Results tagged ‘ Coolray Field ’
The calendar has given us an extra day this February, officially making 2016 a “leap year.” In honor of the event, The G-Blog will examine four members of the 2015 G-Braves that are in position to make the next “leap” this season. The series starts this week with Tyrell Jenkins, check back each Thursday in February for more features.
Once the 2014 season ended and the Atlanta Braves made changes at the top of its front office, one of the first moves was to begin restocking a barren farm system with top-end talent. In the first move by John Hart and John Coppolella, a 6-foot, 4-inch right-hander named Tyrell Jenkins was the secondary piece of the November 2014 trade that sent homegrown superstar Jason Heyward to St. Louis. Though right-hander Shelby Miller was the clear centerpiece, Jenkins proved he was more than just a throw-in to the swap as he dominated the top two levels of the minors in 2015 and racked up awards along the way.
Since coming to the organization, Jenkins has flourished, posting a 3.19 ERA in 25 starts between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. He earned his second career All-Star nod at Mississippi, and following the season he was named the Braves’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Jenkins produced a 3.00 ERA and had three complete-game efforts in 16 starts for the M-Braves to begin the year. He allowed two runs or fewer in 12 of his outings for Mississippi and surrendered only three home runs over 93.0 innings. After being knocked around for nine earned runs in 5.2 innings on May 1, he rebounded to yield only three earned runs over 27.0 innings in his next four starts. Jenkins was Mississippi’s Pitcher of the Month in May despite the hiccup on the month’s first day.
With a wave of success mounting as the season reached the mid-way point, Jenkins was promoted to Gwinnett on July 8 and made his debut the next night against Norfolk. In that game, he reached 100.0 innings on the year in a sterling 7.0-inning shutout of the Tides, registering six strikeouts and allowing seven hits with just one walk.
Following his dominance of Norfolk in his G-Braves debut, Jenkins registered a 2.16 ERA in four July starts before allowing 12 earned runs in 18.2 innings in four outings in August (5.79 ERA) and spending time on the disabled list with arm fatigue. He made just one appearance after August 16, a 1.2-inning start on September 4 at Norfolk.
Coming into 2015, Jenkins hadn’t pitched 100.0 innings in any of his first five professional seasons as the result of multiple injuries. But despite the stint on the G-Braves’ disabled list in August, he finished last season with a career-high 138.1 innings pitched, 5.0 more than he had thrown in the previous two seasons combined.
After such an impressive debut in the Atlanta system, he’ll head to Major League Spring Training later this month looking to break camp with the big club.
Making Atlanta’s Opening Day roster would be considered a big leap, even for the fast-rising Jenkins. The time he’s missed due to injury could lead the Braves to give him more seasoning in Gwinnett, though it’s clear his time is fast approaching. Of the 25 pitchers picked ahead of Jenkins in the 2010 Draft, 13 of them have made their MLB debuts. Of those 13 that have reached the big leagues, the average amount of minor league appearances was 79.7; Jenkins enters the 2016 season having made 83 minor league starts.
The numbers might suggest that 2016 would be the year for Jenkins to become the 14th member of his first round draft class to reach the Majors, but he’ll have to stay healthy and continue to build on his award-winning 2015 season. He’ll also have to outshine some established veterans.
Atlanta has signed experienced arms like Jhoulys Chacin, Kyle Kendrick and Bud Norris, which could present a block to Jenkins’ immediate path to the big leagues. Based on those signings further strengthening Braves’ starting pitching depth, it appears that Jenkins is destined for a call-up at some point later this summer. The longer the Braves stay competitive, like in 2015 when they were just five games under the .500 mark at the All-Star break, the longer Jenkins could pitch at Coolray Field instead of Turner Field. But a “leap” in 2016 means nothing less than his Major League debut.
Sat: LHP Greg Smith (6-6, 2.55 ERA) vs. RHP Hector Noesi (3-4, 3.51 ERA), 7:05 p.m.
Sun: RHP Victor Mateo (3-3, 6.03 ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Drabek (7-10, 3.66 ERA), 2:05 p.m.
Mon: RHP Jake Brigham (3-1, 4.95 ERA) vs. RHP Brad Penny (7-9, 4.26 ERA), 12:05 p.m.
