Results tagged ‘ Gwinnett Braves ’

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (11-6) at Columbus Clippers (6-10)

Tue: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (2-1, 2.40) vs. Trevor Bauer (1-0, 0.75)

Daniel Rodriguez (Photo Credit KarlLMoore)

Daniel Rodriguez (Photo Credit KarlLMoore)

Wed: Mitch Atkins (1-2, 5.40) vs. LHP T.J. House (1-1, 2.45)

Thu: TBA vs. RHP Tyler Cloyd (1-2, 7.56)

Fri: RHP Zach Stewart (1-0, 5.06) vs. Josh Tomlin (0-1, 4.00)

The Gwinnett Braves are on a roll, winning seven straight games and taking full possession of first place in the Wild Card standings. With the 6-3 win over the Charlotte Knights on Monday night, the G-Braves tied their franchise record for consecutive wins at seven. Gwinnett has accomplished the feat four times before last night, once in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013.

Pitching: Gwinnett will have their hands full this week with the Clippers’ staff. On Tuesday night, they will face the No. 3 prospect in the Indians organization, Bauer. In two starts for the Clippers, Bauer has been outstanding, hurling 12.0 innings of one run ball with 18 strikeouts.

Left-hander T.J. House will be especially tough on Wednesday night. The southpaw comes in with a 1-1 mark and a 2.45 ERA. He has fanned nine in 11.0 innings, while posting a 0.91 WHIP. House made one start against Gwinnett in 2013, hurling 6.0 innings, allowing two runs on 10 hits in the no-decision.

Bauer has fared the best against the G-Braves in his career, going 0-0 with a 2.19 ERA in two starts. Tomlin made one start against Gwinnett in 2013, going 5.0 innings, allowing seven hits, three runs in the no-decision.

Gwinnett will counter with Rodriguez, Atkins and Stewart, while they wait for their Thursday starter to be announced.

Rodriguez has been the Braves’ best starter in the month of April. In three starts, he is 2-1 with a 2.40 ERA. He has tossed five innings in each of his three starts, while punching out 19 batters.

Stewart will be the only Braves pitcher with previous experience against the Clippers. Last season, the right-hander went 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts against Columbus for the Charlotte Knights. This season, Stewart has been solid for the G-Braves, going 1-0 with a 5.06 ERA. In his last start on 4/20, he went a season-high six innings, allowing three runs for his first win of the season.

Batting: The G-Braves are scolding hot at the dish, as they enter the series with a league-high 97 runs. They also own the third-highest batting average in the league (.280).

Phil Gosselin is leading the way with a .404 (19-for-47) batting average. The infielder enters the series with the second highest batting average in the league, behind Gregory Polanco of the Indianapolis Indians.

Ernesto Mejia and Tommy La Stella aren’t too far behind. Mejia is fifth in the league with a .379 (25-for-66) batting average. He has seven homers and 22 RBIs. He is second in the league in dingers and is tied for first in RBI. While, La Stella enters with a .346 (10th in IL) batting average. Since moving to third in the order, La Stella is hitting .375 (12-for-32) with one double and eight RBIs.

Columbus has been in the middle of the pack offensively, but Jesus Aguilar and Jose Ramirez have been standouts. Aguilar is hitting .386 (22-for-57) with five doubles, five homers and 13 RBIs, while Ramirez is hitting .333 (21-for-63) with two doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs. Aguilar is the No.15 prospect in the Cleveland organization according to Baseball America, while Ramirez is the No.9 prospect.

Mike Minor Quotes: 4.19.14

Following Mike Minor’s rehab start on Saturday night with the Gwinnett, Grant McCauley (790 the Zone) and David Friedlander (Gwinnett Daily Post) caught up with the left-hander. In his four rehab appearance, Minor went 6.0 innings, allowing three runs.

Mike Minor (Chris Roughgarden)

Mike Minor (Chris Roughgarden)

D.F: After that rough first inning you have to be pretty pleased with how you bounced back?

