Results tagged ‘ Jordan Walden ’
Two key contributors who helped the Gwinnett Braves push to one game out of a playoff spot were able to catch a glimpse of where their Major League dreams might become reality when they received honors shortly before Saturday’s game between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field.
Right-handed starting pitcher Tyrell Jenkins earned the Braves’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year award, and center fielder Mallex Smith received the Braves’ Minor League Player of the Year award during a pregame ceremony that honored players from each level of the Atlanta Minor League system, including Gwinnett Pitcher of the Year Manny Banuelos and Gwinnett Player of the Year Adonis Garcia.
“It’s pretty cool, actually,” said Jenkins, who is Atlanta’s No. 4-ranked prospect according to MLB.com. “When they called me and told me, I couldn’t stop smiling for like 10 minutes. It was just awesome.”
The 23-year-old Jenkins and 22-year-old Smith both began the season at Double-A Mississippi but were promoted to Gwinnett before the Triple-A All-Star break. Jenkins was 3-4 with a 3.57 ERA (18 ER in 45.1 IP) in nine starts for the G-Braves, while Smith batted .281 (78-for-278) and stole a team-high 34 bases in 69 games with Gwinnett.
“It’s just a blessing,” said Smith, the Braves’ No. 13 prospect according to MLB.com.” You can’t really ask for this, it’s something that just happens over the course of time. Every day you wake up and try to get ready to go and perform and just be the best you can possibly be. I just feel like if you go out there and put your best foot forward daily, things happen. The Lord just found mercy on me to bless me with this. It’s just an honor, unbelievable.”
The Braves acquired both players in offseason trades. Jenkins joined right-handed starter Shelby Miller as part of a package in a November 17 trade from the St. Louis Cardinals in return for outfielder Jason Heyward and right-handed reliever Jordan Walden. Smith was part of a five-player deal with the San Diego Padres on December 19 that sent outfielder Justin Upton to the Padres.
Jenkins overcame two lat muscle injuries in the past three years that had kept him from making more than 19 starts in any of his first five professional seasons. He started a combined 25 games between Mississippi and Gwinnett in his first year as an Atlanta farmhand, going 8-9 with a 3.19 ERA (49 ER in 138.1 IP) that was the fourth-lowest among qualified pitchers in the Braves’ system. His 88 strikeouts also were the fifth-most of any Atlanta minor leaguer.
“Just to be able to come back and be able to have a full season, whether it was (Pitcher) of the Year or not, I was just happy to make it through the season knowing that the whole surgery held up and everything,” Jenkins said. “Just to win that adds on to kind of let you know what people saw I did or what they thought of my year, and it’s pretty special. I’m glad to be here.”
After he led all of Minor League Baseball with 88 stolen bases in 2014, Smith had a blistering start to his career in the Braves’ system. He batted .340 (70-for-206) with 23 steals in 57 games for Mississippi before he received his promotion to Gwinnett. He finished the season with a combined .306 batting average (148-for-484) that ranked fourth among Atlanta farmhands, while his 57 total steals led the organization.
“Mentally, I improved a lot, just going through my ups and downs,” Smith said. “Being traded, I had to get over that mental hump. Adjusting to a different organization, adjusting to different rules. Just trying to better yourself and just make sure you’re not disobeying the rules, just trying to get along and figure out your way. It helped out a lot.”
All of the award winners had the chance to be on the field for batting practice, which allowed Smith to meet outfielder Cameron Maybin, who was also a member of the San Diego organization up until the 2015 season, and outfielder Michael Bourn, who Smith admired during Bourn’s first tenure with the Braves from 2011-12.
“It’s a different feel seeing them up close and personal than on TV,” said Smith, a native of Tallahassee, FL. “It feels more real.”
As for his time in Gwinnett, Smith said it was fun to be part of a team that had a chance to reach the playoffs until the penultimate day of the season after it was in last place its division when he arrived on June 24.
Jenkins spent much of the final three weeks of the season on the Gwinnett disabled list because of arm fatigue, but he was thrilled to be able to come back to make one more start on Sept. 4 to prove to himself and the organization he was healthy and ready to embark on an offseason of preparation for a 2016 season that could see him back in the dugout at Turner Field.
He said it would be particularly special if he could accomplish that goal alongside Smith, his friend and roommate during road trips with Gwinnett.
“We’d always talked about always going up to Atlanta together and being together,” Jenkins said. “If he does something wrong I’ll let him know, and if I do something wrong he’ll let me know. We really looked out for each other this year.”
Smith admitted it would be fun to rise to the big leagues together, but he said he also understands all they can do is put themselves in positions that make that dream a possibility.
“When the time is right, we’ll come,” Smith said. “Until then, we’re going to prepare and get ourselves ready to be up here.”
Atlanta Braves’ Jordan Walden made his second rehab appearance with the Gwinnett Braves on Sunday afternoon. The right-hander went one inning, walking one and striking out two. He hurled 19 pitches, 12 for strikes in the G-Braves 4-2 win over the Rochester Red Wings. After his start, I caught up with the Braves reliever.
JD: How did the Hamstring feel?
JW: “Hamstring felt good. I didn’t have any issues with it again, so that was a positive.”
JD: Was there any shoulder/arm issues associated with skipping your last scheduled rehab?
JW: “My arm just needed an extra day of rest. It was my first time out (on Thursday) and I just needed another day so that’s why I threw today.”
JD: You threw 19 pitches, 12 for strikes. Did you feel like you commanded the zone a little better today?
JW: “I mean, I walked the first guy. I wasn’t very happy with that. I didn’t feel like the command was there, but I battled through and got a couple strike outs.”