The Gwinnett Braves enter their final series of the season still in contention for the International League South Division title, although they will need some help to get it. The G-Braves won three of four games in a road series Wednesday through Friday against the division-leading Norfolk Tides to cut the Tides’ lead in the standings to 2.0 games. While Gwinnett plays the Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, for three games at Coolray Field, the Tides will travel for a three-game set against the Durham Bulls. The Bulls are last in the four-team division at 72-69 but have won 13 of their last 16 games, overall, including a two-game sweep of the G-Braves on Monday and Tuesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Gwinnett will have to sweep the Knights and hope Norfolk is swept by Durham to win the division outright by the final scheduled day of the regular season. If Norfolk is swept and the G-Braves win two of three against Charlotte, the Tides and G-Braves would have a one-game playoff to determine the division winner. Gwinnett could also pull even with Norfolk if it sweeps Charlotte and the Tides lose two of three at Durham.
The G-Braves have struggled against Charlotte this season. They are 7-13 vs. the Knights so far despite outscoring Charlotte 90-88. They were swept in the teams’ most recent meeting during a three-game series at Charlotte from August 24-26, but Gwinnett also swept the Knights in a three-game set in their last meeting at Coolray Field from July 24-26. Norfolk has gone 12-7 against Durham this year, including 6-2 in games played in Durham.
Pitching: G-Braves’ pitchers have a combined 3.95 ERA against the Knights this season, which is better than Charlotte’s 4.10 mark. Gwinnett also has a 3.20 team ERA for the season that ranks as the third-lowest in the 14-team IL. Charlotte ranks 10th with a 3.79 team ERA. The trio of G-Braves’ starting pitchers lined up to pitch in this series are a combined 2-2 with a 4.56 ERA against Charlotte this year in six appearances (four starts). The probable starters for the Knights have gone a combined 4-2 against Gwinnett this season with a 2.66 ERA in seven starts.
Noesi shut out the G-Braves across 6.0 innings in his only start against them on August 26 at Charlotte, a 3-1 win for the Knights, but they lost right-handed starter Erik Johnson, who holds the league lead with a 2.39 ERA, to the Major Leagues when the White Sox called him up on September 1. Johnson was 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in three starts against Gwinnett. Smith has had the most success against Charlotte of the three starters Gwinnett will send to the mound. He is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in three outings (two starts), including a 7.0-inning performance on August 12 when he held the Knights to one run in an 11-1 victory at BB&T Ballpark.
The Charlotte pitching staff has fewer walks (421-to-465) and more strikeouts (1,062-to-963) than Gwinnett, but the G-Braves hold a slight advantage in saves (43-to-42) and have allowed fewer home runs (77-to-99).
Hitting: Gwinnett also had the third-highest team batting average of any team in the league at .259, while Charlotte is seventh with a .255 mark. The G-Braves also hold an offensive advantage in head-to-head matchups this year. Gwinnett hitters have batted .270 against Charlotte pitching, and the Knights have hit at a .261 clip. The Knights have slugged 17 home runs to Gwinnett’s seven, which mirrors a trend throughout the season for the G-Braves. They have hit 48 homers on the year, which is 20 fewer than the previous franchise low of 68 in 2001 and 2006, and the lowest of any team in the IL since the Tidewater Tides hit 43 in 1980. The Knights lead the league with 134 home runs.
Charlotte outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo has done much of the damage in the power department against Gwinnett this season. He has batted .268 in the 11 games he has faced G-Braves’ pitching this year to go with four home runs, which are the most of any opposing player this season. Outfielders Cedric Hunter and Mallex Smith have been answers for Gwinnett, however. Hunter has batted .329 and belted three homers with 16 RBIs against the Knights, and Smith has hit .328 and stolen 10 bases in the 15 games he has played in against Charlotte.
Both teams are among the league leaders in stolen bases. Gwinnett is second in the league with 159 steals, and Charlotte baserunners have swiped 121 bases, which is good for third in the IL. The G-Braves are at the bottom of the league in both walks (352) and strikeouts (715, more than 140 fewer than the next closest team in that department). Charlotte is tied for eighth in the league with 455 walks, but the Knights strike out more often than any IL team with 1,142 on the year.
G-Bites: The G-Braves got right-handed starting pitcher Tyrell Jenkins back from the disabled list on Friday, and he threw 1.2 scoreless innings at Norfolk. Left-handed reliever Mitch Lambson was sent to Double-A Mississippi to make room for Jenkins on the roster…Outfielder Mycal Jones also rejoined the team on Thursday after a stint at Mississippi…Right-handed relievers Danny Burawa and Brandon Cunniff both received promotions to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, which was the first day Major League rosters expanded from 25 to 40 players. Shortstop Daniel Castro joined them, as well, for his third stint in the big leagues this season…The G-Braves have clinched their first winning record since 2011 when they went 78-65…A playoff appearance would be the team’s first since their inaugural season in Gwinnett of 2009. They went 81-63 to take the IL Wild Card spot.
