Atlanta Braves' organizational report
The Braves are 10-10 so far this season and have really seen great improvements in the starting rotation. Atlanta's starters have allowed only four earned runs in the last six games. The starting pitchers have an ERA of 2.84 through the first twenty games, which is second best in the National League behind Arizona. Atlanta's bullpen has an ERA of 4.20, tenth best in the National League.
Atlanta's hitting has been okay, with a .280 batting average as the second best in the NL. They've scored 103 runs, third best in the league, and their 26 home runs are fourth best.
The Richmond hitters have been led by first baseman Barbaro Canizares (.407) and Clint Sammons (.395). They are second and third in the league with those lofty batting averages.
Brent Lillibridge continues to struggle, with a .152 batting average. Scott Thorman is also off to a slow start with a .212 average and no home runs. Brandon Jones, who struggled in spring training, is hitting only .228 and has yet to hit a home run.
Jonathan Rouwenhorst has been a pleasant surprise for the Braves. He's got a 2.08 ERA in his seven games and has stepped into the rotation for two starts as Richmond lost Buddy Carlyle and Chuck James to Atlanta. Charlie Morton (1.69) and Jo Jo Reyes (0.00) have been stalwarts in the Richmond rotation.
Phil Stockman (1.54) could be the next Richmond pitcher recalled. He's allowed only four hits in 11.2 innings, with four walks and 14 strikeouts. Jeff Ridgway is also doing well from the left side of the rubber, with a 2.16 ERA in seven games. But lefty hitters are batting .357 against the former Tampa Bay Devil Ray.
The Braves (4-15) are hitting only .224 as a team, next to last in the Southern League. They have only seven home runs, also ninth in the league. The 57 runs they have scored in the first 19 games is the lowest total in the league.
Jason Perry, who was signed over the weekend, has seven RBI in his first seven at bats and is providing the Braves with some offense. Diory Hernandez is putting together a solid month in Double-A after a very shaky spring training in big league camp. Hernandez is hitting .294 with a couple of home runs and seven RBI.
Isaiah Ka'aihue has his average over the Mendoza line now at .208. The first baseman has still not hit a home run yet this season. Mark Jurich (.212) and Carl Loadenthal are two of the Braves' outfielders that need to get going.
On the pitching side, Todd Redmond, who was acquired from the Pirates in the Tyler Yates deal, is off to an excellent start. In his first four games, Redmond has allowed only seven earned runs for a 2.66 ERA. He's walked only two, while striking out 17. The other Mississippi starters have struggled: James Parr (5.89), Dustin Evans (6.91), Jairo Cuevas (7.50), and Dan Smith (8.50).
Kris Medlen continues his solid work, with a 1.69 ERA in his first six games. The right-hander has only three walks and 11 strikeouts in 10.2 innings.
The Pelicans (10-9) are really struggling at the plate, with a league-worst .221 team batting average. Only three players have batting averages above .233: Robert Marcial (.304), Gorkys Hernandez (.303), and Derrick Arnold (.290).
Hernandez is off to a solid start, with two home runs, 10 RBI, and five stolen bases. Gorkys is day-to-day now with a sore wrist after getting hit on Monday night. But some of the other regulars are really struggling. Jon Mark Owings (.233), Travis Jones (.226), Tyler Flowers (.226), Willie Cabrera (.203), and Ernesto Mejia (.186). Brandon Hicks got back in the starting lineup Tuesday after missing some time with a thigh bruise.
The pitching has been the reason the Pelicans are over .500, as the team ERA of 2.59 is second best in the league. It has given up only 126 hits in 174 innings, with a league-leading seven saves.
Obviously, Tommy Hanson (0.00 ERA in four games) has been the main story – not only with the Pelicans, but in all of minor league baseball. The Braves have also gotten solid work from Chris Vines (0.00 ERA) and reliever Kevin Gunderson (0.00 in six games).
Deunte Heath has walked too many batters (15 in 24 innings), but he's allowed only five earned runs in four starts. Ryne Reynoso had his best start of the year Tuesday night and lowered his ERA to 4.50. Reynoso has only five walks in his first four starts with 22 strikeouts.
The Braves have won three in a row and are now 8-11 on the season. They have scored 23 runs in those three games and allowed only six. That's a good sign for the pitching staff, as its 4.48 team ERA is 13th in the Sally League.
Eric Barrett had another great performance Tuesday night (5.2 scoreless innings, two walks, seven strikeouts). His 1.33 ERA is fifth best in the league. He's also struck out 20 batters in 20.1 innings pitched. Steve Evarts is ninth in the league with his 1.50 ERA. He has only one walk in his first 18 innings pitched.
Jeff Locke's struggles have been somewhat of a surprise, particularly the hits allowed. He's given up 24 in 18 innings so far, which is much different from last year when he gave up only 48 in 61 innings in Danville. But Locke's control remains solid, with only four walks on the year.
At the plate Adam Coe is turning out to be a nice story. While Samuel Sime, who was expected to take off this season, is struggling with a .122 batting average, Coe is hitting .341 in his first 41 at bats.
Jason Heyward (.315) and Freddie Freeman (.286) continue to do well, despite having only one home run between them. Cody Johnson leads the team in home runs with four, while Concepcion Rodriguez leads the team with 13 RBI.
The Braves have a good number of threats on the base paths. Heyward leads the team with seven stolen bases, while Cole Miles has six. Johnson and Sime each have three steals on the season.
Former Georgia Tech star Michael Fisher is off to a slow start, hitting only .224.
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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