Results tagged ‘ Todd Cunningham ’
Following a historic front office revamp in October, the Atlanta Braves are preparing for their most important Hot Stove season in recent franchise history. Here at the G-Blog, we’ll periodically take a look at some of the players that President of Baseball Operations John Hart and the new regime are bringing in, specifically those that will have an impact on the 2015 roster here in Gwinnett.
Yesterday marked Atlanta’s first foray into Major/Minor League free agency this offseason, as the club announced the signing of outfielder Zoilo Almonte to a one-year Major League deal and pitchers Chien-Ming Wang and Donnie Veal to Minor League deals. While these acquisitions aren’t the most notable the Braves will make this winter, they are proof that Hart and company are committed to building a deeper organization through the addition of established veterans.
Anyone who follows the Gwinnett Braves or the Triple-A International League closely will be familiar with all three players. Almonte, Wang and Veal all spent significant time in the IL last season, and each played against the G-Braves on more than one occasion.
Almonte, on Atlanta’s 40-man roster, will contend for a spot on the 25-man Major League roster this Spring. He’s the youngest of the three acquisitions at age 25, and he’s logged brief stints with the New York Yankees in each of the past two seasons. Almonte has never quite settled in at the plate in the big leagues, batting .211 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 47 career games, but he’s done plenty at the Triple-A level to make him an intriguing prospect. In 105 games with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders last year, he batted .261 with 18 doubles, 18 home runs and 69 RBIs. His banner performance of 2014 occurred against Gwinnett at Coolray Field from July 23-24, a game that took two days to complete due to rain. Almonte went 4-for-6 with three homers and seven RBIs in a 12-4 rout of the G-Braves, launching solo and three-run shots off Kanekoa Texeira and adding another three-run clout off Carlos Fisher.
Almonte is reportedly out of options and would have to clear waivers should the Braves ever want to send him to Gwinnett, so it’s unlikely that he’ll bring his homer show back to Coolray Field in 2015. That’s not to say his addition won’t have an effect on the G-Braves’ roster. IL veterans Todd Cunningham and Joey Terdoslavich, also competitors for the Atlanta bench, are now more likely to return to Gwinnett for their third and fourth seasons, respectively. Cunningham (.287, 8 HR, 58 RBI, 19 SB) and Terdoslavich (.256, 15 HR, 61 RBI) both had productive Triple-A seasons a year ago.
In contrast to Almonte, Wang appears to be specifically signed to help the Gwinnett roster. The Taiwanese right-hander posted back-to-back 19-win seasons with the New York Yankees in 2006 and 2007, but suffered a career-altering foot injury in 2008 and has since seen his profile transition to Triple-A workhorse. Since the start of 2011, the 34-year-old has made twice as many starts in the International League (50) as he has in the Major Leagues (22). Last year, Wang made an IL-best 28 starts with two organizations, going 13-8 with a 4.12 ERA with the Louisville Bats (Cincinnati Reds) and the Charlotte Knights (Chicago White Sox). He struck out just 73 batters over 172.2 innings, but kept the ball on the ground with a 1.78 groundout/flyout ratio and only six homers allowed.
Much like Almonte, Wang had success facing the G-Braves last year. He went 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA in two starts while with Louisville, then finished 3-0 with a 3.54 ERA in three starts with Charlotte. He worked at least 6.0 innings in four of his five meetings with Gwinnett, including 7.1 scoreless, nine-hit frames in a win with the Bats on June 14.
If he joins Gwinnett, Wang would be the elder statesman of a starting rotation that could include returnees Cody Martin (7-8, 3.52) and Aaron Northcraft (7-10, 4.70) and Double-A standouts Jason Hursh (11-7, 3.58) and Williams Perez (7-6, 2.91). Another season of 170-plus innings from Wang would also help keep the bullpen fresh in 2015.