Gwinnett Braves’ third baseman Hector Olivera made his debut at Coolray Field during the club’s recent four-game series that they swept from the Louisville Bats, and he had a chance to work with Atlanta Braves’ Minor League Infielder Coordinator Luis Lopez in preparation for the 30-year-old Cuba native’s debut in the Major Leagues.
The Braves acquired Olivera on July 30 from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-team, 13-player trade that sent Major League right-handed pitchers Jim Johnson and Bronson Arroyo, and left-handers Alex Wood and Luis Avilan to the Dodgers along with former No. 1-ranked prospect Jose Peraza.
“He’s a big kid,” Lopez said of the 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pounder. “He’s a guy who might be able to hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
Olivera hit two home runs in his first 28 games in America this season, but he was on the disabled list at the time of the trade because of a left hamstring strain he suffered on June 20 while playing for the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers.
He had batted a combined .348 (24-for-69) in 19 games across three levels of the Dodgers’ organization before the trade. He began a rehab stint with the GCL Braves on August 13 and went 0-for-5 in two games before he moved to Class-A Rome for four, during which he went 1-for-12 with a run scored. Olivera played in three of the G-Braves’ four games against Louisville and went 3-for-12 with a walk and two runs scored.
Olivera also played third base in each of those games and spent time working with Lopez, who said he was impressed with what he saw.
“He’s a very intelligent gentleman,” Lopez said. “He listens. When you pay attention and pay attention to details, that will transfer into the game.”
Lopez also worked with Olivera to help instill the core values the Braves’ want to see in their infielders at every level of their organization, he said.
“To be a consistent ballplayer, you have to be able to make routine plays,” Lopez said. “That’s one of the things that we always touch on. You’re are going to make errors on aggressive plays, but you are going to become a good infielder if you make the routine plays.”
Olivera fielded each of the six grounders hit his way and did not commit an error in any the three games he played against Louisville. He has seven errors for the season, including one during his two-game stint with the GCL Braves and three while with Rome.
Lopez said he first met Olivera at the Braves’ Spring Training complex in Florida when he was there to rehab shortly after the trade, and Lopez was pleased to see Olivera appeared to be healthy.
Still, Lopez said he believes Olivera needs some time to get back in the routine of playing games every day because he went more than a month out of action because of the injury.
“I think game reps will allow him to be the guy we want him to be,” Lopez said.
Fri: LHP Greg Smith (4-4, 2.34 ERA) vs. RHP Phillippe Aumont (3-4, 2.54 ERA), 7:05 p.m.
Sat: RHP Victor Mateo (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. LHP Jeff Francis (5-0, 1.41 ERA), 7:05 p.m.
Sun: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (3-3, 3.92 ERA) vs. RHP Scott Copeland (8-3, 2.11 ERA), 2:05 p.m.
The Gwinnett Braves begin a three-game series against the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, off of their best stretch of the season. The G-Braves had their season-high, six-game winning streak snapped in a 7-5 loss on Thursday to the Rochester Red Wings. Still, they have won 11 of their last 13 games to move from last place to second in the International League South Division and put them in the runner-up spot in the IL Wild Card race, 2.5 games behind the Columbus Clippers.
Buffalo entered the All-Star break on July 13 one game below the .500 mark at 45-46, but the Bisons won eight of their first 11 games after the break and have climbed into second place in the IL North, 3.5 games behind the division-leading Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Buffalo is also in fourth place in the Wild Card standings and 1.5 games behind the G-Braves. Gwinnett swept a three-game road series from the Bisons in the team’s first meeting this season from June 29 through July 1. The G-Braves have won the season series between the clubs in each of the past two seasons, going 11-4, overall, and 5-3 at Coolray Field during that stretch. This will be the final regular-season series the teams will play against one another this season.
Pitching: Two of the top pitching staffs in the IL will face off this weekend at Coolray Field. The Bisons boast a 3.07 team ERA that ranks second in the league behind only the Norfolk Tides, and the G-Braves follow in third with a 3.11 ERA. Both staffs go about their work in much the same way. Buffalo has a 2.29 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (804 strikeouts/352 walks), while Gwinnett has a 2.14 mark (784 strikeouts/366 walks). G-Braves’ pitchers have given up five more home runs than Buffalo, but their 54 homers allowed still are the fourth-fewest in the league. August has been particularly good for Gwinnett hurlers, as they have combined for a 2.17 ERA through the first six games of the month, which is the second-lowest in the league, to help the team to a 5-1 record in that span. In five games during which the team is 2-3, Buffalo has a 4.50 ERA.
