The Carolina Mudcats’ rotation will include three draft picks from the 2015 draft, making it an older group as the Braves obviously want to challenge pitchers who might not be as far away as a high school selection.
Ryan Clark (5th round from 2015), Matt Withrow (6th round) and Ryan Lawlor (8th round) will be three of the Mudcats’ starting pitchers, with Max Povse and Enderson Franco rounding out the group.
Clark is a product of UNC-Greensboro. The 6-5, 220-pound Clark was 6-1 in Danville last season with a 3.08 ERA. He allowed 43 hits in 52.2 innings, with 10 walks and 40 strikeouts. Clark was mainly a breaking ball pitcher in college, but the Braves are making him work of a fastball that can range from 93-96 mph.
Withrow, the brother of Gwinnett reliever Chris Withrow, came to the Braves from Texas Tech. He’s 6-5 as well and weighs 235 pounds. Withrow started 13 games last season in Danville and had a 3.56 ERA, with 48 hits allowed in 48 innings.
Lawlor is a former Georgia Bulldogs’ pitcher who also pitched at Middle Georgia College. The lefty was a starter at UGA last season and went 5-7 with a 3.67 ERA in 14 games started. Then the Braves placed him in Danville after he signed and Lawlor had a 2.30 ERA in seven starts.
Povse was a 3rd round pick in the 2013 draft out of UNC-Greensboro, so this will not be the first time he and Clark will be teammates. Between Rome and Carolina last season, Povse had a 4.15 ERA in 17 starts, with 60 strikeouts in 78 innings pitched.
The Braves got Franco as a Rule V pick in the minor league phase last December. The 23-year-old right-hander was 6-12 overall between Greensboro (Marlins) and Bowling Green (Tampa Bay) in High-A last season.
Zach Bird and Wes Parsons are two pitchers who will get significant innings out of the bullpen, after mainly being starting pitchers in the past. Bird, who was acquired from the Dodgers in the Alex Wood trade last July, made three starts with Mississippi last season. Parsons missed most of last season with shoulder issues, so the Braves are likely integrated him in slowly in his first full season back.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at email@example.com.