Tag Archive | "Bobby Cox"

Braves will debut Top 50 prospect, hurler Mike Minor


In 2008, it was Jair Jurrjens. In 2009, it was Tommy Hanson. Now 2010 is here, the Braves are in need of another rookie pitcher to fill a void, and they may have found their man.

With Kris Medlen injured and Kenshin Kawakami trying to stretch himself out after rotting away in the bullpen for the past month, Bobby Cox and the Atlanta Braves will turn to highly touted prospect Mike Minor to start game one of their series with the Houston Astros.

Their first round draft pick just a year ago, Minor has progressed extremely rapidly as expected and will be the fourth player from his draft class, following Mike Leake, Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen, to reach the majors.

But even though he is just a year into his professional career, Minor has already given plenty of indication that he will exceed the expectations that were originally placed on him.

When the Braves originally picked him out of Vanderbilt, they thought they were getting a “safe” college arm that would rapidly rise through the organization and quickly be ready to help out at the Major League level. Some even criticized the pick, as the Braves used the seventh overall selection on a player who projected to be a reliable, but unspectacular, third starter who never would dominate or strike many batters out.

Although Minor did dominate in his first taste of professional baseball, he didn’t change many people’s opinions of him. After all he had only pitched 14 innings in 2009. Although he allowed just a single run and struck out 17 batters (while walking none), it was expected the strikeouts would decline when Minor faced stiffer competition.

2010 has turned into a coming out party for Minor. Starting at AA Mississippi, Minor quickly showed that he might have a higher ceiling than originally expected. Minor added a couple ticks to his fastball, and went from being a finesse pitcher to a dominant strikeout artist seemingly overnight.

Although his initial numbers (2-6, 4.03 ERA) at Mississippi don’t show anything special, you notice something else when you look deeper. Minor struck out an incredible 109 batters in just 87 innings and posted an FIP of just 2.78.

Although Minor’s star was quickly rising, it wasn’t until he reached AAA that everyone saw the dominant pitcher he could become. In 33.1 innings there, he has allowed just seven earned runs (good for a 1.89 ERA) and continued to strike out more than a batter per inning.

On the year as a whole, Minor has struck out 10.9 batters per inning and posted an FIP of 2.64. He has actually posted a better strikeout rate and FIP than Tommy Hanson, who finished third in Rookie of the Year voting despite being a mid-season call-up last year.

In just a year, Minor has quickly become a stud prospect in a Braves system loaded with young pitching talent (also be on the lookout for Julio Teheran next summer). He made Baseball America’s mid-season top 50, and will look to be the next young Braves pitcher, following Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson, to burst onto the scene with a terrific rookie season.

Used with permission of the author.

 Along with contributing to Sports Climax, Brett Kettyle is the Atlanta Braves Community Leader on Bleacher Report and maintains a Braves column for MTR Media. Follow Brett on Twitter.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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‘Thanks for the 50 Years Bobby Cocks’


In case you missed it, a group of our politicians on Capitol Hill led by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) presented thebobby cox cake Atlanta Braves manager a cake that had these words inscribed:

“Thanks for 50 Great Years Bobby Cocks”

Cox handled the gaffe well and accepted the reception as a nice gesture and thanked the group for recognizing him for his long tenure in the sport, a majority of which he spent in the Braves’ organization.

Senator Isakson’s spokesperson, Sheridan Watson, said that she ordered the cake from the vendor that handles cafeteria services in the Capitol and that Cox’s name was spelled correctly in the e-mail that was sent to the company.

However when the cake arrived, the goof was immediately noticed and the organizers smeared the top of it to hide the screw-up, but not before a few of our fellow quick-drawing media photogs snagged a shot like the one here.

So, ‘My Dear Watson’ how do you suppose this may have occurred?

“”Whether the mistake was accidental or intentional, I don’t know,” said Watson. “The only people who saw it were me, the scheduler and unfortunately some media members who had arrived early and took pictures.”

