Results tagged ‘ Freddie Freeman ’

Hanson, Heyward and Freeman among latest cuts

If you’re in Myrtle Beach within the next couple of months, make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to view the Heyward and Freeman show.  Of course, if you don’t catch them there, they’ll likely be performing in Pearl, Miss. before the summer is complete. 

We’ve had the pleasure of watching this act in Disney over the past six weeks and I’d have to say they’re the best teenage duo in the country right now.  I’m sorry if I’ve offended any Jonas Brothers fans.  But I’d have to say the odds of  Heyward carrying a tune seem much greater than those of Nick Jonas routinely hitting 400-foot homers. 

OK. Now that I’ve referred to the Jonas Brothers without ever knowingly ever hearing anything they’ve ever recorded, we’ll return to Braves camp, which got a little roomier on Thursday morning, when Tommy Hanson, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman learned they were being sent to Minor League camp. 

Hanson lived up to his tremendous expectations and now will spend a month or two with Triple-A Gwinnett before getting the opportunity to bring his act to Atlanta.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, Hanson could certainly be the best member of the Atlanta rotation by the time this season is complete.  But it makes sense for him to get some more Minor League seasoning.  If he started the season as Atlanta’s big league starter, he’d be scheduled to make just two starts in April. 

In other words, barring injuries suffered by another starter, we knew that Hanson was going to eventually be cut.  We just didn’t know when.

With Hanson in Minor League camp, manager Bobbby Cox will now have the opportunity to ensure each of his projected starters and relievers can get their necessary work during the remainder of the exhibition season.  

As for Heyward and Freeman, they exceeded every expectation that I had.  Just two years ago they were facing high school opponents.  But that didn’t stop them from spendng the past six weeks making fans wonder if they might actually get a call to Atlanta this year.

Like I’ve said in the past, now that I’ve had the chance to see these two kids play,  I’ll never say never about that possibility.  But at the same time, I think it would be more appropriate to debate whether they’re Major Leauge-ready at this time next year.

While playing for Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach and  likely Double-A Mississippi this year, Heyward and Freeman will experience a natural maturation process.  They need to test themselves against they caliber and frequency of offspeed pitches that weren’t present when they dominated the South Atlantic League last year. 

From an offensive and defensive standpoint, Heyward and Freeman handled themselves admirably among the Major Leaguers.  Also it was refreshing to see the humility that they displayed throughout camp.  They were true professionals and I’m looking forward to watching them continue to make their trek toward Atlanta. 

In this business, you pull for good people and those two kids certainly fit that category.

TV Game:  Chip Caray and Brian Jordan will serve as the broadcasters for today’s game which will be on MLB.TV and CSS, for those of you who are still watching baseball on television.

Kotchman sick again:  Casey Kotchman said he felt great yesterday and planned to return to today’s lineup.  But the first baseman, who had battled the flu most of last week, started to feel sick again this morning.  He’s fearful that he might have eaten something and acquired food poisoning.

Today’s Lineup:

Kelly Johnson 2B
Yunel Escobar SS
Chipper Jones 3B
Brian McCann C
Jeff Francoeur  RF
Greg Norton  1B
Brandon Jones LF
Jordan Schafer CF
Derek Lowe P 

Hanson ready to face Panama

During his 1985 rookie season, Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell learned that you had to have thick skin and a good personality to co-exist with the personalities possessed by the likes of Keith Hernandez, Wally Backman, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson.

That was the year that Gooden went 24-4 and the Mets finished three games behind the Cardinals in the National League East race.

As McDowell remembers, at the conclusion of that season, Hernandez hollered at Gooden and said, “Hey Doc, if you hadn’t lost those four games we would have won the division.”

Gooden’s name came up this morning, because I wanted to get a sense about whether you can get an early feel about whether a top prospect is going to truly be special.  In another words, I was chasing another Tommy Hanson angle.

Nobody is saying that Hanson will duplicate the early dominance of Gooden, who went 58-19 with a 2.28 ERA and 744 strikeouts in the  744 2/3 innings he completed during his first three big league seasons.
 
But the more you hear about Hanson, the more you want to see and hear more about him.

“I just want to buy stock in Tommy Hanson,” said 300-game winner Don Sutton, who arrived in Braves camp on Tuesday morning to prepare for the games he’ll broadcast with his new radio parter, Jim Powell, this weekend.

