Results tagged ‘ Marty Reed ’
Right-handed starting pitcher Matt Wisler became the third of four former Gwinnett Braves pitchers to make his first Major League start with the Atlanta Braves this season when he faced the New York Mets on June 19 at Turner Field.
He pitched 8.0 innings that night with one run and six hits allowed, a hit batsman and two strikeouts to earn a victory in his big-league debut, as the Braves scored a pair of runs for him in the bottom of the eighth inning to head toward a 2-1 win.
Despite all of the new experiences the 22-year-old has had in his transition to the Majors, that superb first outing was as unexpected as anything, he said.
“What surprised me was my debut going so well,” Wisler said. “I didn’t really see that one coming.”
Wisler has gone on to make 10 starts for Atlanta this season with a 5-2 record and 4.74 ERA (30 ER in 57.0 IP). He suffered his first career loss the second time his spot in the rotation came around in a road start on June 25 against the Washington Nationals, but he then won four of his next five outings.
“Being up here, feeling a part of it, I don’t feel overwhelmed or anything, which is good,” he said. “It’s not really been too much change. Obviously, hitters are better and everything, but you have to pitch the same game and you still have to get outs and everything. You’ve just got to be executing a little more consistently up here.”
Those performances followed a 12-start stint with the G-Braves to begin the season after Atlanta acquired him from the San Diego Padres on April 5, four days before Gwinnett’s season opener, in a six-player trade that sent outfielder Melvin Upton, Jr. and relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel to the Padres. Wisler began the year 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA (15 ER in 20 IP) in his four April starts, but after the calendar flipped to May he posted a 3-1 record and 3.20 ERA (16 ER in 45.0 IP) across his final eight starts before his call-up.
The moment he got the news of his promotion was memorable, as well. Wisler said he went into pitching coach Marty Reed’s office confused about why he had been pulled from his regularly scheduled start in Louisville, and Reed acted as though he was upset with Wisler for questioning his authority before he told the pitcher the Braves had promoted him to the big leagues.
Wisler also said the work he and Marty did with his mechanics benefitted him as he moved into the big leagues.
“Marty was a great pitching coach for me, helped me a lot this year getting back on track,” Wisler said.
He was one-quarter of a group of starting pitchers who began the season with the G-Braves but have since moved on to Atlanta, along with fellow right-handers Williams Perez and Mike Foltynewicz, and left-hander Manny Banuelos (currently on the disabled list). That quartet has combined to go 14-12 with a 4.69 ERA (120 ER in 230.1 IP) in 46 appearances, 39 of which have been starts.
“It’s pretty crazy to think that all four of us were in Gwinnett this year and now three of us are in the rotation,” Wisler said. “It’s great that I got to know those guys a little bit before I got up here. … It’s cool to know those guys, just from a little bit (in Gwinnett), and think that we have a chance to be together for a while.”
Those starters are part of a group of 29 non-rehab players who have played for both Gwinnett and Atlanta this season. Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez has relied heavily on former G-Braves this season, and he said he has been impressed by the quality of players he gets after they’ve worked with G-Braves’ manager Brian Snitker, Reed and hitting coach John Moses.
“Everybody has made some kind of an impact, some kind of contribution,” Gonzalez said. “Snit, Marty and Moses have done a great job preparing those guys. It’s a luxury to have a guy like Brian Snitker as the Triple-A manager. … He’s been dead on with every guy he’s brought up. You don’t have to worry about the guys not playing the game the right way, not getting a sign. That all stems from those guys in Triple-A in Gwinnett.”
Wisler got to enjoy that high level of instruction for only two-and-a-half months, but that relatively short time had a significant affect on his development during a season that has brought numerous new experiences.
“It’s been unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve been up here. It is definitely a privilege to be here. I definitely learned a lot in Gwinnett, too. … I’m just always soaking in new information and trying to get better.”
Atlanta Braves’ Minor League Catching Coordinator Joe Breeden was at Coolray Field during the Gwinnett Braves’ most recent homestand against the Charlotte Knights and Durham Bulls that lasted from July 24-29. As part of his travels through the Braves’ entire minor-league system, Breeden spent time with G-Braves’ catcher Christian Bethancourt, as the 23-year-old backstop refines his game in preparation for a possible return to Atlanta, which is where he began the 2015 season as a big-league rookie.
Bethancourt batted .198 (20-for-102) with six doubles, a home run, nine RBIs, 12 runs scored and a stolen bases in 29 games for the Braves before they optioned him to Gwinnett on June 15. He also threw out 37.5 percent (6-of-16) of attempting base stealers, committed three errors and had five passed balls.
“Always when you’re a young guy, you’re still learning game-calling and handling the staff,” Breeden said. “That becomes the biggest part, especially when you get up to the big leagues, handling that staff, putting in your work.”
Since the return to Gwinnett, where he played 91 games in 2014, Bethancourt has one error and one passed ball to accompany a 47.8 percent (11-of-23) caught-stealing rate. He also immediately began to hit again at the Triple-A level. He had at least one base hit in nine of his first 10 starts for the G-Braves for a .354 batting average (17-for-48) in that span, which included three doubles, a home run, six RBIs, five runs scored and three stolen bases.
Breeden said Bethancourt has the best arm he has seen for a catcher in his 28 years in professional baseball, but he was pleased to see the effort Bethancourt has put into his video study with Gwinnett pitching coach Marty Reed since he rejoined the G-Braves because the catcher position demands mental preparation and game-planning on the defensive side of the game that is similar to pitchers.
He said he was also was impressed to learn Bethancourt is now running the meetings the pitching staff has at the start of each series to go over the opposing hitters’ strengths and weaknesses.
“That’s where, to me, he is really taking steps to get better,” Breeden said. “You can always get better at it. It’s an on-going process.”
Breeden said he has known Bethancourt since the Panama native signed with Atlanta when he 16 years old and a member of their affiliate in the Dominican Summer League. In the proceeding eight seasons, Breeden has watched him grow both physically and mentally into a player whose athleticism reminds Breeden of former catcher Benito Santiago, who played 20 years in the Major Leagues and Breeden worked with when both were members of the Florida Marlins’ organization in 1993-94.
“His hands work well, he’s a sharp guy, speaks fluent English,” Breeden said of Bethancourt. “He’s a bright, bright kid. Offensively, he’s gotten stronger. Now he’s getting at-bats regularly, and you can see he is swinging the bat well.”
Through his first 32 games with the G-Braves this season, Bethancourt batted .309 with 10 doubles, two home runs, 13 RBIs, 13 runs scored and five stolen bases. He leads the team in batting average and doubles since he was optioned.
The work Bethancourt has put in during his time in Gwinnett also continues to mold him into the type of catchers Atlanta wants throughout its organization, Breeden said.
Those ideals include a player who is physically tough enough to withstand the summer heat and hazards that are inherent in the catcher position such as foul tips, he said. However, the organization also wants mentally tough players who can still guide a pitcher through a start even when the catcher is tired or beat up because of the rigors of a long season, he said.
“Being able to get a (pitcher) through when he’s having a hard time, that’s the thing we talk about,” Breeden said. “The good catchers can, when a guy’s having trouble, get him out of trouble. The guys who don’t do a good job, they’ll catch a guy into trouble when he’s going good.”
He said the organization has its catchers call their own games at every level to help them through the learning process of what works and what does not work for a variety of different pitchers.
“Everything is off the pitcher’s strength,” he said. “That’s the main thing. We’re concerned about the hitter’s weakness, but we’re more concerned with our guy’s strength. We’re going to pitch to his strength.”
Although catcher A.J. Pierzynski played well enough to earn the bulk of the playing time for Atlanta while Bethancourt was on the club, Breeden said he thinks the experience Bethancourt was able to gain during that time benefitted his development.
“We say this all the time, ‘We work, we work, we work, but sometime you’ve got to take the test, and the test is playing the game,'” Breeden said. “When you get Major League experience, that’s the highest level and when you get that it’s definitely going to help you, whether you stay up there or whether you come down.”
With the work Bethancourt has done since his first extended test in the Majors earlier this season, Breeden said he is optimistic Bethancourt will be a valuable piece of the organization for years to come.
“He works hard, and I think he’s going to be a big part of our future,” Breeden said.
After making his Major League debut in 2014 as a reliever with the Houston Astros, right-hander Mike Foltynewicz has established himself as a key member of the Atlanta Braves’ starting rotation after he began the year as a Gwinnett Brave.
The 23-year-old Foltynewicz came to the Braves’ organization via a five-player trade January 14 in a deal that sent Evan Gattis to the Astros. Foltynewicz did not get a win in his four starts to open the season with the G-Braves (0-3), but he still posted 2.08 ERA (5 ER in 21.2 IP) with an International League-leading 30 strikeouts at the time of his promotion to Atlanta on May 1.
He won both of his first two starts for Atlanta and has gone 2-1 with a 5.32 ERA (13 ER in 22.0 IP) and 23 strikeouts in four starts in his first opportunity to be part of a Major League starting rotation.
“It’s been really fun so far,” Foltynewicz said.
Foltynewicz and G-Braves’ pitching coach Marty Reed had worked on his mechanics during his month in Gwinnett to try to help his timing, and thereby his control. He walked 10 batters in his four starts in Gwinnett and has walked 11 during his time with Atlanta, although he walked one batter and posted his third consecutive start with seven strikeouts in his most recent outing May 19 in a 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
“The first couple of games weren’t as good as I’d have liked them to be, but the last two I’ve really been pounding the zone,” Foltynewicz said. “In the later innings I kind of get a little amped up and try to throw a little to hard, and that’s when the walks tend to happen.”
Although he pitched in 16 games for Houston in the second half of last season, Foltynewicz said he has still had to make adjustments to find success in the big leagues compared to what had become a dominating routine at Gwinnett.
“Both mentally and out there playing, I’m getting settled in,” he said. “‘Every day it’s getting better. You get the learn the guys and just making friends and getting to work with (pitching coach) Roger (McDowell) every day, too, has been pretty fun.”
Photo courtesy of Chris Roughgarden
The Gwinnett Braves have been one of the best team’s in the International League this season, as the pitching staff has led the way. At one point in the season, the G-Braves staff was ranked No. 1 in the IL. The bats have come a long way as well, with Ernesto Mejia and Stefan Gartrell doing a great deal of the heavy lifting. However, with just over two months left in the regular season, the G-Braves find themselves in second place of the IL South and primed in a perfect position to make a run at the league title.
The 2012 All-Star voting concludes on Friday, June 22 so vote early and often for your favorite G-Braves players. Visit MiLB.com today or simply click this link to get your ballot started: http://www.milb.com/milb/events/asg/y2012/ballot/
I had a chance to sit down with a bunch of G-Braves players prior to their 10-game road trip last week to hear their thoughts and opinions on who is having an all-star type season. Respectfully, a majority of the G-Braves are worthy of consideration, however only a handful will make the team. That is why you, the fans, need to get over to MiLB.com and make your opinions known. Voting for the 2012 All-Star Game in Buffalo, New York concludes Friday, June 22. Click here to vote now.
“We’re having a great season this year as a team. Julio Teheran is doing well, very well just like last year. He has more experience this year and I think he should be one of those players (all-stars),” said Mejia. “Jordan Parraz was having a good year, but he is hurt right now, so he may have to wait a little more. He was doing really good. Gartrell has a lot of RBI and home runs and has been helping the team a lot. Durango has a lot of stolen bases, he is leading the league so he deserves it too. We have a lot of good players. I’m doing really good right now too and I’m just working hard. It’s every players dream to go to the all-star game and I hope I can make it. I would go of course. I’m excited because it’s my first year in Triple-A. It would be awesome. This year I feel like I have more experience. Last year in Double-A I had a good season and back in winter ball too. In winter ball, the league is very tough. Sometimes its harder there because we have a lot of big league guys. That has helped me a lot and I’ve been working a lot more this year. Last year, I didn’t workout a lot during the season because it made me tired. But this year, I’m working with Matt (Parvis) in the gym and I think that is what’s keeping me healthy and stronger.”
