Results tagged ‘ Christian Bethancourt ’

Atlanta Braves’ Minor League Catching Coordinator discusses Bethancourt, catching philosophies

Christian Bethancourt (Jim Lacey)

                                               Christian Bethancourt (Jim Lacey)

Atlanta Braves’ Minor League Catching Coordinator Joe Breeden was at Coolray Field during the Gwinnett Braves’ most recent homestand against the Charlotte Knights and Durham Bulls that lasted from July 24-29. As part of his travels through the Braves’ entire minor-league system, Breeden spent time with G-Braves’ catcher Christian Bethancourt, as the 23-year-old backstop refines his game in preparation for a possible return to Atlanta, which is where he began the 2015 season as a big-league rookie.

Bethancourt batted .198 (20-for-102) with six doubles, a home run, nine RBIs, 12 runs scored and a stolen bases in 29 games for the Braves before they optioned him to Gwinnett on June 15. He also threw out 37.5 percent (6-of-16) of attempting base stealers, committed three errors and had five passed balls.

“Always when you’re a young guy, you’re still learning game-calling and handling the staff,” Breeden said. “That becomes the biggest part, especially when you get up to the big leagues, handling that staff, putting in your work.”

Since the return to Gwinnett, where he played 91 games in 2014, Bethancourt has one error and one passed ball to accompany a 47.8 percent (11-of-23) caught-stealing rate. He also immediately began to hit again at the Triple-A level. He had at least one base hit in nine of his first 10 starts for the G-Braves for a .354 batting average (17-for-48) in that span, which included three doubles, a home run, six RBIs, five runs scored and three stolen bases.

Christian Bethancourt (Karl Moore)

                                               Bethancourt (Karl Moore)

Breeden said Bethancourt has the best arm he has seen for a catcher in his 28 years in professional baseball, but he was pleased to see the effort Bethancourt has put into his video study with Gwinnett pitching coach Marty Reed since he rejoined the G-Braves because the catcher position demands mental preparation and game-planning on the defensive side of the game that is similar to pitchers.

He said he was also was impressed to learn Bethancourt is now running the meetings the pitching staff has at the start of each series to go over the opposing hitters’ strengths and weaknesses.

“That’s where, to me, he is really taking steps to get better,” Breeden said. “You can always get better at it. It’s an on-going process.”

Breeden said he has known Bethancourt since the Panama native signed with Atlanta when he 16 years old and a member of their affiliate in the Dominican Summer League. In the proceeding eight seasons, Breeden has watched him grow both physically and mentally into a player whose athleticism reminds Breeden of former catcher Benito Santiago, who played 20 years in the Major Leagues and Breeden worked with when both were members of the Florida Marlins’ organization in 1993-94.

“His hands work well, he’s a sharp guy, speaks fluent English,” Breeden said of Bethancourt. “He’s a bright, bright kid. Offensively, he’s gotten stronger. Now he’s getting at-bats regularly, and you can see he is swinging the bat well.”

Through his first 32 games with the G-Braves this season, Bethancourt batted .309 with 10 doubles, two home runs, 13 RBIs, 13 runs scored and five stolen bases. He leads the team in batting average and doubles since he was optioned.

Christian Bethancourt (Chris Roughgarden)

                                            Bethancourt (Chris Roughgarden)

The work Bethancourt has put in during his time in Gwinnett also continues to mold him into the type of catchers Atlanta wants throughout its organization, Breeden said.

Those ideals include a player who is physically tough enough to withstand the summer heat and hazards that are inherent in the catcher position such as foul tips, he said. However, the organization also wants mentally tough players who can still guide a pitcher through a start even when the catcher is tired or beat up because of the rigors of a long season, he said.

“Being able to get a (pitcher) through when he’s having a hard time, that’s the thing we talk about,” Breeden said. “The good catchers can, when a guy’s having trouble, get him out of trouble. The guys who don’t do a good job, they’ll catch a guy into trouble when he’s going good.”

He said the organization has its catchers call their own games at every level to help them through the learning process of what works and what does not work for a variety of different pitchers.

