Results tagged ‘ Coolray Field ’

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.

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (19-25) vs. Lehigh Valley IronPigs (18-27)

Pitching probables

Mon: RHP Matt Wisler (2-3, 4.40 ERA) vs. LHP Anthony Vasquez (1-0, 1.69 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Tues: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (1-4, 4.70 ERA) vs. LHP Joely Rodriguez (2-3, 5.18 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Wed: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (2-2, 4.05 ERA) vs. RHP Jason Berken (3-2, 4.29 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Thurs: LHP Manny Banuelos (3-0, 2.64 ERA) vs. RHP Phillippe Aumont (2-1, 1.64 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Matt Wisler (Karl Moore)

Matt Wisler (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves return to Coolray Field for a seven-game homestand that begins with four games against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Gwinnett went 3-4 on its most recent road trip that included series against the Toledo Mud Hens and Columbus Clippers. The Mud Hens took two of three games for the G-Braves, while Gwinnett and Columbus split their four-game series.

Lehigh Valley enters the series vs. Gwinnett on its best roll of the season. A 7-5 home loss Sunday to the Charlotte Knights ended a season-high, six-game winning streak that lifted the IronPigs out of the basement in the International League North Division. They now sit fifth in the six-team division ahead of the Syracuse Chiefs (17-26). The G-Braves remain in the cellar of the IL South, 5.5 games behind division leading Charlotte (24-19).

Pitching: G-Braves’ pitchers have combined for the sixth-lowest ERA on the season with a 3.22 mark and has held opponents to two runs or fewer in each of the team’s last 12 wins. However, the G-Braves have also lost their last 14 games when they give up more than two runs. The club’s eight saves are tied for the second-fewest in the league with Syracuse and one ahead of Toledo, while its 19 home runs allowed are tied for the fourth-fewest. Gwinnett pitchers have walked the third-most batters of any IL team with 159, but their 10 combined wild pitches are the fewest in the league. The G-Braves are also one of six teams with at least 330 strikeouts (331) and sit six strikeouts behind the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, which hold the lead in that department. Individually, Banuelos has risen to ninth among qualified pitchers with a 2.64 ERA (14 ER in 47.2 IP), and he is one of three qualifying pitchers who has yet to suffer a defeat.

The IronPigs’ staff held opponents to one run in four games during the recent winning streak to lower the team ERA to 3.90, which ranks 10th in the 14-team league. Lehigh Valley had limited its opponents to one run twice before that stretch and is the only team in the league yet to record a shutout victory, and it has issued the most walks with 192 (4.26 per game), 32 more than second-place Toledo in that category. The IronPigs’ 286 strikeouts are the second-fewest in the league, five more than Syracuse. Aumont’s 1.64 ERA (8 ER in 44.0 IP) through 10 outings (six starts) is the second-lowest in the league among qualified pitchers, although his 24 walks are tied for the second-most in the league.

Hitting: The G-Braves and IronPigs have identical .259 team batting averages, and they are the two most power deprived squads in the league. Gwinnett’s 13 long balls for the season are one fewer than the 14 homers Lehigh Valley has launched. The G-Braves have scored nine more runs (178) than the IronPigs and stolen 21 more bases (Gwinnett has a league-leading 53). The G-Braves’ 231 strikeouts are the fewest in the league, while Lehigh Valley’s 296 are the fifth fewest.

Gwinnett outfielder Eury Perez continues to lead the league in stolen bases with 22, while second baseman Jose Peraza remains with 14 (tied for fourth). Peraza has yet to steal a base since his return to the lineup Thursday after missing a week, although he did hit his first two home runs of the season at Columbus. Perez also leads the league with 27 runs scored, while infielder Adonis Garcia is fourth in batting average at .338 and outfielder Cedric Hunter is tied for second in doubles with 13.

