Charlie Morton is off to a great start, with a 1.69 ERA (three earned runs in 16 innings) and 11 strikeouts. And Jo Jo Reyes has not allowed an earned run in his first two starts, with only three walks and 14 strikeouts in nine innings of work.
Phil Stockman and Zach Schreiber could be candidates for Atlanta with the major league bullpen faltering. Stockman has a 1.93 ERA in five games, with four walks and 11 strikeouts in 9.1 innings. Schreiber has struggled a bit with his control, with six walks in his first seven games, but he does have a team-leading three saves.
Clint Sammons (.419) and Barbaro Canizares (.409) are off to very fast starts for the Braves at the plate. Sammons is third in the league in hitting, while Barbaro is right behind him in the International League. While Brent Lillibridge is hitting only .100 so far this season, with five hits in his first 50 at bats. Lillibridge is tied with teammate Josh Anderson for second in the league with four stolen bases.
The Braves (2-10) are really struggling at the plate with a .222 team batting average, third-worst in the Southern League. They've scored only 32 runs in the first twelve games and have only two home runs on the season (both by Mark Jurich).
Van Pope was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a hamstring issue. Pope was hitting .259 in his first eight games with four runs batted in.
Reliever Kris Medlen has been solid so far, with a 1.23 ERA in his first four games, with no walks and eight strikeouts in 7.2 innings. Meanwhile, Jerome Gamble has not allowed an earned run in his first four games of the season.
Despite a 6-6 record entering Wednesday's game, the Pelicans' team batting average is not very good right now either, and at .229 it's the second worst in the league. They've scored only 36 runs in their first 12 games.
Gorkys Hernandez is off to a solid start to his Braves' career. He's hitting .320 with five runs batted in, four stolen bases, five walks, and a .393 on base percentage.
While Tommy Hanson (1-0, 0.00, four walks, 26 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched) is getting all the attention right now, don't forget about Deunte Heath. The former Vol is 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA, with 12 hits allowed in 18 innings. Carlos Sencion also deserve some light on him with a 0.00 ERA in his first two games, with two walks, and 11 strikeouts in nine innings pitched.
The Braves also are having trouble at the plate, with a .230 team batting average. But overall some of the (really) young hitters are off to an okay start. Jason Heyward is at .271 with a home run and seven RBI. Freddie Freeman is at .265 with six RBI. And Cody Johnson needs to get his average up from the .234 mark, but he does have three bombs with eight RBI.
The one hitter the Braves wanted to see go back to Rome and do well so he can be promoted out of there soon was Concepcion Rodriguez, and that's exactly what the outfielder is doing. Rodriguez is hitting .289 with three home runs and 13 RBI in his first 38 at bats. Last season Rodriguez hit .206 with seven home runs and 50 RBI in 427 at bats, so he's making significant progress this season in his return to the Sally League.
While the struggles of Jeff Locke (8.31 ERA) have been a surprise, lefties Steve Evarts (1.50 ERA) and Eric Barrett (pitching today with a 2.08 ERA) have done very well. Evarts has not walked a batter yet in 12 innings, while striking out 11.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta and 105.5 the Fan in Macon. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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