“Yeah. It was a tough first inning but other than I started working in some breaking pitches and changeups. I feel like I got them off balance a little bit.”

G.M: As you gone through this process is there a way you have integrated each of your pitches as you gone along or is it more about building arm strength and getting yourself ready.?

“I think it’s a little bit of both. I think the main thing is going out there and being healthy and getting the pitch count up. Then in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth innings try to work in some breaking pitches. Obviously early on, I tried to get the fastball established on both sides of the plate and then try and throw some breaking balls in there for strikes. “

D. F: What do you feel like you corrected from the first inning to the second?

“It really wasn’t anything. It was kind of the same thing. I left some pitches over the plate and they were aggressive. I left some balls over the middle of the plate and they took some good cuts. They were aggressive and hit the ball hard.”

G.M: Pitch count is up to 80, do you feel like you’re ready to go make that start in five days?

“Yeah, I think so. I could have thrown up to 90 this time. I think last time I threw 69 pitches or so. This time it was 80, I didn’t look at my velo(city) but I think it was alright. I’m glad I came out healthy and feel pretty good.”

G.M: Obviously, you have kept tabs on what the big club is doing. Their starting rotation is doing pretty well. How excited are you to get back up there and contribute.

“Those guys have been doing a heck of a job and I don’t want to let them down coming in there. I think we have the league-leading ERA right now, and hopefully I won’t skyrocket that, but I think I will be alright.”

 

-JD-

Gavin Floyd Postgame Quotes 4.13.14

On Sunday afternoon, Gavin Floyd took the mound for the Gwinnett Braves in his third rehab start of the 2014 season. The right-hander went 3.2 innings, allowing two hits, two runs-one earned with three walks and three strikeouts. Despite a rough first two innings, Floyd retired the last six batters he faced. He threw 73 pitches and 43 strikes in the 3-1 loss to Durham.

After the game I stopped by to check in on the Atlanta Brave.

How did you feel out there?

GF: “First couple innings I was just trying to make adjustments because I was rushing a little bit. I was able to make that adjustment in the third and fourth inning. I was glad I was able to make that adjustment and end the game on a good note.”

You had a rocky few first inning, what did you start doing differently in the last two frames?

GF: “My pace was quick. Everything was going too fast. I kept jumping at the plate. So I refocused and took a breather. I was able to slow myself down a little bit and make pitches.”

What were you trying to accomplish with this start? Was it a result oriented start or just another live workday?

GF: “Obviously you want results as a pitcher. In an ideal world, I wish I would have gone all five innings and pitched 75, but I’m glad I’m going through this. I had a good start last time, and today is a little bump in the road. I had tough two first innings, but I got a chance to figure it out. I need these things to get ready for when I do come back. I feel like being able to make an adjustment like that and being able to make good pitches will only help me out. I think that’s good thing to be able to get in a groove and work through some things on the mound. This will only help to make the adjustments a lot quicker when I do come back.”

How do you feel health wise?

GF: I feel good. Elbow is good. Stamina is too.

-JD-

Gwinnett Braves (4-3) vs. Durham Bulls (5-3)

Series probables
Fri: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (1-0, 1.80) vs. LHP Mike Montgomery (1-0, 0.00)
Sat: Mitch Atkins (0-1, 6.75) vs. LHP Erik Bedard (0-0, 2.25)
Sun: Gavin Floyd (0-0, 5.06) vs. Nathan Karns (0-1, 13.50)

The Gwinnett Braves will welcome the Durham Bulls for a three game set starting on Friday, April 11 at Coolray Field.

Last weekend, the squads met for a four game set at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. They ended up splitting the series, as Durham took game one and four, while the Braves took care of business in game two and three.

