Danville Braves Preview

Here's a preview of the 2008 Danville Braves, who start play tonight in Burlington.

The Braves will send right-hander Randall Delgado to the mound tonight in the season opener. He's a 19-year-old right-hander who was 1-2 in eleven games (ten starts) for the DSL Braves last season. Delgado had an ERA of 2.00 with 34 hits allowed in 45 innings, 10 earned runs, 12 walks, and 50 strikeouts. Delgado has a fastball that tops out at 94 mph, a good curveball, and a solid changeup.

Julio Teheran will get the start Wednesday night when the Braves have their home opener. Teheran is the 17-year-old Panamanian who will be the most closely watched pitcher in the Appalachian League this summer. His extended spring training was sidetracked by the chicken pox, but in his last few appearances before breaking camp in Florida Teheran showed coaches again why he is so heralded.

Expect Australian lefty Steve Kent to be the third start. Kent was 3-2 in the GCL last summer with a 3.86 ERA in thirteen games (ten starts). Kent will be followed in the rotation by right-hander Casey Hodges, this year's 23rd round pick out of Mount Olive College in North Carolina, and Richard Sullivan, the 11th rounder out of Savannah College of Art and Design.

There are four pitchers who will get some innings in a piggyback situation. Steve Figueroa is a right-hander who started one game in Danville last season, but the majority of his work was in the Gulf Coast League, where he was 2-5 with a 5.63 ERA. Junior Rojas is a 6'2", 210-pound right-hander who was also in the GCL last summer. Tim Ladd was the ninth round pick in the 2007 draft out of Georgia Tech. He pitched in fourteen games in Danville last summer. And Angelo Paulino, a 6'4" righty who started eight games in the GCL last season, will also get significant innings.

Those strictly based in the bullpen for Danville will include Cody Railsback, who had time in the GCL and in Rome last season. Derrick Himpsl, a tall lefty with control issues who has a good fastball. Matt Timms, signed a few years ago out of Australia, will get a look this summer. And Clayton McMillan, a lefty reliever out of Texas.

Matt Kennelly and Jesus Sucre will split time at catcher. Both catchers spent last season in the Gulf Coast League last summer. Kennelly might also get some at bats as the Danville designated hitter. Both players need to improve offensively. Kennelly hit only .215 last summer, while Sucre hit .221.

The first baseman will be Gerardo Rodriguez, a 20-year-old right-handed hitter who the Braves signed after he was released by the Yankees' organization. Rodriguez was in the Gulf Coast League for the last two seasons. He's got 13 home runs in 427 at bats in his minor league career.

Yoel Campusano will start at second base. He hit .349 in the Dominican Summer League last summer. Shane Moody, this year's 24th round draft pick out of UNC Charlotte, will be the starting shortstop. And Jon Gilmore, who spent time in Rome earlier this season, will be the starting third baseman. Gilmore will be watched closely and should be counted on as one of the top hitters in the lineup.

The reserve infielders will be Randy Gress and Chais Fuller, two players who brought in last summer. Gress was the 18th round pick last season, while Fuller was a non-drafted signee. Both players can play second, short, and third base.

Stephen Shults, who hit six home runs for Danville last season, will return and see time at first base, third base, left field, right field, and as the designated hitter.

The outfield will include L.V. Ware, who will be getting his first official playing time after missing last season with shoulder surgery. Ware was a non-drafted free agent signed last summer. He'll play mainly in center field.

Mike Elkerson, signed by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent last week, will play in left field. Elkerson played at Abilene Christian University. He's a six-foot-two, 195-pound right-handed hitter who hit .424 with 21 home runs, 86 RBI, 22 doubles, and three triples. He also stole 19 bases.

Chris Shehan, the 30th round pick out of Georgia Southern, will start in right field. Shehan hit .438 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI in 224 at bats. He was the player of the year in the Southern Conference.

The other outfielders will be David Berres, who was in the GCL last summer, and Kuyaunnis Miles, who showed good power in extended spring training.

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