Best Play I Have Ever Seen

While the major leaguers are preparing for their season with the Grapefruit League schedule, the minor leaguers are playing practice games themselves.

Thursday the Braves AAA and AA teams played the Detroit Tigers' top two level teams. BravesCenter's Bill Shanks has some notes from Thursday's games.
  • Matt Wright started for the AA team and went three innings. He allowed only one run and topped out at 89. Wright is coming back from a broken arm from last summer. He looked good in his appearance and is slated for the AA starting rotation.

  • Jeff Francoeur hit a two-run blast early in the game. He was closely followed in the same inning by Josh Burrus, who hit a solo home run. Scott Thorman hit a two-run bomb later on in the game.

    The highlight of the game was a tremendous catch by Francoeur in right field. The ball was heading over the fence when Francoeur extended his left arm and it almost boomeranged over the fence and back. Francoeur caught it and robbed the batter of a home run. Jeff was applauded by the rather large crowd for a minor league game. Two of Francoeur's teammates (and friends) both said it was "the best play they have ever seen." The catch reminded me of Otis Nixon's catch against the Pirates back in 1992. It was a tremendous play.

  • Rico Rodriquez pitched for the AA team and hit 93 on the radar gun. Mike Mueller, Bryan Digby, and Jake Blakeney also saw action. Digby was roughed up a bit, allowing a couple of runs. "Digs" is heading back to the bullpen after spending the 2004 season in the Rome starting rotation.

  • On the AAA side lefty Sam McConnell pitched three innings and allowed only one run. McConnell could be an integral part of the Richmond rotation.

  • Former Tigers prospect Andy Van Hekken pitched against his old teammates and did well. Van Hekken is also competing for a spot in Richmond's rotation.

  • Andy Marte and Wes Timmons both had run scoring hits for the AAA team. Marte had an impressive batting practice earlier this morning, but Timmons bested him in an impromptu home run hitting contest at the end of batting practice. Derrick Gibson, the former Rockies' prospect in camp, and first baseman Scott Schade also hit a few into the parking lot this morning.

  • The first minor league cuts could be coming in a day or two.

  • Billy McCarthy, slated to start the season in AAA Richmond, is out of action for a while with a sprained wrist. He says he should be fine and will be ready to go next week.

Bill Shanks has a new book coming out next month called Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. He can be reached at

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