Pitching: The home opener will feature two southpaws that shut down the respective opposition last weekend. Rodriguez tossed 5.0 IP, allowing two hits, one run and struck out nine as he recorded the victory on Saturday night; while, Montgomery dominated Sunday’s matinee, tossing 5.0 innings of scoreless baseball in the Bulls 8-1 victory. He allowed three hits, three walks and struck out seven.

Game three will feature Gavin Floyd, as he makes his third rehab start with the Gwinnett Braves. After a shaky first start, Floyd was solid on Tuesday night. He tossed 4.0 innings, scattering three hits, allowing one run and striking out two. He threw 60 pitches, 37 for strikes in the no decision victory by the Braves.

Former Nationals prospect Nathan Karns will get the ball in game three. The right-hander has got off to a slow start, allowing 11 runs in 7.1 innings (13.50 ERA). He has walked ten batters and struck out ten, so he has electric stuff but is hampered with control issues. He will look to get back on track on Sunday afternoon.
The Braves will have to get to the Bulls pitching staff early, as the back end of the bullpen has been tough on opponents. Right-hander Kirby Yates is a perfect 3-for-3 in save opportunities and has allowed one hit, no runs with four strikeouts in 4.0 innings.

Batting: Ernesto Mejia has headlined the G-Braves offense with five homers and 10 RBIs in seven games, but Phil Gosselin and Tommy La Stella are off to solid starts. Gosselin leads the team with a .500 (10-for-20) batting average with a team-high three doubles. In three games against Durham last weekend, Gosselin went 4-for-11 with three runs scored, one double and one RBI. La Stella has been just as good, batting .308 (4-for-13) with one double and three triples. La Stella has also drawn four walks in five games.

Durham is off to great start offensively, scoring 40 runs in eight games. They have relied on the long ball, slugging eight round trippers this season. Wilson Betemit, Justin Christian, Kevin Kiermaier and Jerry Sands have each clubbed two. Sands is off to the best start of the four of them, batting .333 (10-for-30) with six doubles and six RBIs.

Staying Figgy with it: Cole Figueroa is off to another great start for the Durham Bulls… The infielder is batting .463 (6-for-13) with two doubles. In his career, he has batted .356 (42-for-118) with 16 runs scored, six doubles, two triples, one homer and 20 RBIs against the G-Braves. Last season, Figueroa batted .355 (27-for-76) with six extra-base hits and 14 RBIs, while only striking out twice in 18 games against Gwinnett.

 

-JD-

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (2-2) at Norfolk Tides (1-3)

Mon: Zach Stewart (0-0, 0.00) vs. Suk-min Yoon (0-0, 0.00)

Tues: Gavin Floyd (0-0, 13.50) vs. Mike Wright (0-0, 0.00)

Wed: Cody Martin (0-0, 3.00) vs. Kevin Gausman (0-0, 0.00)

Thu: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (1-0, 1.80) vs. Steve Johnson (0-0, 3.00)

The Gwinnett Braves and Norfolk Tides meet for the first time in the 2014 campaign at Harbor Park in Norfolk, VA starting Monday night. The four-game set will conclude the G-Braves current road trip, as they split with Durham to start the season.

Pitching: The G-Braves pitching staff has been touched up for 23 runs (21 ER) in 34.0 IP and are last in the IL with a 5.56 team ERA through the first four games of the season… Daniel Rodriguez had the strongest showing of the weekend. The southpaw went 5.0 innings, allowing one run on two hits, while striking out nine. He recorded his first win of the season and first victory since May 28, 2013. He will get the ball in game four of the series. Last season, he made one start against the Tides, tossing 4.2 innings, scattering three hits and allowing three runs. He was not a part of the decision, as the G-Braves won the contest 5-4 in extra innings on April 15.

(Daniel Rodriguez/ Photo credit: Chris Roughgarden)

(Daniel Rodriguez/ Photo credit: Chris Roughgarden)

Despite dropping three games to the Knights, the Tides’ pitching staff has been real strong in 2014. In four games, they have posted a 2.50 ERA, while striking out 43 batters in 36.0 IP.