Sutton, who has rejoined the Braves broadcast team after spending the past two years with the Nationals, will get a chance to watch Hanson pitch against Panama this afternoon.  Maybe this time around, Carlos Lee will actually recognize that this isn’t just some run-of-the-mill prospect.  

After being frozen by a couple of breaking balls that Hanson threw in his Grapefruit League debut last week, the Astros left fielder acted like he was unimpressed by essentially limiting his comments to, “He throws hard.”

Based on the fact that Lee had just looked at a called third-strike slider, maybe he didn’t actually get a good look at the right-hander, who certainly has more than simply a fastball that has registered 99 mph.

Hanson made another good impression on the Braves coaching staff yesterday, when he showed up to throw and work out before the inter-squad game. His decision to come to the park on an off-day further proved his early fame hasn’t led to him gaining an early sense of entitlement.

Acosta set to face his country:  Manny Acosta decided last week that he won’t participate in the World Baseball Classic.  So instead of pitching for Panama on Tuesday, the right-handed reliever will be pitching against his native country’s team.  He is scheduled to throw one inning.

Walking wounded:  Jordan Schafer (shoulder), Josh Anderson (tailbone), Casey Kotchman (finger and quad) and Freddie Freeman (quad) are all nursing minor injuries that might keep them out of the lineup for another day or two.  But each of them participated in Tuesday morning’s workout. 

Prepared to play: Garret Anderson thinks he might be ready to make his Braves debut on Thursday against Venezuela.  The veteran outfielder, who signed with the Braves last week, has told Bobby Cox that he needs approximately 30 at-bats to be ready for the regular season.

Odds and ends:  Tom Glavine is expected to arrive in Braves camp on Wednesday…Peter Moylan said that he hasn’t felt any discomfort since throwing an inning against the Phillies on Sunday.  It was his first appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 8.

Today’s Lineup:
Yunel Escobar SS
Omar Infante CF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Greg Norton 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Matt Diaz LF
Brandon Jones DH
Dave Ross C
Martin Prado 2B

- Mark Bowman  

  

Cox places Heyward and Freeman in Sunday's lineup

After Sunday afternoon games at Turner Field, the Braves allow children to run the bases.  When it comes to Sunday afternoon Spring Training home games, they actually let the kids play. 

With the defending world champion Phillies in town today, Braves manager Bobby Cox has constructed a lineup that includes both first baseman Freddie Freeman and outfielder Jason Heyward. These 19-year-old phenoms were born three years after Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer made his Major League debut. 

While Moyer didn’t make the trek to Disney, the Phillies did bring former Brave Marcus Giles, who seems to have an outside shot to begin the season in the Majors.  I’m not sure the same can be said for Andruw Jones, who has struck out during eight of the first nine at-bats he’s had with with the Rangers this Spring. 

The funniest line I’ve heard about Andruw came yesterday when a fellow scribe said, “I think he’ll stay in Rangers camp until at least March, but that’s only because this isn’t a leap year.” 

March has arrived and Peter Moylan is ready to start showing why he believes he might be ready to be part of the Opening Day roster.  Moylan, who is just 10 months removed from Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to pitch an inning against the Phillies today. 

They’ve removed the tarp from the field and according to the radar, it looks like we might be able to enjoy an rain-free game today.  I’m sorry to hear that the weather gods aren’t being as kind to you in Atlanta today. 

My girlfriend just sent me a text that read, “It’s snowing like crazy here.”  I really don’t know what the big deal is.  I think all of us knew there we’d probably see a March snowfall in Atlanta before Andruw actually did something more surprising like put two balls in play during the same Cactus League game.

- Mark Bowman    

Let's get ready to see this Hanson kid

If you want to figure out what all of this Tommy Hanson-hype is all
about, you should tune in today’s game against the Astros.  The big
right-hander is scheduled to throw the third and fourth innings of the
game, which will be broadcast on  MLB.TV and ESPN. 

Eddie
Perez witnessed pure mastery on those countless nights when he sat
behind the plate and watched Greg Maddux demoralize opposing batters. 
Given that he spent most of his career serving as the primary catcher
for one of the greatest pitchers to ever toe the rubber, you might
think that it would take a lot for Perez to get excited. 

But
like most us, Perez arrived at the stadium on Thursday looking forward
to the opportunity to see Hanson make his first appearance in a Major
League setting.  Baseball America lists Hanson as the game’s fourth-best overall prospect and the top right-handed pitching prospect. 

