Results tagged ‘ Craig Kimbrel ’

From Gwinnett to the Show: Pedro Ciriaco

Infielder Pedro Ciriaco batted .234 with a double, a home run and seven RBIs in 20 games for the Gwinnett Braves before his promotion to the Atlanta Braves on May 2.

Infielder Pedro Ciriaco batted .234 with a double, a home run and seven RBIs in 20 games for the Gwinnett Braves before his promotion to the Atlanta Braves on May 2. (Karl Moore)

Infielder Pedro Ciriaco nearly made the Atlanta Braves’ Opening Day roster out of Spring Training this season, but the April 5 trade that sent right-handed closer Craig Kimbrel to the San Diego Padres for center fielder Cameron Maybin bumped Ciriaco to the Gwinnett Braves.

He instead became the first player from the G-Braves’ Opening Day roster to get promoted to the Atlanta Braves in 2015. After he made several spectacular defensive plays at third base and shortstop to go with a .234 batting average (18-for-77), a double, a home run and seven RBIs, which tied for second-most on the team in April.

Atlanta called up the 29-year-old on May 2, and he has batted .214 (3-for-14) in 10 games with two starts.

“It’s going pretty good,” Ciriaco said of his experience with the Braves this season . “I’ve got the opportunity to be here, and I love it. We’ve got a good ballclub, and you just try to help them win games.”

Two of Ciriaco’s Major League hits this season have been as a pinch hitter (.333 pinch-hitting batting average) and each have gone for extra bases. His first hit of the year was a two-run double off of Washington Nationals’ right-handed starter Doug Fister on May 9 in an 8-6 road loss. He hit an eighth-inning triple in his next appearance May 13 against Cincinnati Reds’ right-handed starter Raisel Iglesias. Ciriaco came around to score the Braves’ only run of the game in a 5-1 defeat at Cincinnati.

(Taylor Botta)

Ciriaco played 13 games at third base and five at shortstop this season for Gwinnett. (Taylor Botta)

Ciriaco has spent parts of eight seasons in the Major Leagues with five different teams. He entered 2015 with a .270 career batting average in 188 MLB games. He said he has especially focused on how to be consistent at the big-league level after his latest callup.

“Every time I get a chance to play I try to play good defense…help our pitching staff out and try to win more games,” he said.

Ciriaco’s playing time has been limited in Atlanta compared to Gwinnett, where he played in 20 of Gwinnett’s first 21 games. It has been a change of pace, but it has also made him focus on every chance he gets at the plate or in the field.

“It’s a little bit different, but you just have to adjust and when you get the opportunity to play take advantage that I have here and continue to make things happen every chance I get to play,” he said.

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.

All Things Five

Anniversary MarkHard to believe, but the 2013 International League season (and our home opener at Coolray Field) is just 85 days away!  With April 4 quickly approaching, we’re starting to lift the curtain on some of the things you can expect to see for the upcoming season of Gwinnett Braves Baseball.

The first major announcement occured this morning with the launch of the Fifth Season campaign and logo (pictured left).  Celebrations of the anniversary season include a new alumni Bobblehead Series and brand new 5-Pack Plans.  The series of five bobbleheads features G-Braves who have gone on to stardom in Atlanta, including Brandon Beachy, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel and Kris Medlen.  Conveniently, you can purchase tickets to all five bobblehead giveaway nights in the Bobblehead Pack, one of the four 5-Pack Plans that were rolled out in today’s announcement.

The 5-Packs also include a Fireworks Pack (all five dates are Friday Fireworks nights), a Best 5 Games Pack (our most popular games including Opening Night on April 4 and July 4) and a Silver Sluggers Pack (five day games).  Reinforcing the five theme, each 5-Pack starts at just $50.  You can get more details and buy online as well by visiting gwinnettbraves.com/5pack.

To add to the excitement of Season Five, gwinnettbraves.com is hosting a look back at some of the great players that have played for the G-Braves in the team’s first four seasons.  Expect to read up on guys like Barbaro Canizares (this week’s feature), Matt YoungTodd Redmond and Mauro Gomez in addition to the likes of Freeman, Kimbrel and others.  A new “5th Season Friday” feature will debut each Friday through the end of March. 

Is that enough fives for you yet?  Me neither.  As if the baseball gods had a hand in it, the G-Blog was announced as the 55th most visited ProBlog on the MLBlogs Network for the past year.  Fifth place would have been more fitting, but it’s an honor to finish near the middle of the Top 100 in our first year.  You can check out the entire list over at mlblogs.mlblogs.com.

Give yourself a high-5 for reading this post and head over to gwinnettbraves.com for more on the 2013 season!

-DL

Video: Former G-Braves Flourishing in Atlanta

Photo courtesy of Kyle Hess

Craig Kimbrel

The best closer in baseball title belongs to the former Gwinnett Braves farmhand Craig Kimbrel. This season with the Braves, the right-hander has recorded 30 saves (2nd in MLB) alongside an insane 1.35 ERA and 0.65 WHIP. He has struck out an impressive 67 batters in just 40.0 innings of work, while we has walked just 10 hitters all season.

The days of playing at Coolray Field on a regular basis are long gone for Kimbrel. The right-hander consistently registers between 97-99 mph on the radar gun, as is quickly becoming one of the most respected relievers in all of baseball. This former Gwinnett Brave is creating a path to greatness.