Yoon and Wright will make their first starts of the 2014 season on Monday and Tuesday. Yoon, 27, is coming over from the Korean League. In 2011, he was named the Korean Baseball Organization MVP after leading the league in wins (17), ERA (2.45) and strikeouts (178).

Wright is coming off of a strong 2013 campaign, as he dominated the Double-A circuit, going 11-3 with a 3.26 ERA in 26 starts for Bowie. On September 2, he was called up to Triple-A Norfolk to make his debut. He delivered seven shutout innings, scattering six hits and striking out two. The former third rounder in the 2011 draft out of the University of East Carolina features a mid-90’s fastball, slider, curve and change-up. Wright enters the season as the No.8 ranked prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America.

Gausmann and Johnson will round out the Norfolk rotation for the weekday series. Both right-handers threw in the opening weekend series against Charlotte, but received no decisions. They combined to strike out 10 batters in 7.1 innings.

Batting: Ernesto Mejia is coming off of a huge week with the G-Braves. In four games, he hit .308 (4-for-13) with four homers and seven RBIs. He was named IL Batter of the Week for his outstanding work at the dish. Last season, Mejia hit .347 (25-for-72) with five doubles, eight homers and 16 RBIs in 19 games against the Tides.

Infielder Phil Gosselin also had a solid opening week. The right-handed hitter batted .364 (1-for-11) with one double and one RBI, while playing shortstop and third base. Gosselin fared well against Norfolk in 2013, hitting .275 (14-for-51) with two homers and six RBIs.

Norfolk is off to a slow start offensively, scoring six runs in four games against Charlotte.

Henry Urrutia is batting .143 (2-for-14) with one RBI and two strikeouts. Last season, he hit .316 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 29 games with Norfolk. He was even better against Gwinnett, batting .356 (16-for-46) with two doubles, one triple, one homer and 10 RBIs. He will try and get Norfolk back on track this week.

Tides News: The Orioles have acquired right-hander Preston Guilmet from the Indians in exchange for infielder Torsten Boss. Guilmet was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

-JD-

 

Inside the Numbers: Cole Figueroa

The Gwinnett Braves (0-1) started off the season with another tough loss to the Durham Bulls (1-0) on Thursday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Facing a 6-2 deficit in the top of the third inning, the Bulls battled back, scoring one run in the fourth inning, three in the fifth and one in the seventh to claim the victory 7-6.

Bulls’ shortstop Cole Figueroa scored the game-winner, as he continued to haunt the G-Braves by going 2-for-3 with two runs scored in the contest.

In 30 games against the Braves, Figueroa has tallied a .354 (40-for-113) batting average with 15 runs scored, six doubles, two triples, one homer and 20 RBIs. Last season, Figueroa batted .355 (27-76) with six extra-base hits and 14 RBIs, while only striking out twice.

So, what makes Figueroa so good against the Braves?

In 113 official at bats, the infielder has fanned five times. His .044 strikeout per at bat average is well below his career strikeout per at bat average of .103 (225 K / 2180 AB). In addition to his low strikeout rate against the G-Braves, Figueroa has a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) of .358 against Gwinnett.

Some sabermetricians would suggest that Figueroa is getting lucky, as his BABIP is greater than his BA.

But, line drive hitters tend to have high BABIP’s. Figueroa is a great example, as he holds a BABIP of .312 in his career, opposed to a lifetime batting average of .291 (635-for-2180).

So, luck has nothing to do with it and the G-Braves will have to deal with Figueroa another three days at the DBAP.

Gwinnett will face Figueroa and the Bulls in game two of this four game series at 7:05 PM tonight.

Background Check: Stephen Cole Figueroa is a Tallahassee, FL native, but played his collegiate baseball at the University of Florida. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 First Year Player Draft by the San Diego Padres. In 2010, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays along with RHP’s Brandon Gomes and Adam Russell and LHP Cesar Ramos in exchange for shortstop Jason Bartlett. Figueroa is entering his fourth season with the Rays organization and his seventh in professional baseball.