The Buffalo rotation is led by the current IL ERA leader in Copeland, who is scheduled to pitch the series finale. He has won three of his last four starts and has not allowed more than one earned run in that span. He has given up more than two earned runs in two of his 15 appearances (14 starts) for the Bisons this season. He made his Major League debut with the Blue Jays in May and has made five appearances (three starts) for Toronto, going 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA.
Gwinnett pitchers held opponents to three runs or fewer in 10 of the 13 games during their hot streak despite five strikeouts or fewer in nine of those contests. The G-Braves also got seven quality starts from its starting rotation in that time span, and right-hander Peter Moylan has become a stopper at the end of games. He has gone 4-for-4 in save opportunities across his last six appearances and has not allowed a run in his last eight while he gave up three combined hits in that span. Overall, Moylan is 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA (9 ER in 25.0 IP) with four saves in 24 outings since he joined the team on June 2.
Hitting: Outfielder Todd Cunningham and catcher Christian Bethancourt have caught fire of late. They have combined to hit at a .411 rate (.476 for Cunningham, .371 for Bethancourt) in the team’s last 10 games. Cunningham has driven in five runs and scored four during that span, while Bethancourt has a home run, seven RBIs and a seven runs scored. The team batting average has risen to .256 for the season, which ranks eighth in the IL. Buffalo has a .262 team batting average that is tied with Norfolk for the second-highest in the league. The Bisons do not hit for much power, however. Their 49 home runs are the third-fewest in the league, although Gwinnett’s 38 are the fewest in the league, overall. The G-Braves hold a distinct advantage on the bases with their 126 stolen bases that are the second-most in the IL. Buffalo baserunners have swiped 61 bags, which ranks 11th in the league.
Along with Copeland atop the IL pitching ranks, Buffalo also has the league’s top hitter with Matt Hague. The first baseman/third baseman leads the league in batting average (.342), hits (145), RBIs (79), total bases (202), on-base percentage (.424) and is tied for the league lead in walks (54). He also ranks second in slugging percentage (.476) and third in doubles (28). Hague played 33 games in the Majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates combined in 2012 and 2014, hitting a combined .222 with no home runs, two doubles and seven RBIs. He combined to hit .282 with 23 doubles, 15 homers, 76 RBIs and 60 runs scored in 106 games between the Indianapolis Indians and Buffalo in 2014, including a .377 batting average in 13 games for the Bisons.
G-Bites: The G-Braves lost utilityman Joey Terdoslavich and right-handed reliever Ryan Kelly to Major League promotions on Tuesday with the Atlanta Braves. They are both on their fourth stints with Atlanta this season…Kelly’s move opened a roster spot for right-hander Jason Hursh to make his Triple-A debut on Thursday with the G-Braves. The Braves’ first-round pick (31st overall) in 2013 threw a perfect ninth inning in his first appearance on Thursday. He began the season as a starter for Double-A Mississippi and made 15 starts, going 2-6 with a 5.63 ERA. He moved to the bullpen on 7/10 and went 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in nine relief outings for the M-Braves before his promotion…The G-Braves will embark on their longest remaining road trip after the Buffalo series. They will travel to three cities in nine days for four games against the Charlotte Knights, three vs. Columbus and two against the Toledo Mud Hens…After their final day off of the regular season on August 19, the team will come back to Coolray Field for a four-game series against the Louisville Bats.
Pitching probables (All games start at 6:35 p.m.)
Mon: RHP Victor Mateo (6-6, 2.68 ERA with Double-A Mississippi) vs. RHP Jose Berrios (2-0, 3.52 ERA).
Tues: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (3-3, 4.02 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Bowden (7-3, 2.27 ERA).
Wed: RHP Kanekoa Texeira (3-3, 3.58 ERA) vs. LHP Taylor Rogers (8-8, 3.65 ERA).
Thurs: RHP Tyrell Jenkins (3-1, 2.03 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Duffey (4-6, 2.72 ERA).
