Gwinnett Braves’ final homestand before the All-Star Break to offer his insights and knowledge to the next wave of potential Braves’ stars.

“We’ve got some good players here, some young, some a little older,” said McGriffl, who threw a ceremonial first pitch before the G-Braves’ game on July 7 against the Norfolk Tides. “It’s cool. You’ve got good coaches here.”

The man who held the first base position in Atlanta from 1993-97 returned to the organization this season as a special assistant to baseball operations. He attended Major League Spring Training and has focused on professional scouting during the season.

He said it was also his first chance to see and work with players such as center fielder Mallex Smith, second baseman Jose Peraza and right-handed starter Mike Foltynewicz, who has sinced been recalled to Atlanta for the second time this season.

“This is my first year with the Braves’ organization so I’m just trying to learn all of the different players,” he said.

So far, McGriff said he has been impressed with the number of highly talented players in the system, particularly on the pitching side of the game.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who throw real hard,” he said. “Now it’s just a matter of getting the guys to get some experience, let them work their way through the minors and learn how to pitch so once they finally get up to the big leagues they can stay up in the big leagues.”

McGriff hit 493 home runs during his 19-year career in the Major Leagues that stretched from 1986-2004 with the Braves, Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers.

In his new job, he said he was involved in the June free agent draft process after he spent early portions of the season scouting high school and college players, including a stop at the SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover, AL. He said he has also been introduced to the analytical side of the game.

“To see it from a scout’s standpoint and see what they do and everything, how they put in their scouting reports and their lingo, it’s a different lingo,” McGriff said.

He has combined those lessons with his experiences from more than two decades in the game to try to help the current generation of young players make the most of their opportunities in the sport.

“If I can help one guy, if I can say something to one kid that helps them get to the big leagues, then it’s all worth it,” McGriff said.

McGriff laughs with Atlanta Braves Senior Advisor to Player Development Lee Elia (left) and Gwinnett Braves hitting coach John Moses before the G-Braves' game on July 7 vs. the Norfolk Tides.

McGriff laughs with Atlanta Braves Senior Advisor to Player Development Lee Elia (left) and Gwinnett Braves hitting coach John Moses before the G-Braves’ game on July 7 vs. the Norfolk Tides.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (42-42) vs. Norfolk Tides (47-35)

Pitching probables

Tues: RHP Kanekoa Texeira (0-2, 4.11 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Bowden (6-2, 2.17 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Wed: LHP Greg Smith (3-3, 2.52 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Wright (4-0, 3.07 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Thurs: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (1-5, 3.15 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Wilson (3-4, 3.18 ERA), 12:05 p.m.

Kanekoa Texeira (Karl Moore)

Kanekoa Texeira (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves finish their final homestand before the All-Star Break with three games against the International South Division-leading Norfolk Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. Gwinnett is back at the .500 mark after it lost four straight games to the Charlotte Knights from Friday through Monday. The final two losses were each by one run, and Charlotte has now taken eight of the 10 games between the clubs so far this season. The G-Braves have fared better against the Tides. They are 6-5 against Norfolk this year despite being outscored 41-31 in those contests. The teams split each of their first three series, and Gwinnett won two of three from June 8-10 at Coolray Field.

Norfolk was shutout by the Durham Bulls in the finale of their three-game series on Monday, but that was the third loss in the Tides’ last 13 games dating back to June 21. That hot streak has propelled them to a 0.5-game lead in the division over Charlotte, 4.0 games ahead of Durham and 6.0 in front of the G-Braves. Norfolk is also the only team in the division without a losing record in any month. The Tides went  a combined 33-23 in May and June, and they have gone 24-21 on the road. Gwinnett is an even 22-22 at home this year.

Pitching: The G-Braves hold the IL’s third-lowest team ERA at 3.17, but that is still shy of Norfolk’s league-leading 2.93 mark. Tides’ pitchers have thrown a combined 10 shutouts, which are tied for the most in the league, and their 244 walks are the third-fewest of any IL team. Gwinnett pitchers have issued the fourth-most walks in the league with 285. but they hold an advantage in strikeouts over the Tides, 605-577, and they have posted one fewer shutout than Norfolk with nine on the season. Neither team allows many home runs, as Norfolk’s 38 are tied for the third-fewest and Gwinnett’s 41 are the fifth-fewest.

None of pitchers who comprise the G-Braves’ current starting rotation have thrown enough innings to qualify for the league leaderboard, although Smith’s 2.52 ERA would be the third-lowest if he had enough innings. Norfolk’s Bowden leads that category with his 2.17 ERA to go with a 6-2 record. He edged out former Gwinnett left-handed starter Manny Banuelos for the top spot with 7.0 scoreless innings on July 1 vs. Charlotte. The Atlanta Braves called up Banuelos to make his Major League debut the following night. Norfolk pitchers hold three of the top six spots on the IL individual ERA leaderboard among qualified starters. Left-hander Chris Jones has a 2.59 ERA through 11 starts (19 appearances) that is good for third-lowest, and righty Zach Davies’ 2.70 ERA is the sixth-lowest. In the Tides’ bullpen, right-handed reliever Oliver Drake is third in the league with 14 saves, and righty Cesar Cabral leads the league with 10 holds.

