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the-other-braves | April | 2008 Articles

2008 Archives

The Other Braves

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After a disappointing 2007 campaign, the Braves are back with an eye on the top spot in their division. The team has an impressive returning cast along with some talented newcomers, especially on the pitching staff. Oh, did I mention that I'm not talking about our boys from Atlanta? I'm talking about the Rome Braves, Atlanta's A-ball affiliate and a team you'll be hearing quite a bit about this season if you follow the minors. After finishing 66-74 last season, the Braves' pitching has them as one of the favorites to win the South-Atlantic League Southern Division. That's because their opponents are going to have to face an outstanding rotation of Jeff Locke, Steve Evarts, Jose Ortegano, Edgar Osuna, and Chad Rodgers. Sure it's a bit strange to have five lefties in a rotation but who can complain when those five combined to go 25-6 with a 2.47 ERA , while striking out 275 and walking only 45 in 262 innings last season? It's not just the rotation that has the Rome Braves thinking about a South-Atlantic League championship this year. The offense, which ranked second to last in the league in 2007, saw a significant upgrade as well. Former first-rounders Jason Heyward and Cody Johnson will occupy the corner outfield spots for Rome this year and provide much needed power in the lineup, while 2007 second-round pick Freddie Freeman and shortstop Michael Fisher should prove to be valuable additions to the infield. With one of the most dominant rotations in the minors, Johnson and Heyward may be all this team needs to bring home a Sally League championship. No matter how they finish though, this is a team stacked with legitimate prospects and that is something you just don't see much. If you get a chance to head over to Rome and see a game or two, it's probably worth the drive if only to see Heyward and Locke, who could be top five hitting and pitching prospects in the game respectively, by the end of the season. We've heard about all this organization's talent in the low minors and nowhere is that more obvious than in Rome.

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