The best stretch of the season for the Gwinnett Braves has launched them into the thick of the International League Wild Card race with 37 games left to play. They begin a four-game series at Coolray Field against the Rochester Red Wings 3.0 games behind the Columbus Clippers for the Wild Card spot and what would be the G-Braves’ first playoff berth since their inaugural season in Gwinnett of 2009. The G-Braves have gone 11-6 since the All-Star break and have won eight of their last nine games, including five of six against the Durham Bulls last week. They remain 7.5 games out of first place in the IL South Division but are 1.5 games behind the Charlotte Knights for second place and 4.5 games ahead of last-place Durham.
Rochester, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, has struggled since the All-Star break. The Red Wings have gone 7-10 to open the second half of the season and trail the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders by 4.0 games for the lead in the IL North. They also sit a half-game behind Gwinnett in the Wild Card race. Rochester’s rough patch included a split of a four-game series with the G-Braves at Frontier Field. Gwinnett won the first two games, but the Red Wings took the final two. That was the first time the clubs had met this season, and this will be their final regular-season series against one another 2015. The G-Braves have not won a season series against the Red Wings since 2012 when they went 5-3. They are 6-14 against Rochester since.
Pitching: Despite roster turnover that has left the G-Braves without any of their original five starting pitchers and with three relievers who started the season with the team, the Gwinnett pitching staff continues to produce at one of the best rates in the league. The team’s 3.03 ERA ranks third in the IL, and G-Braves have held opponents to three runs or fewer in 11 of their 17 games since the All-Star break. The staff has walked the fifth-most batters in the league with 355 and has eighth-most strikeouts with 764, but it has allowed the fifth-fewest home runs in the league with 52 and by far has the fewest wild pitches with 28, seven-fewer that Rochester, which ranks second in that department.
The Red Wings have a team ERA of 3.68 that ranks eighth in the league but have the fewest walks of any team in the league with 300 to go with 787 strikeouts, which are the third-most in the league. Berrios, the Twins’ No. 3-ranked prospect and No. 26 overall according to MLB.com, pitched the first three months of the season for Double-A Chattanooga. He went 8-3 with a 3.08 ERA for the Lookouts before his promotion to Rochester. He got his first two Triple-A victories in his last two starts, including a 7.0 scoreless innings against the G-Braves on July 23 when he allowed four hits and two walks with one strikeout. He has fanned eight or more batters in three of his first five starts for the Red Wings.
Jenkins, who is the Braves’ No. 5 prospect according to MLB.com, is scheduled to finish the series for the G-Braves after he notched his second consecutive win on Saturday against Durham. He struck out eight Bulls’ batters in that game, which is the most he’s had in any of his first five starts since he got called up from Double-A Mississippi on July 8. Mateo will make his Triple-A debut in the opener of the series in his 185th career minor league appearance. He signed with Atlanta as a minor league free agent in November after eight years in the Tampa Bay Rays’ system, including the last two with Double-A Montgomery.
Hitting: The G-Braves homered twice during their three-game road series at Durham but still have the fewest home runs in the league by a wide margin. Their 35 for the season is seven behind the next closest team, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, in that category. They are on pace for a franchise-low 47 on the season, which would also be the fewest of any team in the IL since the 1980 Tidewater Tides. However, Gwinnett is second in the league with 122 stolen bases and three behind the Indianapolis Indians for the lead in that department. The G-Braves also have the fewest walks (256) and strikeouts (548) of any team in the league. Their strikeout total is 104 behind the Norfolk Tides for the next lowest in that category.
Rochester is tied for the third-highest team batting average in the IL with a .262 mark. The club’s 66 home runs rank sixth in the league but its 36 stolen bases are the fewest. The Red Wings have also hit into the second-most double plays, two behind Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in that department. Their 54 attempted stolen bases are by far the fewest in the league, as Norfolk is next-to-last in that category with 66. They sit in the middle of the pack in both walks (10th, 348) and strikeouts (ninth, 728).
The International League named Red Wings’ first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez the IL Batter of the Week from July 26-August 2. He batted .385 with a league-high seven extra-base hits, 22 total bases, six runs scored, an .846 slugging percentage and ran his hitting streak to 10 games. He enters the series against Gwinnett with a league-high 44 extra-base hits and 64 runs scored for the season. He also ranks third in doubles (27) and total bases (176), and he is tied with outfielder Danny Ortiz for the team lead in home runs (12). Second baseman James Beresford also ranks third in the league with a .311 batting average for the season.