Speaking of the Gwinnett bullpen, that’s where you might find the left-handed Veal come April. Veal, a second-round pick by the Chicago Cubs back in 2005, has had a taste of the Majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago White Sox. In 100 total games from 2009 through 2014, he went 3-3 with a 4.87 ERA and one save. His best year was 2011, when he went 0-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 24 relief outings with the White Sox. Far more of his time has been spent at the Triple-A level, where he logged 25 games with the Indianapolis Indians from 2009-2011 and 89 games with the Charlotte Knights from 2012-2014.
After going 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 17 relief outings for Charlotte in 2013, Veal took a step back in 2014, going 4-5 with a 5.94 ERA in 37 appearances. Against Gwinnett, he went 0-0 with a 9.00 ERA in three meetings. Though his recent numbers don’t impress, the 30-year-old southpaw will get a look in Major League camp this Spring. Should he fail to make the Atlanta roster, he’ll be an asset for a Gwinnett bullpen in flux. Of last year’s G-Braves relief staff, right-hander Pedro Beato and left-handers Ryan Buchter and Atahualpa Severino are all Minor League free agents. That trio combined to make 131 appearances for the club last season.
Yesterday’s moves don’t represent a “big splash” at the Major League level, but they are the Atlanta Braves’ first steps toward building better organizational depth — and a better Triple-A club — in 2015.
Tues: Kanekoa Texeira (1-3, 6.00) vs. LHP Nik Turley (1-2, 6.23)
Wed: Gus Schlosser (6-5, 3.58) vs. LHP Matt Tracy (1-3, 3.76)
Thu: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (6-11, 4.67) vs. Bruce Billings (4-5, 4.94)
Fri: Cody Martin (6-6, 3.45) vs. Bryan Mitchell (2-1, 2.70)
Gwinnett and SWB meet up for the second time in the last five days. In their latest matchup, the RailRiders swept a four game series from the G-Braves at Coolray Field. The G-Braves enter play with the worst record in the IL and are 10.5 games behind the Durham Bulls in the IL South, while the RailRiders are in fifth in the IL North and are 9.0 games behind the Syracuse Chiefs.
Pitching: The matchup feature boasts the No. 9 and No. 10 ranked pitching staffs in the IL. Gwinnett enters at No. 9 with a combined 4.22 ERA, while SWB ranks tenth with a 4.34 ERA.
Rodriguez has been on fire of late for the G-Braves. In his last two starts, he is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA (0 ER in 12.0 IP). Rodriguez has not allowed a run in over 12.0 innings.
Schlosser has been solid as well. In five appearances (three starts) during the month of July, the righty is 1-1 with a 2.03 ERA. He hasn’t allowed a run since July 13, spanning over 10.2 innings. He did not face the RailRiders last time around, as he was recalled by the Atlanta Braves.
SWB will counter with two lefties and two righties. Turley struggled against the G-Braves, while Tracy missed them at Coolray Field.
However, Billings and Mitchell were lights out for the RailRiders. Billings went 7.0 innings, scattering six hits and allowing one run in the no decision.
Mitchell was better, going 5.0 scoreless innings to record his first win of the season. The Reidsville, NC native was even sharper in his last start against the Pawtucket Red Sox on July 27, tossing 7.0 innings of scoreless baseball with a season-high six strikeouts. Mitchell hasn’t allowed a run since July 17.
Batting: Gwinnett lost their most consistent hitter on Saturday night as Phil Gosselin was recalled by the Atlanta Braves. The Braves will rely Todd Cunningham and Jose Constanza to lead the offense. Cunningham enters play with a .277 (99-for-357) batting average with 19 doubles, two triples, five homers and 44 RBI. He leads the squad in hits, doubles, triples, RBI and is four in homers and third in runs scored (41).
Constanza has missed parts of the season, but still leads the team in hitting with a .288 (93-for-323) batting average. He has 21 stolen bases and 27 RBI from the leadoff spot.
SWB is led by Jose Pirela since Zoilo Almonte has been called up by the New York Yankees. The slick-fielding infielder is batting .310 (126-for-407) with 15 doubles, five triples, eight homers and 42 RBI. He was selected to the IL All-Star game.
In the four game series against the G-Braves last week, the RailRiders outhit the home squad 44-to-28 and outscored the G-Braves 24-to-6.
G-Bites: Atlanta Braves’ right-hander Shea Simmons was placed on the DL on Tuesday afternoon. Right-hander Juan Jaime will take his place on the activate Atlanta roster.
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.
Sat: Zach Stewart (2-2, 4.65) vs. Vance Worley (1-1, 2.08)
Sun: Cody Martin (3-2, 2.72) vs. Jake Brigham (1-2, 3.38)
Mon: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-3, 3.00) vs. Brandon Cumpton (3-1, 1.41)
Tue: TBA vs. Casey Sadler (4-1, 2.15)
Two International League powers collide in a four-game series beginning Saturday, May 17 at 7:05 PM at Coolray Field. The front-running Indians, Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, roll into the series on a one game winning streak and 3.5 games up on the Columbus Clippers in the IL West, while the G-Braves are winner’s of three straight and are .5 games back of the Durham Bulls in the South Division.
Pitching: Cody Martin, the No. 11 prospect in the Braves organization according to Baseball America, will get the ball in game two. The right-hander has been dominant of late. In his last two starts, he is 1-0 with a 0.68 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 13.1 innings. Martin enters the weekend series tied for the league-lead in strikeouts with 49, and ranking fourth in batting average against at .196.
Rodriguez has handled himself well too. The lefty went a season-high seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits in last start on May 13. He leads the team in wins and is second in ERA and strikeouts (39).
The Indianapolis Indians will counter with four right-handers. Worley will take the ball in game one. In two starts with the Indians, the right-hander has recorded two quality starts with ten strikeouts. His last time out, he went 7.0 innings, allowing two runs on six hits vs. Norfolk on 5/12.
Worley has been a nice addition to the rotation, while Cumpton has dominated with the Indians. The righty is 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA. In five starts, he has racked up 15 strikeouts in 32.0 innings, while limiting hitters to a .248 batting average. The Augusta, GA native would rank first in International League in ERA, but is one inning from qualifying.
Batting: Two of the better offenses will matchup this weekend, as the Gwinnett Braves enter with the No. 1 ranked offense, while Indianapolis Indians enter with the No. 3.
The Indians are led by the lethal duo of Gregory Polanco and Andrew Lambo. Polanco, the No. 1 prospect in the Pittsburgh organization according to Baseball America, is batting .380 (60-for-158) with 11 doubles, five triples, five homers and 37 RBIs. Polanco was named IL Batter of the Week on April 14 after batting .500 (14-for-28) with one double, two triples, one homer, six runs and seven RBIs from April 7-13.
Lambo is coming off of a season in which he tallied 33 home runs and 101 RBIs between Double-A Altoona, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. The outfielder is batting .344 (32-for-93) with 13 doubles, one triple, two homers and 19 RBIs. He enters the season rated the No. 21 prospect in the Pirates organization according to Baseball America.
The G-Braves offense will be led by Phil Gosselin. The right-handed hitting Gosselin continues to hit. He has hit safely in 12 of 15 May contests and is batting .328 (21-for-64) with five doubles, two triples and two RBIs during May. On the season, Gosselin is batting .331 (47-for-142) with 11 doubles, two triples and eight RBIs. He leads the team in batting, doubles and triples.
Gosselin leads the team in hitting, but Todd Cunningham has led the squad during the month of May. The switch-hitting outfielder is batting .361 (22-for-61) with five doubles, one homer and eight RBIs during the month of May. Last season, Cunningham hit .417 (5-for-12) with one double and three RBIs against the Indians.
