Results tagged ‘ Lehigh Valley IronPigs ’

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (51-50) vs. Durham Bulls (51-51)

Pitching probables (All games start at 6:35 p.m.)

Mon: RHP Tyrell Jenkins (1-1, 3.18 ERA) vs. RHP Bradin Hagens (1-1, 3.38 ERA).

Tues: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (1-6, 3.49 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Andriese (2-1, 1.84 ERA).

Wed: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (3-2, 3.61 ERA) vs. LHP Blake Snell (0-1, 2.25 ERA).

Tyrell Jenkins (Taylor Botta)

Tyrell Jenkins (Taylor Botta)

The Gwinnett Braves worked their way out of the cellar in the International League South Division on Sunday when they beat the Charlotte Knights 5-3 and the Durham Bulls lost 11-1 to the Norfolk Tides. That dropped the Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, a half-game behind the G-Braves for last place in the division. Gwinnett has won five of the last seven meetings between the clubs this season and leads the season series 7-6. This is the Bulls’ final visit to Coolray Field this season. After an off day on Thursday, the teams will play three more games at Durham from Friday through Sunday, and they have a two-game series at Durham Bulls Athletic Park scheduled for August 21 and September 1. The G-Braves have not taken a season series from the Bulls since they went 11-10 in 2012.

The G-Braves ran their post-All-Star break record to 6-5 with the sweep of Charlotte. Durham, meanwhile, has yet to win consecutive games in the second half and gone 4-7 in that span. The Bulls have the lowest team batting average (.229) and second-highest team ERA (4.64) in the IL for July, but they have slugged 27 home runs through 23 games during the month, which trails only Charlotte’s 33 in that category. Gwinnett’s 11 homers in the July are the second-fewest, ahead of only the nine hit by the Indianapolis Indians. The G-Braves’ .244 batting average for July ranks 11th in the league, but they have managed a 12-12 record since July 1 with the help of a 3.49 team ERA that is the fifth-lowest in the 14-team league.

Pitching: A weekend series vs. Charlotte in which the G-Braves did not allow more than three runs in any of the three victories helped lower the club’s ERA to 3.18 for the season, which is the fourth-lowest of any team in the league. Knights’ outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo hit two home runs on Friday, but those were the only long balls Gwinnett pitchers allowed, and the 51 the G-Braves’ pitching staff has combined to give up are tied for the fourth-fewest in the IL. Durham has the third-highest team ERA in the league at 3.97 and its pitchers have given up the most home runs in the IL with 86. The Bulls have struck out the second-most batters in the league with 761 K’s and issued the second-fewest walks (289), and their relievers have combined for 34 saves, which is tied for the league lead in that department. G-Braves’ hurlers have the fifth-most strikeouts with 723 and the fifth-most walks with 335, while the bullpen has 30 saves to tie for fourth in that category.

Foltynewicz has given up seven of the G-Braves’ home runs allowed total this season and is in his third stint with Gwinnett after two promotions to the Major Leagues with the Atlanta Braves. He worked as a starter in Atlanta from May 1 to June 14, going 3-2 with a 5.19 ERA in nine starts, and pitched three times out of the bullpen from July 7-11, going 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA. Four of his 10 starts for the G-Braves have been quality starts, but the team is 3-7 in those games in part because the offense has provided him the fewest runs of support of any pitcher currently in the starting rotation (14 total, 1.40 per game).

Hagens has made four starts (five appearances) for the Bulls this season after he began the year at Double-A Montgomery, where he posted a 4-5 record and 3.86 ERA in 16 outings (eight starts). He stuck out nine Charlotte batters in his most recent start on July 22 and has a 3.75 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (30 strikeouts/8 walks) since his move to the Triple-A level. Andriese has split the season between Durham and Tampa Bay. He has gone 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA and two saves in 12 outings (seven starts) for the Rays in his Major League rookie campaign. He was optioned to Durham most recently on July 8.

Hitting: Barrett Kleinknecht hit his fourth home run of the season with a solo shot in the seventh inning on Sunday, but the G-Braves still sit at the bottom of the IL in that department with 32 homers and trail the next closest team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, by 10.  They are on pace 46 home runs for the season, which would be the fewest in franchise history and the fewest in the league since the Tidewater Tides hit 43 in 1980. The lowest season home run totals for Richmond/Gwinnett teams is 68 set in 2001 and tied in 2006. However, the G-Braves have used their team speed to steal 114 bases and tie Indianapolis for the lead in that category. That puts Gwinnett on pace for 163 on the season but still well behind the franchise record of 195 set in 1986.