G-Bites: The G-Braves lost second baseman and the Atlanta Braves’ top-ranked prospect Jose Peraza in a three-team, 13-player trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 30…Right-handed pitcher Williams Perez completed his rehab assignment with Gwinnett and returned to Atlanta on July 31…Right-handed relievers David Carpenter and Ryan Kelly both rejoined the G-Braves that day after a stint with Atlanta…Mateo and infielder Luis Mateo, no relation, joined the team from Double-A Mississippi July 30 and 31, respectively….Atlanta called up relief pitchers Matt Marksberry and Jake Brigham on July 31…Utilityman Joey Terdoslavich begins the series against Rochester on a season-high 12-game hitting streak during which he has batted .364 with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, 11 RBIs and eight runs scored…The G-Braves will complete their longest remaining homestand of the season with three games against the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, from Friday through Sunday at Coolray Field.
Pitching probables (All games start at 6:35 p.m.)
Mon: RHP Tyrell Jenkins (1-1, 3.18 ERA) vs. RHP Bradin Hagens (1-1, 3.38 ERA).
Tues: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (1-6, 3.49 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Andriese (2-1, 1.84 ERA).
Wed: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (3-2, 3.61 ERA) vs. LHP Blake Snell (0-1, 2.25 ERA).
The Gwinnett Braves worked their way out of the cellar in the International League South Division on Sunday when they beat the Charlotte Knights 5-3 and the Durham Bulls lost 11-1 to the Norfolk Tides. That dropped the Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, a half-game behind the G-Braves for last place in the division. Gwinnett has won five of the last seven meetings between the clubs this season and leads the season series 7-6. This is the Bulls’ final visit to Coolray Field this season. After an off day on Thursday, the teams will play three more games at Durham from Friday through Sunday, and they have a two-game series at Durham Bulls Athletic Park scheduled for August 21 and September 1. The G-Braves have not taken a season series from the Bulls since they went 11-10 in 2012.
The G-Braves ran their post-All-Star break record to 6-5 with the sweep of Charlotte. Durham, meanwhile, has yet to win consecutive games in the second half and gone 4-7 in that span. The Bulls have the lowest team batting average (.229) and second-highest team ERA (4.64) in the IL for July, but they have slugged 27 home runs through 23 games during the month, which trails only Charlotte’s 33 in that category. Gwinnett’s 11 homers in the July are the second-fewest, ahead of only the nine hit by the Indianapolis Indians. The G-Braves’ .244 batting average for July ranks 11th in the league, but they have managed a 12-12 record since July 1 with the help of a 3.49 team ERA that is the fifth-lowest in the 14-team league.
Pitching: A weekend series vs. Charlotte in which the G-Braves did not allow more than three runs in any of the three victories helped lower the club’s ERA to 3.18 for the season, which is the fourth-lowest of any team in the league. Knights’ outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo hit two home runs on Friday, but those were the only long balls Gwinnett pitchers allowed, and the 51 the G-Braves’ pitching staff has combined to give up are tied for the fourth-fewest in the IL. Durham has the third-highest team ERA in the league at 3.97 and its pitchers have given up the most home runs in the IL with 86. The Bulls have struck out the second-most batters in the league with 761 K’s and issued the second-fewest walks (289), and their relievers have combined for 34 saves, which is tied for the league lead in that department. G-Braves’ hurlers have the fifth-most strikeouts with 723 and the fifth-most walks with 335, while the bullpen has 30 saves to tie for fourth in that category.
Foltynewicz has given up seven of the G-Braves’ home runs allowed total this season and is in his third stint with Gwinnett after two promotions to the Major Leagues with the Atlanta Braves. He worked as a starter in Atlanta from May 1 to June 14, going 3-2 with a 5.19 ERA in nine starts, and pitched three times out of the bullpen from July 7-11, going 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA. Four of his 10 starts for the G-Braves have been quality starts, but the team is 3-7 in those games in part because the offense has provided him the fewest runs of support of any pitcher currently in the starting rotation (14 total, 1.40 per game).
Hagens has made four starts (five appearances) for the Bulls this season after he began the year at Double-A Montgomery, where he posted a 4-5 record and 3.86 ERA in 16 outings (eight starts). He stuck out nine Charlotte batters in his most recent start on July 22 and has a 3.75 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (30 strikeouts/8 walks) since his move to the Triple-A level. Andriese has split the season between Durham and Tampa Bay. He has gone 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA and two saves in 12 outings (seven starts) for the Rays in his Major League rookie campaign. He was optioned to Durham most recently on July 8.