G-Bites: On Friday afternoon, the G-Braves announced that Brandon Boggs was joining the team as he was signed by the Atlanta Braves. Boggs, 31, was released by Atlanta on March 29 after batting .250 (1-for-4) with two RBIs in three Spring Training games. In 18 games with independent league Bridgeport, he batted .324 (22-for-68) with two doubles, one triple, one home run and seven RBIs. Last season, Boggs combined to hit .236 (97-for-476) with 19 doubles, four triples, seven home runs and 36 RBIs between Triple-A Rochester (Minnesota Twins) and Gwinnett. He played in 98 games for the G-Braves, batting .248 (83-for-335) with five home runs and 28 RBIs.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churhill
Tues: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (3-3, 3.08) vs. LHP Sean Nolin (2-1, 2.34)
Wed: Gus Schlosser (0-1, 9.82) vs. LHP Ricky Romero (0-1, 6.00)
Thu: Yunesky Maya (0-0, 2.55) vs. Kyle Drabek (3-2, 4.04)
Fri: Zach Stewart (2-2, 4.65) vs. Liam Hendriks (5-0, 1.51)
The Gwinnett Braves and Buffalo Bisons will matchup for the final time this season at Coca-Cola Field from May 13 through May 16. Last weekend, the G-Braves took three of four from the Bisons at Coolray Field. Buffalo enters the contest seven games above .500 and in first place of the IL North, while Gwinnett is one game back of the Durham Bulls in the IL South. G-Braves have lost two straight games, while the Bisons have a three-game win streak.
Pitching: Buffalo enters the series with a league-best 3.09 ERA, allowing a league-low 123 runs (107 ER) in 35 games. Gwinnett is at the bottom of the ERA standings, holding a 4.30 ERA (12th in IL) in 37 games.
Buffalo will lean on Nolin and Hendriks to anchor the staff during the series. Nolin will make his second start of the season against Gwinnett. On 5/8, Nolin recorded the loss against the G-Braves, allowing four runs on 12 hits in 5.2 innings. Nolin was tough for the first five frames, as he tossed five scoreless before being chased in the sixth. On the season, Nolin is 2-1 with a 2.34 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 34.2 innings.
Hendriks fared a lot better against the G-Braves in his start last week, as he went 7.0 innings, allowing seven hits and one unearned run on 5/6. He did not factor in the decision as Gwinnett scored two in the eighth to clip the Bisons on Tuesday night. Hendriks enters the series leading the league in wins and is second in ERA (1.51). He will pitch the finale on Friday night.
Schlosser will pitch in game two for the G-Braves. Since he was optioned to Gwinnett, the right-hander has been roughed up for eight runs in 7.1 innings. He has allowed four home runs, while striking out seven. Right-handed batters are hitting .333 (6-for-18) with five extra-base hits (two doubles & three homers) against him. In his last start, he tossed a season-high 4.0 innings, allowing four runs on four hits and struck out a season-high five.
Maya will enter Thursday’s contest with the best ERA on the G-Braves. He will make his fourth start of the season since taking over for Mitch Atkins on 4/17. In three starts, he is 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA. He has scattered 13 hits, allowing three earned runs and recording three strikeouts.
Batting: G-Braves enter the series with the best-hitting team in the IL, hitting .275 (354-for-1286) as a team. Despite connecting for 24 homers (10th in the IL), the G-Braves have scored 180 runs (2nd in the IL).
Phil Gosselin continues to pace the squad with a .333 (43-for-129) average. He is second on the team with ten doubles and leads the squad with two triples. He is working on a five-game hitting streak, batting .400 (8-for-20) with four runs scores, three doubles and two RBIs during that span.
Despite snapping his eight-game hitting streak in a pinch-hit appearance Monday afternoon, Todd Cunningham enters the series red hot. In 12 May games, he is batting .373 (19-for-51) with nine runs scored, four doubles, one homer and six RBIs. He is perfect 3-for-3 in stolen base chances.