JD: First time out you said you had trouble from the stretch, how did you feel about it this time around?
JW: “I tested myself early by walking the leadoff batter. It wasn’t a good thing that I walked him but I tested myself from the stretch and it felt a lot better this time around. Especially from the last time I threw from the stretch (Thursday night).”
JD: What’s next?
JW: “I’m not sure. Hopefully I get to meet up with the team in Colorado, but at this point I have to wait and hear what they have to say.”
“The difference between a successful person and others is not the lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.” -Vince Lombardi-
Sat: Jordan Walden (0-1, 27.00) vs. Alex Meyer (3-2, 3.65)
Sun: Zach Stewart (3-3, 4.07) vs. LHP Logan Darnell (1-3, 2.58)
Mon: Cody Martin (3-5, 3.82) vs. LHP Kris Johnson (6-2, 2.44)
Tue: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-6, 3.67) vs. Trevor May (5-4, 2.80)
The Gwinnett Braves and the Rochester Red Wings meet up for the second time in less than a week on Saturday, June 7. The Red Wings took three of four in Rochester, NY last week. Since meeting, the teams are going in opposite directions. The G-Braves have lost three of ten, while Rochester has won seven of ten.
Pitching: Jordan Walden will make his second rehab appearance with the G-Braves on Saturday. The right-hander went .2 innings, allowing two runs on one hit Thursday night. He struck out the side, but a wild pitch on the third strike to the third hitter allowed him to reach, setting the stage for a two-run homer by Elliot Johnson.
Right-hander Stewart and Martin will follow, while left-handed Rodriguez will throw the finale. Both Martin and Rodriguez will look to ride the ship, as they have lost three straight games.
Rochester will counter with the best staff in the IL. Highly-touted right hander Meyer and May will through the opener and the finale, while Johnson will take game three.
May was named IL Pitcher of the week after going 2-0 with 0.00 ERA in 12.0 innings of baseball. May has now won four straight starts overall and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 26 innings of work. After tossing 5.0 innings of a comfortable 10‐5 Red Wings victory over Syracuse on Memorial Day, May returned to the hill Saturday evening to face Gwinnett. May gave his club 7.0 more scoreless innings against the Braves, walking two and striking out four on the way to a 6‐1 Rochester triumph. Mayʹs ERA has dropped to 2.62, the 7th‐best mark in the League this season. Opposing hitters have posted a mere .196 average against him (2nd in the IL).
While May has been on fire, Johnson has been the Red Wings most consistent hurler. The lefty is on a five game winning streak, spanning from 4/24 to 6/4. In the month of May, Johnson went 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in five starts. He has struck out 54 batters in 59.0 innings.
Batting: The G-Braves offense has sputtered of late. In the last week, they have gone from the top batting team to the No.5. The losses of La Stella (promotion) and Todd Cunningham (injury) have slowed the offense. Christian Bethancourt is swinging a hot bat of late. The catcher has a five-game winning streak. During the streak, he is batting .388 with two runs scored and two doubles.
Gosselin continues to be the most consistent bat in the G-Braves lineup. The infielder recorded three hits on Friday night. He has 23 multi-hit games on the season. He is batting .327 (70-for-214) with 15 doubles, two triples, one homer and 14 RBIs in 53 games.
After starting the season batting .100 with one RBI through the first four games, Colabello has recorded seven RBIs in his last three games. The 2013 IL MVP and Rookie of the Year is hitting .171 with one homer and 10 RBIs in 10 games with the Red Wings.
While Colabello finds his stroke, the Red Wings will rely on the hot bat of Deibinson Romero. The third baseman is batting .305 (57-for-187) with 13 doubles, one triple, four homers and 24 RBIs in 55 games with Rochester.
G-Bites:Third baseman Joe Leonard has been promoted to Gwinnett from Double-A Mississippi and outfielder Andy Simunic was signed as a free agent and assigned to Gwinnett on Friday. The two new additions replace outfielder Cunningham, who was placed on the disabled list retroactive to June 4 with a left thumb sprain, and outfielder Derrick Mitchell, who was transferred to Double-A Mississippi.
Atlanta Braves’ right-hander Jordan Walden, recovering from a left hamstring strain, made his first rehab start for Gwinnett. Walden threw two thirds of an inning, allowing two runs on one hit, striking out three and issuing one wild pitch. Of his 23 pitches, 14 were strikes. Columbus scored twice against Walden in the first inning. He was electric early, striking out Jose Ramirez looking and Tyler Holt swinging. He struck out Adam Abraham as well, but his third strike was a wild pitch sending Abraham to first base. With the inning extended, former Atlanta Brave Elliot Johnson belted a two-run home run, ending Walden’s night.
After the G-Braves 6-0 loss, I caught up with Walden:
JD: How did you feel out there? How is the hamstring holding up?
JW: “I felt good. Hamstring felt good for the first time being out and seeing hitters for a little bit over a month, it felt good.”
JD: You threw 23 pitches, 14 for strikes, how would you access your command of the strike zone?
JW: “Yeah, I felt good until I got the runner on first base. Then I just felt a little rusty with a runner on base. Didn’t feel comfortable and threw a pitch where I didn’t want it and Elliot hit it out.”
JD: You played with Elliot (Johnson) last year. Was there some familiarity to your pitches that helped him out in his at bat?
JW:“I’m guessing he was sitting on a fastball and I just happen to throw it right down the middle of the plate. I played with him, he’s a good player and you just got to tip your hat to him for the swing he put on it.”
JD: Did you think you did a good job of executing your pitches tonight?
JW: “It was okay. I didn’t throw many off speed pitches, but the ones I did throw were pretty good.”
“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison