@MBraves Announce 2015 Field Staff

Manager Aaron Holbert to lead M-Braves for his fourth season
PEARL, MS — In conjunction with the Atlanta Braves, the Mississippi Braves announced its 2015 field staff today. Manager Aaron Holbert, pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn and trainer Ricky Alcantara all return for the 2015 season. After a one-year stint at Triple-A Gwinnett last season, hitting coach Garey Ingram is set to return to the M-Braves as well.

Holbert returns for his fourth season managing the Double-A Braves. After leading the 2013 club to its first playoff appearance since 2008, Holbert’s 2014 M-Braves posted the best record in the Southern League, going 83-56. That record was also the best in M-Braves history, and it was the fourth-best record in Double-A Braves franchise history (best since 1992). The California native spent 17 years as a player including big league appearances with St. Louis (1996) and Cincinnati (2005). He resides in Tampa, FL.

Lewallyn returns for his third season overseeing the M-Braves pitching staff in 2015. The 2014 club had the second best ERA in the Southern League at 3.37. With 1,043 strikeouts, the staff also fanned the second-most in the league while walking only 381 (second-least in the league). Lewallyn also saw closers Shae Simmons and Chasen Shreve receive direct call-ups to Atlanta this past season. The 2015 season is Lewallyn’s seventh season in the Southern League. He previously served in the same capacity with the Tennessee Smokies (2007-10). Lewallyn resides in Pensacola, FL.

Ingram served as the M-Braves hitting coach for four seasons (2010-13) before moving to Triple-A Gwinnett in the same roll last season. He’ll return to the M-Braves in 2015 and look to pick up where the 2014 club left off in posting the best batting average (.266) in the Southern League. Prior to joining the Braves organization, Ingram spent seven seasons (2002-08) as a minor league hitting coach in the Dodgers system. He retired from a 14-year professional playing career in 2002. Ingram resides in Columbus, GA.

Alcantara returns for his eighth season in Mississippi. He’s been in the Braves organization since interning with the Braves Instructional League in 2003. Alcantara is a graduate of Texas State University and resides in Dallas, TX.

The Mississippi Braves open the 2015 season at Trustmark Park Thursday, April 9 against the Mobile BayBears. Season tickets and mini plans are on sale now. Businesses looking for unique ways to advertise should explore opportunities with the M-Braves. For more information, call 888-BRAVES4 or stop by the M-Braves Front Office Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM.

Kyle Tait is the radio voice of the Mississippi Braves, double-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.  Follow him on Twitter: @MBravesRadio and hear more at HearKyleTait.com

G-Braves Hot Stove: 2014-2015 Transaction Tracker

Kyle Tait:

Thorough look from G-Braves media relations manager Dave Lezotte
on the FA movement in the Braves’ system.

Originally posted on The G-Blog:

Sean Kazmar, a member of the Gwinnett Braves for the past two seasons, re-signed on November 12.  (Taylor Botta / Gwinnett Braves)

Sean Kazmar, a member of the Gwinnett Braves for the past two seasons, re-signed with Atlanta on November 12. (Taylor Botta / Gwinnett Braves)

As the Hot Stove season continues, here’s an overview of Atlanta Braves’ transactions that could directly affect the Gwinnett Braves roster in 2015.  Moves that pertain to the Major League club only are not included.  All information has been obtained through the Braves.com Transaction Report and Baseball America Minor League Free Agent Tracker.  Please note that the official Gwinnett Braves 2015 Roster will not be announced until early April, and all roster projections are my opinion only.

This post was last updated on December 15.


Acquired via trade:

  • Arodys Vizcaino (RHP) – acquired from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Tommy La Stella on November 16.  As mentioned in a previous post, the hard-throwing Vizcaino is back in the Braves’ organization after two-plus seasons…

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@MBraves Win Season Finale but Miss Playoffs

Jacksonville’s 6-5 win over Mobile negates M-Braves’ 2-1 defeat of Huntsville as Suns clinch South
By: Kyle Tait, Mississippi Braves

Huntsville, AL – The Mississippi Braves did their part in a 2-1 win over the Huntsville Stars in Monday afternoon’s season finale at Joe Davis Stadium, but the Jacksonville Suns’ 6-5 win over the Mobile BayBears eliminated the Braves from playoff contention.

Entering the day, Mississippi (44-26; 83-56) needed to win and for the Jacksonville Suns to fall to the Mobile BayBears in order to clinch the final playoff spot in the Southern League.  Mobile scored twice in the ninth but stranded the tying run at third base, ending the M-Braves’ chances.