Hitting: The Tides also hold an advantage offensively with a .260 team batting average that ranks fourth in the IL compared to Gwinnett’s .255 mark that puts them ninth in the league. Norfolk has scored five or more runs in half of their 16-game hot stretch, and the club has done so without a lineup that hits a bunch of home runs or steals many bases. The Tides rank 10th in the league with 41 homers and 13th in stolen bases with 33. Gwinnett has by far the fewest home runs in the league. It’s 26 are seven behind the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ for 13th in the league, but the G-Braves are one stolen base behind the Indianapolis Indians for the league lead in that department.

Jose Peraza leads the Gwinnett offense with 90 hits, which tie him for third in the IL in that category. He also is tied for fourth in the league with 22 steals and leads the team with 29 multi-hit efforts. The 21-year-old second baseman has hit safely in five of his last six games, going 8-for-25 (.320) in that stretch to put his season average at .288. Catcher Christian Bethancourt has been the G-Braves’ hottest hitter since Atlanta optioned him on June 15. He has batted .338 in 16 games with Gwinnett and has at least one hit in 13 of those contests to go with one home run, four doubles, seven RBIs, seven runs scored and five stolen bases without being caught.

Norfolk’s catcher Steve Clevenger has also been on fire of late. He has hit safely in seven of his last nine games and has a .337 average in 48 games with the club, although he does not have enough at-bats to qualify in the batting race. A left-handed hitter, Clevenger has pounded right-handed pitchers in the IL at a .387 rate with all three of his home runs, all seven of his doubles and 21 of his 22 RBIs. Lefties have held him to a .179 batting average. He has played four games for Baltimore this season, going 5-for-11 with a double, an RBI and a run scored from May 28 through June 3.

G-Bites: Atlanta traded right-handed reliever Aaron Kurcz on Monday to the Oakland Athletics for International Bonus Slot No. 113. Kurcz had gone 4-3 with a 3.27 ERA and a team-high seven saves in 11 attempts in 31 relief appearances for the G-Braves this season…Gwinnett lost two other members of its bullpen to Major League promotions on Monday when Atlanta called up right-handers Arodys Vizcaino and David Carpenter… Vizcaino made two 1.0-inning appearances for Gwinnett after joining the club on Friday in his return from an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. Carpenter began the season with the G-Braves and led the team’s relief corps with a 0.73 ERA in 27 appearances while holding opponents to a .183 batting average…In their place, the Braves acquired left-hander Mitch Lambson from the Houston Astros for cash considerations and activated righty Peter Moylan from the disabled list…Lambson had most recently been with the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies, going 0-0 with a 2.60 ERA in 13 outings. Moylan is 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA in 12 appearances since he joined the team in early June…The G-Braves will finish their schedule before the All-Star break with three road games against Durham from Friday-Sunday.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (42-39) vs. Charlotte Knights (45-37)

Pitching probables

Sat: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (1-4, 3.40 ERA) vs. RHP Shawn Haviland (3-4, 4.60 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: TBA vs. RHP Terance Marin (2-0, 0.00 ERA), 2:05 p.m.

Mon: TBA vs. RHP Kyle Drabek (3-5, 2.86 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Mike Foltynewicz (Karl Moore)

Mike Foltynewicz (Karl Moore)

The Charlotte Knights ended the Gwinnett Braves’ season-high, five-game winning streak on Friday when they drubbed the G-Braves 11-2 in the second game of a doubleheader at BB&T Ballpark. The G-Braves won the first game of the twin bill 11-4  and enter the homestand three games above the .500 mark and 4.0 games behind the International League South Division-leading Norfolk Tides, although they remain in the division cellar. The Knights are in second place in the four-team division, 1.5 games behind Norfolk.

The two victories to open the series at Charlotte were the first two for the G-Braves against the Knights this season, as Charlotte won four straight over Gwinnett in their only other meetings this season from April 15-18. However, only two of the G-Braves’ five losses to Charlotte have been by more than two runs. Gwinnett is three games above .500 at home, 22-19, compared to 20-20 on the road. It also has a lower ERA (2.95 to 3.44) and a higher batting average (.266 to .248) at Coolray Field, although they’ve hit 16 of their 24 home runs in road games.

Pitching: Gwinnett holds the fourth-lowest team ERA in the IL this season at 3.19, while Charlotte is sixth with a 3.53 mark. G-Braves’ pitchers have also allowed 11 fewer home runs (40 to 51). The Knights hold an advantage in the walks and strikeouts departments, however. Charlotte pitchers have struck out the most hitters of any team in the IL with 646, which is 49 more than the second-place Rochester Red Wings in that category (597). Gwinnett comes in with 598 K’s, which is tied for the sixth-most in the league. The Knights are tied for the fourth-fewest walks allowed in the league with 241, while G-Braves’ hurlers have the fourth-most in the league at 272.

The G-Braves will face the pitcher with the second-lowest WHIP in the IL (1.12) on Monday when Drabek starts the series finale. He also has the fifth-lowest opponents batting average at .216 among qualified pitchers. His 2.86 ERA is tied for the ninth-lowest with teammate right-hander Erik Johnson, who leads the league in strikeouts with 96. The G-Braves will not face Johnson during their six-game, home-and-home series against the Knights, as Charlotte skipped his turn in the rotation to give him extra rest.

Gwinnett lost two members of its starting rotation last week. The Atlanta Braves promoted left-hander Manny Banuelos on Thursday to make his Major League debut. They also traded right-hander Cody Martin to the Oakland Athletics the same day in exchange for international bonus slot money. Banuelos has the second-lowest ERA among qualified pitchers in the IL with a 2.29 mark at the time of his promotion. Martin was 1-3 with a 2.10 ERA in seven outings (six starts) for Gwinnett, but he also made 21 relief appearances for Atlanta. He was Gwinnett’s “Most Outstanding Pitcher” in 2014.

