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Tom Gieryn: July 9 recap

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Rockies 7, Braves 6

MVP: Jeff Francoeur.  I'm not sure I ever thought I'd type that, but Jeff did his darnedest to help the Braves win this one, with three doubles in four at-bats and two RBIs.
LVP: Mike Gonzalez.  Blew a 5-5 tie in the eighth, a lead the Rox would hold.
MIP: Garret Atkins' double with two out in the eighth, driving in two runs to put the Rockies ahead 7-5.
UotG: Bullpen.  Gonzalez and Peter Moylan both folded in tight situations, covering up good work from Eric O'Flaherty, Boone Logan and Kris Medlen.

Minors

Gwinnett: Kelly Johnson is hitting well on his "rehab" assignment, as he went 2-for-2 today with three walks.  The fact that KJ is already playing rehab games suggests to me that he's not really hurt at all, but that both player and team were searching for an excuse to get him some time off to work on some things.  The Braves will be in an excellent bargaining position if Johnson comes back strong and Prado continues to play well.  I must confess a liking for Johnson in that battle (if he returns to form), but either one could do very well.  Barbaro Canizares and Chris Burke both went 2-for-5 with a homer apiece.  I have to think Burke could do a better job than Diory Hernandez as the token utility man, and Burke could easily join Brooks Conrad as guys with a future on the Braves major-league roster as useful, versatile bench players.

Mississippi: Brandon Hicks has moved up to the top of the order now that Heyward and Freeman are playing for the M-Braves, and he's 6-for-22 with seven walks in the last week.  He had a good year at Myrtle Beach last season; perhaps having Salt and Pepper around will be a good influence on him.  Speaking of Salt and Pepper, Heyward had one of Mississippi's four hits and Freeman walked twice in four PAs.

Kyle Cofield was a Southern League All-Star but didn't look like it today, allowing seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.  He's got good stuff but he's been walking a tightrope all season long, with a 58/61 K/BB ratio in 92 1/3 innings.  Not missing bats + plenty of free passes = trouble to come.  Deunte Heath struck out two in a perfect inning of work; it looks like the experiment with him as a starter is over, which is probably for the best.

Myrtle Beach: Cuban defector Donell Linares went 4-for-5 in this game with a walk, but he's old and thus much tougher to get excited about.  Gerardo Rodriguez was 2-for-4 with a homer, and he's now 7-for-21 with three walks since his promotion from Rome.  I've always been partial to Erik Cordier, because he seems to be one of the few right-handed SP prospects in our system, and because we stole him from the Royals for the vortex of suck that is Tony Pena Jr.  He's had knee problems and a Tommy John surgery in the last couple years, but he's starting to get on track.  He tossed seven innings of two-run ball in this one to lower his ERA to 3.23, though you'd like to see a better K/BB ratio from him.  Fireballing youngster Benino Pruneda blew the lead, giving up three runs in an inning, but Rudy Darrow recovered with two scoreless innings to finish the game out.

Rome: Not too much that's exciting here on offense, except that Adam Milligan, who was just promoted from Danville, just keeps on hitting with a 3-for-5 night.  The Braves drafted him several times before he finally signed, and their patience appears to be paying off.  Unfortunately he's defensively limited to left field so he'll have to keep hitting if he ever wants to reach the majors.

On the pitching side...oh, the potential!  Paul Clemens, our seventh-round pick last year, has absolutely electric stuff, touching 97 with his fastball, but he's been maddeningly inconsistent as he's bounced back and forth between rotation and bullpen, posting a 5.40 ERA so far.  This was one of his good outings, as he went six innings, allowing no earned runs and a walk while striking out eight.  Tyrelle Harris walked two and gave up a run in his inning and a third, but he did record all four outs by strikeout.

Danville: It's about time for Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg to try some blackmail or something if he wants to get promoted, because he sure couldn't be hitting any better: another 2-for-3 day takes him to a .469 average on the year so far.  Robby Hefflinger (seen his name a lot over the last couple days) also went 2-for-3.

Last year's eighth-round pick Brett Oberholtzer looks like the pitching equivalent of Spanjer-Furstenburg, and not just because their names contain excessive numbers of syllables.  He tossed seven scoreless innings of four-hit baseball, with no walks and eight strikeouts; in 22 innings this season across four starts, he has a 0.82 ERA and a 23/4 K/BB ratio.

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