G-Braves News & Notes: Ryan Buchter was optioned from Atlanta prior to last night’s contest. The southpaw tossed a scoreless eighth inning. Buchter made the Opening Day roster, but did not appear in a game in his first call-up to the big leagues.

 

-JD-

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (0-0) at Durham Bulls (0-0)

Pitching Probables
Thu: Gavin Floyd (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Nathan Karns (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Fri: Ervin Santana (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. LHP Enny Romero (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Sat: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Matt Andriese (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Sun: Mitch Atkins (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. LHP Mike Montgomery (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Pitching: The Gwinnett Braves will open their series against the Durham Bulls with two MLB veterans leading the group. Both Floyd and Santana will be on strict pitch counts, as they work their way back to the Major Leagues. Rodriguez, who missed most of last season with elbow ailments in his throwing arm, will make his first start since June 2nd and Atkins will join the G-Braves after spending 2013 with Double-A Mississippi.

Floyd will try to get the Braves off to a good start in 2014, as he is a perfect 3-0 against the Bulls in his career, but hasn’t pitched in a Triple-A contest in seven years. Rodriguez and Atkins haven’t fared well against the Bulls in their respective careers. Rodriguez gave up seven runs in 0.1 IP in his lose start against the Tampa Bay affiliate, while Atkins is 1-1 with a 5.50 ERA in three career starts against Durham.

Nathan Karns will be the opening day starter. The right-hander was a part of the monster trade, which saw the Tampa Bay Rays exchange catcher Jose Lobaton, pitcher Felipe Rivero and outfielder Drew Vettelson for the Washington Nationals’ Karns. The right-hander is a game-changer as he tosses a mid 90’s fastball, hard sinker and a heavy slider. Last season, he struck out 155 batters in 133.0 IP with Double-A Harrisburg.

Karns wasn’t the only one dominating the Double-A circuit. Romero was spectacular in the Southern League, going 11-7 with a 2.76 ERA in 27 starts for the Montgomery Biscuits. He made one start for Triple-A Durham (8IP, 0R, 2K) and one for Tampa Bay (5IP, 0R) to end the season. He will get the start in game two of the series.

Andriese will make his first start in International League as he was a part of the San Diego Padres organization in 2013, while Montgomery will put his 2-3 record with a 5.27 ERA in five career starts against Gwinnett on the line in game four.

Batting: Offense will be showcased in the series, as both teams have potent attacks. The Braves will have two-time RBI champion Ernesto Mejia leading the middle of the order. In 2013, Mejia struggled against the Bulls, hitting .192 (14-for-73) with two homers, eight RBIs and 26 strikeouts. While, Mejia struggled against the Bulls, Jose Constanza thrived at the dish against Durham pitching. The outfielder batted .340 (17-for-50) with two doubles, two RBIs and six stolen bases in 12 contests against the Bulls. Constanza is the lone active G-Brave to hold a batting average over .300 against Durham in 2013.

While, the G-Braves struggled to hit Bulls’ pitching, Cole Figueroa welcomed G-Braves pitching. The infielder hit .355 (27-for-76) with three doubles, two triples, one homer and 14 RBIs in 20 games against Gwinnett in 2013.

He will be joined veterans Wilson Betemit and Vince Belnome around the infield. Betemit is coming off of an injury-riddled 2013 campaign, but in 2012, he hit .261 with 19 doubles, 12 homers and 40 RBIs in 102 games with Baltimore. He will try to find his stroke in 2014 with Durham.

Belnome hasn’t had a problem hitting at the minor league level. He is a lifetime .300 hitter at the MiLB level, clubbing 58 homers and driving in 312 runners. Despite struggling against the G-Braves in 2013 (.151, 12K), he hit .300 and drove in 67 runs while earning an IL All-Star Game nod.

