Results tagged ‘ G-Braves ’

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.

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.

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (15-15) vs. Syracuse Chiefs (12-18)

Pitching probables

Mon: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (0-3, 5.64 ERA) vs. RHP Scott McGregor (2-2, 4.21 ERA)

Tues: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (2-0, 0.47 ERA) vs. RHP Bruce Billings (0-2, 4.01 ERA)

Wed: LHP Manny Banuelos (2-0, 3.06 ERA) vs. RHP Taylor Jordan (1-2, 2.88 ERA)

Thurs: LHP Greg Smith (1-1, 1.80 ERA) vs. RHP Taylor Hill (2-1, 4.86 ERA)

Sugar Ray Marimon (Karl Moore)

Sugar Ray Marimon (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves begin a seven-game homestand with four contests vs. the Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. The Chiefs roll into Coolray Field losers of four of their last six games and sit in fifth place in the six-team International League North Division. Most recently, they lost two contests of a three-game road series to the Durham Bulls.

The G-Braves won four of the six games on their road trip and outscored the Lehigh Valley IronPigs 14-2 in their final two games. The trip got Gwinnett back to the .500 mark for the first time since they were 3-3 April 14 but still are in last place in the IL South.

Pitching: The G-Braves’ team earned-run average of 2.96 ranks fourth in the league and is nearly a full run lower than the Chiefs’ 3.91 ERA, which is ninth in the IL. Syracuse has allowed the third-most home runs in the league with 21, as McGregor and Hill have both given up five. The 14 homers Gwinnett has allowed are tied for the fifth-fewest in the league.

However, Syracuse pitchers have displayed more control, as the team ranks fourth in the league in fewest walks with 86, while the 104 free passes Gwinnett pitchers have granted are tied for the sixth-most. Syracuse right-handed reliever Sam Runion leads the league among qualifying relief pitchers with a 0.64 walks-per-9.0-innings ratio (1 BB in 14.0 IP). Meanwhile, fellow right-handed reliever Rich Hill ranks second in the league with a 14.44 strikeouts-per-9.0-innings rate (23 SO in 14.1 IP).

For Gwinnett, left-handed reliever Donnie Veal is part of a three-way tie for the league lead in holds with five. Marimon’s 0.47 ERA (1 ER in 19.0 IP) would lead the league but he has not qualified with enough innings pitched.

Hitting: While the G-Braves still rank at the bottom of the IL with their six home runs, their team batting average is up to .269, which ranks third in the league. Syracuse is hitting a league-worst .233 but is tied for the fourth-most homers in the league with 20.

Gwinnett infielder Adonis Garcia enters the homestand with a 10-game hitting streak during which he has hit .439 (18-for-41) with five doubles and eight RBIs. That has boosted his batting average to .375, the second-highest in the league among qualifying batters, and he leads the team with 18 RBIs for the season. Outfielder Eury Perez continues to hold the top spot on the IL stolen bases leaderboard with 16, but G-Braves’ infielder Jose Peraza has climbed into a tie for second on that list with 12 steals.

Chiefs’ second baseman Ian Stewart is tied for the league-lead in home runs with sixth and is one off the lead in RBIs with 19. He is also tied for third with 14 extra-base hits but has the third-most strikeouts in the league with 36, four behind teammate Jason Martinson’s league-high 40.

G-Bites: The Atlanta Braves made a flurry of roster moves during the road trip that affected the G-Braves’ roster. Veal returned to the Gwinnett roster Friday after clearing waivers when the Braves designated him for assignment Tuesday, and the team activated catcher Jose Yepez from the disabled list. It also called up infielder Daniel Castro from Double-A Mississippi and placed infielders Elmer Reyes and Sean Kazmar on the disabled list.

Gwinnett also had a player receive a weekly award from the IL for the first time this season. The league named right-handed starter Matt Wisler the IL Pitcher of the Week on Monday after he went 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA (2 ER in 13.1 IP) with one walk and nine strikeouts in his last two starts. He is the Braves’ No. 2 ranked prospect according to MLB.com and is 2-3 with a 4.59 ERA (17 ER in 33.1 IP) through six starts this season, overall.

