Minor League Notes

Michael Nix headed to Rome

BravesCenter's Bill Shanks has some notes from the Braves' minor league system.

· Richmond has lost nine straight games. In those nine games they have scored only 16 runs. The Braves are now 29-61, 19 games back of Norfolk in the International League's South Division.

· The Braves have lost another one of their starters as Sam McConnell has gone down with an elbow injury. The lefty will be re-evaluated this week to determine the extent of his injury. McConnell was 4-9 in 17 games started with a 5.75 ERA. Opponents had a .336 average against him. Richmond will not add another starter until after the All-Star Break later this week.

· Richmond has placed outfielder Billy McCarthy on the Disabled List with ankle trouble. McCarthy first injured his ankle in mid-March in a major league spring training game against the Dodgers. The right-handed hitting outfielder has been bothered by the injury all season long and it has been reflected in his statistics. McCarthy was hitting only .226 in Richmond with 5 home runs and 23 RBI in 239 at bats. Last season he hit .354 in 178 at bats in AAA, so it's obvious he's been affected by the injury. The Braves will shut McCarthy down to fully diagnose the seriousness of the injury.

· Anthony Lerew will be in the Future's Game Sunday in Detroit. After starting the season in Double-A, Lerew has continued his good work in Richmond with a 2.75 ERA in his first three starts. Overall this season, Lerew is 6-3 in 17 games with a 3.68 ERA. He's allowed 82 hits in 95.1 innings pitched, 39 earned runs, 39 walks, and 75 strikeouts. Lerew is now the Braves' best pitching prospect.

· Mississippi's Gregor Blanco is struggling with a .232 average, but he has been doing his job as a leadoff hitter over the last two months. He has reached base via hit, walk, or hit-by-pitch, in 46 of the last 51 games he has started. Blanco is also tied for the Southern League's lead in triples with 8.

· With Jeff Francoeur now in Atlanta, Scott Thorman has taken over as the main offensive force for Mississippi. Thorman is 5th in the Southern League with 15 home runs, 2nd in RBI with 65, tied for 10th in slugging percentage with a .513 clip, and tied for 9th with 21 doubles. Thorman could be called up to Richmond very soon.

· Wes Timmons continues to have a solid season. Mississippi's third baseman is fourth in the Southern League with a .424 on base percentage and is tied for 5th with 23 doubles. Timmons is also playing outstanding defense at third base.

· Matt Wright was placed on Mississippi's disabled list. Wright is experiencing more discomfort in his upper right arm area, the same injury that prematurely ended his 2004 season. Wright was 6-8 in 17 games (14 starts) for the M-Braves with a 6.11 ERA. He had allowed 57 earned runs on 101 hits in 84 innings pitched, 37 walks, and 63 strikeouts. Wright will visit the Braves' doctors in Atlanta this week.

· With Wright's injury, Mississippi Manager Brian Snitker has now lost all but one of his starting pitchers from the Opening Day roster. Only Matt Coenen remains from a staff that had Wright, Blaine Boyer (now in Atlanta's bullpen), and Zach Miner and Anthony Lerew (now both in Richmond's starting rotation). Expect the Braves to promote a starter from Myrtle Beach to help out the M-Braves next week.

· Josh Burrus replaced Jeff Francoeur on the Mississippi roster. Burrus was having a spectacular season in Myrtle Beach, hitting .284 with 11 home runs, 53 RBI, and 25 stolen bases in 299 at bats. He also had a .349 on base percentage. With so many of the prospects now in Atlanta, Burrus may be listed as one of the top prospects when the season is completed.

· Myrtle Beach catcher Miguel Bernard is expected back in about two weeks. Bernard suffered a knee injury in April. His ACL and MCL were both sprained. He has been rehabbing in Atlanta at Turner Field and has even caught some bullpens for the big league club.

· The Braves promoted Jason Richardson from Myrtle Beach to Mississippi. The right-hander had pitched in 19 games for the Pelicans and went 1-2 with a 4.01 ERA. Richardson had allowed 33 hits and 16 earned runs in 35.2 innings pitched, along with 11 walks and 34 strikeouts.

· Both Myrtle Beach and Rome have two new relievers. Zach Schreiber and Angelo Burrows were promoted from Rome to the Beach. Schreiber saved 2 of the 24 games he pitched in for Rome. He had a 1-3 record and a 3.41 ERA, 21 hits allowed in 29 innings, 18 walks, and 27 strikeouts. Burrows was 3-1 in 16 games with 3 saves and a 3.48 ERA. He also struck out 18 in 20.2 innings of work.

· Michael Nix will take one of the relief spots in Rome. This year's 11th round pick out of Auburn was perfect in his five games in Danville. He was 1-0 and allowed only 1 hit in 6 innings, but no runs and no hits. Nix walked 2 and struck out 11.

· Seth Bobbitt, a former Astros' farmhand, will also join Rome's bullpen. Bobbitt was signed a few weeks ago at a tryout camp the Braves held at Georgia State University. Bobbitt had been out of baseball for two years, but threw 96 miles an hour at the tryout and the Braves signed him immediately.

· Here are the combined statistics of the four college relievers the Braves drafted last month in the June amateur draft: 3-0, 0.30, 23 games, 5 saves, 15 hits allowed in 29.2 innings pitched, 3 runs, 1 earned run, 8 walks, and 35 strikeouts. Joey Devine (1st round), Will Startup (5th round), Michael Nix (11th round), and Rudy Quinonez (12th round) are off to very solid starts in the Braves' organization.


Bill Shanks has a new book out on baseball scouting and player development called "Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team." Bill can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com.

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