Photo courtesy of Melinda Pease
“The pitchers. I think everyone here can make it. I want to, but I know I’m not having my best season,” said Teheran. “I’m not trying to complain (about this season) and I continue working. I’ll try to make it (the all-star team) if I can. I made it last year, but I couldn’t go because I was in the Future Stars Game, which was a good experience for me. The Future’s (Game) was good. It was exciting for me. I want to go (2012 ASG in Buffalo). That would make me feel good.”
Photo courtesy of Melinda Pease
“I think this is a very good team. I like all the pitching and position players (for the All-Star Game). I like the team,” Durango said. “Nesto is having a good year. I like him, he’s a good player. I’d like that for him (making the team). What’s working for me is the stolen bases (23, 1st) and the little at-bats which has been good for me.”
Photo courtesy of Daniel Hamby
“Gartrell’s had a heck of a month. Mejia has been absolutely on fire. Looking around, Durango leads the league in stolen bases,” said Brundage. “From an offensive standpoint, obviously Constanza was worthy of consideration when he was here. He did a great job in the leadoff spot and the No. 2 hole. What a tandem those two are and what a force they are in our line-up. We’ve been up there in the league leaders for pitching throughout. Cory Gearrin has solidified the front end of the bullpen and a lot of pitchers are deserving. You look at Redmond and how consistent he is, you hope he gets considered along the way. Just from a pitching standpoint, pitching is why we are where we are today. Yet, we don’t have tremendous numbers when they’re sizing up numbers, but you can look up and down our staff. Flande goes back-to-back shutouts and now he’s in the bullpen. It just goes to show you the strength of our ballclub lies with our pitching. Playing the game the right way with our speed, a little power, a lot of our guys our worthy of making an all-star team. At the same time, we do things as a team that’s where we are today.”
Photo courtesy of Kyle Hess
“Mejia. Constanza, but he’s not here. He’s doing bigger and better things right now,” Dismuke said. “Gartrell and Durango. This was my first year seeing Ernie (Mejia) and he’s solid, both offensively and defensively. He’s big and he moves well, that’s the surprising thing. Gartrell has done it in the past. He’s hit 20+ home runs the last three years in this league. At the end of the season, you’re going to look up (at the scoreboard) and he’s going to have the same numbers he had in the past. He started out slow, but he’s picked it up. Durango, you know speed kills. Speed never slumps and he does a good job from both sides of the plate. So, those are my choices right there.”
Photo courtesy of Karl Moore
“I would say Mejia. Since the beginning of the year to now, he looks a lot better hitting wise. He’s making adjustments and helping the team out a lot. He’s having great at-bats and almost every at-bat is unbelievable,” said Marrero. “He gets the job done and I would say the same for Gartrell. He started off slow, but what he’s doing now is great for the team. Hitting balls hard and having great at-bats, him (Gartrell) and Mejia have put the team on their backs. Louis too, he nearly has 30 stolen bases already. He’s the one that sets the tone for us. Without him, those guys (Gartrell/Mejia) wouldn’t be able to have as many RBI. I just try to be ready if they put me in the line-up. If I’m out there, I’m going to give it 100-percent. If I’m not in the line-up, when it’s my time to pinch-hit, I make sure I’m ready and try to help the team out as much as I can. I’m comfortable everywhere. I’m feeling great in the outfield and at first base too. As long as I’m in the line-up, I’m happy. Redmond is getting hot right now. He’s doing really well. For relievers, I’d say the whole bullpen. Anybody could go from the bullpen. Cory (Gearrin) has been unbelievable, lights out. Buddy (Carlyle) too and Russell. And Chappy (Jaye Chapman), that’s why I say the whole bullpen (laughing).”