Bull Rushed: The Gwinnett Braves will look to get off to a good start in 2014 against the Durham Bulls, as they went 6-15 against Durham in 2013. Durham’s stranglehold was more apparent at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, as they won nine of ten games at home.

-JD-

Il Preview: Gwinnett Braves

The IL Preview concludes with the Gwinnett Braves. Last season, Gwinnett had a forgettable season, finishing last in the IL with a 60-84 mark. Injuries at the Major League level and constant turnover at the minor league level crippled the Gwinnett roster.

The Braves will be led by new skipper Brian Snitker. The former Atlanta Braves third base coach has managerial experience at the minor league level, coaching over 2,000 games (1140-1145 record). He will have a good group of players leading the charge in 2014.

Pitching: The Braves pitching staff took a big hit with the losses of Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy during Spring Training. The losses will trickle down to the minor league level, as two potential G-Braves in David Hale and Gus Schlosser will start in Atlanta.

The G-Braves will start the season with Zach Stewart, Mitch Atkins, Daniel Rodriguez, Cody Martin and Yunesky Maya. All five pitchers have pitched at the Triple-A level and come with experience. Atkins has won 33 games between the Pacific Coast League and International League. Last season, he went 5-2 with a 3.47 ERA in 17 games for Double-A Mississippi.

Martin enters the season with the least amount of experience on the staff, but will be leaned on to built upon his successful 2013 campaign. In 13 games (11 starts), he went 3-4 with a 3.49 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 69.2 IP with the G-Braves.

The bullpen will feature a slew of flamethrowers, as Wirfin Obispo, Mark Lamm, Juan Jaime and Luis Vasquez will be eager to close outs games. Obispo returns to Gwinnett after going 2-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 54 relief appearances. He recorded nine saves, striking out 70 batters in 63.2 innings.

Infield: Offensively, the diamond will be loaded with a deep-talented group. Ernesto Mejia, who hit a career-high 28 homers in 2013, returns for his third season with the G-Braves. He has led the IL in RBIs two straight seasons.

Tommy La Stella will join him on the right side. The former Coastal Carolina alum is a lifetime .327 minor league hitter. The second baseman made an impression with Atlanta during Spring Training, batting .255 with four doubles and five RBIs. He will get his first taste of Triple-A baseball in 2014.

The Atlanta Braves No.2 prospect according to Baseball America, Christian Bethancourt will get his first taste of Triple-A as well. He hit .277 (99-for-358) with 21 doubles, 12 homers and 45 RBIs in 90 games for the M-Braves. He set a club record by reaching base in 40-straight games from June 13 to August 14, batting .338 (54-for-160) with 12 doubles, 10 homers and 27 RBI during the streak.

Tyler Greene and Edward Salcedo will fill out the left side. Both players have the ability to drive in runs and steal bases. Salcedo has swiped 80 bags and drove in 211 runners in 471 minor league contests, while Greene has over 150 stolen bases and 373 RBIs in his ten year career.

Outfield: The Gwinnett Braves will be fortunate to feature a major-league like outfield, as Jose Constanza, Todd Cunningham and Joey Terdoslavich will be manning one of the three outfield positions. Terdoslavich returns after a banner season with Gwinnett. He was named an International League midseason and postseason All-Star after hitting .318 (102-for-321) with 24 doubles, 18 home runs and 58 RBI in 85 games. He was named Gwinnett’s Most Valuable player by Atlanta and Gwinnett. He was as selected to represent Team USA in the 15th annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, but did not participate due to his MLB call-up on 7/4.

Constanza returns for his fourth season with Gwinnett. The longest tenured G-Brave returns for his fourth season with the ball club. Constanza enters the season as the G-Braves all-time hits (306), triples (11) and stolen bases (58) leader. In three seasons, he has tallied a .301 (306-for-1,118) batting average with 19 doubles and 69 RBIs.