G-Bites: The G-Braves received a new pitcher in their starting rotation during the road trip. Right-hander Cody Martin (0-1, 2.08 ERA), who won the team’s Most Outstanding Pitcher award after going 7-8 with a 3.52 ERA in 2014, joined the club May 19 from the Atlanta Braves. He went 2-2 with a 4.12 ERA (9 ER in 19.2 IP) in 17 relief appearances to begin the year with Atlanta…The Braves traded right-handed reliever John Cornely (2-2, 4.42 ERA, 1 save, 12 appearances) to the Boston Red Sox on May 20, and he was assigned to Triple-A Pawtucket…Garcia returned to the G-Braves on May 22 after a four-day stay with Atlanta in his first Major League experience (0-1, 1 BB, 2 games), while left-handed reliever Ian Thomas got called up to Atlanta for the second time this season…The G-Braves will close their homestand with three games Friday through Sunday vs. Columbus, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (16-18) vs. Louisville Bats (14-20)

Pitching probables

Fri: RHP Matt Wisler (2-3, 4.59 ERA) vs. RHP Jon Moscot (5-0, 2.35 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sat: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (0-4, 5.70 ERA) vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod (1-3, 3.57 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (2-1, 1.96 ERA) vs. RHP Donovan Hand (0-1, 3.06 ERA), 2:05 p.m.

The Gwinnett Braves complete their seven-game homestand with three contests vs. the Louisville Bats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The G-Braves dropped three of four games to the Syracuse Chiefs at Coolray Field earlier in the week, although none of the four games were decided by more than three runs. Louisville comes to Gwinnett after losing three of four road games to the Charlotte Knights.

The Bats are 4-7 in their last 11 games dating back to May 3 and are in third place in the four-team International League West Division, 5.5 games behind the division-leading Indianapolis Indians. The G-Braves remain in the cellar of the IL South despite a 3.5-game deficit to co-division leaders Charlotte and the Durham Bulls.

Pitching: Louisville enters the series with the second-highest team earned-run average in the league at 4.41, which is better than only the Toledo Mud Hens’ 4.87 mark. Bats pitchers have given up four or more runs in five of their last six games, and their 224 combined strikeouts are tied for the second-fewest in the league. Moscot, who will start the series opener, leads the league with five wins, and his 2.35 ERA is the seventh-lowest among qualifying pitchers, although he also leads the league with six wild pitches.

The Gwinnett pitching staff has held opponents in six of their last eight games, although the team is 4-4 in those contests. The G-Braves’ team ERA of 3.01 is the fourth-lowest in the league, and their nine home runs allowed are the fewest in the league, two behind the 11 given up by Buffalo Bisons pitchers. Wisler, the reigning IL Pitcher of the Week, will take the mound for Gwinnett in game one after going 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA (2 ER in 13.1 IP), one walk and nine strikeouts in his latest two starts.

Hitting: The G-Braves’ team batting average dropped five points to .264 during their four-game series against Syracuse, but that still ranks as the third-highest in the league. Mycal Jones launched the team’s lone home run of the series. The club sits at the bottom of the league in that department with seven for the year, two behind Buffalo.

Louisville has slugged more than twice as many home runs with 15 through their first 34 games, but the G-Braves have scored more runs than the Bats (136 to 123). Louisville’s .248 team batting average is the fourth-lowest among the IL’s 16 teams. Their 257 combined strikeouts are the sixth-most in the league, while the G-Braves’ 179 are the fewest in the league, 31 fewer than second-place Buffalo in that category.

G-Bites: Infielder Sean Kazmar returned from the disabled list Thursday after the Braves called up outfielder Todd Cunningham. Kazmar entered the Thursday’s game as a pinch runner in the ninth inning…Gwinnett leads the IL with 43 stolen bases, six more than second-place Durham, and have the top two individual base stealers in the league with Eury Perez (18) and  Jose Peraza (14), who also leads the league with eight sacrifice hits…Infielder Adonis Garcia’s .347 batting average ranks third in the league among qualifying hitters…Left-handed reliever Donnie Veal is tied for the league lead in holds with five.

Gwinnett will head out Monday on a seven-game road trip that includes three games against Toledo and four against the Columbus Clippers.