Photo courtesy of Karl Moore
“I think Redmond belongs on it. I’d say Julio (Teheran) belongs on it. He’s had some dominating games,” Reed said. “Cory Gearrin, without a doubt. Chappy (Jaye Chapman) should get in. If Varvaro had been here for awhile, he’d be a guy. I don’t know where we rank in pitching, third or fourth, there’s got to be a reason why our guys should have a good opportunity to get on that team. He (Flande) has put together some good starts too. There are going to be a lot of guys that are a coin flip because you’re also talking about how many other teams? If each team has two, then you’ve got too many pitchers. I think we’ve got probably five or six guys that deserve it and it could be any one of them. For me, Redmond is a lock in terms of consistency. Julio, in terms of a starter. There may be some guys who have had a better year, but his track record and he has had some dominating starts. Five guys would be pretty good.”
Photo courtesy of Kyle Hess
By: Tony Piraro
(Photo courtesy of Leslie Watts)
The Gwinnett Braves (13-7) currently reside in first place of the International League South Division. A huge part of their early success thus far in 2012 can be attributed to their top-notch pitching staff. Presently, the G-Braves have the No. 1 overall pitching in the International League.
Gwinnett possess the top team ERA (2.56), shutouts (5), innings pitched (186.0), least total runs allowed (66) and least earned runs allowed (53) in the 14-team league. The G-Braves are also ranked third in the IL in wins (13), second in least losses (7), fifth in saves (6), fourth in least hits allowed (160), second in least home runs allowed (7) and third in strikeouts (171).
Marty Reed’s staff as a whole has been exceptional this season, but more importantly, they have been consistent. Every arm from top to bottom has made giant contributions to the G-Braves’ success. Already, one player has already been called up to the big club and he is in the form of Cory Gearrin. The righty reliever worked as a set-up man and part-time closer for Gwinnett, where he allowed no runs in 12.1 innings of work and recorded two saves.
Yohan Flande leads the pitchers with a 0.00 ERA through three starts, totaling 15.2 innings. The lefty has been dominant this season, as well as, being a pleasant surprise to the rotation. Flande has allowed just five hits total this season and struck out 16 batters, while walking seven.
Obviously, the reigning IL Pitcher of the Year and IL Rookie of the Year, Julio Teheran has been his usual self for the most part. Barring one start where he was on extended rest due to the Tim Hudson rehab appearances, Teheran has been solid. The ace of the staff is 2-1 with a 3.78 ERA and has struck out 13 batters through 16.1 innings of work. Teheran is rated the No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball according to numerous sources including Baseball America and MLB.com.
The veteran of the staff, Todd Redmond has been consistently good as always. He is 1-2 on the year with a 2.61 ERA but has been dealing with a lot of tough luck. For instance, in his last start at Coolray Field, the righty allowed just one earned run and still took the loss. Currently, Redmond is second in the IL in strikeouts (27) with just 20.2 innings under his belt and he has only walked six batters this season. When his luck starts to turns for the better, watch out.
The bullpen consists of six remarkable Gwinnett pitchers who have an ERA below 3.00 in 2012. Anthony Varvaro has yet to allow a run in his short time with the club, after coming off a Major League rehab assignment. Dusty Hughes has an incredible 0.87 ERA through 10 innings of work, alongside a 1.05 WHIP. The southpaw is also tied with Gearrin for the team-lead in saves with two. Jaye Chapman has a miniscule ERA at 1.74 so far, including a 0.87 WHIP and 11 strikeouts to just three walks through 10.1 innings pitched. Veteran of the bullpen Buddy Carlyle has been dominant so far in Triple-A. The righty owns a 1.80 ERA and has struck out 12 batters in 15.0 innings thus far. Right-hander Jason Rice possesses a 2.25 ERA this season through eight innings on the mound for the G-Braves. The former White Sox, Padre and Tampa Bay Ray Adam Russell has transitioned beautifully to the Gwinnett bullpen. The 6-foot, 8-inch righty is currently registering a 2.89 ERA, alongside a save and 11 strikeouts through nine and one-third innings of work.
The scary part is that this G-Braves team is leading the league in pitching and in first place before the bats have yet to awaken. Once the team is running on all cylinders, this G-Brave team is going to be more fun to watch than they already are. One fact remains unquestionable, the Atlanta Braves have a stockpile of hard throwers who are ready to get big league hitters out on a consistent basis whenever their time may arise.
By: Tony Piraro