Freddie Freeman

Forever connected will Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman be in the minds of Braves fans. They both came up to Atlanta together after stellar Gwinnett career’s, and both set the league on fire upon their emergences. Freeman just lost the National League Rookie of the Year voting to his teammate, but was happy for Kimbrel nevertheless.

This season the first baseman is coming into his own, hitting .270 with 13 home runs, 61 RBI and 22 doubles with Atlanta. Not only is his offense on the rise, but his defense has never been better. Freeman, when on the field, has been one of the more consistent Braves this season. With time, he will grow into one of the most feared hitters in baseball.

Photo courtesy of Melinda Pease

Jason Heyward

The Braves prized product is finally producing in the way the Braves imagined when they drafted the 22-year old. This season Heyward has taken the next step in his career, further enhancing his growth in the game. Heyward is batting .270 with 15 home runs, 49 RBI, 18 doubles and 15 stolen bases alongside fantastic defense in right field.

He has become a full-time player in 2012, starting almost every game against left-handers as well. There is no question the future is still indeed very bright for Heyward, as he continues to scratch the surface of his immense talent.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Hess

Mike Minor

Most fans probably assumed that the fourth name would be Tommy Hanson, however Mike Minor has been far more impressive at certain points this year. The southpaw had a rough start to 2012, but he has resurrected his season as he surges to the finish. The lefty is churning out quality starts as if they were going out of style. Minor has worked 6.0 innings or more in each of his last four starts, including striking out nine while he walked none in his sixth win this season during his last start against the Phillies.

The left-hander has trimmed his ERA to a respectable 5.17, alongside a 6-7 record with 98 strikeouts in 113.0 innings of work, yielding 42 free passes. The future ace of the Atlanta Braves rotation? Possibly. He could surprise you as most of these former G-Braves standouts have already done with early success in their young MLB careers.

Photo courtesy of Leslie Watts

By: Tony Piraro

Spring Training Interview: Craig Kimbrel

As mentioned in my earlier post today, I had the pleasure of catching up with former Gwinnett Braves closer and reigning National League Rookie of the Year, Braves’ right-hander Craig Kimbrel today at Champion Stadium.

In the audio interview, Craig talks about what Spring Training is like for him this time around, how the 2010 season in Gwinnett prepared him for MLB success, finishing 1-2 in R.O.Y. voting with fellow former G-Brave Freddie Freeman, the tremendous set-up work of Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters, his thoughts on 2011 International League Rookie of the Year Julio Teheran, coming back to Coolray Field for April 3’s “Braves All-Stars vs. Future Stars Game” and more.

Listen Here:  Craig Kimbrel Interview 3.10.12

You can see Craig and the rest of the Atlanta Braves as they take on the future stars of the organization at Coolray Field on Tuesday, April 3 at 7:05 PM.  For tickets, call the Coolray Field Box Office at 678-277-0340.

-DL

Braves Spring Training, Day 2

I’m back in press row for today’s Braves vs. New York Yankees game, scheduled for 1:05 PM.  It’s set to be one of the busiest days of the Spring here at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex with not only a huge crowd expected here at Champion Stadium but also a major Cheerleading/Dance competition going on next door.

The Braves fell to 1-7 on the Grapefruit League season with losses in each of their split-squad games yesterday, including a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets.  Randall Delgado was tagged for three runs, two earned over 3.0 innings in his second outing of the Spring, while Rule 5 selection Robert Fish surrendered two runs in relief in the eighth to take the loss.  Martin Prado went 3-for-4 with a pair of ground-rule doubles.  Julio Teheran fared better than Delgado against the Yankees in Tampa, allowing an earned run over 3.0 innings in what was still the losing cause.

I’ve been out at Champion Stadium since 7:45 today, checking things off my Spring Training “to-do” list.  I was able to meet the Gwinnett coaching staff for the first time today and sat down with manager Dave Brundage for an interview previewing the season.  I’m planning on saving that interview for my 2012 Preview in the first edition of our gameday program, “Tomahawk Talk”.  Look for that at Coolray Field in April.

I also caught up with the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, former G-Brave and current Braves closer, Craig Kimbrel.  I’ll post that audio interview with Craig once I get a chance to listen to it in quieter conditions.

It’s getting fairly noisy here now as the starting lineups for the Yankees and Braves are introduced.  Both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are in the lineup for New York, but no sign of Derek Jeter.

As for the Braves, here’s the lineup:  Michael Bourn (CF), Martin Prado (LF), Brian McCann (DH), Dan Uggla (2B), Chipper Jones (3B), Freddie Freeman (1B), Tyler Pastornicky (SS), J.C. Boscan (C), Jose Constanza (RF), Jair Jurrjens (SP).

And, in closing, some pictures from today:

Prado, Jones, McCann and Hinske around the cage this morning.

Braves' manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman converse in the dugout.

2011 G-Brave Cory Gearrin and fellow pitchers Dusty Hughes and Zeke Spruill.

Ernesto Mejia has been a popular target for interviews these last two days.

Yankees' manager Joe Girardi and the legendary Dale Murphy.

Speaking of legends, Andy Pettitte threw a round of Yankees' BP today.

As hopefully you did yesterday, follow along with my game tweets at @DaveLezotte and re-tweets at @GwinnettBraves.  It’s back home to Lawrenceville, GA tomorrow!

-DL

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