-JM

Atlanta Braves Director of Player Development Dave Trembley Talks Gwinnett Pitching

Atlanta Braves Director of Player Development Dave Trembley visited the Gwinnett Braves recently at Coolray Field. (Karl Moore)

Atlanta Braves Director of Player Development Dave Trembley spent four days last week at Coolray Field to work with the Gwinnett Braves for the first time this season in his position as the man who helps oversee the Braves’ farm system.

Trembley, who managed the Baltimore Orioles from 2007-10 and was a Houston Astros coach in 2013-14, joined the Braves in October. He offered his observations of the G-Braves’ heralded pitching staff that had four hurlers in MLB.com’s Top 30 prospect rankings of the Atlanta system before the Braves called up right-hander and No. 3 prospect Mike Foltynewicz to make his first Major League start on Friday, May 1.

“The Braves have always been successful because they’ve had a stable of good, young arms who have come through their system, and I think that’s what the Braves are doing now. They’re re-stocking their system with pitching.”

Gwinnett still has the Braves’ No. 2 prospect and their top pitching prospect Matt Wisler, a right-hander the club acquired from the San Diego Padres on April 5 as part of the six-player trade that sent right-handed closer Craig Kimbrel and outfielder Melvin Upton, Jr. to the Padres.

The G-Braves also feature No. 11 prospect, left-handed starter Manny Banuelos, and right-handed reliever Aaron Kurcz at No. 30.

“You’ve got to have pitching,” Trembley said. “You’ve got to have guys who can give you innings, and that’s been the focal point and starting point. Guys like Foltynewicz give you a guy who you like to think you can pencil in and say ‘Hey, this guy is going to be part of your rotation for a long time.’”

Trembley said he was familiar with how the Braves approached construction of their pitching staffs, as longtime Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone was Baltimore’s pitching coach when Trembley took over the managerial post in 2007.

“I knew very well about (John) Smoltz and (Greg) Maddux,” Trembley said. “We’re in a position now where we’ve acquired some very good young pitchers.”

Atlanta also picked up left-handed starters Ricardo Sanchez and Max Fried in offseason trades. Sanchez, the team’s No. 9 prospect according to MLB.com, came from the Los Angeles Angels in January and started the 2015 season at Class-A Rome. The Braves got Fried from the Padres in a December trade that sent outfielder Justin Upton to San Diego. Fried is ranked as Atlanta’s No. 5 prospect by MLB.com but will miss the entire 2015 season after he underwent “Tommy John” surgery in August.

“The Braves have always been committed to player development and scouting,” Trembley said. “That’s been their trademark going back to the days when (Braves President) John Schuerholz started this (in 1990) with (former manager) Bobby Cox, with (former amateur scouting director) Paul Snyder, with all the guys that have been there for a long time. … There’s a nucleus of people who have been here for an awful long time, and they’ve done it by developing pitching.”

Trembley said he sees many similarities in how the Braves are building their pitching depth with talent at the Triple-A level in Gwinnett.

“What I like here is we have some youth in the starting rotation,” he said. “We have some really up-and-coming, young arms that are here that are learning that in order to be successful in the Major Leagues you have to refine and develop their secondary pitches. I think (Banuelos, Wisler and right-hander Williams Perez) are doing that, and they have very good mentors in (guys like Chien-Ming) Wang.”

“I see this staff learning how to pitch, making the adjustments to pitch at this level and to be in Atlanta,” he said.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (8-12) vs. Toledo Mud Hens (9-10)

Pitching probables

Thurs: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (0-1, 6.23 ERA) vs. LHP Mike Belfiore (0-3, 7.05 ERA)

Fri: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (0-3, 2.08 ERA) vs. RHP Buck Farmer (3-0, 3.00 ERA)

Sat: LHP Manny Banuelos (1-0, 4.43 ERA) vs. LHP Kyle Ryan (0-2, 4.43 ERA)

Sun: RHP Williams Perez (2-0, 1.57 ERA) vs. RHP Tim Melville (1-2, 3.80 ERA)

Cedric Hunter

Cedric Hunter (Taylor Botta)

The Gwinnett Braves continue their seven-game homestand with four contests against the Toledo Mud Hens, the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The Mud Hens enter the series third in the four-team International League West Division after they dropped two of three road games to the Charlotte Knights on the first leg of their road trip. The G-Braves and Mud Hens split their four-game series at Coolray Field in 2014, but Gwinnett took the season series 5-3. Gwinnett has never lost a season series to Toledo, and the only year the G-Braves dropped a home series to the Mud Hens was in 2010 when Toledo won three of four games.