“Everything is off the pitcher’s strength,” he said. “That’s the main thing. We’re concerned about the hitter’s weakness, but we’re more concerned with our guy’s strength. We’re going to pitch to his strength.”

Although catcher A.J. Pierzynski played well enough to earn the bulk of the playing time for Atlanta while Bethancourt was on the club, Breeden said he thinks the experience Bethancourt was able to gain during that time benefitted his development.

“We say this all the time, ‘We work, we work, we work, but sometime you’ve got to take the test, and the test is playing the game,'” Breeden said. “When you get Major League experience, that’s the highest level and when you get that it’s definitely going to help you, whether you stay up there or whether you come down.”

With the work Bethancourt has done since his first extended test in the Majors earlier this season, Breeden said he is optimistic Bethancourt will be a valuable piece of the organization for years to come.

“He works hard, and I think he’s going to be a big part of our future,” Breeden said.

-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 (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

Spring Training Report 3.30.15

Possible Gwinnett Braves right-handed starter Mike Foltynewicz made what could have been his final bid for a spot in the Atlanta Braves’ starting rotation Monday in a 4-2 Braves win over the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla.

Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, the second batter Foltynewicz faced, put Detroit ahead 1-0 with a single that followed leadoff hitter Anthony Gose’s single and steal of second base. Foltynewicz gave up one hit in each of the next two innings but held the Tigers scoreless until left fielder Yoenis Cespedes hit a solo home run over the right-field fence with one out in the fourth.

Foltynewicz struck out the next batter, catcher Alex Avila, to finish his outing with 3 2/3 innings pitched and two runs allowed on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts. He did not factor in the decision.

Offensively, potential G-Braves outfielder Todd Cunningham batted in the leadoff spot and went 3-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout. Possible Gwinnett infielder Pedro Ciriaco and catcher Jesus Flores both flew out to center field in their lone at-bats in the ninth inning.

Members of the 2014 G-Braves, catcher Christian Bethancourt and infielder/outfielder Phil Gosselin, helped produce half of the Braves’ runs against Detroit. Bethancourt tied the game 2-2 with a solo home run in the seventh inning. Gosselin drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth with a single to right field.

Possible G-Braves outfielder Joe Benson tacked on Atlanta’s final run with a sacrifice fly in his only at-bat to score Alberto Callaspo. Benson and Cunningham were also both thrown out trying to steal second base.

The Braves finish March with a 6:05 p.m. game Tuesday against the Houston Astros at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The teams played to 2-2 ties in both of their first two meetings before the Braves topped Houston 14-10 in their most recent match-up March 23.

-JM

Spring Training Report 3.17.15

Former Gwinnett Braves catcher Christian Bethancourt exploded for three hits, including two doubles, with two runs scored and two driven in Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla.

And he did all that in the first five innings.

Bethancourt finished 3-for-4 to help lead the Atlanta Braves’ offense to its most prolific performance of Spring Training. The Braves pounded out 13 hits and defeated Boston 11-3.

Potential 2015 G-Braves Jace Peterson, Kelly Johnson and Joey Terdoslavich also doubled and scored a combined four runs with three RBI. Peterson also stole his first base of the spring with a swipe of second in the fifth inning. He advanced to third as the throw from Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart went into center field and scored on a base hit to left field by Bethancourt.

Possible G-Braves position players’ stats from Tuesday:

Peterson (2B), 1-for-3, 2B, 2 R, BB, 2 K, SB.

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

Terdoslavich (LF-1B), 1-for-4, 2B, R, RBI, K.

Todd Cunningham (RF), 1-for-3, R, K.

Pedro Ciriaco (2B-3B), 1-for-1, RBI.

Jose Constanza (LF), 0-for-2, K.

Braeden Schlehuber (C), 0-for-1.

Joe Benson (CF), 0-for-1.

John Buck (DH, pinch hit), 0-for-1.

Phil Gosselin (SS), 0-for-0, BB, fielding error in the eighth inning.

Meanwhile, a trio of pitchers who could appear for the G-Braves this season were part of the relief corps that finished the game after starter Shelby Miller (W, 1-1) held the Red Sox scoreless through four innings.