Durham is third in the league with 100 stolen haves but is also second in the IL with 90 home runs despite a team batting average of .244 that is tied for the second-lowest in the league. First baseman J. P. Arencibia has helped the team home run total with a league-high 20. The Bulls do not lay down many sacrifice bunts (14, second-fewest in the IL compared to Gwinnett’s second-highest total of 52), but they draw the third-most walks of any team in the league with 359. The G-Braves have a league-low 241 walks but also the fewest strikeouts with 503. Durham has whiffed a league-leading 863 times.

Jose Peraza’s team-high 13-game hitting streak came to an end when he went 0-for-4 on Sunday, but he is still tied for second in the league in hits with 110. He is also tied for the league-lead in sacrifice bunts (12) and sacrifice flies (seven) to go with the fourth-highest strikeouts-per-plate-appearance ratio of 12.18. Durham outfielder Taylor Motter won the IL Player of the Week award for June 29 to July 6 and has a .303 batting average for the season that ranks seventh in the league among qualified hitters. His 104 hits on the season are the fifth-most in the IL, and he leads the league in extra-base hits with 42.

G-Bites: Infielders Daniel Castro and Adonis Garcia got recalled by Atlanta on Friday. They both left the Gwinnett game in the second inning to join the Braves in St. Louis. Garcia hit his first career Major League home run in the sixth inning on Sunday, a solo shot that provided the deciding run in their 3-2 win over the Cardinals…Atlanta optioned first baseman Joey Terdoslavich on Friday to make room for first baseman Freddie Freeman’s return from the disabled list…Outfielder Cedric Hunter went 5-for-9 two RBIs and four runs scored in the series vs. Charlotte. He has batted .292 with 14 RBIs and 13 runs scored in 22 games in July to raise his season batting average to .272…With a 6.0-inning start on Saturday during which he allowed two runs (one earned), right-hander Kanekoa Texeira completed his fourth consecutive quality start, which is the longest such streak for a G-Braves’ pitcher this season…After the upcoming weekend series at Durham, the G-Braves will return to Coolray Field for a seven-game homestand from August 3-9 that includes four games against the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, and three vs. the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (48-50) vs. Charlotte Knights (57-43)

Pitching probables

Fri: TBA vs. TBA, 7:05 p.m.

Sat: RHP Kanekoa Texeira (1-3, 3.64 ERA) vs. RHP Erik Johnson (8-5, 2.59 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: RHP Williams Perez (2-1, 1.36 ERA) vs. RHP Brad Penny (5-3, 4.09 ERA), 2:05 p.m.

Williams Perez (Taylor Botta)

Williams Perez (Taylor Botta)

The Gwinnett Braves welcome the Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, to Coolray Field for the final time this season still in search of their first victory over Charlotte on their home field. The Knights have won each of the first five games the teams have played in Gwinnett and have outscored the G-Braves 24-15 in those contests, although only one of the games was decided by more than a two-run margin. The G-Braves have gone 2-3 against the Knights in Charlotte, including two wins in a three-game series at BB&T Ballpark from July 2-3 that preceded a six-game losing streak.

Gwinnett remains last in the four-team International League South Division, while the Knights sit in second place, 0.5 of a game behind the Norfolk Tides. The G-Braves face their largest deficit in the standings of the season, as they are 8.5 games behind the Tides and 8.0 games back of Charlotte for the Wild Card playoff spot. This is the first time the teams have not played a home-and-home series this season, as the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, will come in for a three-game series from July 27-29.

This will also be the first time Gwinnett has been home since the All-Star break. The G-Braves went 3-5 on a road trip that took them to Syracuse, where they lost three of four games to the Chiefs, and Rochester in a four-game series they split with the IL North-leading Red Wings. Charlotte has won five of its eight games since the break and eight of their last 11, overall, to put them a season-high 14 games above the .500 mark.

Pitching: The G-Braves’ pitching staff has allowed five or more runs four times in its last 15 games and has the fourth-lowest team ERA in the IL at 3.21. The 49 home runs G-Braves’ pitchers have allowed are also tied for the fourth-fewest in the league. Charlotte has a team ERA of 3.53 that ranks seventh in the league and the 70 home runs it has allowed are the fourth-most in the IL. However, the Knights hold an advantage in strikeout-to-walk ratio. They are tied for the third-fewest walks issued with 295 and lead the league with 789 strikeouts, which are 52 more than second-place Durham in that department. Gwinnett pitchers have walked the fourth-most batters in the league with 331 free passes, and their 704 strikeouts rank fifth.