Hitting: The Gwinnett offense has exploded for six or more runs in three of its last four games, going 3-1 in those contests. It was also the first time the G-Braves have scored six or more in at least three consecutive games this season, which helped raise their team batting average to .257. That places them one point behind a three-way tie for sixth in the league in that department. The Knights, meanwhile, come to Coolray Field with a .260 team average that ranks fourth in the league. They have also slugged the most home runs (68) and stolen the third-most bases (87). Gwinnett sits at the bottom of the league in homers with 24 but is tied for the league lead in steals with 91.

G-Braves’ second baseman Jose Peraza has not gone more than one game without a hit since a two-game stretch from May 30-June 3. His batting average sits at .282 for the season, but he has the fifth-most hits in the IL with 85, the most sacrifice hits of anyone in the league with 11 and the fourth-best strikeouts-per-plate-appearance ratio at 11.00.

Charlotte outfielder Trayce Thompson was elected to start the Triple-A All-Star Game for the IL, as he had the third-most extra-base hits of anybody in the league with 32. He also holds the fifth-highest slugging percentage at .451, has scored the second-most runs with 44 and has the second most total bases with 138. His teammate Matt Davidson, who is slated to start the game as the IL’s designated hitter, is tied for the league lead in home runs with 13. On the speed side, Charlotte’s Tyler Saladino (24) and Leury Garcia (23) and the third- and fourth-most stolen bases in the league, respectively.

G-Bites: The G-Braves have received three new pitchers since they left Coolray Field on June 25 for a nine-game road trip. Right-hander Jorge Reyes, lefty Matt Marksberry and righty Arodys Vizcaino are with the team as it returns for the homestand. Reyes gave up eight runs in 5.0 innings in the nightcap of the doubleheader on Friday, while Marksberry made two relief appearances and gave up one run in 3.0 innings. Vizcaino joined the team on Friday and has not yet pitched…In conjunction with those additions, right-handers Peter Moylan and Sugar Ray Marimon went on the disabled list…On the same day he was promoted to the Majors, the IL announced on Thursday that Banuelos was elected to the All-Star Game for the IL…The G-Braves will host Norfolk for three games from July 7-9 to complete their final homestand before the All-Star Break.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (33-35) vs. Indianapolis Indians (42-28)

Pitching probables (all games at 6:35 p.m.)

Mon: LHP Manny Banuelos (5-2, 2.29 ERA) vs. RHP Wilfredo Boscan (4-2, 4.42 ERA)

Tues: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (3-2, 3.60 ERA) vs. LHP Clayton Richard (3-1, 1.88 ERA)

Wed: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (0-4, 3.90 ERA) vs. RHP Adrian Sampson (6-5, 3.39 ERA)

Thurs: RHP Cody Martin (1-2, 2.21 ERA) vs. RHP Angel Sanchez (0-0, 7.20 ERA)

Manny Banuelos (Karl Moore)

Manny Banuelos (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves roll into their four-game series vs. the Indianapolis Indians, the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, fresh off a “walk-off” 6-5 win Sunday when outfielder Eric Young, Jr. struck a two-run single to beat the Pawtucket Red Sox in the ninth inning. That victory saved the G-Braves from a sweep, as Pawtucket took the first two games by scores of 7-5 and 5-4, respectively. Still, Gwinnett sits in fourth place in the International League South Division, while the Indians lead the IL West and have the best record in the league, 14 games above the .500 mark.

However, Indianapolis enters the series on a three-game losing streak after they were swept by the Charlotte Knights during the first stop on their road trip. The Indians were outscored 24-6 in the three-game series. Before that series, however, Indianapolis had won 10 of 12 games and had a seven-game winning streak from June 5-11. That stretch included three wins in four games over the G-Braves at Victory Field in Indianapolis. None of their victories were by more than two runs, and Gwinnett’s only win of the series was an 8-7 victory on June 12. The G-Braves, meanwhile, are 6-7 in their last 13 games and have not won two consecutive games since a three-game winning streak from June 3-6.

Pitching: Gwinnett pitchers struggled with their control during their series vs. the PawSox. Starters Foltynewicz (four), Martin (career-high-tying six) and White (five) issued a combined 15 walks and averaged nearly a walk per inning. The team gave Pawtucket 21 free passes, overall, for a 7.00 walks-per-9.0-innings rate. That series also marked the first time they had allowed five or more runs in at least three straight games since Charlotte did so against them in four straight contests from April 15-18. Overall, G-Braves’ pitchers have handed out the fifth-most walks of any team in the IL with 237. Indianapolis pitchers have walked 226 batters (ninth-most). The G-Braves do hold an advantage in team ERA with a 3.21 mark that is the fourth-lowest in the IL compared to the 3.42 combined ERA for Indians’ pitchers that ranks sixth in the league.

Despite losses in each of his last two starts, Banuelos still leads the league with a 2.29 ERA and leads the team with five victories. He also holds the third-best strikeouts-per-9.0-innings ratio at 8.02 and is fifth in opponents batting average at .224. Yet, he is the only G-Braves’ starting pitcher slated to pitch against Indianapolis who has not been in the Major Leagues with the Atlanta Braves this season. Marimon, Foltynewicz and Martin have combined for nine starts and 26 relief appearances for Atlanta this season. They’ve gone a combined 5-6 with a 5.60 ERA.

None of the four starts for Indianapolis have pitched in the big leagues this season, but Sampson ranks second in the league in strikeouts with 72, although he is also tied for the most wild pitches in the league with seven. The Indians bullpen has also been a large part of the team’s success. Right-handed closer Blake Wood, an Atlanta native and Georgia Tech alum, leads the IL with 18 saves in 20 opportunities, and righty A.J. Morris is second in the league with eight holds.

Hitting: This series also features a pair of teams who approach the game similarly on offense. The G-Braves and Indians both rank at the bottom of the IL for home runs but in the top three in stolen bases. Gwinnett has a league-low 19 home runs and the third-most stolen bases with 71. Indianapolis has the second-fewest homers with 29 but leads the league with 75 steals. The Indians also hold a slight advantage in team batting average with a .263 mark compared to Gwinnett’s .260 team average.

Individually, Indians’ second baseman Alen Hanson leads the league with eight triples and is the club’s most productive base stealer. He has a team-high 17 steals in 23 attempts. Infielder/outfielder Steve Lombardozzi has the 10th-highest batting average at .303 and the third-best strikeouts-per-plate-appearance rate at 12.16, which is one spot ahead of Gwinnett infielder/outfielder Jose Peraza’s 11.61 ratio.

Peraza is also tied for the league lead with nine sacrifice bunts and is batting .405 across is last nine games, going 15-for-37 with two triples, four RBIs and seven runs scored. He leads the team with five triples on the season and has raised his season average back to .300. The last time his average had been that high was May 29, a span of 18 games during which his average twice dipped below .280. Third baseman Adonis Garcia ranks eighth in the league with a .309 batting mark and set a career high with four RBIs on Saturday against Pawtucket. He leads the team in runs scored (33), RBIs (32) and total bases (95). In addition, he is currently on a 10-game hitting streak that dates back to June 11. He has batted .357 during the streak with five multi-hit games, a double, a triple, nine RBIs and four runs scored.

G-Bites: After the Gwinnett roster underwent 24 transactions from June 10-19, the same G-Braves players who were active for the start of the weekend series with Pawtucket are still active for the beginning of the set vs. Indianapolis…Since Young was optioned to June 11, he has hit .371 with a home run, two doubles, a triple, six RBIs, six runs scored and five stolen bases, which ranks second on the team among active players, although outfielder Eury Perez had a league-high 28 steals before he got recalled to Atlanta on June 18…Atlanta optioned first baseman/outfielder Joey Terdoslavich to Gwinnett on June 10, and he has drawn 10 walks in his first nine games to put him in a tie for fourth on the team among active players in that category, three behind leader Cedric Hunter, who also leads the team with 15 doubles…The G-Braves will make three stops on their road trip after the series vs. Indianapolis. They have three games scheduled against Pawtcuket from June 26-28, three vs. the Buffalo Bisons from June 29 – July 1 and two against Charlotte from July 2-3. They return home for a six-game homestand on July 4 that features three games against the Knights and the Norfolk Tides.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (32-33) vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (32-35)

Pitching probables

Fri: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (0-3, 2.08 ERA) vs. LHP Brian Johnson (7-4, 2.51 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sat: TBA vs. LHP Henry Owens (2-5, 3.45 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: TBA vs. TBA, 2:05 p.m.

Mike Foltynewicz (Karl Moore)

Mike Foltynewicz (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves open their homestand with a three-game series against the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The G-Braves had an off day Thursday, which followed a 3-4 road trip that took them to Indianapolis and Louisville. The PawSox are on a four-game losing streak after a 15-5 road loss Thursday to the Charlotte Knights and have fallen 6.5 games behind the International League North Division-leading Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for third place. The G-Braves remain in fourth in the IL South and trail the first-place  Durham Bulls by 5.5 games.

Pawtucket has gone 6-10 in June despite a league-leading 17 home runs. The PawSox have the second-lowest team batting average of any IL team in June at .239 and the second-highest team ERA at 4.56. Gwinnett has hit a league-low three home runs through its first 15 games in June, but the G-Braves are 8-7 with a team batting average of .263 (eighth in the IL) and 3.33 team ERA (sixth).

This is the first meeting between the clubs this season. The PawSox took five of eight games from Gwinnett in 2014, and the G-Braves have not won a season series over Pawtucket since 2009, their first season in Gwinnett. The teams split their eight contests in 2010 and 2011, respectively, but the PawSox have gone 17-7 against Gwinnett in the past three seasons. They will meet again at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket June 26-28 for their final meeting of the season.

Pitching: Foltynewicz will open the series for Gwinnett in his first start back with the G-Braves after the Atlanta Braves optioned him from their roster on Wednesday, June 17. The 6-3, 220-pound right-hander went 3-2 with a 5.19 ERA in nine starts for Atlanta after the Braves called him up on May 1. With the G-Braves, Foltynewicz was 0-3 with a 2.08 ERA that led the team at the time of his promotion. He will face the PawSox’ Johnson, who enters the start with a 2.51 ERA that is the fourth-lowest among qualifying starters in the league. His seven wins are tied for tops in the IL, his 1.06 WHIP ranks second, his opponent batting average of .211 is tied for third and his 66 strikeouts rank third. G-Braves’ left-handed starter Manny Banuelos leads the league among qualified pitchers with a 2.29 ERA.