Cunningham, the switch-hitting outfielder led the squad in hitting with a .265 (113-for-427) batting average. He tallied 13 doubles, five triples, two home runs, 38 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 116 games.

Projected Depth Chart:

(Depth chart is not official, based on projections.)

(Depth chart is not official, based on projections.)

 

-JD-

Spring Training Q&A with David Hale

This time last year, right-hander David Hale was working on adding a sinker to his repertoire and preparing for his first Triple-A season with Gwinnett.  A year later, the Marietta, GA native finds himself competing for an Opening Day roster spot with the Atlanta Braves, having already made his Major League season and postseason debuts last fall.  Gwinnett Braves Media Relations Manager Dave Lezotte caught up with Hale today at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

Image

Hale, Atlanta’s third-round pick in 2009 out of Princeton University, went 6-9 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 games, 20 starts for Gwinnett last year. (Photo by Chris Roughgarden)

DL: Last year, you made your Triple-A debut, battled back from a right shoulder strain and made your Major League debut by season’s end.  A lot of things happened to you in one season.  What did you learn from those experiences?

DH: Just to stick with it, and to improve on the stuff that I have.  I added another pitch last year, my sinker.  It gave me a lot of confidence in pitching, and I could focus more on the art of pitching instead of just trying to overpower people.  I could actually go at them with a pitch that I could come in on them and then go away on them.  It’s more of an art to me now, to focus on pitching like that.

DL: September 13, 2013, you made your Major League debut for the Atlanta Braves.  Being from Marietta, growing up a Braves fan and getting a chance to make a debut in front of your family and friends, what was that like?

DH: It was incredible, I had so many people there that I haven’t seen in years.  To have all them come out and support me, it means a lot, it really does.

DL: You worked 5.0 scoreless, four-hit innings and struck out nine in that game.  You didn’t have more than nine strikeouts in any Triple-A start all season.  Did your performance surprise you that night?

DH: I think it did.  It was good for me because it gave me some confidence; let me know that I can perform at that level.  I couldn’t have asked for a better outing, just to do that in front of my family and friends, and like I said, to give myself some confidence.

DL: You got a win the next time out on September 26 vs. Philadelphia, and not long after, you were named to the Braves’ postseason roster.  How shocking was that?

DH: You know, I really wasn’t expecting that.  When it came down to it, I guess they were looking for a long relief kind of guy, and I was able to fill that spot.  It was a blast; it’s something that I certainly won’t ever forget.

DL: You pitched in Game 3 of the NLDS at Los Angeles, a tough 13-6 loss for the Braves.  Still, it was a huge personal moment for you at the end of that game.  What was it like stepping on the mound in the playoffs, at Dodger Stadium of all places?

DH: It was pretty cool to be on the mound during the playoff atmosphere.  Like you said, L.A., that place is enormous; I didn’t realize it was the largest stadium in the league.  It was a little daunting, but we were down a little bit, so that took away (some) of the nerves because it was out of our hands.  But still, my heart was racing and it was fun to be there.

DL: When we talked last season, one of the things we focused on was your use of video as preparation at the Triple-A level.  You have access to even more of that at the Major League level, what is your preparation like here?

DH: I kind of do the same thing.  We have a lot of the same video stuff in the big leagues as in Triple-A, so I always like watching that.  I get a feel for the hitter before I ever see him, so it’s like I’ve faced him before.  It’s being comfortable through knowledge, I guess.

DL: This year at Spring Training, you’re competing for a Major League roster spot.  What is that competition process like?

DH: It’s pretty stiff.  We have a lot of good starting pitching, so I’m just doing the best I can and hopefully putting the ball in the decision-makers’ courts.

DL: What are you working on the most this spring?

DH: Consistency, that’s something I’ll say for the rest of my career.  Working on that sinker, just being consistent with it, as well as my off-speed pitches.

DL: Do you have a good feel for that sinker so far this year?