Buffalo’s lineup has a little bit of everything to offer. Dan Johnson provides the power in the middle of the order (.306 BA, 7 HR, 28 RBI), while Kevin Pillar adds speed and versatility at the top of the order. In 34 games, Pillar is hitting .305 with 13 doubles, three triples, one homer, 19 RBIs and five stolen bases. Pillar leads the team in doubles, triples and is second in RBIs and stolen bases. In four games at Coolray Field last week, Pillar went 6-for-14 with one double, one triple and three RBIs.
South Invasion: Buffalo enters tonight’s contest with an 8-4 record against the South Division in 2014. Three of those losses came to the Braves last week at Coolray Field.
“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and want most.” -Abraham Lincoln
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:
Much like David Hale, outfielder Todd Cunningham has seen quite a shift in his expectations this spring. A year ago, he entered Major League camp as the reigning Atlanta Braves Minor League Player of the Year, an award that earned him a spot as a non-roster invitee. He played in 22 Grapefruit League games before ultimately opening the season with Triple-A Gwinnett, where he went on to hit .265 with 60 runs scored an 20 stolen bases. This spring, Cunningham is a member of the 40-man roster with a taste of the Majors under his belt (he hit .250 in eight games for Atlanta last year), vying for a return trip to Turner Field. Gwinnett Braves Media Relations Manager Dave Lezotte caught up with him today at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, FL.
DL: Last year, you were a non-roster invitee to Braves Spring Training. This year, you’re on the 40-man roster. How does this spring compare to last year?
TC: Every year, you’re just trying to get ready for Spring Training. Wherever you settle in the lineup or whatever team you end up on, it kind of works itself out. It’s all about getting ready for the season and being ready to go for game one.
DL: You’re competing for a roster spot with Atlanta, going up against some former Gwinnett teammates like Jose Constanza and Joey Terdoslavich. What’s that competition like?
TC: We all get along so well, there’s no bad blood among us. It’s all about the competition. We go out and we play hard, all of us enjoy the game of baseball. We have that connection, that bond, regardless of what happens. It’s all about going out there and playing hard.
DL: Obviously you still root for those guys when they’re at the plate.
TC: Yeah, they’re your teammates. You’ve come up with them and played with them, so you want everyone to do well.
DL: Last year with Gwinnett, you hit two home runs all year. In your third game this spring, you homered. What was it like showing some power in a Major League Spring Training game?
TC: It feels good. Hopefully that works itself into my swing; it’s something that I’ve tried to incorporate a little bit. Hopefully that shows up throughout the whole season.
DL: As a G-Brave in 2013, you were the everyday centerfielder. This spring, you’ve been playing a lot of left field. Are you still working towards being in center, or is it left field now?
TC: The whole goal is to be able to play as many (positions) as possible. You start looking at the levels above you, the big league level and who they have, and there’s a lot of contracts out there. For me and my position, trying to find a way to get in there, you have to be able to play more than one. The more positions I can play, the better, but obviously the longer I can stay in the middle of the field, the better, too.
DL: Is there different preparation involved for playing the corner outfield spots as opposed to center?
TC: Balls just don’t stay true on the corners, you get all the slices and hooks and top-spin. It’s a lot about first-step reads.
DL: Last season with Gwinnett, you hit .265 and stole 20 bases. Is there an area of your game that you’re working on improving for this year?
TC: Just being able to drive the ball consistently. I’d kind of go through stretches last year where I’d get behind some balls. To be able to do it throughout the whole year, would obviously improve (my) game.
DL: Last year, you got the opportunity to make your Major League debut with the Braves. It was a limited stint, but certainly an eye-opening experience for you. How important is that experience for you heading into this season?
TC: It’s great. It put me in position to come in as a roster invitee. It was just a really cool experience, to kind of get (my) feet wet. Especially when we were on that 14-game winning streak, it was a lot of fun to be in that atmosphere.
DL: Brian Snitker is the manager in Gwinnett this year. You got a chance to work with him at the Major League level last season, what are your thoughts on Snit?
TC: I’m excited to have his experience transferred down to the Triple-A level. He’s been around the game for a long time, so I’m sure there are things that everyone can pick up from him.