As a team, the G-Braves have the third-lowest ERA in the league with a 3.11 mark, but they have allowed four or more runs in seven of their last nine games during which they posted a 4-5 record. They are also tied for the fewest wild pitches among IL teams with 21. Pawtucket hurlers have thrown 25 and have combined for a team ERA of 3.51 that ranks seventh in the league. Gwinnett is tied for the third-fewest home runs allowed with 26, while the PawSox are tied for fifth in that category with 33 given up.

Hitting: Gwinnett also holds an advantage on offense, statistically. The G-Braves have batted .260 as a team through their first 65 games, which places them in a four-way for the fifth-best in the league. Pawtucket has the second-lowest team batting average in the IL at .237. However, the Paw Sox are tied for the league lead in home runs with 53.the G-Braves have the fewest of any Triple-A team with 18, which is eight behind the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for the second-fewest.

Four of the G-Braves’ last five wins have been by one-run, and they have scored more than four runs four times in their last 21 games dating back to a 4-1 win over Lehigh Valley on May 27 at Coolray Field, but they went 11-8 during that stretch. In that same span, the PawSox have eclipsed the four-run mark eight times but are 8-11. Individually, outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. ranks third in the IL among qualifying hitters with a .320 batting average, a .391 on-base percentage and a .481 slugging percentage. Fellow outfielder Quentin Berry is third in the league in stolen bases with 21. Infielder Adonis Garcia continues to lead the Gwinnett offense with a .309 batting average that is good for ninth-highest among qualifying batters in the IL.

G-Bites: Shortstop Daniel Castro joined Atlanta for his Major League debut Wednesday and got a pinch-hit single in the seventh inning to drive in the go-ahead run in the Braves’ 5-2 win over the Red Sox…He returned to Gwinnett the following day, while outfielder Eury Perez got his first call-up with Atlanta. Perez batted .296 with a league-leading 28 stolen bases and a team-best 34 runs scored in 60 games to open the season with Gwinnett…The G-Braves also return home with four players who were with Atlanta during the last homestand from June 5-10. Outfielder Eric Young, Jr., catcher Christian Bethancourt, infielder Joey Terdoslavich and outfielder Todd Cunningham all joined the team during the road trip…Young hit his first G-Braves’ home run on Monday, June 15 at Louisville, and Bethancourt went 5-for-10 with an RBI in his first two games of the year with Gwinnett…The G-Braves will finish their homestand with four games against the Indianapolis Indians, the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, from Monday, June 22 to Thursday, June 25.

-JM

Atlanta Braves’ Minor League Outfield Coordinator Bobby Mitchell Helps Jose Peraza Transition to Center Field

Atlanta Braves Minor League Outfield/Baserunning Coordinator Bobby Mitchell stopped by Coolray Field during the Gwinnett Braves’ most recent homestand to help the organization’s top prospect transition from the brown dirt of the infield to the vast stretches of green grass in center field.

Along with his regular duties at second base, the G-Braves have used Jose Peraza as an outfielder during the past two weeks to give him more chances at a promotion should Atlanta have a need in the outfield more than the infield, Mitchell said.

Jose Peraza (Taylor Botta)

Jose Peraza (Taylor Botta)

“We’re trying to get his offense into the big leagues, too,” Mitchell said. “We’ve done a lot of basic stuff with him because we’re just starting out, but he seems to be picking it up really well.”

Peraza reached Triple-A for the first time in his career to begin the 2015 season and batted .282 in his first 52 games. He spent his first 39 games with Gwinnett as a second baseman, although he had primarily played shortstop from the time Atlanta signed him as a non-drafted free agent in 2012 until he shifted to second base for a 2014 season he split between Advanced-A Lynchburg and Double-A Mississippi.

G-Braves’ manager Brian Snitker inserted Peraza into the lineup as a center fielder for the first time May 27 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Coolray Field.

The Braves first had Peraza take some fly balls in the outfield during Spring Training but didn’t want put him in the outfield immediately when the season started because he is still not far removed from the switch from shortstop to second base, Mitchell said.

“We don’t want to take that away from him, either,” Mitchell said of Peraza’s spot on the infield, “But especially in the National League, if you can add versatility to your game then you’re a valuable player.”

Most of the work Mitchell said he did with Peraza focused on his footwork, how to take proper routes on plays and his throwing motion. Peraza uses a low arm slot to make his throws from second base, but he needs to throw more over the top in center field because that position requires much longer throws, Mitchell said.

While Mitchell said he understands it is a challenge for a player to move between the infield and outfield, he thinks Peraza’s speed could be a valuable asset in center because it would allow him to cover vast amounts of space and make plays others might not.

Also, Mitchell said he has been impressed by how well Peraza has taken instruction to learn yet another new position.

“He’s a smart kid and he works his butt off, so I think that’s a big plus for his development,” Mitchell said. “He seems to be able to apply what you teach him, and I think that is a huge part in moving forward.”

-JM

Kelly Johnson Begins Rehab with Gwinnett

Atlanta Braves’ outfielder/infielder Kelly Johnson made his first start Monday with the Gwinnett Braves in his Major League rehab assignment from a right oblique strain that sent him to the disabled list May 14. He played the full game in left field for the G-Braves in their 1-0 win over the Norfolk Tides at Coolray Field.

Johnson went 0-3 with a strikeout but said after the game he was pleased with how his body felt in his return to full action.

Kelly Johnson takes a swing during 2015 Spring Training with the Atlanta Braves (Karl Moore)

Kelly Johnson drives a pitch during 2015 Spring Training with the Atlanta Braves. (Karl Moore)

“That’s the most important thing,” Johnson said of his health. “I got to play some games in extended Spring (Training) before I got here. Swings and misses, foul balls, things like that, check swings, are always kind of the tell-tale with the oblique, but my body feels great. I’ve just got to get some timing and some rhythm down.”