RHP Brandon Cunniff, 1.0 IP, 3 H, ER.

RHP Juan Jaime (H, 2), 1.0 IP, BB, K.

RHP Sugar Ray Marimon, 1.0 IP, H, ER, BB.

Atlanta will return to their home Spring Training facilities to play the New York Yankees at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

-JM

Spring Training Report 3.12.15

A pair of potential 2015 Gwinnett Braves were the only Atlanta players to cross home plate Thursday, as the New York Yankees nipped the Braves 3-2 in Tampa, Fla.

Catcher Braeden Schlehuber pinch ran for catcher Christian Bethancourt in the fifth inning after Bethancourt drilled a one-out double to right field. Center fielder and possible G-Brave Todd Cunningham followed two batters later with a single to right to drive in Schlehuber and tie the game 1-1. Schlehuber grounded out to shortstop in his only at-bat, and Cunningham went 1-for-3, overall.

Infielder Pedro Ciriaco, a potential G-Brave who spent time Thursday at second base and shortstop, then led off the sixth with a base hit and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Alberto Callaspo. Ciriaco finished the game 1-for-3.

Other possible G-Braves players’ stats from Thursday vs. the Yankees:

Joey Terdoslavich (RF-1B), 1-for-3, K.

Cedric Hunter (LF), 0-for-1.

Jesus Flores (C), 0-for-1.

Jose Yepez (DH, pinch hit), 0-for-1.

Two potential Gwinnett pitchers also each threw a scoreless inning of relief. Right-hander Michael Kohn worked around one hit and a hit-by-pitch in the fifth. Fellow righty Sugar Ray Marimon allowed a two-out double in the eighth but also struck out the side.

Atlanta will play a couple of split-squad contests Friday. A portion of the team will play a home game against the Detroit Tigers at 1:05 p.m. at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The rest of the squad will travel to face the New York Mets at 1:10 p.m. in Port St. Lucie.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (37-39) vs. Toledo Mud Hens (37-41)

Pitching Probables

Tue: Aaron Northcraft (0-0, 0.00) vs. LHP Duane Below (6-1, 3.94)

Wed: Cody Martin (4-6, 3.17) vs. LHP Kyle Lobstein (4-7, 3.62)

Thu: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-8, 4.55) vs. Drew VarHagen (3-7, 4.07)

Fri: Yunesky Maya (3-1, 2.39) vs. LHP Robbie Ray (4-3, 3.08)

The Gwinnett Braves and the Toledo Mud Hens open a four game series on Tuesday, June 24 at 6:35 PM at Coolray Field. Both teams enter the series playing right at .500 baseball. Gwinnett is 4-6 in their last ten games, while Toledo is 5-5.

Pitching: Toledo will run three lefties against the Braves this week. Duane Below has the best record, winning a team-high six games and sporting a 3.94 ERA in 14 starts. He is on a three game winning streak, tossing three straight quality starts from June 8 through June 19. In the month of June, he is 3-0 with a 4.21 ERA.

Below has more wins, but Ray is the most promising lefty of the three. Ray was traded along with Steven Lombardozzi and Ian Krol for Doug Fister in the offseason. The lefty has enjoyed his time in the Detroit system, as he was called up on May 6 and made four appearances for the Tigers. He went 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA. With the Mud Hens, Ray is 4-3 with a 3.08 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 52.2 innings. Prior to the start of the season, Ray was ranked the 5th-best prospect in the Washington Nationals organization. He will take the ball in the finale.

The Braves will counter with three right-handers and one southpaw. Aaron Northcraft will make his Triple-A debut on Tuesday night. The right-hander went 7-3 with a 2.88 ERA (21 ER in 65.2 IP) over 13 appearances, 12 starts for the M-Braves. In five starts during the month of May, he went 4-1 with 1.98 ERA (6 ER in 27.1 IP). His success in the first half of the season earned him a Southern League All-Star Game roster spot.

