Braves to promote Phillip Gosselin

Looks like the Braves have promoted Phillip Gosselin from Triple-A. Could this mean Dan Uggla is on his way out?

Gwinnett outfielder Todd Cunningham sent a tweet out late Saturday night that alarmed Braves Country of a pending roster move for Atlanta.

Cunningham congratulated his teammate, and evidently his Triple-A road roommate Phillip Gosselin, on being promoted to the big leagues.

The Braves have not officially announced any roster moves. It is expected they will do so later Sunday morning.

There is no known injury, so this pending transaction has many wondering if this could be the end for benched second baseman Dan Uggla, who was replaced by Tommy La Stella as the starter in late-May and has played in only 19 games in the last two months.

Gosselin was Gwinnett’s designated hitter Saturday night in Norfolk. He was 3-4 with two doubles to improve his batting average to .345, which is the third best mark in the International League.

Gosselin is leading the IL in hits with 120 and in doubles with 27. His .381 on base percentage is 8th best, while his .875 OPS is the 4th best in the league. Since July 1, Gosselin is hitting .478 (22-46) with a .519 on base percentage.

The promotion for Gosselin will be his second stint in the big leagues. He was with Atlanta last season and played in four games. Gosselin got two hits in six at bats.

Gosselin is a case study in being patient with a prospect. He was Atlanta’s 5th round pick in the 2010 amateur draft out of Virginia. He seemed to turn the corner in spring training, when he caught the eye of the Atlanta coaching staff with his solid hitting and good play at second base.

Gosselin hit .254 last year between Mississippi and Gwinnett. He hit .266 in Triple-A last season in 58 games. In 2012, Gosselin hit .242 in 128 games in Mississippi. So the .345 average this year is a drastic improvement and demonstrates the turn in his game into a solid prospect.

The versatile infielder has played most of his games (383) at second base in his minor league career. Before this season, Gosselin had played only 31 games at other positions, but this year in Gwinnett he’s moved around to show he can play at other spots. Gosselin has played 38 games at third base, 21 games at second, 20 games at short, eight games in left field and one at first base for the G-Braves.

If this is the end for Uggla, the Braves will be eating around $19 million dollars remaining on his long-term contract. But Uggla has not even been productive as a pinch-hitter, going 0-10 as a reserve.

Uggla was acquired before the 2011 season from the Marlins for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn. He had hit .263 in his five seasons in Florida, but Uggla immediately had trouble with his batting average in his first season in Atlanta.

Uggla hit .233 in 2011 with 36 home runs and 82 runs batted in. His first season in Atlanta included a 33-game hitting streak. He was hitting just .173 when the streak began on July 5, but Uggla was 49-130 with 15 home runs and 32 RBI and improved his batting average to .231. If you take away the hitting streak, Uggla hit only .194 in his other 470 at bats that first season.

Unfortunately, that was a sign of things to come for Uggla. He hit only .220 in 2012 and his power decreased to only 19 home runs. Then the bottom fell out for Uggla last season, as he batted only .179 with 22 home runs and 55 RBI. Uggla was not placed on the playoff roster in the series against the Dodgers.

The Braves tried to give Uggla his starting job back to start this season, mainly because of his big-salaried contract. But the struggles continued. Uggla hit only .184 through May 6 and the Braves began starting others (Tyler Pastornicky and Ramiro Pena) at second base. Uggla’s job was officially lost when La Stella was promoted in late-May. La Stella has hit .288 in 146 at bats with a .367 on base percentage so far as the starter.

If the Braves are ready to eat the rest of Uggla’s deal, it will be the most they have paid for a player to go away since paying $10 million of Derek Lowe’s final year of his four-year contract when he was traded to Cleveland.

A few weeks ago, we interviewed Gosselin in Gwinnett.



Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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