Gwinnett has also used 14 different starting pitchers this season. Perez and right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (1-6, 3.49 ERA) are the only pitchers currently in the rotation that also began the season in Gwinnett, although Perez is on a Major League rehab assignment from the Atlanta Braves. He has made two rehab starts since the All-Star break and gone 0-1 with one run allowed in a combined 6.0 innings, including 10 strikeouts and one walk, in those appearances. Saturday’s starter, Texeira, notched his first victory of the season in his last start, his sixth of the season among 11 relief appearances, on Monday, July 20 when he held the Red Wings to three runs on two hits and three walks with two strikeouts in a 6-3 victory.

For Charlotte, Johnson holds the third-lowest ERA in the league among qualified starters with his 2.59 mark. He trails only former Gwinnett left-handed starter Manny Banuelos, who was promoted to Atlanta on July 2, and his Charlotte teammate right-hander Kyle Drabek. Johnson leads the league in strikeouts with 105, but Charlotte left-hander Casey Jarrett holds the top spot on the club in wins with 9, which ties him for the league lead along with Durham lefty Scott Diamond. Johnson also holds the tops spot in the league with a 1.09 WHIP, while Drabek is tied for third with a 1.14 mark.

Hitting: Charlotte holds the fourth-highest team batting average at .260, while the G-Braves come in 10th with a .252 mark. Both teams have plenty of speed, as Gwinnett is second in the league with 107, one more than the Knights, but Charlotte has much more power in its lineup. The Knights have slugged a league-best 94 home runs, and the G-Braves have managed an IL-low 31. That puts Gwinnett on pace for 46 on the season, which would be the lowest of any IL team since the Tidewater Tides, who were a New York Mets’ affiliate at the time, hit 43 in 1980.

The G-Braves also have the fewest walks and strikeouts of any team in the league. They would be the first club since the 2012 Lehigh Valley IronPigs to finish at the bottom of both categories in the same season. Additionally, their league-low .304 on-base percentage would be the lowest in the IL since the Syracuse Chiefs, who were an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays at the time, had a .302 mark in 1988.

Individually, second baseman Jose Peraza, the top-ranked prospect in the Braves’ system, is second in the league with 107 hits and fourth with six triples. He enters the series on a season-high 11-game hitting streak during which he has batted .362 (17-for-47) with two doubles, a triple, three RBIs and seven runs scored. He is batting .292 (107-for-367) for the season with eight doubles, six triples, three home runs, 37 RBIs, 44 runs scored and 25 stolen bases, which ties him for fifth in the IL in that category.

Charlotte second baseman Micah Johnson holds the second-highest batting average among qualified batters in the IL with a .328 mark and has the fifth-highest on-base percentage at .379 to go with the third-highest slugging percentage at .486 in 60 games. Third baseman Matt Davidson is tied for fourth in the league with 15 home runs, outfielder Trayce Thompson has the the fourth-most doubles with 23 and fellow outfielder Jason Coats’ 61 RBIs rank third in the league.

G-Bites: Right-handed reliever Brandon Cunniff rejoined the G-Braves during their most recent road trip but is on the disabled list, and righty reliever David Carpenter is back with the club after his first stint of the season with Atlanta. The Gwinnett bullpen also got back right-hander Jake Brigham from a stint with Atlanta…Righty David Peterson received a promotion to Gwinnett from Double-A Mississippi on July 17 and has yet to allow a run in his first two relief outings while picking up his first Triple-A save in his first appearance on July 18 at Syracuse…Right-handed reliever Vin Mazzaro also joined the team after Atlanta signed him as a minor-league free agent on July 10…Righty reliever Carlos Fisher threw 1.0 scoreless inning in the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 15 in Omaha, NE…Outfielder Todd Cunningham broke free of a 1-for-13 skid to bat .500 (6-for-12) with a home run, three RBIs and four runs scored during the four-game set at Rochester.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (42-42) vs. Norfolk Tides (47-35)

Pitching probables

Tues: RHP Kanekoa Texeira (0-2, 4.11 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Bowden (6-2, 2.17 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Wed: LHP Greg Smith (3-3, 2.52 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Wright (4-0, 3.07 ERA), 6:35 p.m.

Thurs: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (1-5, 3.15 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Wilson (3-4, 3.18 ERA), 12:05 p.m.

