By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Gwinnett Braves eager to get season started
Triple-A Braves affiliate loaded with young talent
Placeholder Image

LAWRENCEVILLE - Managing a minor league team isn't easy.

Each year the roster is filled with young stars, minor league veterans and players fighting for a spot on the Major League roster, and since the majority of the players are different from year to year, handling each individual's needs can be a challenge.

But that's just the way Gwinnett Braves manager Dave Brundage likes it.

"Minor league goals are different," Brundage said Tuesday during the Gwinnett Braves annual Media Day. "First and foremost, we have to develop players whether it's young guys or veterans. We have to make sure they're all ready for the Major League level."

A bevy of players on this year's G-Braves are on the verge of being ready, including outfielders Jordan Schafer and Jose Constanza, infielder Shawn Bowman, catcher J.C. Boscan and pitchers Rodrigo Lopez, Juan Abreu, Jairo Asencio and Julio Teheran, the top-rated prospect in the Braves organization.

"I like the nucleus," Brundage said. "We have a lot of team speed and a wide array of power to protect our pitchers along the way."

With Lopez, who nearly made the Atlanta roster out of spring training, and Teheran, the highly touted prospect who has progressed through the minor leagues at a rapid pace, the pitching staff will be the strength of this year's G-Braves.

Lopez will start Thursday's opener against the Durham Bulls, with Teheran slated to pitch the third game of the series.

"We felt Rodrigo earned the right," Brundage said. "He's had an outstanding big league career, and we wanted to make sure he had an opportunity to showcase his talents on opening night."

While he had yet to see his team practice, Brundage said this year's G-Braves are not only about pitching, and the diverse lineup should be fun to watch.

Atop his priority list is Schafer, who has long been thought of to be the Braves centerfielder of the future.

"I'm anxious to get Jordan Schafer off on the right foot," Brundage said.

Schafer and recently acquired Constanza give the G-Braves plenty of speed atop the lineup, while Bowman and Boscan provide power in the heart of the order.

With a pitching staff that can dominate opposing offenses, the G-Braves won't need to count on their offense often, but if they need to, it's fully capable of scoring at will.

"Our goal is to put up a bunch of runs so we don't put pressure on the pitchers," hitting coach Jamie Dismuke said. "Having that pitching staff is exciting though because you know you're going to be in every game."

Like most years, Dismuke will have to find a replacement for the majority of last year's offensive weapons, including Matt Young and Freddie Freeman, who are both playing in Atlanta.

Also gone from last year's team is Barbaro Canizares, who led the International League with a .341 batting average.
Seeing how talented the roster is, Dismuke is confident in the offense.

"We have a bunch of guys who are that borderline (MLB) type player," he said. "We're going to work hard every day and make the most of it."

That mentality resonates in the pitching staff, especially with Teheran, who said he was surprised to start the year in Gwinnett and is not concerned about the pressure of being the Braves top pitching prospect.

"It's not so much pressure, but motivation to excel," Teheran said through an interpreter. "Now that I know everyone is watching, it gives me motivation to succeed."

Helping Teheran succeed is new pitching coach Marty Reed, who coached Teheran last year in Double-A.

"He and I are very comfortable with each other," Reed said. "I'm sure that will help out in the transition."
How long Reed is able to coach Teheran is anyone's guess, and if it were up to the Columbia native, his stay in Gwinnett will be short lived.

"I'll be (in Atlanta)," Teheran said, "if not this year, then next year."


Friends to Follow social media