April Minor League Review

The Braves Show's Bill Shanks looks at who has done well and who has not done so well in the first month of the minor league season.

HITTERS

The Good

Gwinnett infielder Diory Hernandez has continued his good work from spring training. He is hitting .423 with 13 RBI and a .474 on base percentage. If the Braves need an infielder this season, they'll turn to Hernandez.

Barbaro Canizares is putting up his best numbers in his career. The Gwinnett first baseman has always been known as a hitter, but along with his .344 average Canizares has five home runs and 14 RBI, with a .402 OBP.

Gorkys Hernandez is off to a good start in Mississippi, with a .306 average and a .379 OBP. Myrtle Beach left fielder Cody Johnson leads the Carolina League in home runs with nine, while Gerardo Rodriguez of Rome has a .310 average and five home runs.

The Bad

Last year's leader in starts in left field for Atlanta is struggling in Gwinnett. Gregor Blanco is hitting .228 with a .311 OBP. Van Pope, the Gwinnett third baseman, continues to struggle at the plate. He's hitting only .206.

Mississippi shortstop Brandon Hicks is hitting only .222 so far with a home run and a .296 OBP.

The Ugly

Isaiah Ka'aihue is hitting only .188 as Gwinnett's first baseman. Two hitters in Rome are really struggling. Catcher Braeden Schlehuber is hitting only .179, while outfielder Chris Shehan is at .194 with a .227 OBP.


PITCHERS

The Good

There's a lot of good on the pitching-side, with Tommy Hanson leading the way. The Braves top pitching prospect has a 1.69 ERA in five starts, with only nine walks and 38 strikeouts in 26.2 innings pitched.

Hanson's teammate and good friend, Kris Medlen, is also off to a fast start. Medlen has a 1.52 ERA in five games, with only six walks and 28 strikeouts in 23.2 innings.

Deunte Heath has a 1.29 ERA in his first five games started in Mississippi. Lefty Jonny Venters has a 1.16 ERA in his first five games. Mississippi reliever Kevin Gunderson has three walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 9.1 innings of work in Double-A.

Jeff Locke has flirted with no-hitters recently, and he's got a 3.12 ERA in his first five games, with 18 hits in 26 innings pitched and 27 strikeouts.

Cory Gearrin is perhaps the breakout player of the year so far. The sidearming reliever has a 0.82 ERA in nine games, with one walk, and 13 strikeouts in 11 innings. The Braves have shut Gearrin down for a few days with some shoulder soreness, but they do not think it is anything serious.

Richard Sullivan was promoted to Myrtle Beach Saturday after his strong start in Rome. Sullivan was 4-1 with a 3.72 ERA, along with 27 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched. Reliever Benny Pruneda was also promoted. He did not give up an earned run in eight appearances, with one walk and 13 strikeouts in eight innings.

Zeke Spruill goes for his fourth win of the season Sunday for Rome. He's 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA, one walk, and 20 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched.

The Bad

Ryne Reynoso is off to a slow start for Mississippi. He's 0-2 with an ERA of 6.00 in his first four games. Reynoso has 10 walks and 13 strikeouts in 21 innings of work.

Stephen Marek, acquired from the Angels in the Mark Teixeira deal last July, has an ERA of 9.00 in his first eight games.

And Rome starter Paul Clemens has an ERA of 9.16 in five games, with 31 hits allowed in 18.2 innings.

The Ugly

Craig Kimbrel's numbers are not great, and he got demoted to Rome to work on a few things for a while. Kimbrel had a 10.97 ERA in eight games for Myrtle Beach, with 15 walks and 18 strikeouts in 10.2 innings. The Braves are not concerned with Kimbrel, and they expect him back in Myrtle Beach soon.


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 thebravesshow@email.com.



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