Kanekoa Texeira (Karl Moore)

Kanekoa Texeira (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves finish their final homestand before the All-Star Break with three games against the International South Division-leading Norfolk Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. Gwinnett is back at the .500 mark after it lost four straight games to the Charlotte Knights from Friday through Monday. The final two losses were each by one run, and Charlotte has now taken eight of the 10 games between the clubs so far this season. The G-Braves have fared better against the Tides. They are 6-5 against Norfolk this year despite being outscored 41-31 in those contests. The teams split each of their first three series, and Gwinnett won two of three from June 8-10 at Coolray Field.

Norfolk was shutout by the Durham Bulls in the finale of their three-game series on Monday, but that was the third loss in the Tides’ last 13 games dating back to June 21. That hot streak has propelled them to a 0.5-game lead in the division over Charlotte, 4.0 games ahead of Durham and 6.0 in front of the G-Braves. Norfolk is also the only team in the division without a losing record in any month. The Tides went  a combined 33-23 in May and June, and they have gone 24-21 on the road. Gwinnett is an even 22-22 at home this year.

Pitching: The G-Braves hold the IL’s third-lowest team ERA at 3.17, but that is still shy of Norfolk’s league-leading 2.93 mark. Tides’ pitchers have thrown a combined 10 shutouts, which are tied for the most in the league, and their 244 walks are the third-fewest of any IL team. Gwinnett pitchers have issued the fourth-most walks in the league with 285. but they hold an advantage in strikeouts over the Tides, 605-577, and they have posted one fewer shutout than Norfolk with nine on the season. Neither team allows many home runs, as Norfolk’s 38 are tied for the third-fewest and Gwinnett’s 41 are the fifth-fewest.

None of pitchers who comprise the G-Braves’ current starting rotation have thrown enough innings to qualify for the league leaderboard, although Smith’s 2.52 ERA would be the third-lowest if he had enough innings. Norfolk’s Bowden leads that category with his 2.17 ERA to go with a 6-2 record. He edged out former Gwinnett left-handed starter Manny Banuelos for the top spot with 7.0 scoreless innings on July 1 vs. Charlotte. The Atlanta Braves called up Banuelos to make his Major League debut the following night. Norfolk pitchers hold three of the top six spots on the IL individual ERA leaderboard among qualified starters. Left-hander Chris Jones has a 2.59 ERA through 11 starts (19 appearances) that is good for third-lowest, and righty Zach Davies’ 2.70 ERA is the sixth-lowest. In the Tides’ bullpen, right-handed reliever Oliver Drake is third in the league with 14 saves, and righty Cesar Cabral leads the league with 10 holds.

Hitting: The Tides also hold an advantage offensively with a .260 team batting average that ranks fourth in the IL compared to Gwinnett’s .255 mark that puts them ninth in the league. Norfolk has scored five or more runs in half of their 16-game hot stretch, and the club has done so without a lineup that hits a bunch of home runs or steals many bases. The Tides rank 10th in the league with 41 homers and 13th in stolen bases with 33. Gwinnett has by far the fewest home runs in the league. It’s 26 are seven behind the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ for 13th in the league, but the G-Braves are one stolen base behind the Indianapolis Indians for the league lead in that department.

Jose Peraza leads the Gwinnett offense with 90 hits, which tie him for third in the IL in that category. He also is tied for fourth in the league with 22 steals and leads the team with 29 multi-hit efforts. The 21-year-old second baseman has hit safely in five of his last six games, going 8-for-25 (.320) in that stretch to put his season average at .288. Catcher Christian Bethancourt has been the G-Braves’ hottest hitter since Atlanta optioned him on June 15. He has batted .338 in 16 games with Gwinnett and has at least one hit in 13 of those contests to go with one home run, four doubles, seven RBIs, seven runs scored and five stolen bases without being caught.

Norfolk’s catcher Steve Clevenger has also been on fire of late. He has hit safely in seven of his last nine games and has a .337 average in 48 games with the club, although he does not have enough at-bats to qualify in the batting race. A left-handed hitter, Clevenger has pounded right-handed pitchers in the IL at a .387 rate with all three of his home runs, all seven of his doubles and 21 of his 22 RBIs. Lefties have held him to a .179 batting average. He has played four games for Baltimore this season, going 5-for-11 with a double, an RBI and a run scored from May 28 through June 3.