While, Northcraft makes his debut on Tuesday, Maya will hope to continue his recent success on Friday night. Maya has turned six straight quality starts. In the month of June, he is 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA in five starts.

Batting: The G-Braves offense has sputtered during the month of June, batting a combined .254 with 64 runs scored in 22 games. The power has also been in short supply, clubbing seven total homers during the month. Ernesto Mejia, who left the team in early May, still leads the team with eight homers on the season.

With most of the position players around the diamond struggling, the catchers have held it together for the Braves. Christian Bethancourt enters playing batting .314 (22-for-70) with three doubles, one homer and seven RBIs for the Braves, while Steve Lerud is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with two doubles and one triple.

Toledo will counter with Ezequiel Carrera. The outfielder is hitting .305 (73-for-239) with 10 doubles, three triples, three home runs and 25 RBIs. He leads team in hitting, while his 32 stolen bases lead the IL.

 

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (35-37) vs. Louisville Bats (38-36)

Pitching Probables

Fri: Cody Martin (4-6, 3.42) vs. Brett Marshall (0-2, 16.20)

Sat: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-8, 4.83) vs. Chien Ming Wang (7-5, 3.57)

Christian Bethancourt (Chris Roughgarden)

Christian Bethancourt (Chris Roughgarden)

Sun: Gus Schlosser (3-3, 4.84) vs. LHP David Holmberg (0-4, 7.39)

Mon: Yunesky Maya (3-1, 2.22) vs. Josh Smith (8-1, 3.83)

Gwinnett and Louisville start a four-game series on Friday, June 20 at 7:05 PM at Coolray Field. This will be their second meeting of the season, as the Bats took three of four from the G-Braves last week. Both squads are going in opposite directions, as the G-Braves are 3-7 in their last ten, while the Bats are 7-3 in their last ten games. Louisville is two games up on Gwinnett in the Wild Card standings.

Pitching: Louisville enters the series with the worst ERA in the IL, sporting a 4.85 ERA in 74 contests. However, they have some reliable arms that they will turn to in the series. Chien Ming Wang will take the ball in game two of the series. The former New York Yankee hurler is having a great season with the Bats. He is second on the team in wins, starts and ERA, while leading the squad in innings pitched with 88.1. In his last start against the Gwinnett Braves on June 14, the right-hander tossed 7.1 scoreless en route to his seventh win of the season.

He wasn’t alone in twirling a gem against the G-Braves, as Josh Smith went 7.0 innings of two-run baseball to beat the Braves on June 12. Smith enters the series with the team lead in wins and strikeouts (69). He will pitch the finale.

The G-Braves will try to battle the starting rotation in hopes to avoid Jumbo Diaz in the backend of the bullpen. Standing 6-foot, 4-inches tall and weighing 315 pounds, the right-hander is a big load, but is also the most dependable arm in the pen. In 44 games with the Bats in 2013, he went 3-4 with a 1.66 ERA and 13 of 14 in save chances. He has continued his dominance in 2014, going 2-2 with 18 saves in 30 games.

Gwinnett will counter with Martin, Rodriguez, Schlosser and Maya. Maya has been the G-Braves best hurler this season. On June 17, Maya pitched 6.2 scoreless and allowing five hits to extend his active scoreless streak to 15.1 innings dating back to June 7.  He walked two and struck out five in his win over Indianapolis. The right-hander leads the team in ERA and is third in wins.

Batting: Christian Bethancourt and Ozzie Martinez have been the G-Braves most productive hitters in the last ten games. Bethancourt is batting .379 (11-for-29) with one homer and four RBIs in his last seven games, while Martinez is batting .394 (13-for-33) with four runs scored and three RBIs in his last ten games.

While the Braves have scuffled offensively in the last ten games, the Bats offense is taking off. In their last ten games, the Bats have scored 49 runs and hit .297 as a team.

Ruben Gotay and Tucker Barnhart have paced the attack. Gotay is hitting .324 (12-for-37) with one homer and three RBIs over his last ten games, while Barnhart is batting .435 (10-for-23) with two RBIs in his last seven games. Barnhart is 8-for-11 in his last three games.