The G-Braves will play four games against the Chiefs to begin the homestand before the Louisville Bats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, visit for a three-game series at Coolray Field.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Spring Training Report 4.1.15

Potential Gwinnett Braves outfielder Joe Benson slugged his first home run of Spring Training for the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday in a 9-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Benson drove the second pitch he saw from the Phillies’ Opening Day starter Cole Hamels over the right field fence in the second inning for Atlanta’s first run of the game in Clearwater, Fla.

Although he is not on the Braves’ 40-man roster nor a non-roster invitee, Benson has played in nine Major League games this spring, including each of the last five. He finished Wednesday’s game 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. Overall, he has batted .250 (3-for-12) with the home run, two runs scored, two runs batted in and three walks against four strikeouts in Braves Spring Training.

Other possible G-Braves position players’ stats from Wednesday against Philadelphia:

Todd Cunningham (RF), 1-for-3, BB.

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

Jesus Flores (C), 1-for-2, BB.

Joey Terdoslavich (LF), 0-for-1, K.

A pair of potential G-Braves relievers covered the final two innings against the Phillies. Right-hander Aaron Kurcz threw 1 1/3 innings, giving up two unearned runs on one hit and one walk with three strikeouts and two wild pitches. Fellow righty John Cornely struck out two batters after he took over for Kurcz in the eighth, although Philadelphia left fielder Russ Canzler reached base on a fielder error by Terdoslavich that allowed third baseman Andres Blanco to score the Phillies’ final run of the game.

Right-handed reliever John Cornely has two saves and has not allowed a run in 3.2 innings across four outings in Spring Training. (Photo by Karl Moore)

Right-handed reliever John Cornely has two saves and has not allowed a run in 3.2 innings across four Spring Training outings. (Photo by Karl Moore)

The Braves will wrap up their Grapefruit League schedule with three games against the Baltimore Orioles. The first contest is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Thursday at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

-JM

Spring Training Report 3.31.15

A member of the 2014 Gwinnett Braves outfield and an outfielder who could join him this year contributed to the Atlanta Braves’ offense Tuesday in an 8-5 loss to the Houston Astros at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Right fielder Todd Cunningham, the G-Braves’ leader in hits a year ago, entered the game in the fifth inning as a pinch runner for left fielder Kelly Johnson and scored two batters later on a single by third baseman Alberto Callaspo.

Cunningham’s run gave the Braves a 5-3 lead, and possible 2015 Gwinnett outfielder Joe Benson took over in center field the following inning. Benson struck out in the sixth but picked up his second hit of Spring Training (eight at-bats) with two outs in the eighth.

Cunningham also grounded out in the seventh and walked in the ninth. He is batting .317 (13-for-41) for the spring with two doubles, six runs scored, five runs batted in and two stolen bases.

Other possible G-Braves position players’ stats from Tuesday vs. the Astros:

Pedro Ciriaco (SS), 0-for-1, K.

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

Houston stormed back to the lead in the sixth inning with three runs off of potential G-Braves right-handed reliever Brandon Cunniff. He walked the first two batters of the inning before he gave up a three-run home run to center fielder Colby Rasmus. Cunniff (BS, 1; L, 0-1) struck out catcher Hank Conger and gave up two more hits before he caught left fielder Jonathan Villar looking to end his only inning of work.

Atlanta also announced Tuesday it has outrighted outfielder Zoilo Almonte to Gwinnett. Almonte cleared waivers, but he can elect free agency because he has been outrighted previously. The move leaves the Braves with 35 active players in Major League camp.

Outfileder Zoilo Almonte batted .245 (12-for-49) with a double, eight runs scored and 4 RBI in 21 Spring Traiing games before the Braves outrighted him Tuesday to Gwinnett. (Photo by Chris Roughgarden)

Outfielder Zoilo Almonte batted .245 (12-for-49) with a double, eight runs scored and 4 RBI in 21 Spring Training games before the Braves outrighted him Tuesday to Gwinnett. (Photo by Chris Roughgarden)

The Braves will face the National League East rival Philadelphia Phillies at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday in Clearwater, Fla., before they finish their Spring Training schedule with three consecutive games against the Baltimore Orioles.

-JM

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