Pitching: While Gwinnett holds a 3.57 ERA and is tied for second in the league with 168 strikeouts, the Mud Hens enter the series with a 4.73 team ERA that ranks 13th in the 14-team league and has the second-most walks with 83 against 125 strikeouts (Gwinnett pitchers have 70 combined walks).

Perez is the only G-Braves pitcher to garner a victory in his last start. His 1.57 ERA is also tied for the ninth-lowest among qualifying starters in the league. Foltynewicz, meanwhile, leads the league with 30 strikeouts through his first four starts of the year.

Farmer leads the Toledo starting rotation in wins (three), ERA (3.00) and strikeouts (28). His strikeout total is also second in the league behind Foltynewicz, and his .173 opponent batting average is the fifth-lowest in the league.

Hitting: Toledo holds the statistical advantage on offense. The Mud Hens have the third-highest team batting average at .267 and have scored the second-most runs (91) in the league, four behind the Pawtucket Red Sox. They are also tied for the league lead in doubles with 40 but have hit five home runs, one more than Gwinnett and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

The G-Braves twice tied their season-high hit total with 13 Monday and Wednesday against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Also, outfielder Cedric Hunter launched the team’s first home run of the season at Coolray Field in walk-off fashion to win the series opener Monday, 6-5. The G-Braves are up to sixth in the league with a .256 team batting average and continue to lead the league with 26 stolen bases.

Outfielder Daniel Fields leads Toledo with a .349 batting average that ranks seventh in the league. He leads the league with five triples, and his 11 extra-base hits are good for second. Mud Hens third baseman Jefry Marte is also tied for third in RBIs with 14.

G-Bites: Gwinnett took two of three games from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to begin the homestand…The G-Braves each of the first two games by one run (6-5 and 3-2) before the RailRiders topped them 8-5 Wednesday…Outfielder Todd Cunningham begins the series on a team-best, nine-game hitting streak, and infielder Sean Kazmar is riding an eight-game streak…Outfielder Eury Perez leads the league in stolen bases with 12 after swiping two in the series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre…Left-handed reliever Donnie Veal leads the league with 10 appearances and five holds, while right-hander Aaron Kurcz is tied for second in the league with five saves.

After the series with Toledo, the G-Braves will have an off day Monday before they begin a six-game road trip that includes three games at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre followed by three at Lehigh Valley. They will return home to face the Syracuse Chiefs at 6:35 p.m. Monday, May 11.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (6-11) vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (9-9)

Pitching probables

Mon: LHP Manny Banuelos (0-1, 3.77 ERA) vs. RHP Jaron Long (0-1, 6.75 ERA)

Tues: RHP Williams Perez (1-0, 1.69 ERA) vs. RHP Chase Whitley (2-0, 2.12 ERA)

Wed: RHP Matt Wisler (0-2, 4.60 ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Davies (1-1, 6.75 ERA)

Williams Perez (Karl Moore)

Williams Perez (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves open a seven-game homestand with three 6:35 p.m. contests against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. The Railriders have finished fifth in the six-team International League North Division in each of the past two seasons, but they have had Gwinnett’s number. The G-Braves are 4-12 against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre since 2012 and have not won any of the eight games between the two clubs at Coolray Field. This will be the G-Braves’ first foray outside of the IL South Division this season. They were 32-46 against non-divisional opponents in 2014.

