The G-Braves were in town over the weekend for a 4 game series with the International League leading Columbus Clippers and here are a few of my observations from the 4 games in Columbus.
Friday nights starter was Todd Redmond. I rarely feel bad for professional athletes, they get to play a sport they love for a living but its hard not to feel a little bad for Todd Redmond . When most baseball experts begin talking about the Braves farm system the first thing they mention is the great, young pitching. Redmond is neither great nor young but still you have to wonder if on another team he might get a chance to get that call to “The Show.“ Only 26, Redmond is in AAA for the third straight year, so for him there is still hope that he might develop into a back of the rotation starter down the road. A former 39th round pick for Pittsburg, Redmond has already exceeded most expectations by making it this far in professional baseball. Redmond did not have it going Friday night, he gave up 8 earned runs in only 4 innings in picking up the loss. I’m willing to give him a free pass on the poor outing since his mood must have been passive due to the fact Columbus was wearing pink jerseys in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.
Saturday nights game was the one game I was really looking forward to since Julio Teheran was pitching. Braves fans really turned out for this one and it was an amazing atmosphere that night with over 11,000 fans, the biggest draw for the 4 game series. The crowd was awesome, my seats were not. Located down the first base line and 20 rows up it was hard to see the location on Teheran’s pitches but for the most part he pitched really well. I was hoping he could blow hitters away and have double digit strikeouts but that didn’t happen. Teheran only struck out 4 but really made only one mistake when the Clips started the bottom of the third with a leadoff homer. He pitched out of a jam in the 5th and finished the night giving up only 1 run in 7 innings and getting the win in a 5-1 victory.
Mike Minor pitched Sunday night in what turned out to be the best game of the series. The Clips’ were all over Minor in the 3rd where he was not sharp at all and they made him pay for his mistakes. Minor loaded the bases then walked in a run on 4 pitches, struck out a batter and then gave up a grand slam. After the 5 run third, Minor settled down and his final line was 6 hits, 5 ER, 4 BB, and 5 SO in 5 innings. I was a little disappointed in the Minor as I expected him to continue his strong pitching from his last start in the majors and dominate in AAA, not beat himself with terrible control. Minor was let off the hook for the loss when the G-Braves scored 5 in the 9th thanks to recent acquisition Chris Carter’s grand slam. G-Braves win 8-5.
By the time Monday’s game rolled around I was completely burnt out on the minor league game day promotions. The dizzy bat race just seemed childish, mascot tomfoolery became predictable, and even the kiss cam was dull. I only took a few notes but and the G-Braves won Monday’s game, 5-1 and took 3 games in the series against a good Columbus team that has several good prospects.
I mentioned the pitching in the series but there where three guys on offense I wanted to see in person; Mauro Gomez, Jose Constanza, and Stefan Gartrell. Here are some of my thoughts on what I saw in Columbus from these three.
Gomez has had a solid year for Gwinnett with a .830 OPS but is blocked by Freddie Freeman and will likely not be getting to the majors any time soon. I was hoping to see tremendous raw power from Gomez but he really had a bad series and didn‘t show me enough to think he can contribute to the big league club. He did hit a homer on Saturday night but strike out in 7 of his 16 at-bats in Columbus. The Domincan’s got quad-A player written all over him if he can’t find a little discipline at the plate. You know what they say though, “You don’t walk off the island.”
Constanza is having a career year and leads Gwinnett in average, triples, and steals. Unfortunately, he ended up getting hurt in Sunday’s game and was replaced in the lineup. That was the last I saw of Constanza and to be honest I’m not really sure why I like him so much after seeing him play a few games. He is small and is a tough out, but with little to no power and Jordan Schaefer ahead of him, he is organizational depth at best. Consider my man-crush for Constanza officially over.
Gartrell is a guy I want to see the Braves give a chance as he is probably no better or worse than Wilkin Ramirez. A 31st round pick of the White Sox in 2006, Gartrell has been solid but not spectacular in his minor league career. His power numbers have improved every year his .879 OPS this season is a career high. I really wanted to see how he played in right field. His range seemed average and I didn’t get to see him show off his arm in any of the games and Gartrell did not have a great series at the plate going 3-15. For the record, none of my three batters I was looking forward to seeing did well at the plate, combined 9-40.
This year I’ve probably watched either part or all of over 100 baseball games and these 4 games with Gwinnett in town were the first games I’ve seen in person. It’s a completely different experience being at the game as opposed to watching on TV. I forgot how much I loved just being at the ball park, hearing the crack of the bat, the pop of the mitt. Now I can’t wait to get back to the park. I’ve already started counting down the days until the Bravos return to the Buckeye State.