May 02, 2009

Down on the Farm

The Atlanta Braves aren’t the only Braves I follow.  Thanks to Mark Cuban I can stream radio broadcasts of the Gwinnett, Mississippi and Rome Braves, not to mention the Myrtle Beach Pelicans—but wait…there’s more!  Major League Baseball has created MiLB.TV (the minor leave version of MLB.TV).  Here’s what’s going on…

Gwinnett—The newly relocated AAA team is off to a comparable start to the big club, starting 10-12.  They certainly aren’t crushing the ball, but a few players are swinging the bat well.  Infielder Diory Hernandez leads the team in batting (.383).  He has 11 RBI and an OPS of .974; second only to first basemen Barbaro Canizares, who leads the team with 4 HR, 12 RBI and a .964 OPS.

On the mound, Tommy Hanson finally picked up his first win to improve his deceiving record to 1-3 with a non-deceiving 1.69 ERA.  He has 38 strikeouts in 26.2 IP.  24-year-old Kris Medlen is also dealing.  He sports a 3-0 record, 1.52 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP.  Closer Luis Valdez leads a strong late-relief corp.  He already has 5 Saves, a dominating .068 ERA and 15Ks in 13.1 IP.

Mississippi—The M-Braves are also sub .500 at 10-11.  CF Gorkys Hernandez has been their most consistent offensive player, setting the tone in the leadoff role with a .306 AVG, 9 RBI, 6 SB and a .791 OPS.  Hernandez is tied for the team lead in RBI with SS Brandon Hicks (a favorite of Bobby Cox in this year’s Spring Training).

No M-Brave is that dominating on the mound, but Deunte Heath has been a bright spot at 1-0 with an ERA of 0.83 in 21.2 IP.  I am looking for a lot more from right-handers Jeff Lyman, Kyle Cofield and lefty Scott Diamond, who pitched for team Canada in the 2009 WBC (Shall I go on about the WBC again?).

Myrtle Beach—Heyward and Freeman…’nuff said right? Actually these two young GEMS are both overshadowed by an almost nightly power display by OF Cody Johnson.  Johnson has 9 HR and 15 RBI in 77 AB. His AVG is low at .260, but he gives the (9-13) Pelicans a legit power threat every day (something the A-Braves don’t have).  Johnson’s 9 HR is two more than the entire Braves outfield so far.  Maybe we need this kid in LF.

Freeman has good power numbers: 4 HR and 15 RBI, but his average is slipping, currently down to .253.  Jason Heyward’s missed a few games recently, but is still .279 with 3 HR and 10 RBIs.

The Pelicans don’t have many low ERAs, but closer Cory Gearrin does.  He has a 0.82 ERA with 6 SV, a 0.64 WHIP and 13Ks.  I am looking for big things from a pair of lefties; Jeff Locke and Cole Rohrbough.  Locke’s had some tough luck so far, but pitched a GEM Saturday night earning his first win of the season. His record is now 1-1 record, 3.12  ERA and 27 Ks.  Rohrbough has only pitched in one game so far, but picked-up a win, pitching well, going 5 IP with 6 Ks with 1 earned run.

Rome—22-year-old first basemen Gerardo Rodriguez has been the offensive star so far for Rome with a .313 BA, 5 HR and 15 RBI.  Samuel Sime has been playing a solid third base and is the only other threat for the R-Braves this year with a .304 AVG and an .795 OPS.

The R-Braves (9-13) have starters Ezekiel Spruill and Richard Sullivan toeing the rubber this year.  Spruill’s posted a 3-0 record with 1.71 ERA and 20 Ks.  Sullivan has been just as good, with a couple bad-luck innings.  Still, Sullivan is 4-1 with a 3.72 ERA and 27 Ks. Finally, Rome closer Benino Pruneda has been filthy!  21-year-old Pruneda has 7 IP, 6 Saves and 11 Ks.  He may be under-sized at 5’ 9”, but has been dominant, allowing only 1 hit so far.

There you have it!  It’s always nice to have something (or someone in this case) to look forward to.  I realize many aren’t as into the development as I am, but it’s fun to follow a prospect up the ladder until he finally gets to the big leagues.  Not long ago, I followed a crop of players that included Jeff Francoeur, Brian McCann, Yunel Escobar, and most recently Jordan Schafer.  Let’s hope the Braves produce another great crop to lead them back to the post-season for years to come.

Follow me on Twitter @ BRAVEinNY.

Until Next time…Go Braves!



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