Hitting: Barrett Kleinknecht hit his fourth home run of the season with a solo shot in the seventh inning on Sunday, but the G-Braves still sit at the bottom of the IL in that department with 32 homers and trail the next closest team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, by 10. They are on pace 46 home runs for the season, which would be the fewest in franchise history and the fewest in the league since the Tidewater Tides hit 43 in 1980. The lowest season home run totals for Richmond/Gwinnett teams is 68 set in 2001 and tied in 2006. However, the G-Braves have used their team speed to steal 114 bases and tie Indianapolis for the lead in that category. That puts Gwinnett on pace for 163 on the season but still well behind the franchise record of 195 set in 1986.
Durham is third in the league with 100 stolen haves but is also second in the IL with 90 home runs despite a team batting average of .244 that is tied for the second-lowest in the league. First baseman J. P. Arencibia has helped the team home run total with a league-high 20. The Bulls do not lay down many sacrifice bunts (14, second-fewest in the IL compared to Gwinnett’s second-highest total of 52), but they draw the third-most walks of any team in the league with 359. The G-Braves have a league-low 241 walks but also the fewest strikeouts with 503. Durham has whiffed a league-leading 863 times.
Jose Peraza’s team-high 13-game hitting streak came to an end when he went 0-for-4 on Sunday, but he is still tied for second in the league in hits with 110. He is also tied for the league-lead in sacrifice bunts (12) and sacrifice flies (seven) to go with the fourth-highest strikeouts-per-plate-appearance ratio of 12.18. Durham outfielder Taylor Motter won the IL Player of the Week award for June 29 to July 6 and has a .303 batting average for the season that ranks seventh in the league among qualified hitters. His 104 hits on the season are the fifth-most in the IL, and he leads the league in extra-base hits with 42.
G-Bites: Infielders Daniel Castro and Adonis Garcia got recalled by Atlanta on Friday. They both left the Gwinnett game in the second inning to join the Braves in St. Louis. Garcia hit his first career Major League home run in the sixth inning on Sunday, a solo shot that provided the deciding run in their 3-2 win over the Cardinals…Atlanta optioned first baseman Joey Terdoslavich on Friday to make room for first baseman Freddie Freeman’s return from the disabled list…Outfielder Cedric Hunter went 5-for-9 two RBIs and four runs scored in the series vs. Charlotte. He has batted .292 with 14 RBIs and 13 runs scored in 22 games in July to raise his season batting average to .272…With a 6.0-inning start on Saturday during which he allowed two runs (one earned), right-hander Kanekoa Texeira completed his fourth consecutive quality start, which is the longest such streak for a G-Braves’ pitcher this season…After the upcoming weekend series at Durham, the G-Braves will return to Coolray Field for a seven-game homestand from August 3-9 that includes four games against the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, and three vs. the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Fri: TBA vs. TBA, 7:05 p.m.
Sat: RHP Kanekoa Texeira (1-3, 3.64 ERA) vs. RHP Erik Johnson (8-5, 2.59 ERA), 7:05 p.m.
Sun: RHP Williams Perez (2-1, 1.36 ERA) vs. RHP Brad Penny (5-3, 4.09 ERA), 2:05 p.m.
The Gwinnett Braves welcome the Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, to Coolray Field for the final time this season still in search of their first victory over Charlotte on their home field. The Knights have won each of the first five games the teams have played in Gwinnett and have outscored the G-Braves 24-15 in those contests, although only one of the games was decided by more than a two-run margin. The G-Braves have gone 2-3 against the Knights in Charlotte, including two wins in a three-game series at BB&T Ballpark from July 2-3 that preceded a six-game losing streak.
Gwinnett remains last in the four-team International League South Division, while the Knights sit in second place, 0.5 of a game behind the Norfolk Tides. The G-Braves face their largest deficit in the standings of the season, as they are 8.5 games behind the Tides and 8.0 games back of Charlotte for the Wild Card playoff spot. This is the first time the teams have not played a home-and-home series this season, as the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, will come in for a three-game series from July 27-29.
This will also be the first time Gwinnett has been home since the All-Star break. The G-Braves went 3-5 on a road trip that took them to Syracuse, where they lost three of four games to the Chiefs, and Rochester in a four-game series they split with the IL North-leading Red Wings. Charlotte has won five of its eight games since the break and eight of their last 11, overall, to put them a season-high 14 games above the .500 mark.