With the division loss, the M-Braves become the first team in Southern League history to finish with the league’s best overall record but not make the playoffs because of the first-half, second-half system.

Seth Loman broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning when he came up with the bases loaded and one out.  He rolled one to second base for a force out, and Kyle Wren came across for a 2-1 lead.

The lead came only after a great pitcher’s duel between Mitch Atkins and Brent Suter.  Atkins fired six innings of two-hit baseball, allowing just a solo home run to Hainley Statia in the first to trail 1-0.

The M-Braves tied it 1-1 against Suter in the third.  Wren doubled and Kyle Kubitza drove him home with an RBI single with two outs.

The contest went to the bullpens tied up, with Ryne Harper (9-5) picking up the win in relief and Kevin Shackelford (2-4) suffering the loss.  John Cornely (S, 7) came on for the save, allowing a hit and striking out two in the ninth.

The Stars will meet the Chattanooga Lookouts while the Mobile BayBears face the Jacksonville Suns in the Southern League playoffs beginning Thursday, with both coming as best-of-five series to determine the Championship round.

The M-Braves open their 11th season of play in Pearl, MS on Thursday April 9, 2015 with the Tennessee Smokies at Trustmark Park.

Mississippi Braves (44-26; 83-56)                              2 R          8 H         1 E
Huntsville Stars (31-39; 77-63)                                   1 R          5 H         0 E

W – Harper (9-5)
L – Shackelford (2-4)
S – Cornely (7)
Time – 2:17
Attendance – 1,527

Kyle Tait is in his fourth season as the radio voice of the Mississippi Braves. Follow him on Twitter @MBravesRadio and hear more at http://www.HearKyleTait.com

Playoff Hopes Wane as @MBraves Split Twin Bill

Braves need to win Monday plus a Jacksonville loss to make playoffs
By: Kyle Tait, Mississippi Braves

Huntsville, AL – The Mississippi Braves’ 2014 playoff chances took a hard hit on Sunday night after splitting a rain-delayed doubleheader with the Huntsville Stars, winning the opener and dropping the night cap by the same score, 6-2.

With Jacksonville defeating Mobile 5-0, Mississippi (43-26; 82-56) needed to win both to stay in control of their own fate.  Now the M-Braves need to win Monday’s season finale and get a BayBears win over the Suns to advance to the playoffs.

After the first game was delayed for three hours and three minutes by rain and the ensuing field conditions, the M-Braves got off to a hot start against Stars (31-38; 77-62) starter Jed Bradley.  With two outs in the first, Kyle Kubitza walked and Cedric Hunter ripped an RBI triple to start the scoring.

Rich Poythress made it 2-0 with an RBI single, and Barrett Kleinknecht drove him in with a double to make it 3-0 in the first.

The Stars bounced back with an unearned run in the first.  After Williams Perez was hit with a comebacker on his second pitch for a Nick Shaw infield single, Andrew Robinson came on in relief.  A two-out error by Poythress moved Shaw to third, and Hainley Statia drove him home with a single.

Robinson (5-0) picked up the win in relief, firing three shutout frames on one hit and three strikeouts.  He also ripped his first career extra-base hit, a one-out double in the second to set up a Kyle Kubitza RBI single for a 4-1 lead.

The Braves put up two more in the third for a 6-1 lead.  Kleinknecht homered to left-center, his ninth round tripper of the year to make it 5-1.  Daniel Castro followed up with a single and Braeden Schlehuber clubbed an RBI double for a 6-1 lead.

Ryan Kelly gave up a late relief run in the sixth, but the M-Braves held on for the win.

Bradley (5-8) took the loss, allowing six runs, four earned, on nine hits and a walk, striking out two.

In the second game, Joe Gardner (3-3) met his first adversity as an M-Braves hurler.  The right-hander allowed four runs on five hits over four frames, suffering his first loss as a Brave in three starts.

The Stars and Braves swapped early runs.  Huntsville’s Nick Ramirez hit a two-out single and Hector Gimenez doubled off the wall for a 1-0 lead in the first.  Mississippi fought back in the third when Matt Kennelly doubled and Jose Peraza—just activated from the disabled list between games—singled home the tying run.

Huntsville struck for three two-out runs in the fourth to pull away.  Robinzon Diaz singled on the infield and a throwing error moved him to second.  Joey Paciorek walked and Erik Komatsu doubled home two runs.  A batter later, Shea Vucinich singled in Komatsu for a 4-1 lead.