DL: The Gwinnett roster obviously will take shape once the Atlanta roster works itself out, but there should be a veteran presence on the club this year. I know you guys aren’t thinking about Triple-A just yet, but what’s your early feeling about the Gwinnett club?
TC: The whole goal, like I said, is to get to the big leagues, but also be ready for game one. I think everyone is going to be on the same page there and be ready in case the opportunity presents itself to be in Atlanta. As far as how the Triple-A team is going to shape up, I think it’s going to be a lot of guys all with the same goal in mind, which is really cool when you get that many guys on the same page. It should be an exciting year, wherever I end up.
DL: If you do end up back in Gwinnett at some point this season, how do you handle that?
TC: Just the same as I’ve always handled it. It’s baseball, I’m trying to get better, I have things that I’m working on. Keep the big picture in mind, trying to get back to Atlanta, and just keep working.
Chris Roughgarden of the Gwinnett Braves Photography Staff was at Champion Stadium on Thursday night to shoot the Atlanta Braves/Washington Nationals night game. She got some great shots of several 2013 G-Braves, which can be viewed in the slideshow below. The Braves won the contest, 3-2.
Fri, July 26: RHP David Hale (4-5, 3.03) vs. RHP Zach Stewart (5-10, 4.91)
Sat, July 27: RHP Omar Poveda (5-6, 3.30) vs. LHP Charlie Leesman (2-1, 3.62)
Sun, July 28: RHP Joe Bisenius (3-3, 5.83) vs. TBA
Mon, July 29: TBA vs. RHP Jason Berken (8-9, 3.85)
Gwinnett dropped their last two at Durham, losing the road-home series three games to one. Charlotte is on a roll of late, winning their last three games and taking sole possession of third place in the South Division.
Batters: Since rejoining the G-Braves, Tyler Pastornicky has hit in four straight games. In his last four games, he is hitting .462 (6-for-13) with one run scored and two RBI. On the season, he is batting .317 (78-for-246) with 13 doubles, two triples, four homers and 27 RBI for Gwinnett… Todd Cunningham returned from a minor hip flexor strain on fire. In three games, he is hitting .455 (5-for-11) with a double and three runs scored. He has been a sparkplug, taking over the leadoff spot since returning to the lineup. In 20 games as the leadoff hitter, he is batting .280 (21-for-75) with two doubles, one triple and two RBI.
Pitchers: David Hale will get the ball in the opener. In his last seven starts, he is 3-2 with a 1.12 ERA (5 ER/40.1 IP) and a 1.16 WHIP. Hale won his first career Triple-A contest against the Charlotte Knights on 4/6, tossing five innings of two-run ball. Omar Poveda continues to have solid starts for the G-Braves. In his last contest, he went six innings, allowing seven hits and two runs in a 2-1 loss to Indianapolis. Poveda leads the squad with 13 quality starts.
Batters: Charlotte has had a rough time against the G-Braves, posting a .251 (98-for-390) batting average, while striking out 105 times… Steve Tolleson leads the team in hitting, batting .292 (83-for-284) with six homers and 43 RBI. However, the infielder has struggled against the G-Braves, posting a .238 (10-for-42) batting average… Mike McDade fared well against the Braves in their two game series three weeks ago. In two games, he went 3-for-7 with two walks. On the season, he is hitting .257 (82-for-319) with eight homers and 42 RBI.
Pitchers: Zach Stewart is having a tough season. Originally the opening day starter for the Knights, the right-handed hurler has posted a 5-10 record with a 4.91 ERA. The long ball has been one of his problems, as he has issued 13 in 20 starts… Charlie Leesman suffered a huge setback last season, tearing his ACL in an International League playoff game; however, he has come back strong in 2013. In 11 starts for the Knights, he is 2-1 with 3.62 ERA. He has struck out 54 in 59.2 innings, while walking 25 batters. Last season he was 12-10 with a 2.45 ERA.