Pitching: The G-Braves’ pitching staff has allowed five or more runs four times in its last 15 games and has the fourth-lowest team ERA in the IL at 3.21. The 49 home runs G-Braves’ pitchers have allowed are also tied for the fourth-fewest in the league. Charlotte has a team ERA of 3.53 that ranks seventh in the league and the 70 home runs it has allowed are the fourth-most in the IL. However, the Knights hold an advantage in strikeout-to-walk ratio. They are tied for the third-fewest walks issued with 295 and lead the league with 789 strikeouts, which are 52 more than second-place Durham in that department. Gwinnett pitchers have walked the fourth-most batters in the league with 331 free passes, and their 704 strikeouts rank fifth.
Gwinnett has also used 14 different starting pitchers this season. Perez and right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (1-6, 3.49 ERA) are the only pitchers currently in the rotation that also began the season in Gwinnett, although Perez is on a Major League rehab assignment from the Atlanta Braves. He has made two rehab starts since the All-Star break and gone 0-1 with one run allowed in a combined 6.0 innings, including 10 strikeouts and one walk, in those appearances. Saturday’s starter, Texeira, notched his first victory of the season in his last start, his sixth of the season among 11 relief appearances, on Monday, July 20 when he held the Red Wings to three runs on two hits and three walks with two strikeouts in a 6-3 victory.
For Charlotte, Johnson holds the third-lowest ERA in the league among qualified starters with his 2.59 mark. He trails only former Gwinnett left-handed starter Manny Banuelos, who was promoted to Atlanta on July 2, and his Charlotte teammate right-hander Kyle Drabek. Johnson leads the league in strikeouts with 105, but Charlotte left-hander Casey Jarrett holds the top spot on the club in wins with 9, which ties him for the league lead along with Durham lefty Scott Diamond. Johnson also holds the tops spot in the league with a 1.09 WHIP, while Drabek is tied for third with a 1.14 mark.
Hitting: Charlotte holds the fourth-highest team batting average at .260, while the G-Braves come in 10th with a .252 mark. Both teams have plenty of speed, as Gwinnett is second in the league with 107, one more than the Knights, but Charlotte has much more power in its lineup. The Knights have slugged a league-best 94 home runs, and the G-Braves have managed an IL-low 31. That puts Gwinnett on pace for 46 on the season, which would be the lowest of any IL team since the Tidewater Tides, who were a New York Mets’ affiliate at the time, hit 43 in 1980.
The G-Braves also have the fewest walks and strikeouts of any team in the league. They would be the first club since the 2012 Lehigh Valley IronPigs to finish at the bottom of both categories in the same season. Additionally, their league-low .304 on-base percentage would be the lowest in the IL since the Syracuse Chiefs, who were an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays at the time, had a .302 mark in 1988.
Individually, second baseman Jose Peraza, the top-ranked prospect in the Braves’ system, is second in the league with 107 hits and fourth with six triples. He enters the series on a season-high 11-game hitting streak during which he has batted .362 (17-for-47) with two doubles, a triple, three RBIs and seven runs scored. He is batting .292 (107-for-367) for the season with eight doubles, six triples, three home runs, 37 RBIs, 44 runs scored and 25 stolen bases, which ties him for fifth in the IL in that category.
Charlotte second baseman Micah Johnson holds the second-highest batting average among qualified batters in the IL with a .328 mark and has the fifth-highest on-base percentage at .379 to go with the third-highest slugging percentage at .486 in 60 games. Third baseman Matt Davidson is tied for fourth in the league with 15 home runs, outfielder Trayce Thompson has the the fourth-most doubles with 23 and fellow outfielder Jason Coats’ 61 RBIs rank third in the league.
G-Bites: Right-handed reliever Brandon Cunniff rejoined the G-Braves during their most recent road trip but is on the disabled list, and righty reliever David Carpenter is back with the club after his first stint of the season with Atlanta. The Gwinnett bullpen also got back right-hander Jake Brigham from a stint with Atlanta…Righty David Peterson received a promotion to Gwinnett from Double-A Mississippi on July 17 and has yet to allow a run in his first two relief outings while picking up his first Triple-A save in his first appearance on July 18 at Syracuse…Right-handed reliever Vin Mazzaro also joined the team after Atlanta signed him as a minor-league free agent on July 10…Righty reliever Carlos Fisher threw 1.0 scoreless inning in the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 15 in Omaha, NE…Outfielder Todd Cunningham broke free of a 1-for-13 skid to bat .500 (6-for-12) with a home run, three RBIs and four runs scored during the four-game set at Rochester.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”