“I
haven’t seen a pitching prospect like this since I started coming to
big league camp and guys like Steve Avery and John Smoltz were getting
started,” said Perez, who now serves as Atlanta’s bullpen coach.

Braves
manager Bobby Cox compares Hanson’s slider to the one thrown by Smoltz.
When you consider that many consider Smoltz’s slider to be the best in
the game, that’s pretty lofty praise.

Chipper making the trek to Bradenton:  When
Kenshin Kawakami makes his Braves debut against the Pirates on Friday,
Chipper Jones will be there to play alongside the Japanese hurler and
reminisce about his earliest days in professional baseball.

This
will be the first time that Jones has returned to Bradenton since
playing rookie ball there after being selected by the Braves as the top
overall selection in the 1990 Draft.  The first curfew punishment he
received that summer came after he was caught by current Braves first
base coach Glenn Hubbard, who had just started his professional
coaching career.

Chipper on managing
:  When I told
Chipper that some of you were talking yesterday about the possibility
of him one day serving as the Braves manager, he laughed and said
something like, “my wife would divorce me so fast that it’s not even
funny.”

“The managing part is more time consuming than playing,”
Jones said.”Quite honestly, I don’t know if I have the patience to put
up with everything that you have to put up with.  Whether it’s with
young cocky players, the media and what not, I think I’d be better
suited to be an instructor.

Today’s lineup:
Jordan Schafer CF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Chipper Jones 3B
Casey Kotchman 1B
Yunel Escobar SS
Jeff Francoeur RF
David Ross C
Brandon Jones LF
Greg Norton DH

Jorge
Campillo, Hanson, Boone Logan, Jeff Bennett, James Parr and Mike
Gonzalez are all scheduled to pitch against the Astros, who will send
Roy Oswalt to the mound to start the game.

- Mark Bowman

Thoughts from Lakeland

When some scouts were comparing Jordan Schafer to Grady Sizemore last year, I didn’t exactly see the comparison.  But I guess that’s why they’re paid to project and I’m paid to use their thoughts in an attempt to display intelligence. 

While Sizemore and the Indians have abandoned their former Spring home of Winter Haven, his clone returned to Polk County on Wednesday and showed why Baseball America has rated him the game’s 42nd-best prospect and the seventh-best center field prospect.

Schafer showed off his arm with a strong first-inning throw, displayed his speed with a fifth-inning stolen base and then flexed his muscles while hitting a seventh-inning homer.  

“There isn’t a tool this kid doesn’t possess,” said Matt Diaz, who spent the winter training with the young prospect who is going to bring Schafe-mania to Georgia next month. 

One exhibition game obviously doesn’t change the fact that in some ways it makes sense for Schafer to start this season at Triple-A Gwinnett.   But at the same time, when you see how natural this kid looks when he’s on the diamond, you can’t help but wonder how long the Braves can seriously keep this gem at the Minor League level.

<b> Garret update:  </b>  Garret Anderson worked out at Disney today and Cox thinks his new outfielder might be able to make his exhibition season debut early next week.   I’m still of the opinion that Anderson was a solid pickup and possibly the best bargain of the offseason. 

But when you just get a taste of what Schafer can do on the field, you get a better idea about why some of the Braves felt they would be fine if GM Frank Wren didn’t land an additional outfielder.

<b> Here comes Hanson:  </b>  This is my ninth season covering the Braves and never before have I been more excited about seeing somebody pitch.  Tommy Hanson is scheduled to throw two innings against the Astros tomorrow and when he takes the mound, it might mark one of those rare occasions when every media member is simultaneously actually paying attention to what’s going on during an exhibition game.

<i> Baseball America </i> has rated Hanson as the top right-handed pitching prospect.  He ranks fourth on the overall list, just one spot ahead of Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, who is rated the game’s top corner  outfield  prospect. 

The five Braves listed in BA’s top 100 list include: Hanson (4), Heyward (5), Schafer (42), Gorkys Hernandez (62) and Freddie Freeman (87).

Brandon Hicks, a non-roster invitee who hasn’t received enough attention during the early days of camp, is rated as the game’s 10th-best shortstop prospect. 

“He’s a Major League shortstop,” Cox said while Hicks was showing his power potential during batting practice on Wednesday.

  

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