I remember in 2005 when the “Baby Braves” were in full effect. They were so many guys you never heard of and couldn’t be much older than your babysitter, but it was exciting. The list, the best I can ferret out, is as follows with what I remember most about them:
Blaine Boyer – Huge, silly wooden necklace. My only regret is that it wasn’t too heavy that he couldn’t get to the pitcher’s mound. Total gas can.
Kyle Davies – His performance in Boston after just being called up was AWESOME. I liked that kid.
Joey Divine – The home runs he allowed in the playoffs still have not landed. He deserved better from the Braves.
Chuck James – He went from installing windows to having to most wins the second half of 2005 on ANY MLB pitcher I believe. Then, like Keyser Soze…POOF…he was gone.
Brain McCann – 6 time All Star and best catcher in MLB
Brayan Pena – He was the one player from Cuba that fans liked (Yunel Escobar being the other).
Andy Marte – Ummm…I’ll get back to you on him.
Jeff Francoeur – See below. I’ll always root for him. Stand up guy and good person.
Ryan Langerhans – The Langer “Hands” kids in the upper outfield stands. Quite Clever.
Kelly Johnson – I still boo him when I see highlights of D-Back games. Potential spoiled.
Macay McBride – I don’t remember him, but he needs to have a sandwich named for him at McDonald’s. What were his parents smoking and/or injecting when they named him?
None of these cats were born before 1981 and that made for a young, inexperienced team. But they gave the Braves what they sorely needed. A shot of excitement and energy Bravos’ fans hadn’t seen in a while. And the head of that class was Jeff Francoeur. Frenchy was OUR guy. Born in Atlanta. Raised is Gwinnett. Got all sorts of press at Parkview High School. And he came on the scene with a BANG! Jeff should have won Rookie of the Year and his mug was on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the heading “The Natural”. He was going to be the face of the Braves for years to come. But it didn’t work out that way.
He worked out in the offseason and got totally muscled out. He became impatient on the plate and struck out more than Dan Uggla is doing now. He just wasn’t right and wasn’t playing well at all. Then, out of nowhere, he was traded to the Mets. He now is actually playing well for the Royals and I’m happy for the guy. But during all that time here in Atlanta…the real player was coming into form. Brian McCann was going from Francoeur’s sidekick to full blooded leading man. His maturation from rookie to leader of this Braves team is something else. And the moral of this story is one that a certain Braves player needs to pay attention to. That player is Jason Heyward.
If you haven’t noticed, JayHey is STILL trying to figure it out while his buddy is killing it. His buddy is one Freddie “Fab 5” Freeman. Freddie is solid defensively at first base, he’s hitting for power and seems to have a durability that Heyward doesn’t have just yet. Freeman is a good pick for NL Rookie of the Year and he seems to be getting better and better each day. Heyward came in with a bunch of bells and whistles. And rightfully so. But he needs to realize that Freeman made be this groups B-Mac. So hopefully Jason can get it going again and become the superstar we all want him to be. Because I just don’t think anyone wants to see HIM wearing royal blue anytime soon.
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