Mississippi got a run back in the sixth on a Kubitza inside-the-park home run off the center field wall, their third inside-the-parker of the season joining Elmer Reyes in May and Gustavo Nunez in mid-August.

Komatsu hammered the final nail in the coffin with a two-run home run off Jorge Reyes in the sixth, pulling the final to 6-2 Huntsville.

Austin Ross (2-3) picked up the win for Huntsville, allowing one unearned on four hits and a walk, striking out six over his five frames.

The teams combined for nine errors total in the double header.

For the third time in four halves dating back to the start of 2013, the M-Braves take the South division race down to the final game of the half.  Right-hander Mitch Atkins (6-1, 3.56) takes the mound for the Braves in the must-win opposite Stars left-hander Brent Suter (10-10, 4.06).  First pitch is slated for 1:00 PM CT.

Listen live to Kyle Tait on the call beginning at 12:30 PM CT on 103.9 WYAB and online at MississippiBraves.com.

Game 1
Mississippi Braves                                                          6 R          9 H         2 E
Huntsville Stars                                                                2 R          4 H         3 E

W – Robinson (5-0)
L – Bradley (5-8)
Time – 2:22 (3:03 delay) 

 

Game 2

Mississippi Braves (43-26; 82-56)                              2 R          5 H         2 E
Huntsville Stars (31-38; 77-62)                                   6 R          7 H         2 E

W – Ross (2-3)
L – Gardner (3-3)
Time – 2:02
Attendance – 924

Kyle Tait is in his fourth season as the radio voice of the Mississippi Braves. Follow him on Twitter @MBravesRadio and hear more at http://www.HearKyleTait.com

@MBraves, Stars Postponed by Rain

Doubleheader scheduled for Sunday at 4 PM CT
By: Kyle Tait, Mississippi Braves

Huntsville, AL – The Mississippi Braves and Huntsville Stars have been rained out due to persistent storms through Saturday evening at Joe Davis Stadium.

The game is scheduled to be made up as part of a doubleheader beginning at 4:00 PM CT on Sunday.

Right-hander Williams Perez (7-6, 2.91) is scheduled to start the first game against left-hander Jed Bradley (5-7, 4.29), with the second game pitting right-hander Joe Gardner (3-2, 2.94) against Stars right-hander Austin Ross (1-3, 3.86)

Both games are scheduled for seven innings, with a thirty minute interlude between games.

Listen live to Kyle Tait on the call beginning at 3:30 PM CT on 103.9 WYAB and online at MississippiBraves.com.

Kyle Tait is in his fourth season as the radio voice of the Mississippi Braves. Follow him on Twitter @MBravesRadio and hear more at http://www.HearKyleTait.com

@MBraves’ Hunter, Perez Named Post-Season All-Stars

 Two Braves represented on 2014 Southern League Post-Season All-Star team

PEARL, MS — The Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs announced its Post-Season All-Star Team on Friday afternoon. Outfielder Cedric Hunter and right-handed pitcher Williams Perez are the only Mississippi Braves representatives.

Hunter, 26, is hitting .296 with 29 doubles, four triples, 14 home runs and 70 RBI through 116 games with the M-Braves this season. His .296 average currently ranks 10th among Southern League Leaders. He also ranks third with a .499 slugging percentage and a 8.75 TPA/K ratio. Hunter strung together a 17-game on-base streak earlier this season along with a season-high 10-game hitting streak in June.

The Georgia native signed with the Braves as a free agent on January 24, 2014. He was originally selected by the San Diego Padres in the third round of the 2006 draft out of Martin Luther King High School. He was named as a 2008 California League Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star as well as a 2010 Texas League Mid-Season All-Star.

Perez, 23, currently leads the Southern League with a 2.91 ERA and his 1.18 WHIP ranks third among league leaders. He was recently named Southern League Pitcher of the Week (August 18-24) when he went 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in two starts. For the month of August, Perez is 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in five starts-his best month of the season. His next-best month was April when he went 2-2 with a 1.32 ERA in five starts.

The Venezuela native was selected as a Southern League Mid-Season All-Star earlier this season. Perez was named Pitcher of the Year at High-A Lynchburg last season by the Braves organization. He was signed by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent on January 12, 2009.