After this screw-up you have to wonder what these rocket scientists would have delivered to a reception for former players Rusty Kuntz or Dick Butkus.

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Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax™

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Jimenez tosses first no-hitter in Rockies history


Ubaldo Jimenez was handed the ball in this season’s opener for the Colorado Rockies and after his performance jimenez no hitteragainst the Atlanta Braves last night, it’s clear why.Jimenez no-hit the Braves in a 4-0 victory at Turner Field on a career-high 128-pitch performance. It was the first no-hitter in the history of the Colorado Rockies who’s starting pitching staff had only gotten into the 7th inning in a few previous attempts. 

What was impressive about this performance was the fact the radar gun at Turner was still showing 98 miles per hour in the ninth.

“He wasn’t tired, believe me,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “He could have thrown 150 pitches and he would have been throwing 98.”

The feat was far from over when Jimenez took the mound in the 9th with the heart of the order coming up for the Braves. Fueled by adrenaline, the fast-baller threw smoke and managed to get sluggers Chipper Jones and Brian McCann out then the celebration began.

“That’s an unbelievable feeling, having your teammates enjoying the time with you and just hugging you, admiring everything we did,” Jimenez said. “Not only I did it. It was the whole team. Every single guy was pulling for me. You can see it in their faces.”

One guy who was laying it all out was center fielder Dexter Fowler who made a diving backhanded snag of a line drive late in the game.

Jimenez from San Cristobal, Dominican Republic is the first pitcher to no-hit the Braves since Randy Johnson did the deed while pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 18, 2004. Johnson actually one-upped Jimenez, his was a perfect game.

Jimenez improved his season record to 3-0 and 1.29 ERA.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax™

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Braves Prospect Jason Heyward Crushing the Ball


KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Jason Heyward who is considered to be the No. 1 prospect in Major League Baseball for the 2010 Atlanta Braves Jason Heyward Photoseason is making a big impression in the Atlanta Braves organization as well several vehicles parked in and around the Kissimmee stadium they call home during spring training.

During a recent batting practice, Heyward damaged a Coca-Cola delivery truck then later sent another ball out of the park that smashed the sunroof of Assistant GM Bruce Mannos’ car. That ball is said to have caused $3,400 dollars damage to the vehicle but Manno handled it well saying “If I knew what happened to the ball, I would have Jason sign it.”

Heyward who stands 6’5″ and weighs a stout 245 pounds was selected 14th overall by the Braves in the 2007 draft and the then 17-year-old signed a reported $1.7 million dollar deal.

After being assigned to the Gulf Coast and Appalachian minor league system he hit a combined .302 with one home run and 6 RBI’S in 12 games. In 2008 he had a strong showing and over the course of 127 games he hit .316 with 11 HR’S 52 RBI’S scored 91 runs and even stole 15 bases.

This spring training, Heyward’s power is drawing a lot of attention and gives him a shot at earning the starting spot in right field. ” I just try to hit the ball hard, I’ve got a big frame and I guess that’s what does it.” said Heyward.

Like many others in the Braves’ clubhouse, teammate Eric Hinske is impressed. “[Heyward] is all he’s made up to be. He has got a unique sound when the ball comes off his bat, and he can hit the ball really far”.

Braves manager Bobby Cox who is in his final season as the skipper for the Braves has high hopes that he will have Heyward on the 40 man roster in this his last season.

Heyward started last season at single A Myrtle Beach team but ended at AAA Gwinnett playing in 99 games hitting .323with 17 HRs, 63 RBIs and 69 runs scored.

Expected to be in the line-up sometime this season, local Braves fans may want to update their car insurance when Heyward brings his large frame and big swing to Atlanta.

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Owings and Zambrano Lead Pack of Best Hitting Pitchers in MLB


Previously published in Baseball Digest on July 15, 2008.ATLANTA, Ga. – It’s the bottom of the 6th inning with two outs and a man on base for the Arizona Diamondbacks who trail the visiting Houston Astros 7-5. Diamondback’s Manager Bob Melvin decides to call on a right-handed pinch hitter.