G-Bites: In the last two days, the Atlanta Braves have recalled Juan Jaime and Ryan Buchter, while the G-Braves added James Hoyt from Mississippi. Hoyt, 27, went 2-2 with a 1.21 ERA (4 ER in 29.2 IP) and six saves in 27 relief appearances for the Mississippi Braves this season. As of his promotion, he led the team in saves, appearances and ERA. Hoyt was signed by the Atlanta Braves organization on November 15, 2012 after spending part of two seasons with three different independent league teams. The Boise, ID native spent his college career at Centenary College (LA).

Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.” – Bob Feller

-JD-

 

 

 

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (33-31) at Louisville Bats (32-34)

Pitching Probables

Wed: Gus Schlosser (3-2, 4.66) vs. LHP David Holmberg (0-4, 10.50)

Thu: Yunesky Maya (2-1, 2.79) vs. Josh Smith (6-1, 3.77)

Fri: LHP Alex Wood (0-0, 0.00) vs. Jair Jurrjens (1-1, 4.91)

Sat: Cody Martin (4-5, 3.58) vs. Chien-Ming Wang (6-5, 3.89)

 

The Gwinnett Braves will hit the road and beginning an eight-game road trip with a four-game set against the Louisville Bats at Louisville Slugger Stadium. Gwinnett is coming off a 3-5 homestand, while Louisville returns home after a 4-4 road trip. Louisville enters the series two games behind Gwinnett in the wild card standings.

Martin (Photo credit: Chris Roughgarden)

Martin (Photo credit: Chris Roughgarden)

Pitching: Alex Wood will make his season debut with Gwinnett on Friday night. The left-hander went 5-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 18 games, seven starts with Atlanta this season.  The Braves’ second round pick in 2012 out of the University of Georgia, Wood is 8-9 with a 3.26 ERA over 49 career Major League games with Atlanta, including 18 starts.

Wood will be thrown in the middle of three right-handers Schlosser, Maya and Martin. Martin was dominant in his last start, going 6.2 innings in the win over the Rochester Red Wings on Monday night. The Dos Palos, CA native struck out five and allowed one earned run in the contest, snapping his three game losing streak.

The G-Braves will go up against the worst pitching staff in the IL, as the Bats enter the series dead last in the IL in ERA (4.91). Louisville has allowed 355 runs (14th in the IL) and has walked 255 batters (13th).

Josh Smith has been there best pitcher all season. The right-hander is 6-1 with a 3.77 ERA in 71.2 innings. He started the season 6-0, but has struggled in the month of June. In two games during the month, he is 0-0 with a 7.27 ERA in 8.2 innings. He would look to return to his April form (4-0, 2.45 ERA) on Thursday night.

Former G-Braves’ hurler Jair Jurrjens will take the ball on Friday night. In his final season with the G-Braves, Jurrjens went 4-6 with a 4.98 ERA in 14 starts for Gwinnett. He struck out 39 batters in 72.1 innings. He will be making his third start of the season on Friday.

Batting: The G-Braves are lead by Christian Bethancourt. The right-handed hitter is batting .262 (48-for-183) with 11 doubles, one triple, two homers and 28 RBIs in 50 games with the G-Braves. In ten games during the month of June, he is hitting .353 (12-for-34) with three doubles and five RBIs. He leads the G-Braves in hitting, hits (12) and doubles during the month. After going 0-for-1 on June 1 at Rochester, Bethancourt has rattled off a nine-game hitting streak from June 2 through June 10.

The model of consistency for the Gwinnett Braves in 2014 has been Phil Gosselin. The infielder has batted .326 (75-for-230) with 16 doubles, three triples, one homer and 16 RBIs. He leads the team in hitting, doubles and triples.

Louisville will rely on Ruben Gotay on offense. In 61 games with the Bats, he is hitting .267 (64-for-240) with 13 doubles, one triple and 42 RBIs.

In addition to Gotay, Neftali Soto will look to provide another quality bat for the Bats. With injuries at the big league level Soto began the season with Cincinnati Reds. However, after a slow start he was optioned to Louisville on May 24. Since joining the Bats’, he is batting .322 (19-for-59) with one homer and five RBIs.

