The Richmond Braves have recovered from a rocky start to begin this week with an 11-12 record. There has been a lot of roster movement through the first month of the season that has contributed to the team's mediocre start. Finally, with a little stability, the team seems to be coming together.
On Sunday, Jason Marquis had his best start since going back to AAA. He's got to be one of the top pitchers in AAA right now. Chris Fussell, a former starter with Kansas City, is adding a veteran presence to the Richmond rotation. Fussell's 2.13 ERA is one of the best in the International League. Ryan Glynn, a reclamation project for Richmond Pitching Coach Guy Hansen and Roving Minor League Pitching Instructor Rick Adair, is showing signs he may be the top prospect he was a few years ago for the Rangers.
Joe Dawley has assumed the role as closer for the Richmond team. He had two saves this past week and will share the duties with Buddy Hernandez. Derrick Lewis is also settling in to his role as a set up man, a role many believe he will have if he makes the big leagues.
Offensively, the team will get catcher Johnny Estrada back when he returns from Atlanta this week. Estrada was hitting a robust .392 when he was called up to the majors. Damon Hollins and Nick Green continue to act as primary run producers, while Mike Hessman is starting to come around after a slow start.
The Greenville Braves are wrapping up a quick weekend road trip in Huntsville tonight. The G-Braves continue to hover around the .500 mark, unable to break loose and start an extended winning streak.
Greenville's pitching continues to be expectedly inconsistent. Most of the starting pitchers will have a good start and then turn around and have a bad start - common for young AA pitchers. Roman Colon is off to the best start (2-0, 2.86) but had a rough outing this past week. The same can be said for Bubba Nelson (2-1, 3.38), who gave up five runs in just over two innings last Wednesday night. Brett Evert (1-2, 3.75) and Matt Belisle (1-3, 4.74) are both trying to find some consistency. Finally, Adam Wainwright had his best control of the season in his Sunday start, but is still 1-2 on the season.
Adam LaRoche continues his imitation of a power hitter. LaRoche is proving he may, in fact, be able to hit for more power than the projected 15-20 range. He has 6 on the season and has his average up to .293.
MYRTLE BEACH (7-14)
The Pelicans continue to struggle offensively. Through the first twenty one games of the season, Myrtle Beach still has only two home runs (one by TJ Pena and one by Charles Thomas).
Scott Thorman has seen his batting average dip below .200. Thorman started off strong, but he's now hitting only .195. Andy Marte, an equally impressive prospect, has also been an early disappointment. Marte is hitting .178 with only three RBI.
The pitching has been hurt by a lack of offensive support. Matt Coenen (0-1, 1.64), Zach Miner (2-0, 1.64), and Macay McBride (1-1, 2.42) have all pitched well and should have better records. Matt Wright has struggled in his four starts (0-3, 5.60) and Daniel Curtis has not fared well since being demoted from Greenville (0-2, 6.14).
The Rome Braves had their seven game winning streak snapped on Sunday with a loss to Delmarva. After the final game of their series Monday, Rome is heading back south Tuesday to start a six game homestand.
Pitching continues to be the story for Rome. Many thought the Rome staff would struggle more than any of the top four teams, but so far, they've been the best.
Kyle Davies (2-0, 1.59), Anthony Lerew (1-0, 1.71), and Dan Meyer (2-0, 2.25) have all been excellent. Matt Merricks is the de facto sixth starter and has pitched extremely well (2-1, 3.71). Jose Capellan, back after missing all of 2002 with Tommy John surgery, is progressing nicely through four starts. "Cappy" is 0-2 with an ERA of 4.24 and has allowed eighteen hits in seventeen innings of work. Blaine Boyer is also doing well with eighteen strikeouts in eighteen innings.
Yaron Peters has been on fire on this northern road trip. Last Monday when the trip began, Peters was hitting right around the Mendoza Line. But he's gone 15 for 30 (.500) against Lakewood and Delmarva and has raised his average to .333. He's also hit two homers and driven in ten runs on the trip.
Catcher Brian McCann has also had a remarkable week. McCann has his four home runs in the last week with 10 runs batted in. His average is now up to .277.
Jeff Francoeur continues to do well for Rome. Last year's top draft choice is hitting . 294 with three homers.
Carlos Guzman leads Rome with 19 RBI, while Onil Joseph continues to do well hitting .303 with nine stolen bases.