The Atlanta Braves have signed minor league outfielders Derrick Gibson and Mike Rosamond and left-handed reliever Casey DeHart to contracts for Spring Training. Atlanta has also re-signed infielder Juan Velazquez and catcher Ray Serrano.
Gibson was a 13th round pick of the Colorado Rockies in 1993 and quickly became one of their best prospects. His most impressive minor league season was in 1995, when at the age of 21 he hit .292 with 32 home runs and 115 RBI. Baseball America then rated him as the Rockies' best prospect in 1996. Gibson finally reached the major leagues in 1998 and hit .429 in 21 at bats with 2 RBI. Then the next season Gibson went back to AAA and hit 17 home runs and 67 RBI, but then when the Rockies called him up again to the big leagues he hit only .179 in 28 at bats.
The Rockies released Gibson after 1999 and he spent the 2000 season in Calgary, the Marlins' AAA affiliate. Gibson then played the first half of 2001 in Mexico before finishing the season with the Diamondbacks AA team. He spent 2002 and 2003 in an independent league before playing last season in the Anaheim Angels organization. Gibson, who turns 30 years old next Saturday, split the 2004 season between AAA and AA and hit a combined .261 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI in 353 at bats.
Rosamond was the Astros' supplemental first-round draft pick in 1999 out of Greenwood, Mississippi. The 6'5" 230 pound right-handed hitter has drawn comparisons to Dale Murphy throughout his career, but he's yet to hit like Murphy. His best season with the Astros organization was 2001, when he hit .266 with 16 home runs, 55 RBI, and 32 stolen bases for Class A Lexington. But then he spent two and a half years in AA before the Astros released him last spring.
The former University of Mississippi star hooked on with the Rockies organization last spring. He hit .247 with 5 homers and 30 RBI. Then he was released and signed by the Pirates, who sent him to Class-A Lynchburg, where he hit .216 with 1 home run and 13 RBI. Overall in 2004, the 26-year-old Rosamond hit .234 with 6 homers and 43 RBI.
DeHart was drafted by Cincinnati in the 11th round of the 1998 draft. Over the years he's become a decent minor league situational lefty. He's 6'1", 190 pounds and just turned 27 two months ago. Last season for AA Chattanooga DeHart went 6-6 with a 4.26 ERA in 48 relief appearances. He allowed 72 hits in 76 innings, 37 walks, and 76 strikeouts. DeHart has 370 strikeouts in 465 minor league innings.
Velazquez spent most of the 2004 season in AA Greenville where he hit .222 with 1 home run and 14 RBI in 167 at bats. He played 39 games at second base, 10 at short, and one game each at third base, in the outfield, and behind the plate. When the Braves sent him up to AAA Richmond, Velazquez hit only .146 in 41 at bats.
Serrano came back to the Braves organization last season and played in 33 games with Myrtle Beach. He hit .259 with 5 home runs and 23 RBI in 116 at bats. Serrano first signed with the Braves back in 1999 and spent four years in the farm system. He has developed a reputation of being an excellent veteran minor league catcher to work with the young pitchers.
Bill Shanks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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