Kyle Tait is in his fourth season as the radio voice of the Mississippi Braves. Follow him on Twitter @MBravesRadio and hear more at http://www.HearKyleTait.com

@MBraves Voice Tait Named Southern League Broadcaster of the Year

 Kyle Tait has been the M-Braves radio voice for the past four seasons

PEARL, MS — As announced by The Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs this afternoon, Mississippi Braves radio broadcaster Kyle Tait has been named the 2014 Southern League Radio Broadcaster of the Year. Tait has been the “Voice of the M-Braves” on WYAB 103.9 FM for the past four seasons.

“What a tremendous and humbling honor it is to be recognized by the league and my peers this year,” Tait said. “It’s been a special and record-setting season for the Braves and it only makes the broadcast that much better with the team winning.”

Tait began his play-by-play career in 2007 calling Georgia Tech baseball. Since then, he has called more than 800 baseball games, including over 500 with the Double-A Braves. Tait’s resume also includes a stint hosting “The Kyle Tait Show” in Jackson, MS, and a season as color commentator for Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball.

“Thanks to the voters, the listeners, the Southern League and the Braves for the opportunity to paint pictures and watch baseball throughout each of the past four summers.” Tait continued, “and what a great feeling it is to join such a long line of great Southern League broadcasters.”

In the offseason, he serves as public address announcer for Belhaven University football, basketball and baseball. Prior to moving to Mississippi in 2011, Tait had called Atlanta home since his prep school days, but he was well-accustomed to a traveling lifestyle being the son of a Navy Chief.

“Kyle stepped in and filled some pretty big shoes four years ago when Ben Ingram left to join the Atlanta Braves Radio Network,” said M-Braves General Manager Steve DeSalvo. “Kyle has done a great job on air for the M-Braves and has continued to grow and improve over the years, as recognized by his peers today. I congratulate him on this well-deserved honor.”

Born in London, Tait lived in Florida, Guam and West Virginia by his eighth birthday. The Snellville, GA, native graduated from Georgia Tech in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. He resides in Brandon with his wife Megan and two dogs, AJ and Indy.                        

The annual Southern League Radio Broadcaster of the Year Award is voted on by the league’s broadcasters and general managers. 

Ross, @MBraves Blank Stars, Hold Down 1st Place

Braves hurler fires seven shutout; Castro homers in win
By: Kyle Tait, Mississippi Braves

Huntsville, AL – A brilliant outing by Greg Ross and plenty of offensive support sent the Mississippi Braves to a 5-0 shutout win over the Huntsville Stars at Joe Davis Stadium on Friday night, preserving their ½-game lead over the Jacksonville Suns in the South Division with three games left.

Ross (7-3) fired seven shutout frames, allowing just four hits and no walks, striking out three in the winning effort.

He was matched by Huntsville (30-37; 76-61) starter Jacob Barnes (2-6) until the fifth when shortstop Daniel Castro broke the scoreless tie with his fourth home run of the year, a solo shot for a 1-0 lead.

Mississippi (42-25; 81-55) went on to score in four straight frames to pull away.  In the sixth, Kyle Wren singled and Gustavo Nunez bunted him to second.  Kyle Kubitza rolled out to short to move Wren to third, and Cedric Hunter came up with a two-out single to make it 2-0.

Barnes allowed two runs on seven hits over six frames, striking out one without issuing a walk in the loss.

In the seventh, the M-Braves made it 3-0 with another tally off reliever Tommy ToledoMycal Jones singled to lead off the frame, moving ahead on a Castro single and a wild pitch, setting up Braeden Schlehuber for a sacrifice fly.

The M-Braves jumped on Toledo for two more in the eighth for their 5-0 lead.  Wren led off with a triple, capping off his second four-hit game of his career and the second in nine days.  Nunez drove him home with a single and Kubitza knocked in the second run of the frame with a double.

Brandon Cunniff came in to close the door in the final two frames, allowing just two hits while striking out two to close the win.

With the club’s magic number down to three, the Braves could clinch the second half as early as Saturday night with a win over Huntsville and two Jacksonville losses in their doubleheader with Mobile.  First pitch at Joe Davis Stadium is slated for 6:30 PM CT, with right-hander Williams Perez (7-6, 2.91) taking the baseball against Stars right-hander Austin Ross (1-3, 3.86).

Listen live to Kyle Tait on the call beginning at 6:00 PM CT on 103.9 WYAB and online at MississippiBraves.com.

