Myrtle Beach Preview

Here's a preview of the 2009 Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

The spotlight on the Myrtle Beach Pelicans will frequetly shine on the two super prospects in the Braves system, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman.

Heyward, a right fielder, and Freeman, a first baseman, were outstanding in their first big league camp. Both are recognized as two of the top prospects baseball.

But the two 19-year-olds will be joined by several other talented position players, including Cody Johnson. The left fielder is only twenty years old himself, and he will give the Pelicans a third strong left-handed hitter.

Heyward, Freeman, and Johnson combined for 55 home runs last season in Rome. Can they do even more in Myrtle Beach, known as a pitcher's park?

The big three will be joined in the lineup by Michael Fisher, a former Georgia Tech star who mostly played shortstop last year in Rome but will move to second base this season.

Chad Lundahl will be the main shortstop, but he is on the disabled list with an oblique problem. Robert Marcial and Randy Gress will also see time at shortstop. Gress can also play the corner infield positions.

Donell Linares is a former star in Cuba who signed last June. Linares is a 25-year-old right-handed hitter who plays a solid third base. Stephen Shults will back up Linares at third and also see time at first base and the outfield.

Between Johnson and Heyward in the outfield will be Quentin Davis, who played last year in Mississippi, and Cole Miles, who was the second baseman last year in Rome.

Australian Matt Kennelly will be the starting catcher. The Braves are testing the 20-year-old, who was impressive in big league camp in March. Benji Johnson will be the backup behind the plate.

The rotation will have Edgar Osuna, Jeff Locke, Carlos Rivas, Cole Rohrbough, and Jose Ortegano.

Eventually Erik Cordier will join the starting five. Cordier has missed most of the last two years since he was acquired from Kansas City for Tony Pena, Jr. He was on schedule to return from Tommy John surgery, but he was hit on his pitching hand by a line drive late in spring training. He had a hairline fracture on a finger on his pitching hand and will probably be out for a couple of weeks.

Craig Kimbrel will be the Pelicans' closer. He was unhittable last year after being drafted in the third round out of Wallace State Community College in Alabama.

Being Kimbrel will be a pretty impressive group, led by right-hander Cory Gearrin, who had a great camp. Tyler Wilson, Tommy Palica, Mike Mehlich, Lee Hyde, Mike Broadway, and Chad Rodgers will round out the pen.

Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on WFSM Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, Georgia and The Braves Show Talk Show. Shanks writes a weekly baseball column for The Macon Telegraph and is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. You can email Bill at

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