Pitching: Gwinnett and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre are evenly matched statistically in the pitching department. The G-Braves’ staff enters the series with the league’s sixth-lowest earned-run average at 3.31 (55 ER in 149.1 IP), while the RailRiders sit in seventh with a 3.35 ERA (61 ER in 164.0 IP). The teams are also extremely similar in terms of their pitching staffs’ control. The G-Braves have a 2.39 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (146/61). The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre staff’s rate is 2.55 (153/60).

However, the G-Braves hold the advantage in individual stats. Tuesday’s starter, Perez, boasts the seventh-lowest ERA in the league at 1.69. In the bullpen, left-hander Donnie Veal enters the series tied for the league lead in holds (four) and appearances (nine). Righty Aaron Kurcz is tied for fourth in saves with four.

Batting: The larger differences between the two teams in this series show up in their offensive approaches. The G-Braves use a speed-based game to score runs. The RailRiders’ lineup, meanwhile, produces more power and hardly ever attempts to steal bases.

Gwinnett has a league-low three home runs through 17 games, but it leads the league with 21 stolen bases. Ten of those swipes have come from outfielder Eury Perez, who has been caught twice and was 27-for-31 in steal attempts in 2014 while playing in the Washington Nationals’ and New York Yankees’ organizations. Outfielder Todd Cunningham hit a team-best .429 (12-for-28) with two doubles and a triple during the nine-game road trip and returns to Coolray Field on a seven-game hitting streak.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has eight home runs, which is tied for the seventh-most in the league, but has stolen four bases in eight attempts. RailRiders outfielder Ben Gamel leads the league with a .404 batting average (19-for-47), ranks second with a .472 on-base percentage and sits behind teammate Ramon Flores (.611) for fourth in slugging percentage with a .596 mark. Flores is also tied for second in the league with four home runs.

G-Bites: Gwinnett returns home with a new-look bullpen compared to when it left town April 16. RHP Kanekoa Texeira went on the disabled list along with infielder Sean Kazmar on April 17. That opened a spot for RHP Mitchell Boggs, who the Atlanta Braves signed to a minor-league contract April 20. The Braves also re-signed LHP Greg Smith the next day to join the G-Braves’ corps of relievers. The G-Braves activated catcher Jose Yepez off of the disabled list to fill Kazmar’s roster spot.

RHPs John Cornely and Michael Kohn got the call to Atlanta on Friday, April 24, while RHPs Sugar Ray Marimon and Juan Jaime returned to Gwinnett. Marimon made one appearance for the G-Braves before Atlanta called him up on April 13. Jaime saved 18 games for Gwinnett in 2014 and began the 2015 season with the Braves.

The G-Braves will finish their homestand with a four-game series Thursday-Sunday against the Toledo Mud Hens at Coolray Field.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (3-3) vs. Charlotte Knights (3-3)

Pitching probables

Wed: LHP Manny Banuelos (0-0, 2.45 ERA) vs. RHP Chris Beck (0-0, 5.79 ERA)

Thurs: RHP Williams Perez (0-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. LHP Carlos Rodon (1-0, 1.80 ERA)

Manny Banuelos (Chris Roughgarden)

Manny Banuelos (Chris Roughgarden)

The Gwinnett Braves finish their season-opening, eight-game homestand with two games against the International League South Division rival Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. Charlotte and Gwinnett have both alternated victories through their first six games and are part of a division-wide tie for first place at 3-3 with the Durham Bulls and Norfolk Tides. The two-game set features 6:35 p.m. contests Wednesday and Thursday at Coolray Field. Both teams will then travel Friday to Charlotte to begin a three-game series at BB&T Ballpark.

Pitching: With two pitchers who were ranked in the top 30 in the Atlanta Braves’ system in the 2015 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, Gwinnett will look to continue its early success on the mound. None of the G-Braves’ five starting pitchers has allowed more than two runs in a start through the season’s first six games. The rotation has posted a 2.03 ERA with a combined 30 strikeouts and 16 walks in 26.2 innings but has yet to garner a win, as RHP Chien-Ming Wang is the only starter to last past 5.0 innings. The Gwinnett bullpen, meanwhile, has an equally impressive 2.23 ERA with 29 strikeouts and 14 walks in 32.1 innings. Overall, the G-Braves’ pitching staff is ranked third in the International League with a 2.14 ERA and 58 strikeouts.

