For most baseball fans the season never really ends, and for some of the players that's almost a reality. In our never-ending effort to bring you the very best Atlanta Braves coverage on the interwebs, every Wednesday we're going to give you a recap on how the team's prospects are handling themselves in winter ball. Most of the winter leagues have started up in the past few weeks, so we'll get you caught up on how things are going so far.
The Braves have seven players positioned with the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League, and Tyler Pastornicky is off to the hottest start, hitting .462 with a .962 OPS and 2 RBI in 13 at bats. He's been playing second base instead of his natural shortstop, a move that may become permanent. Outfielder Cory Harrilchak has also started well, hitting .286 with a .762 OPS and 1 triple in 14 at bats. First baseman Freddie Freeman was off to a slow start, hitting just .125 with a .576 OPS, 1 double and 1 triple, but he injured his finger sliding into third on that triple and his AFL season may be finished. On the pitching side, Cory Gearrin, who was a last minute replacement for Brandon Beachy, has made the best first impression, tossing 3 scoreless innings over 2 apparances, allowing just 1 hit while striking out 3. In his lone appearance, Kyle Cofield allowed 1 run in 1 inning, and Michael Broadway has allowed 3 runs in 3 innings over 2 appearances. Erik Cordier has had a tough time in the desert, allowing 5 runs in 2.1 innings in his 1 start, walking 2 and striking out 3.
The Braves have four players with Mayos de Navojoa in the Mexican Winter League, or the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico if you want to be more accurate. Matt Young picked up where he left off in AAA, hitting .435 with a .958 OPS and 2 RBI in his first 23 at bats. Wes Timmons has contributed early as well, hitting .350 with a .809 OPS in 20 at bats. Jason Lowey, who was surprisingly good after joining Myrtle Beach late in the season, beginning the year with an independent league team, has tossed 2 scoreless innings in 2 apparances, striking out 3 while allowing 1 hit and 1 walk. In his lone start, Tim Gustafson allowed 3 runs over 4 innings, giving up 5 hits and walking 3 while striking out 1. Despite the contributions of these Braves farmhands, Navojoa has started out 0-6.
The Braves have 3 players playing for different teams in the Venezuelan Winter League, which is called Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional down there. Steven Marek hasn't allowed a run in 3.1 innings over 3 appearances for Cardenales de Lara, keeping the batters hitless while allowing 3 walks and striking out 2. Infielder Luis Bolivar has just 1 hit in 11 at bats for Auilas de Zulia and catcher Jesus Sucre has gone hitless in 2 at bats for Leones del Caracas.