Notes from Atlanta and around the minor leagues

Bill Shanks has some notes on the Atlanta Braves and the minor league system.

The Braves have now won four games in a row after starting the season 0-9. They are a half-game back of the 4th place Miami Marlins and one game back of the Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves are six games out of first place.

Here are the Braves' offensive teams stats and where they rank among the 30 MLB teams.

Batting Average - .215 - 28th
On Base Percentage - .306 - 22nd
Slugging Percentage - .283 - 30th
Home Runs - 3 - 30th

Teams ERA - 5.01 - 28th
Rotation ERA - 5.22 - 28th 
Bullpen ERA - 4.67 - 22nd

Tyler Flowers went 4-4 Tuesday night with three runs batted in. He's now hitting .412 on the season, seven hits in 20 at bats. He needs to play more, especially with A.J. Pierzynski hitting only .156 in his first 32 at bats this season.

In the minor leagues, Gwinnett starter Aaron Blair pitched seven no-hit innings Tuesday night. He was lifted after 87 pitches. Blair walked only one and struck out 10. For the season, Blair now has an ERA of 1.42. In his first three starts, Blair has allowed 10 hits in 19 innings, three runs, five walks and 22 strikeouts. Blair may be knocking loudly on the door to join Atlanta's rotation.

Rio Ruiz continues to impress early-on in Gwinnett. Ruiz was 3-4 Tuesday night in Gwinnett's 7-2 win over Durham. He's now hitting .348 with one home run and seven RBI.

Gwinnett is 10-3 and has a three-game lead on Durham in the International League's South Division. Tyrell Jenkins (1-0, 2.00) makes his third start of the season Wednesday when the Braves close out the series with the Bulls at 7:00 at Coolray Field.

Mississippi shortstop was Ozzie Albies was 3-4 in the Braves 7-4 win over Chattanooga Tuesday night. Albies is now hitting .358 (19-53) with no home runs, one RBI and one stolen base. His on base percentage is .414.

Dustin Peterson hit a solo home run, his second of the season. Peterson is now hitting .286 with eight RBi on the young season. 

Top pitching prospect Sean Newcomb won his first game in the Braves' organization. Newcomb allowed two runs on three hits in five innings, with four walks and seven strikeouts. For the season, Newcomb has a 2.40 ERA in his first three starts and has allowed eight hits in 15 innings, with 10 walks and 16 strikeouts.

Rob Whalen (1-0, 3.60) pitches for the M-Braves (4-9) in the Wednesday morning game (11:35 am) against Chattanooga.

By the way, congratulations to Australian left-hander Steve Kent, who made his return to American pro baseball with a scoreless inning Monday. Kent signed with the Braves a decade ago, but after he was released several years ago returned to Australia. He picked up baseball again after having Tommy John surgery and the Braves were impressed enough to bring him back. He's a lefty, so let's see what Kent can do to get on Atlanta's radar.

Carolina shortstop Dansby Swanson was 1-4 Tuesday night with two walks as the Mudcats lost to Salem 6-5. Swanson is now hitting .358 (19-53) with no home runs, six RBI, four stolen bases and a .433 on base percentage. 

The Mudcats have just two home runs in their first 13 games. 

Chase Johnson-Mullins has continued his good work from spring training. Remember how last year's 13th round draft pick was so impressive in minor league camp the left-handed desperate big league Braves brought him over for a look-see in big league camp. So far, Johnson-Mullins has three saves and has not given up an earned run in his four games (6.1 innings).

Evan Phillips, last year's 17th round pick out of UNC-Wilmington, has not allowed an earned run in his four games, with one hit allowed in 7.1 innings. Sean McLaughlin, last year's 19th round pick out of UGA, has not allowed an earned run in his four games, with three hits allowed in eight innings.

Max Povse goes for Carolina (6-7) Wednesday morning (11:00 am) in the series finale with Salem. Povse has not allowed an earned run in his first two starts. He's given up just four hits in 13 innings, with two walks and 14 strikeouts.

Rome got another solid start Tuesday night from Patrick Weigel, last year's 7th round pick out of Houston. Weigel, a 6-foot-6 right-hander, allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings, with one walk and six strikeouts. Weigel now has an ERA of 2.12, with 13 hits allowed in 17 innings, with five walks and 18 strikeouts.

Max Fried pitches in a morning game (10:35 am) for Rome (4-9) Wednesday. In his first two starts Fried has allowed two earned runs on five hits in 11 innings, with five walks and 11 strikeouts.

 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 thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.


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