Charlotte comes to Gwinnett in the cellar of the International League pitching rankings. The Knights have allowed seven or more runs in each of their three losses and carry an IL-worst 5.17 ERA and seven home runs allowed, three more than any other team. Wednesday’s starter Chris Beck received a no-decision in his first start of the year Friday vs. Norfolk (4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO). Thursday starter Carlos Rodon provided the Knights’ most impressive start of the early season the following day with nine strikeouts (2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2BB) in 5.0 innings during a 4-2 win over the Tides.

BattingWhile Gwinnett holds a significant statistical advantage in the pitching department, the opposite is true offensively. The G-Braves’ .224 batting average ranks 11th in the 14-team IL and they are one of two teams (Buffalo)  that have yet to hit a home run. Infielder Pedro Ciriaco leads the team with seven hits and four RBIs with a double. Two of the G-Braves’ wins have also come on Ciriaco’s game-winning hits. He singled home the winning run Friday in the 11th inning to beat Durham 5-4 and bounced a grounder off of first base in the 10th inning Monday to score two runs and give Gwinnett a 5-4 victory over Norfolk.

Charlotte leads the league with a .296 team batting average and a .427 slugging percentage that includes five triples. Outfielder Trayce Thompson is second in the league with a .429 batting average and has three runs scored to go with three RBIs. Infielder Tyler Saladino also leads the league with five stolen bases, while outfielder Engel Beltre is tied for the league lead in runs scored with six.

G-Bites: The Atlanta Braves called up right-hander Sugar Ray Marimon from Gwinnett on Monday, and he made his Major League debut the following day. He entered Tuesday’s game against the Miami Marlins with one out in the third inning and the bases loaded. He struck out the first batter he faced, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and got Adeiny Hechavarria to ground out to escape the jam. Marimon pitched a total of 4.0 innings (4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO) after opening the season on the G-Braves roster. He made one appearance with Gwinnett, throwing 3.0 hitless innings with two strikeouts against Durham on Opening Night, Thursday, April 9 … Left-handed reliever Ian Thomas joined Gwinnett from Double-A Mississippi to replace Marimon on the Triple-A roster. Thomas pitched 2.1 innings with nothing more than one hit allowed Tuesday vs. Norfolk.

-JM

Spring Training Report 4.2.15

The Atlanta Braves extended outfielder Joe Benson a non-roster invitation to Major League Spring Training camp on Thursday, and he wasted little time to take advantage of the opportunity.

Benson, 27, had spent the entire spring in minor league camp yet played in nine big league games as a reserve. He received the non-roster invite after hitting a solo home run Wednesday against the Philadelphia Phillies, and then had the game-winning hit Thursday to beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

But his ninth-inning single to left field to drive in center fielder Eric Young, Jr. was far from the only act from his standout performance. Benson played left field and had three other singles and finished the day 4-for-5 with a run scored, an RBI and a strikeout. His spring batting average now stands at .412 (7-for-17) with a home run, three runs scored and three RBI as he bids for a spot on the Braves’ Opening Day roster.

Other possible Gwinnett Braves position players’ stats from Thursday vs. Baltimore:

Todd Cunningham (RF), 1-for-1, RBI.

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

The Orioles scored four of their five runs off of potential G-Braves right-handed starter Chien-Ming Wang (BS, 1), who entered the game as a reliever in the sixth inning.

Baltimore pushed across one run in the sixth and added three in the seventh, including a two-run, pinch-hit home run by right fielder Travis Snider. Wang lasted 1 1/3 innings with four runs allowed (three earned) on five hits with a walk and a strikeout.

Also, G-Braves’ right-handed reliever Arodys Vizcaino has been suspended for 80 games for using performance-enhancing drugs. The Braves had optioned him Monday to Gwinnett.

The Braves and Orioles will meet for the second of three games to finish their Grapefruit League schedules at 6:05 p.m. Friday in Sarasota, Fla. They will then return to Champion Stadium for a 3:05 p.m. contest Saturday.