G-Bites: Atlanta traded right-handed reliever Aaron Kurcz on Monday to the Oakland Athletics for International Bonus Slot No. 113. Kurcz had gone 4-3 with a 3.27 ERA and a team-high seven saves in 11 attempts in 31 relief appearances for the G-Braves this season…Gwinnett lost two other members of its bullpen to Major League promotions on Monday when Atlanta called up right-handers Arodys Vizcaino and David Carpenter… Vizcaino made two 1.0-inning appearances for Gwinnett after joining the club on Friday in his return from an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. Carpenter began the season with the G-Braves and led the team’s relief corps with a 0.73 ERA in 27 appearances while holding opponents to a .183 batting average…In their place, the Braves acquired left-hander Mitch Lambson from the Houston Astros for cash considerations and activated righty Peter Moylan from the disabled list…Lambson had most recently been with the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies, going 0-0 with a 2.60 ERA in 13 outings. Moylan is 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA in 12 appearances since he joined the team in early June…The G-Braves will finish their schedule before the All-Star break with three road games against Durham from Friday-Sunday.

-JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (32-33) vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (32-35)

Pitching probables

Fri: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (0-3, 2.08 ERA) vs. LHP Brian Johnson (7-4, 2.51 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sat: TBA vs. LHP Henry Owens (2-5, 3.45 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: TBA vs. TBA, 2:05 p.m.

Mike Foltynewicz (Karl Moore)

Mike Foltynewicz (Karl Moore)

The Gwinnett Braves open their homestand with a three-game series against the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The G-Braves had an off day Thursday, which followed a 3-4 road trip that took them to Indianapolis and Louisville. The PawSox are on a four-game losing streak after a 15-5 road loss Thursday to the Charlotte Knights and have fallen 6.5 games behind the International League North Division-leading Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for third place. The G-Braves remain in fourth in the IL South and trail the first-place  Durham Bulls by 5.5 games.

Pawtucket has gone 6-10 in June despite a league-leading 17 home runs. The PawSox have the second-lowest team batting average of any IL team in June at .239 and the second-highest team ERA at 4.56. Gwinnett has hit a league-low three home runs through its first 15 games in June, but the G-Braves are 8-7 with a team batting average of .263 (eighth in the IL) and 3.33 team ERA (sixth).

This is the first meeting between the clubs this season. The PawSox took five of eight games from Gwinnett in 2014, and the G-Braves have not won a season series over Pawtucket since 2009, their first season in Gwinnett. The teams split their eight contests in 2010 and 2011, respectively, but the PawSox have gone 17-7 against Gwinnett in the past three seasons. They will meet again at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket June 26-28 for their final meeting of the season.

Pitching: Foltynewicz will open the series for Gwinnett in his first start back with the G-Braves after the Atlanta Braves optioned him from their roster on Wednesday, June 17. The 6-3, 220-pound right-hander went 3-2 with a 5.19 ERA in nine starts for Atlanta after the Braves called him up on May 1. With the G-Braves, Foltynewicz was 0-3 with a 2.08 ERA that led the team at the time of his promotion. He will face the PawSox’ Johnson, who enters the start with a 2.51 ERA that is the fourth-lowest among qualifying starters in the league. His seven wins are tied for tops in the IL, his 1.06 WHIP ranks second, his opponent batting average of .211 is tied for third and his 66 strikeouts rank third. G-Braves’ left-handed starter Manny Banuelos leads the league among qualified pitchers with a 2.29 ERA.

As a team, the G-Braves have the third-lowest ERA in the league with a 3.11 mark, but they have allowed four or more runs in seven of their last nine games during which they posted a 4-5 record. They are also tied for the fewest wild pitches among IL teams with 21. Pawtucket hurlers have thrown 25 and have combined for a team ERA of 3.51 that ranks seventh in the league. Gwinnett is tied for the third-fewest home runs allowed with 26, while the PawSox are tied for fifth in that category with 33 given up.

Hitting: Gwinnett also holds an advantage on offense, statistically. The G-Braves have batted .260 as a team through their first 65 games, which places them in a four-way for the fifth-best in the league. Pawtucket has the second-lowest team batting average in the IL at .237. However, the Paw Sox are tied for the league lead in home runs with 53.the G-Braves have the fewest of any Triple-A team with 18, which is eight behind the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for the second-fewest.

Four of the G-Braves’ last five wins have been by one-run, and they have scored more than four runs four times in their last 21 games dating back to a 4-1 win over Lehigh Valley on May 27 at Coolray Field, but they went 11-8 during that stretch. In that same span, the PawSox have eclipsed the four-run mark eight times but are 8-11. Individually, outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. ranks third in the IL among qualifying hitters with a .320 batting average, a .391 on-base percentage and a .481 slugging percentage. Fellow outfielder Quentin Berry is third in the league in stolen bases with 21. Infielder Adonis Garcia continues to lead the Gwinnett offense with a .309 batting average that is good for ninth-highest among qualifying batters in the IL.