Knight Tales: Charlotte enters play 7.5 games back of the Wild card spot. They will need a big weekend against the G-Braves, as they have lost eight of 12 against Gwinnett.
LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – After recording a season-high four hits on Friday night, Joey Terdoslavich followed up on Saturday by recording his first two-homer game since April 18, 2011. His walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth sent the Coolray Field crowd of 9,284 home happy as the Gwinnett Braves (33-44) came back for a 9-8 win over the Syracuse Chiefs (28-45). The G-Braves have now won five-straight games.
The G-Braves won despite a shaky performance from starter Omar Poveda. The right-hander allowed a season high five runs on eight hits in 5.0 innings. However, the offense had his back as they pounded out 12 hits and scored nine runs.
Both teams got on the board early, scoring a run in the first. Syracuse used a lead-off double by Will Rhymes, a sacrifice bunt by Danny Espinosa and an RBI groundout by Corey Brown to take a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the first, Gwinnett took advantage of a throwing error by catcher Brian Jeroloman to push across their first run.
The Chiefs didn’t stop there, scoring one run in the third, two in the fourth and one in the fifth to take a 5-1 lead. In the third inning, Tyler Moore walked and scored on an RBI double by Chris Rahl. In the bottom of the fourth, Danny Espinosa smacked a two-run double down the left field line, scoring Jeroloman and Rhymes to make it 4-1. Zach Walters capped the scoring, lacing his 17th homer of the season over the right field fence, extending the lead to 5-1.
Syracuse starter Ryan Tatusko stifled the G-Braves through four innings, as he held the offense to four hits and no earned runs. However, Gwinnett exploded for six runs off of the right-hander in the bottom of the fifth. Poveda led off with a single and Jose Constanza followed with a single, putting runners on first and second with no outs. After a fielder’s choice, Terdoslavich hit his 16th homer of the season over the right field fence. The dinger cut the deficit to 5-4. Back-to-back walks to Ernesto Mejia and Alden Carriters set up a two out RBI opportunity for Jose Yepez. The backstop delivered with a two-run double to left, making it 6-5. Luis Nunez added to lead with an RBI double of his own, extending the lead to 7-5.
In the ninth, Moore walked to lead off and was followed by a Rahl single. After Walters showed bunt on the first pitch, he took the next offering from Cory Rasmus (W, 3-1) over the right field fence, giving the Chiefs an 8-7 lead.
For Rasmus, it was his first blown save in eight chances. However, Chiefs closer Michael Broadway (L, 1-1) didn’t fare any better. He gave up a leadoff single to Todd Cunningham after a nine pitch at bat, which saw Cunningham battle back from a 0-2 count. The key hit would set the stage for Terdoslavich, who drove Broadway’s first offering out to deep right-center.
Terdoslavich finished the night with a team-high three hits and five RBI, while Constanza, Cunningham and Nunez picked up two hits each.
Walters led the Chiefs, going 2-for-5 with two homers and four RBI.
The Gwinnett Braves return to action Sunday afternoon as they host the Syracuse Chiefs for doubleheader starting at 2:05 PM. Braves right-hander Cody Martin (1-0, 0.00) will get the ball in game one, while Kameron Loe (2-1, 4.19) will toe the rubber in game two. Syracuse will throw left-hander Danny Rosenbaum (5-3, 3.76) in game one and right-hander Tanner Roark (3-3, 4.07) in game two. Listen to the games on WDUN 550 AM and 102.9 FM with Tony Schiavone calling the play-by-play. Game one of the doubleheader will also be televised on CSS.
The first 2,000 fans in attendance on Sunday will receive a Fifth Anniversary Logo Drawstring Bag courtesy of Dave & Buster’s. “Family Sunday” also includes Pre-Game Catch in the Outfield prior to game one and the Post-Game Kids Base Run following game two. To purchase tickets, call the Coolray Field Box Office at (678) 277-0340 or visit gwinnettbraves.com.