Mississippi Braves (42-25; 81-55)                              5 R          12 H       0 E
Huntsville Stars (30-37; 76-61)                                   0 R          6 H         0 E

W – Ross (7-3)
L – Barnes (2-6)
Time – 2:33
Attendance – 1,226

@Mbraves Roster Moves: Hoyt to Mississippi, Erik Castro to the DL

Castro placed on the DL with a left hand laceration

PEARL, MS — RHP James Hoyt has been transferred to Double-A Mississippi from Triple-A Gwinnett. In corresponding moves, infielder Erik Castro has been placed on the disabled list with a left hand laceration.

Hoyt, 27, was promoted to Gwinnett on June 19. In 24 appearances for the G-Braves, he posted a record of 1-1 with one save and a 5.46 ERA. He was 2-2 with six saves and a 1.21 ERA in 27 outings for the M-Braves before the promotion. The Southern League All-Star had recorded 42 strikeouts in just 29.2 innings pitched. Hoyt was signed as a free agent by the Braves on November 15, 2012.

Castro, 26, signed with the Braves on August 13. In 12 games with the M-Braves, Castro hit .229 with a homer and six RBI. He was hitting .175 with four doubles, a triple, two homers and six RBI through 35 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He was released by the Astros on July 1. Castro was originally selected by the Houston Astros in the 10th round of the 2009 draft out of San Diego State University.

The Mississippi roster has 25 active players and 7 disabled.

Kyle Tait is in his fourth season as the radio voice of the Mississippi Braves. Follow him on Twitter @MBravesRadio and hear more at http://www.HearKyleTait.com

Streak Snapped as @MBraves Stumble in Huntsville

Series-opening loss ends record-tying eight-game win streak
By: Kyle Tait, Mississippi Braves

Huntsville, AL – Jason Hursh suffered his first loss in nearly two months and the Mississippi Braves couldn’t overcome a big early deficit in a 7-5 loss to the Huntsville Stars on Thursday night at Joe Davis Stadium.

Huntsville (30-36; 76-60) scored all their runs early and chased Hursh (11-7) after just 3 1/3 innings, his second-shortest outing of the season.

The Stars broke through in the first inning.  Nick Shaw singled and Shawn Zarraga walked, setting up a Hector Gimenez opposite field three-run home run to left, his eighth of the season to make it 3-0 Huntsville.

Mississippi (41-25; 80-55) came back with two solo homers to pull it to 3-2.  Seth Loman hit a no-doubter over the right field wall in the second, his 12th home run of the season.  Two innings later, Cedric Hunter went yard to pull it to a one-run game, his 14th home run of the year.

Huntsville pulled away again with a four-run fourth, ending Hursh’s day early.  Gimenez and Hainley Statia singled and Nick Ramirez was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Erik Komatsu hit a two-run single for a 5-2 lead.  Starting pitcher Drew Gagnon laid down a safety squeeze bunt for a third run, and Shaw doubled home another for a 7-2 lead.

Hursh allowed seven runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out two over 3 1/3 innings.  It was Hursh’s first loss since July 4 at Montgomery, ending a streak of five consecutive winning decisions.

The Braves chipped away against Gagnon (11-6) in the sixth when Mycal Jones hit a pinch-hit triple and Kyle Wren drove him home to make it 7-3.

Gagnon picked up the win, allowing three earned runs on four hits and striking out seven over six frames.

The M-Braves threatened a comeback in the ninth, scoring twice and putting the tying run on base against Ole Miss product David Goforth.  Hunter walked, David Rohm singled and Daniel Castro walked to load the bases.  Rich Poythress hit a two-out, two-run single in the ninth to make it 7-5, but Wren grounded out to third to end the game.

With the Jacksonville Suns idle on Thursday night, the M-Braves’ hold on the South Division shrank to a half-game with four games left.

The loss was the Braves’ first since August 18 at Mobile, matching a franchise-long win streak at eight games.

The Braves will attempt to get back to their winning ways on Friday night in the second game with the Stars.  Right-hander Greg Ross (6-3, 2.28) gets the start against right-hander Jacob Barnes (2-5, 4.33), with first pitch slated for 6:30 PM CT.

Listen live to Kyle Tait on the call beginning at 6:00 PM CT on 103.9 WYAB and online at MississippiBraves.com.

Mississippi Braves (41-25; 80-55)                              5 R          7 H         0 E
Huntsville Stars (30-36; 76-60)                                   7 R          8 H         0 E

W – Gagnon (11-6)
L – Hursh (11-7)
Time – 2:50
Attendance – 1,064

Kyle Tait is in his fourth season as the radio voice of the Mississippi Braves. Follow him on Twitter @MBravesRadio and hear more at http://www.HearKyleTait.com

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