G-Bites: Shortstop Daniel Castro joined Atlanta for his Major League debut Wednesday and got a pinch-hit single in the seventh inning to drive in the go-ahead run in the Braves’ 5-2 win over the Red Sox…He returned to Gwinnett the following day, while outfielder Eury Perez got his first call-up with Atlanta. Perez batted .296 with a league-leading 28 stolen bases and a team-best 34 runs scored in 60 games to open the season with Gwinnett…The G-Braves also return home with four players who were with Atlanta during the last homestand from June 5-10. Outfielder Eric Young, Jr., catcher Christian Bethancourt, infielder Joey Terdoslavich and outfielder Todd Cunningham all joined the team during the road trip…Young hit his first G-Braves’ home run on Monday, June 15 at Louisville, and Bethancourt went 5-for-10 with an RBI in his first two games of the year with Gwinnett…The G-Braves will finish their homestand with four games against the Indianapolis Indians, the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, from Monday, June 22 to Thursday, June 25.

-JM

Atlanta Braves’ Minor League Outfield Coordinator Bobby Mitchell Helps Jose Peraza Transition to Center Field

Atlanta Braves Minor League Outfield/Baserunning Coordinator Bobby Mitchell stopped by Coolray Field during the Gwinnett Braves’ most recent homestand to help the organization’s top prospect transition from the brown dirt of the infield to the vast stretches of green grass in center field.

Along with his regular duties at second base, the G-Braves have used Jose Peraza as an outfielder during the past two weeks to give him more chances at a promotion should Atlanta have a need in the outfield more than the infield, Mitchell said.

Jose Peraza (Taylor Botta)

Jose Peraza (Taylor Botta)

“We’re trying to get his offense into the big leagues, too,” Mitchell said. “We’ve done a lot of basic stuff with him because we’re just starting out, but he seems to be picking it up really well.”

Peraza reached Triple-A for the first time in his career to begin the 2015 season and batted .282 in his first 52 games. He spent his first 39 games with Gwinnett as a second baseman, although he had primarily played shortstop from the time Atlanta signed him as a non-drafted free agent in 2012 until he shifted to second base for a 2014 season he split between Advanced-A Lynchburg and Double-A Mississippi.

G-Braves’ manager Brian Snitker inserted Peraza into the lineup as a center fielder for the first time May 27 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Coolray Field.

The Braves first had Peraza take some fly balls in the outfield during Spring Training but didn’t want put him in the outfield immediately when the season started because he is still not far removed from the switch from shortstop to second base, Mitchell said.

“We don’t want to take that away from him, either,” Mitchell said of Peraza’s spot on the infield, “But especially in the National League, if you can add versatility to your game then you’re a valuable player.”

Most of the work Mitchell said he did with Peraza focused on his footwork, how to take proper routes on plays and his throwing motion. Peraza uses a low arm slot to make his throws from second base, but he needs to throw more over the top in center field because that position requires much longer throws, Mitchell said.

While Mitchell said he understands it is a challenge for a player to move between the infield and outfield, he thinks Peraza’s speed could be a valuable asset in center because it would allow him to cover vast amounts of space and make plays others might not.

Also, Mitchell said he has been impressed by how well Peraza has taken instruction to learn yet another new position.

“He’s a smart kid and he works his butt off, so I think that’s a big plus for his development,” Mitchell said. “He seems to be able to apply what you teach him, and I think that is a huge part in moving forward.”

-JM

Kelly Johnson Begins Rehab with Gwinnett

Atlanta Braves’ outfielder/infielder Kelly Johnson made his first start Monday with the Gwinnett Braves in his Major League rehab assignment from a right oblique strain that sent him to the disabled list May 14. He played the full game in left field for the G-Braves in their 1-0 win over the Norfolk Tides at Coolray Field.

Johnson went 0-3 with a strikeout but said after the game he was pleased with how his body felt in his return to full action.

Kelly Johnson takes a swing during 2015 Spring Training with the Atlanta Braves (Karl Moore)

Kelly Johnson drives a pitch during 2015 Spring Training with the Atlanta Braves. (Karl Moore)

“That’s the most important thing,” Johnson said of his health. “I got to play some games in extended Spring (Training) before I got here. Swings and misses, foul balls, things like that, check swings, are always kind of the tell-tale with the oblique, but my body feels great. I’ve just got to get some timing and some rhythm down.”

Johnson has been through several previous rehab assignments during his 10-year Major League career, and he tries to approach every game the same regardless of the magnitude of the contest.

“You’re not guaranteed anything so you want to treat it the same way and respect the game,” he said.