Atlanta opens its regular season schedule at 4:10 p.m. Monday against the Miami Marlins in Miami. Gwinnett’s Opening Night game is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. Thursday against the Durham Bulls at Coolray Field.

-JM

Spring Training Weekend Wrap-Up 3.20-22.15

A parade of pitchers who could man the mound at Coolray Field in 2015 helped lead the Atlanta Braves to a weekend of four games in which they allowed an average of fewer than three runs per contest. The Braves split the weekend slate and are 8-12 in Grapefruit League play.

Six of seven potential Gwinnett Braves relievers who worked Saturday and Sunday did not allow a run. All seven combined for a 1.08 ERA (1 ER in 8.1 IP) with two saves and two holds. Right-hander Williams Perez (BS, 1; L, 0-1) was the only likely G-Brave pitcher to work Friday. He gave up the final four runs on seven hits, two walks and three strikeouts in a 5-1 loss to the Miami Marlins in Jupiter, Fla.

Atlanta played a pair of split-squad games Saturday. One Braves squad beat the Washington Nationals 5-2 in a home contest at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and the other portion of the team lost 1-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter.

Possible G-Braves pitchers’ stats vs. Washington:

RHP Michael Kohn (H, 2), 1.0 IP, H, BB.

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

RHP Brandon Cunniff (S, 1), 2.0 IP, 2 BB, 2 K.

Potential G-Braves pitchers’ numbers against St. Louis:

RHP Arodys Vizcaino,1.1 IP, H, BB.

RHP Sugar Ray Marimon, 2.0 IP, 2 H, HBP.

RHP Aaron Kurcz (L, 0-1) 0.0 IP, 2 H, ER, BB.

Left-handed reliever Donnie Veal was the only potential G-Braves hurler to pitch Sunday in a 5-3 win over the Detroit Tigers at Champion Stadium. He got his first save of Spring Training with a scoreless ninth inning during which he walked a hitter and struck out two others.

Infielder Pedro Ciriaco led possible G-Braves hitters by going 3-for-6 in two starts, including 2-for-3 against Detroit with three runs batted in. He also picked up a single and a walk as the leadoff hitter and starting shortstop vs. the Nationals.

Possible G-Braves' infielder Pedro Ciriaco had a big weekend at the plate for Atlanta. (Photo by Chris Roughgarden)

Possible G-Braves’ infielder Pedro Ciriaco had a big weekend at the plate for Atlanta. (Photo by Chris Roughgarden)

Potential G-Braves position players’ stats from Friday against Miami:

Eury Perez (CF), 1-for-4, K.

Jesus Flores (C), 1-for-4.

Phil Gosselin (3B), 1-for-2.

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

John Buck (1B), 0-for-1.

Joey Terdoslavich (pinch hit), 0-for-1, K.

Infielder Sean Kazmar took over at shortstop in the eighth inning but did not receive an at-bat.

Other possible G-Braves position players’ lines Saturday against the Nationals:

Todd Cunningham (CF), 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, K, outfield assist in the third inning on a play when Mike Carp was out trying to reach second base.

Jose Constanza (RF-LF), 1-for-3, R, SB.

Seth Loman (1B), 0-for-4, K.

Cedric Hunter (RF), 1-for-1, R, RBI.

Barrett Kleinknecht (3B), 0-for-1.

Corban Joseph (2B), 0-for-1.

Catcher Steve Rodriguez entered the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning but did not receive an at-bat.

Potential G-Braves position players’ stats vs. St. Louis:

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

Buck (C-1B), 2-for-3.

Gosselin (LF-3B-1B), 0-for-4, K.

Terdoslavich (RF-1B), 0-for-2, BB.

Joe Benson (LF-CF), 0-for-1, BB, threw out Rafael Ortega at home plate from center field in the sixth inning.

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

Perez (pinch hit), 0-for-1, K.

Kazmar (SS), 0-for-1.