Johnson has been through several previous rehab assignments during his 10-year Major League career, and he tries to approach every game the same regardless of the magnitude of the contest.

“You’re not guaranteed anything so you want to treat it the same way and respect the game,” he said.

Johnson said one of the most difficult aspects of an injury to the oblique is that it prevents a player from being able to twist his body and take swings for an extended period of time, but he did not feel any pain during his at-bats Monday.

“Health-wise, if that’s what we’re looking at, I feel healthy. I feel great,” he said.

Johnson is the second Braves’ player to rehab with the G-Braves this season. Third baseman Chris Johnson started the team’s May 25 home game against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs,but he got one at-bat before rain suspended the game and ultimately pushed it back two days later. Johnson returned to the big leagues before the game resumed.

The G-Braves and Tides will play the second game of their three-game series at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at Coolray Field. Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (2-5, 5.83 ERA) is scheduled to start on the mound for Gwinnett opposite righty Tyler Wilson (2-4, 3.00 ERA) of Norfolk. Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com beginning at 6 p.m.

All Infield Box and Field Box seats are two for the price of one as part of “Two-For-Tuesday” night at the stadium. To purchase tickets, call the Coolray Field Ticket Office at 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.

 -JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (27-28) vs. Norfolk Tides (32-24)

Pitching probables

Mon: LHP Greg Smith (1-3, 3.41 ERA) vs. RHP Zach Davies (3-3, 2.96 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Tues: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (2-5, 5.83 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Wilson (2-4, 3.00 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Wed: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (3-2, 3.26 ERA) vs. RHP Eddie Gamboa (4-3, 3.49 ERA), 12:05 p.m.

Greg Smith (Karl Moore)

Greg Smith (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves will complete their homestand with three games against the International League South Division-leading Norfolk Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The G-Braves took two of three games from the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, to begin the homestand. Gwinnett also broke a streak of 18 straight wins when they allowed two or fewer runs when they beat Durham 4-3 Friday in 11 innings, and their 2-0 loss Sunday ended a stretch of 19 straight losses in which they gave up at least three runs. The G-Braves have won 10 of their last 15 games, overall, to close within 4.5 games of Norfolk for first place in the division, although they remain in last place.

The Tides enter the series winners of 11 of their last 15 games to rise to the top spot in the IL South. They won two of three games in their last series on the road against the Charlotte Knights that followed a split of a two-game home series against the G-Braves. Gwinnett and Norfolk are even in their season series at 4-4. This will be the fourth of seven series between the division rivals this season.

Pitching: The Norfolk pitching staff has the lowest combined ERA of any club in the 14-team league at 2.76. The G-Braves come in at third in that department with a 3.07 ERA, and Gwinnett starters have not allowed more than two runs in 11 of their last 12 starts (2.72 ERA in that span). The Tides, meanwhile, lead the league with nine shutout victories compared to Gwinnett’s six. Norfolk has allowed the fewest home runs (20) and issued the fewest walks (160) of an IL squad. Gwinnett pitchers are tied for the fourth-fewest homers allowed with 23 but have walked the sixth-most batters (186).

Left-hander Manny Banuelos remains the only qualified pitcher in the league yet to lose a game. He is 5-0 through 11 starts with a 2.11 ERA that is the second-lowest among qualified pitchers. Norfolk’s Chris Jones is 1-4 on the year through 14 appearances (six starts) but his 2.58 ERA is the sixth-lowest among qualified pitchers. Tuesday’s Gwinnett starter Wang has allowed the most hits of any pitcher in the league with 80. He also led the league in that category a year ago with 200 hits given up. For the Tides, Gamboa’s six hit batsmen are the most in the league, and he is one of three pitchers to have balked twice this season.

Hitting: The G-Braves and Tides will start the series with identical .258 team batting averages, which ties them for sixth in the league in that department, although Gwinnett has scored 20 more runs (217-197). Gwinnett remains in the basement of the home run leaderboard with 17, but Norfolk also does not live by the long ball. The Tides have slugged 25 homers, which are the fourth-fewest in the IL. Perhaps the largest difference between the two offenses is the speed game. G-Braves baserunners have stolen a league-high 60 bases, while Norfolk has swiped the second-fewest in the league with 25, nine more than the last-place Rochester Red Wings in that category.

Outfielder Eury Perez has not stolen a base since Saturday, May 30 vs. the Columbus Clippers, but he still holds the league lead with 25 on the season, five more than second-place Leury Garcia of Charlotte. Third baseman Adonis Garcia sits 10th among qualified batters with a .308 batting average, but he has hit his roughest stretch of the season. Garcia has two hits in his last six games for a .087 average (2-for-23) with one run scored an no extra bases in that span.

The Norfolk offense is led by outfielder Chris Parmelee, who checks in with a .312 batting average that ranks eighth among qualified hitters to go with 90 total bases and 63 hits, both of which are the fourth-most in the league. In addition, outfielder Dariel Alvarez has played in each of the Tides’ 56 games this season and has the fifth-best strikeouts-per-plate-appearance ratio at 10.27.

G-Bites: Atlanta Braves’ outfielder/infielder Kelly Johnson will join Gwinnett to begin a Major League rehab assignment Monday. He is the second Atlanta player to rehab with the G-Braves this season. Third baseman Chris Johnson played in one game with Gwinnett on Monday, May 25, going 0-1 in his lone at-bat against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs…The G-Braves also added veteran right-handed reliever David Aardsma to their bullpen Sunday. He pitched the ninth inning and struck out two batters in a 1-2-3 inning for his G-Braves’ debut…Atlanta released right-handed reliever Mitchell Boggs to make room for Aardsma on the roster. Boggs was 1-1 with a 6.08 ERA in 13 relief appearances with Gwinnett…The G-Braves will go n a seven-game road trip after their series with Norfolk. They will visit the Indianapolis Indians for four games before moving to Louisville for three games against the Bats. Gwinnett will return to Coolray Field Friday, June 19 to start a seven-game homestand that includes three contests vs. the Pawtucket Red Sox and four against Indianapolis.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (25-27) vs. Durham Bulls (31-24)

Pitching probables

Fri: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (3-2, 3.58 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Andriese (1-0, 2.93 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sat: LHP Manny Banuelos (4-0, 2.39 ERA) vs. LHP Everett Teaford (3-4, 6.34 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: RHP Matt Wisler (3-3, 3.58 ERA) vs. RHP Dylan Floro (5-4, 3.36 ERA), 2:05 p.m.

Matt Wisler (Jim Lacey)

Matt Wisler (Jim Lacey)

The Gwinnett Braves return to Coolray Field from what was supposed to be a three-game road trip against the Norfolk Tides, but their game Tuesday was postponed because of rain and made up in a doubleheader of seven-inning games Wednesday that the teams split. Norfolk won the opener 11-1, and Gwinnett took the nightcap 2-1 in eight innings. Rain again postponed action Thursday. That game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Wednesday, September 2 in Norfolk.

The Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, enter the series in a three-way tie with Norfolk and the Charlotte Knights for first place in the International League South Division. Durham took two of three games from the Knights at home in their last series and has won 10 of its last 12 games dating back to May 22. The Bulls hold a 4-3 advantage over the G-Braves in the team’s first seven meetings of the season across two series. The IL South rivals split a four-game series at Coolray Field to open the season April 9-12, and the Bulls won two of three games April 24-26 in Durham.

Pitching: The Gwinnett pitching staff begins the six-game homestand with the league’s third-lowest team ERA at 3.19, while the Bulls feature a 3.35 ERA that ranks sixth-lowest in the 14-team IL. Durham pitchers have walked the second-fewest batters in the league with 155, three behind Norfolk for the lead in that category, but their 25 wild pitches are the fifth-most. G-Braves’ pitchers have allowed 176 free passes, the sixth-most in the league. However, the 21 home runs Gwinnett has allowed are the fourth-fewest in the league, and Durham has allowed 27, which is good for sixth.

Wisler, the Atlanta Braves’ No. 2 prospect according to MLB.com, won the IL Pitcher of the Week award for May 25-30 after going 1-0 without a run allowed in 10.1 innings across two starts. He gave up four hits, walked two batters and struck out eight to earn his second such award of the year. He also took home those honors for the week of May 4-10.

Banuelos continues to pace all IL qualified pitchers with a 4-0 record that accompanies a 2.39 ERA, which is the fifth-lowest among qualified pitchers in the IL. The Braves’ No. 10 prospect as ranked by MLB.com has pitched at least 5.0 innings in eight of his 10 starts, although his shortest outing of the year came in his first start as a G-Brave on April 10 vs. Durham when he lasted 3.2 innings with two runs allowed (one earned) on three hits and four walks with three strikeouts.

Durham right-handed closer Ronald Belisario is tied for the league lead in saves with 14 in 15 opportunities, and he has converted a save in each of his last seven outings. Belisario is 0-2 with a 2.96 ERA in 22 games, which is tied for the second-most appearances of any pitcher in the league. Friday’s starter Andriese has made four starts for the Bulls after he began the season on the Tampa Bay pitching staff. He made seven appearances (three starts) for the Rays, going 0-1 with a 4.79 ERA and two saves with five walks and 13 strikeouts.

Hitting: The G-Braves and Bulls both rank in the bottom half of the league in team batting average. Gwinnett holds a .257 mark that is eighth in the IL, and Durham’s .245 batting average is 11th. Yet, the Bulls are tied for fifth in the league with 91 doubles. Gwinnett has the third-fewest doubles with 77 and the fewest homers with 15 as opposed to Durham’s 39, which are two behind the Pawtucket Red Sox for the league lead in that department. Gwinnett and Durham are also two of the most prolific base stealing teams in the league. The G-Braves hold the lead in that category with 58, and the Bulls’ 54 are the third most in the league.

G-Braves’ outfielder Eury Perez leads the IL in stolen bases with 25, six more than second-place Leury Garcia of Charlotte. Perez is also tied for second in the league with 30 runs scored despite two runs in his last seven games in a stretch that followed a nine-game hitting streak during which he batted .351. Infielder Adonis Garcia holds a .320 batting mark that is good for seventh among qualified IL hitters.

Durham outfielder Taylor Motter is 10 steals behind Perez and sits in fourth among the league leaders in that department. Motter also leads the team in nearly every offensive category, including hits (51), runs (26), doubles (14), RBIs (26) and total bases (76). The only Durham hitters who have played more than 10 games with a batting average higher than Motter’s .266 are infielder Alexi Casilla (.327) and outfielder Eugenio Velez (.278).

G-Bites: The G-Braves received catcher Ryan Lavarnway during their last homestand May 30 during a three-game series with Columbus. Lavarnway signed a minor league contract with Atlanta earlier in the day. He has gone 1-for-8 with two walks in three games with his new club…The Braves also recalled right-handed pitcher Cody Martin on June 1, the day before right-handed reliever Peter Moylan joined the team after he was activated from the Class-A Rome disabled list. Martin went 1-1 with a 0.96 ERA and a save in three appearances (two starts) for the G-Braves after he had begun the season with Atlanta as a reliever. Moylan, who pitched out of the Atlant a bullpen for seven years from 2006-12, had not pitched since 2013 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He escaped a bases-loaded jam created by a hit and two walks to hold Norfolk scoreless with one strikeout in his lone inning of work on June 3 in the first game of a doubleheader, which the G-Braves lost 11-1…Gwinnett extended its streak of victories in which it allowed two or fewer runs to 18 with its game two victory Wednesday over Norfolk…The G-Braves will host the Tides for three games following the Durham series before they begin a seven-game road trip that includes four games against the Indianapolis Indians and three vs. the Louisville Bats.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (22-26) vs. Columbus Clippers (26-22)

Pitching probables

Fri: RHP Cody Martin (0-1, 2.08 ERA) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (1-1, 3.86 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sat: RHP Matt Wisler (2-3, 4.21 ERA) vs. LHP T.J. House (0-1, 2.70 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: LHP Greg Smith (1-3, 3.55 ERA) vs. LHP Nick Maronde (0-6, 6.34 ERA), 2:05 p.m.

Cody Martin (Karl Moore)

Cody Martin (Karl Moore)

After a rain-plagued series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs that culminated with 29 innings in the last two days, the Gwinnett Braves begin a three-game weekend series vs. the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The G-Braves took three of four games from the IronPigs to move back within four games of the .500 mark, while Columbus enters the series losers in three of their last four games and seven of their last 10.

The Clippers sit in second place in the International League West Division, 2.0 games behind the Indianapolis Indians. They won the division a year ago and were beaten in the first round of the playoffs by the IL South champion Durham Bulls. The G-Braves remain last in the four-team IL South, but they have closed to within 5.5 games of the first-place Charlotte Knights with five wins in their last eight games. The Clippers and G-Braves alternated victories to split a four-game series in their first meeting of the season from May 21-24 in Columbus.

Pitching: The G-Braves own the fourth-lowest team ERA in the league at 3.18 and have not allowed more than two runs in any of their least 15 victories dating back to April 27. However, they are 15-15 in that stretch and gave up at least four runs in all but one of the losses in that span. Columbus has the league’s sixth-lowest team ERA with a 3.27 mark. The Clippers also have the second-most shutout victories with seven and have given up the third-fewest hits among the 14 IL teams with 382. Gwinnett pitchers have allowed eight more hits but four fewer runs and half of the Clippers’ league-leading total of 40 home runs allowed, which is seven more than second-place Charlotte in that category.

G-Braves’ left-handed starter Manny Banuelos (4-0) lowered his ERA to 2.39, which is good for fourth-lowest among qualified pitchers, with 5.0 shutout innings Thursday. He is also the only qualifying starter yet to lose a game this season. Martin will make his first home start of the season with Gwinnett on Friday after he began the season with the Atlanta Braves and made 17 relief appearances (2-2, 4.12 ERA). Columbus’ Friday starter Chacin will make his fourth start of the year for Columbus after the Colorado Rockies released him March 22 despite six years and 109 starts with the team.

Hitting: Columbus and Gwinnett have scored nearly the same number of runs through their first 48 games of the year (203-197), but the teams go about their run production in vastly different manners. The Clippers have the third-lowest team batting average (.245) in the IL but still lead the league with 37 home runs. The G-Braves, meanwhile, hold the sixth-highest team batting average at .259 but are tied for last in the league in home runs (15) while leading in stolen bases (56). Columbus has stolen 32 bases, the fifth-fewest total in the league.

Yet, the G-Braves held Columbus batters to one home run during their four-game series May 21-24 in Columbus and hit three themselves, including top-ranked Atlanta prospect Jose Peraza’s first two career Triple-A long balls. Gwinnett outfielder Eury Perez leads the IL in steals with 24 and in runs scored with 29, while Peraza begins the series tied for fourth in stolen bases with 14. Outfielder Cedric Hunter is tied for third in the league with 13 doubles, and infielder Adonis Garcia has the league’s third-highest batting average at .342 among qualified batters.

For Columbus, Tyler Holt ranks fifth in the league with a .397 on-base percentage, and James Ramsey has drawn the fourth-most walks with 26.

G-Bites: Atlanta Braves’ third baseman Chris Johnson got one at-bat with the G-Braves in a rehab assignment that was cut short when rain suspended play Monday and postponed all action Tuesday. He lined out to center field in his lone plate appearance before he rejoined Atlanta on Wednesday…Gwinnett received a couple of pitchers during the week, as right-handers Ryan Kelly and Ryan Weber joined the club from Double-A Mississippi. Kelly led the M-Braves with 10 saves at the time of his promotion Sunday, and Weber struck out 24 batters with one walk in 11 outings (three starts) for Mississippi. This is Kelly’s first stint with the G-Braves. Weber made one start for Gwinnett on May 17 and shut out the Louisville Bats on two hits across 5.0 innings…The G-Braves will get an off day Monday before the begin a three-game road series June 2-4 against the Norfolk Tides. They will then return to Coolray Field for a six-game homestand that begins Friday, June 5. They will play the Durham Bulls for three games before another three-game set with the Tides.

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