Johnson said one of the most difficult aspects of an injury to the oblique is that it prevents a player from being able to twist his body and take swings for an extended period of time, but he did not feel any pain during his at-bats Monday.

“Health-wise, if that’s what we’re looking at, I feel healthy. I feel great,” he said.

Johnson is the second Braves’ player to rehab with the G-Braves this season. Third baseman Chris Johnson started the team’s May 25 home game against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs,but he got one at-bat before rain suspended the game and ultimately pushed it back two days later. Johnson returned to the big leagues before the game resumed.

The G-Braves and Tides will play the second game of their three-game series at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at Coolray Field. Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (2-5, 5.83 ERA) is scheduled to start on the mound for Gwinnett opposite righty Tyler Wilson (2-4, 3.00 ERA) of Norfolk. Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com beginning at 6 p.m.

All Infield Box and Field Box seats are two for the price of one as part of “Two-For-Tuesday” night at the stadium. To purchase tickets, call the Coolray Field Ticket Office at 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.

 -JM

Series Preview: Gwinnett Braves (22-26) vs. Columbus Clippers (26-22)

Pitching probables

Fri: RHP Cody Martin (0-1, 2.08 ERA) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (1-1, 3.86 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sat: RHP Matt Wisler (2-3, 4.21 ERA) vs. LHP T.J. House (0-1, 2.70 ERA), 7:05 p.m.

Sun: LHP Greg Smith (1-3, 3.55 ERA) vs. LHP Nick Maronde (0-6, 6.34 ERA), 2:05 p.m.

Cody Martin (Karl Moore)

Cody Martin (Karl Moore)

After a rain-plagued series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs that culminated with 29 innings in the last two days, the Gwinnett Braves begin a three-game weekend series vs. the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The G-Braves took three of four games from the IronPigs to move back within four games of the .500 mark, while Columbus enters the series losers in three of their last four games and seven of their last 10.

The Clippers sit in second place in the International League West Division, 2.0 games behind the Indianapolis Indians. They won the division a year ago and were beaten in the first round of the playoffs by the IL South champion Durham Bulls. The G-Braves remain last in the four-team IL South, but they have closed to within 5.5 games of the first-place Charlotte Knights with five wins in their last eight games. The Clippers and G-Braves alternated victories to split a four-game series in their first meeting of the season from May 21-24 in Columbus.

Pitching: The G-Braves own the fourth-lowest team ERA in the league at 3.18 and have not allowed more than two runs in any of their least 15 victories dating back to April 27. However, they are 15-15 in that stretch and gave up at least four runs in all but one of the losses in that span. Columbus has the league’s sixth-lowest team ERA with a 3.27 mark. The Clippers also have the second-most shutout victories with seven and have given up the third-fewest hits among the 14 IL teams with 382. Gwinnett pitchers have allowed eight more hits but four fewer runs and half of the Clippers’ league-leading total of 40 home runs allowed, which is seven more than second-place Charlotte in that category.

G-Braves’ left-handed starter Manny Banuelos (4-0) lowered his ERA to 2.39, which is good for fourth-lowest among qualified pitchers, with 5.0 shutout innings Thursday. He is also the only qualifying starter yet to lose a game this season. Martin will make his first home start of the season with Gwinnett on Friday after he began the season with the Atlanta Braves and made 17 relief appearances (2-2, 4.12 ERA). Columbus’ Friday starter Chacin will make his fourth start of the year for Columbus after the Colorado Rockies released him March 22 despite six years and 109 starts with the team.

Hitting: Columbus and Gwinnett have scored nearly the same number of runs through their first 48 games of the year (203-197), but the teams go about their run production in vastly different manners. The Clippers have the third-lowest team batting average (.245) in the IL but still lead the league with 37 home runs. The G-Braves, meanwhile, hold the sixth-highest team batting average at .259 but are tied for last in the league in home runs (15) while leading in stolen bases (56). Columbus has stolen 32 bases, the fifth-fewest total in the league.

Yet, the G-Braves held Columbus batters to one home run during their four-game series May 21-24 in Columbus and hit three themselves, including top-ranked Atlanta prospect Jose Peraza’s first two career Triple-A long balls. Gwinnett outfielder Eury Perez leads the IL in steals with 24 and in runs scored with 29, while Peraza begins the series tied for fourth in stolen bases with 14. Outfielder Cedric Hunter is tied for third in the league with 13 doubles, and infielder Adonis Garcia has the league’s third-highest batting average at .342 among qualified batters.

For Columbus, Tyler Holt ranks fifth in the league with a .397 on-base percentage, and James Ramsey has drawn the fourth-most walks with 26.