Other possible G-Braves position players’ stats against Detroit:

Perez (RF-CF), 1-for-5, K.

Cunningham (CF), 1-for-3, R, SB.

Constanza (LF), 1-for-1, R, SB.

Gosselin (2B), 0-for-1, RBI, BB, K.

Benson (LF-CF-RF), 0-for-1, BB, K.

Joseph (2B), 0-for-1.

Schlehuber (C), 0-for-1.

Loman (1B), 0-for-1.

Hunter (pinch hit), 0-for-1.

Flores entered the game at catcher as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning but did not receive an at-bat.

The Braves will face the Houston Astros at 1:05 p.m. Monday in Kissimmee, Fla.

-JM

Spring Training Weekend Wrap-up 3.14-15.15

Several players who could patrol the diamond at Coolray Field for the Gwinnett Braves in 2015 finished the weekend with standout performances at the plate, as the Atlanta Braves split a pair of games against the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros. They also made their two largest rounds of roster cuts.

The Braves chopped their Spring Training roster by 13 players with cuts made Saturday and Monday.

Top prospect Jose Peraza headlined the six players cut Monday. Atlanta optioned him to Gwinnett and sent right-handed pitcher Tyrell Jenkins to Double-A Mississippi. Right-hander Mauricio Cabrera and left-hander Yean Carlos Gil were optioned to Advanced-A Carolina. Left-handed pitcher Brady Feigl and catcher Jose Yepez were reassigned to Minor League camp.

The Braves reassigned seven players Saturday, including right-handed pitcher Jason Hursh, catchers Matt Kennelly and Chris O’Dowd, infielders Daniel Castro and Rio Ruiz, and outfielders Cedric Hunter and  Mallex Smith.

Potential G-Brave returnee Joey Terdoslavich, winner of the 2014 G-Braves’ “Fan Favorite Player” award, belted his first home run of the spring with a three-run shot in the seventh inning Sunday against the Blue Jays in a 10-5 loss at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. He drove in possible G-Braves infielders Pedro Ciriaco and Peraza after Ciriaco led off the frame with a single and Peraza entered as a pinch runner for infielder Alberto Callaspo.

Terdoslavich struck out in his only other at-bat in the ninth inning. Ciriaco finished the game 2-for-5 with a strikeout, and Peraza grounded out to first base in the ninth inning for his only at-bat of the game. Center fielder Todd Cunningham went 2-for-4 with a run-scoring double in the sixth inning and threw out a runner at home plate to end the third.

Other potential G-Braves position players’ Sunday stats vs. Toronto:

Braeden Schlehuber (C), 0-for-3.

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

John Buck (1B) 0-for-1.

Phil Gosselin (SS-LF), 0-for-1.

Right-hander Ryne Harper was the only pitcher the Braves’ threw against Toronto who projects to spend time in Gwinnett this season. He recorded the final two outs of the fourth inning despite throwing  a wild pitch and giving up two hits, including a two-run home run to outfielder Jose Bautista.

Atlanta topped the Astros 6-5 Saturday at Champion Stadium. Left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez (W, 2-0) picked up his second win of the spring by going four innings with two hits allowed, three walks and two strikeouts.

Other possible Gwinnett pitchers’ stats from Saturday:

RHP Chien-Ming Wang, 0.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, K.

RHP Justin Jackson (S, 1), 1.0 IP, H, ER.

Second baseman Jace Peterson led potential G-Braves hitters at the plate Saturday, going 1-for-1 with a walk and a run scored.

Other possible G-Braves position players’ stats from Saturday:

Gosselin (2B-SS), 0-for-2, R.

Cunningham (RF-LF), 0-for-2.

Terdoslavich (1B), 0-for-3, 2 K.

Kelly Johnson (3B), 0-for-4, 3 K.

Eury Perez (LF), 0-for-3, 2 K.

Yepez (DH), 0-for-3, K.

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

Flores (C, pinch hit), 0-for-1.

Atlanta travels to face the Astros for a 1:05 p.m. game Monday in Kissimmee, Fla.

-JM

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45 other followers