““It’s forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would’ve annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness, there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness.” Gregory David Roberts

-JD-

 

 

 

 

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (29-23) at Rochester Red Wings (28-24)

Pitching Probables

Fri: Cody Martin (3-3, 2.89) vs. LHP Kris Johnson (4-2, 2.11)

Sat: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-5, 3.20) vs. Trevor May (4-3, 3.00)

Sun: Gus Schlosser (3-1, 6.12) vs. LHP Scott Diamond (2-6, 7.51)

Phil Gosselin (Photo Credit: KarlLMoore)

Phil Gosselin (Photo Credit: KarlLMoore)

Mon: Yunesky Maya (1-0, 3.06) vs. Alex Meyer (3-1, 3.31)

With both teams trailing their respective division leaders by less than two games, the Gwinnett Braves and the Rochester Red Wings enter a pivotal series for Wild Card supremacy. The G-Braves enter the series with a one game lead on the Rochester Red Wings even though the teams are trending in opposite directions. Rochester is 6-4 in their last ten games, while Gwinnett is 4-6.

Pitching: The Gwinnett Braves will turn the ball to their No.1 and No.2 starters to begin the series. Martin will take the ball in the first game; looking to record his fourth win of the season. Martin is coming off one of his worst outings of the 2014 season, as he gave up five runs (two earned) in 4.0 innings on 5/25 vs. Norfolk. Despite the poor start, Martin has put up some impressive numbers on the season. He is second on the squad in wins and strikeouts (53), while leading the staff with a 2.89 ERA.

Hector Daniel Rodriguez leads the team in wins and strikeouts (57). The southpaw has been excellent in his third stint with the G-Braves. In 10 starts, he has already surpassed his win total from 2013, while accumulating more punch outs than season ago. Rodriguez has been effective around the zone, walking 18 batters in 59.0 innings. Last season, he walked 38 batters in 53.0 innings for the G-Braves.

Right-handers Schlosser and Maya round out the rotation for Gwinnett.

They will be opposed by two of the better hurlers in the Minnesota Twins organization in Kris Johnson and Trevor May. Johnson was an IL All-Star last season with the Indianapolis Indians, and has continued his great work this year. He has won three straight games from 4/24 to 5/25. In his last start, he tossed a season-high 8.0 innings, allowing two runs on four hits in the win against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

May is also coming into the series with a three-game winning streak. The righty has posted wins in back-to-back-to-back contests. He has tossed 19.0 innings without allowing an earned run. In his last start, he allowed one unearned run on five hits. During the scoreless streak, he has struck out 15, while walking nine. He is rated the No.8 prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization by Baseball America.

Batting: Despite changes to the lineup, the Gwinnett Braves continue to hit. The G-Braves lead the league in hitting, batting .270 as a squad. They are third in the league in runs scored (248) despite ranking ninth in the league in homers (33).

Phil Gosselin continues to pace the offensive attack. The infielder enters the contest second in the league with a .337 (64-for-190) batting average. He is second in the IL in hits and leads the G-Braves in doubles.

In addition to the consistency of Gosselin, Christian Bethancourt has swung a hot bat in May. The backstop is batting .282 (22-for-78) with nine runs scored, five doubles, one triple, two homers and 17 RBIs. His 17 RBIs during the month of May lead the team.

The Red Wings will counter with the 2013 IL MVP and Rookie of the Year, Chris Colabello. Since being optioned to Rochester, the first baseman is hitting .100 (1-for-10) with one RBI in three games. Last season, he hit .352 (119-for-338) with 24 homers and 76 RBIs for the Red Wings.

G-Notes: Tyler Pastornicky joined the G-Braves on Thursday night and went 2-for-4 in his first appearance since being optioned by the Braves…. Former G-Brave Ernesto Mejia is hitting .457 (21-for-46) with two homers and six RBIs in 11 games for the Seibu Lions…

“Whatever you want to do, If you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.” -Maya Angelou

-JD-

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