G-Bites: Atlanta Braves’ third baseman Chris Johnson got one at-bat with the G-Braves in a rehab assignment that was cut short when rain suspended play Monday and postponed all action Tuesday. He lined out to center field in his lone plate appearance before he rejoined Atlanta on Wednesday…Gwinnett received a couple of pitchers during the week, as right-handers Ryan Kelly and Ryan Weber joined the club from Double-A Mississippi. Kelly led the M-Braves with 10 saves at the time of his promotion Sunday, and Weber struck out 24 batters with one walk in 11 outings (three starts) for Mississippi. This is Kelly’s first stint with the G-Braves. Weber made one start for Gwinnett on May 17 and shut out the Louisville Bats on two hits across 5.0 innings…The G-Braves will get an off day Monday before the begin a three-game road series June 2-4 against the Norfolk Tides. They will then return to Coolray Field for a six-game homestand that begins Friday, June 5. They will play the Durham Bulls for three games before another three-game set with the Tides.

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

Pitching probables

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

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

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

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

Matt Wisler (Karl Moore)

Matt Wisler (Karl Moore)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-JM

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

Pitching probables

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

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

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

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

Cedric Hunter

Cedric Hunter (Taylor Botta)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-JM

Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (11-14) at Gwinnett Braves (15-10)

Martin (Taylor Botta)

Martin (Taylor Botta)

Probables Pitchers

Thu: Zach Stewart (1-1, 4.98) vs. Sean O’Sullivan (0-2, 3.97)

Fri: Cody Martin (2-1, 2.66) vs. Jonathan Pettibone (1-0, 4.09)

Sat: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (3-2, 2.67) vs. David Buchanan (3-0, 3.45)

Sun: Mitch Atkins (1-3, 5.01) vs. LHP Greg Smith (2-0, 1.82)

The Gwinnett Braves return home after a solid 4-4 road trip, while the Lehigh Valley IronPigs begin their eight-game swing with a four-game set at Coolray Field. Gwinnett enters the game with a one game lead in the Wild Card lead and two games behind the Durham Bulls in the South division. Lehigh Valley is tied for fifth in the North division and is four games behind the front-running Pawtucket Red Sox.

Pitching: Lehigh Valley comes into the contest with a team ERA of 3.80 through 25 games. The duo of Buchanan and Smith has led the IronPigs rotation. Buchanan leads the league with six starts and his tied for second in wins. He has fanned 19 batters in 28.2 innings. He will get the ball in game three.

Smith has been even better. The southpaw is a perfect 2-0 with a 1.82 ERA. He has recorded three quality starts in four attempts. On April 17, he tossed a complete game shutout against the Syracuse Chiefs. He is one three pitchers in the IL to toss a complete game shutout. He has 18 punch outs in 24.2 innings.

Gwinnett will counter with Stewart, Martin, Rodriguez and Atkins.

Martin has been sensational in his last three starts. The righty has gone 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA over his last three. On April 26, he fanned a season-high ten batters at Toledo. In 23.2 innings, he has recorded 33 punch outs. He will get the ball in game two.

Rodriguez will pitch game three. Through five starts, Rodriguez has recorded three wins, tying his mark from 2013. He has been solid, striking out 28 batters in 27.0 innings. He is coming off of his strongest outing of the season on April 27, as he tossed 7.0 scoreless innings at Toledo.

Batting: The Braves have had to live life without Ernesto Mejia since being released on Saturday to pursue other opportunities. In his absence, Joey Terdoslavich has carried the load. The switch-hitting outfielder has been on a tear of late, recording a hit in his last ten games. On Monday morning, the IL named him the Batter of the Week after posting a .500 average with one homer and three RBIs from 4/21-4/27. On the season, he is batting .330 (30-for-91) with two homers and 10 RBIs.

Tommy La Stella continues to impress in his first season of Triple-A ball. The infielder is hitting .310 (27-for-87) with two doubles and 15 RBIs. He leads the team in RBIs. In 99 plate appearances, the lefty has fanned six times.

Lehigh Valley is off to a slow start at the plate, posting a team batting average of .235 through 25 games. Highly-touted prospect Maikel Franco is having a nightmarish start to the season. The third baseman is hitting .172 (15-for-87) with one homer and seven RBIs. The No.1 prospect in the Phillies organization according to Baseball America has fanned 18 times and has committed two errors on the field.

Bacon Bites: Former G-Braves manager Dave Brundage returns to Coolray Field for the second time in his career as an opposing manager. Last season he took three of four from Gwinnett.

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