Houston manager Cecil Cooper makes a trip to the mound and counters Melvin’s move by making a pitching change, bringing in reliever Dave Borkowski to come in to get the important final out of the inning.

The raucous crowd of Diamondback fans at Chase Field rise to their feet as the pinch hitter digs in, staring through Borkowski awaiting the delivery. Borkowski, confident, rears back and fires the ball, challenging the hitter.

The ball is greeted with a solid crack of the bat and the crowd erupts as the ball sails into the right field seats for a two-run pinch hit homer to tie the game. In a matter of seconds, one pitch, one crack of the bat. . . and two runs on the board for the Diamondbacks.

Unusual? This time it was.

The pinch hitter was Micah Owings, a member of the Diamondback’s starting rotation. A pitcher who many believe may be the purest hitting pitcher ever to play the game.

Last year while playing in front of friends and family at Turner Field in his home state, Owings had a record-breaking night at the plate going 4 for 5 with 2 home runs, 6 RBI’s and 4 runs scored while earning the win against the Atlanta Braves. His 11 total bases for a pitcher is a feat that had not been accomplished in nearly 50 years. Those are numbers A Rod would call home about.

Owings went on to hit .333 last season with 20 hits, including 4 home runs, 15 RBI’s and a .683 slugging percentage in 60 at bats. It’s no wonder Bob Melvin felt confident to give Owings the call at a crucial time in that tight game against the Astros earlier this season.

In addition to Owings, baseball fans expect a solid at bat whenever Chicago Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano steps to the plate. At the time this article was written, Zambrano was hitting an astounding .362 this season with 17 hits including a home run, two doubles and a triple.

Zambrano exhibited a solid swing throughout the 2006 season when he belted 6 home runs escalating his major league career total to 13.

Zambrano and Owings have both compiled impressive stats and have proven they are not automatic outs like most other pitchers. When these great hitting pitchers step up to the plate, it seems to turn up the volume of the hometown fans and create uncommon pressure for the guy on the mound, adding a unique element to the game.

Before being traded to the American League where the DH is used, Dontrelle Willis ran up some great numbers at the plate for the Florida Marlins while being placed as high up as 7th in the batting order.

Like Owings, he once hit two home runs in the same game. He did it in 2006, the same year he connected for a grand slam in another contest. During the 2007 season, his final year on the Marlins, he hit .286 with an on-base percentage of .348.

Rick Wise is another member of this elite group. In 1971, the Phillies starter pitched a 4-0 no-hitter against the Reds while hitting two over the fence at Riverfront Stadium. Again in the same year, he added a second two home run game to his record.

Throughout baseball’s long history, other pitchers have evolved into serious threats at the plate. The Los Angeles Dodgers have had a few, like Orel Hershiser who batted .356 in 1993 and Don Drysdale who hit .300 and connected on 7 long balls in 1965.

In recent history, Jason Marquis now pitching for the Cubs accrued some real impressive numbers when he batted .292 in 2004 followed by .310 in 2005; both seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals while winning 28 games as a starter during that same span.

When these great hitting pitchers are in a game, opposing pitchers have the task of studying an additional hitter in the line-up. Today, pitchers have learned not to throw three quick fastballs over the plate to Owings or Zambrano or they may end up on the bad end of an ESPN highlight reel.

When these starters get the call, NL managers Melvin and Lou Piniella have the luxury of having the additional bat in the lineup; like having a DH. In fact, during spring training Melvin used Owings in the DH slot during some inter-league games.

These athletes are MLB’s rare breed of hitters. A strong hitting pitcher adds an exciting element to the game and pumps up the volume when they step to the plate in front of their hometown fans.

Makes some baseball fans wonder, how great is the DH rule?

Copyright © 2008 – Sports Climax

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