DH: Yeah, it actually is feeling really good right now.  I’ve got to get that off-speed stuff going again, but it’s early obviously, and that’s why we have Spring Training.  Just getting the feel back.

DL: You’ve been a starter and a reliever in your minor league career.  Would you accept either role in the Majors?

DH: I’ll catch if they want me to.  Whatever they want me to do to be on this roster, I’ll do it.

DL: This is a young pitching staff, both the rotation and the bullpen.  Who do the young guys look up to on the staff?

DH: Like you said, it’s a pretty young staff.  (Kris) Medlen has taken on a big leadership role.  Then you have Freddy (Garcia), he’s been around forever, so we all look up to him.

DL: If you end up back in Gwinnett at some point this season, how do you handle that?

DH: Just stick with it and just keep getting better through practice.  I don’t think any team has ever had 25 men on it for the entire season.  I just need to put myself in position to take a spot if one opens up.

Spring Training Report- Familiar Faces, New Places

With every offseason comes a changing of the guard. When the Gwinnett Braves take the field in 2014, the roster will carry a couple of familiar faces, while the majority of it will be composed of minor league free agents and Double-A standouts.

The G-Braves roster will be determined at a later date, but for now we will take a look at the former G-Braves that have moved on to different organizations. In the offseason, 11 former G-Braves declared for free agency, pitchers Joe Beimel, Joe Bisenius, Juan Cedeno, Pat Egan, Yohan Flande and Omar Poveda, infielders Alden Carrithers and Sean Kazmar, and outfielders Brandon Boggs, Stefan Gartrell, Greg Golson.

While, Bisenius, Cedeno, Kazmar, Boggs and Gartrell look to catch on with a team once Spring Training starts, the rest of the crew will be reporting to a new location in 2014.

Flande(Moore)

Flande(Moore)

Beimel will report to Peoria, AZ as a non-roster invitee of the Seattle Mariners. The lefty pitched well for the G-Braves, going 1-2 with 4.36 ERA in 33.0 IP. Beimel got off to a slow start as he was coming off of “Tommy John” surgery, but finished strong in August, posting a 3.60 ERA in 15.0 IP with 13 strikeouts.

Fellow southpaw Flande will also head to the Cactus League, but he will head to Tucson, AZ as a member of the Colorado Rockies. Flande spent three seasons with the Braves organization, posting a 23-26 mark with a 4.13 ERA in 416.0 IP for the G-Braves. Last season, he won a team-high nine games. He is second in G-Braves All-Time history in wins, losses, innings pitched, strikeouts (302) and starts (65).

Righties Egan and Poveda will be pitching in the Central Division. Egan will report to Goodyear, AZ with the Cincinnati Reds, while Poveda joins the Chicago White Sox in Glendale, AZ. Egan bounced around from Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. He finished the season with the M-Braves after going 1-1 with a 5.60 ERA with Gwinnett. Poveda enjoyed his best season at the Triple-A level, going 6-7 with a 3.62 ERA in 27 games (25 starts). He was named the Gwinnett Braves Pitcher of the Year at the end of the season. He will be a non-roster invitee for the White Sox and compete for a spot on the rotation.

Carrithers and Golson will report to Phoenix, AZ, Carrithers as a member of the Oakland A’s and Golson with the Milwaukee Brewers. Last season, the left-handed batter, hit .299 (75-for-251) with 14 doubles, one triple, three homers and 19 RBI in 90 games for the G-Braves, while the outfielder batted .462 (6-for-13) in seven games for Gwinnett.  

With former G-Braves reporting to camp and the start of the Spring Training season less than 10 days away, baseball season is approaching. Be the first to join the action as the G-Braves open the 2014 season on Friday, April 11th at 7:05 p.m. against the South Division Champion Durham Bulls at Coolray Field.

Braves Notes:

Infielder Mat Gamel was released by the Braves after suffering another set back to his injured knee. The Braves will head to camp with 61 players as they begin team workouts today.

-JD-

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