Adam Russell has an outside shot to win a job in Atlanta's bullpen. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
The Atlanta Braves have re-signed first baseman Ernesto Mejia and left handed pitcher Yohan Flande to Minor League contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training. The team has also signed right handed pitchers Adam Russell and Jason Rice and infielder Drew Sutton to Minor League contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training.
Mejia returned to the Braves organization in 2011 after spending 2011 with the Royals, and had a record breaking year for AA Mississppi, setting single season records for hits (148), homers (26), and RBI (99), while hitting .297 with a .906 OPS. Flande appeared in 33 games for AAA Gwinnett, throwing 137 innings and making 19 starts, collecting a 8-8 record, a 4.01 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. it was the 25 year old's first season with the Braves organization.
Russell spent the majority of 2011 with Tampa Bay, pitching 32.2 innings over 36 relief appearances, posting a 3.03 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. Between 2008 and 2011 he has a 3.95 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP in 86.2 Major League innings while pitching for the White Sox, Padres, and Rays. The 6'8" righty, who will turn 29 in April, has been traded for both Jake Peavy and Jason Bartlett. Rice spent 2011 with the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox, posting a 3.69 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP in 85.1 innings over 44 games. It was the 25 year old's 7th professional season and his first in AAA.
Sutton was Rice's teammate in 2011, spending 45 games with Pawtucket, where he hit .295 with a .858 OPS. The 28 year old also appeared in 31 games for the Boston Red Sox, hitting .315 with a .807 OPS in 60 plate appearances. Between 2009 and 2011, he has a ..258 average and a .724 OPS in 178 Major League plate appearances for the Reds, Indians, and Red Sox. Sutton is primarily a second baseman and a third baseman, but he also has experience at shortstop, first base, and in left field.
Of the players the Braves have signed to Minor League contracts this offseason, catchers JC Boscan and Jose Yepez, infielders Ernesto Mejia, Drew Sutton, and Josh Wilson, outfielders Luis Durango and Jordan Parraz, and pitchers Adam Russell, Jason Rice, Yohan Flande, and Dusty Hughes have received invitations to Major League Spring Training. Their remaining signees, infielder Ian Gac, outfielder, Brhiam Maldonado, and pitcher Jose Lugo, will be invited to Minor League camp only.