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Atlanta Braves news and links: Young talent begins to shine

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With Matt Wisler leading the way, Mallex Smith getting his first homer, and Lucas Sims doing well on the farm, the youngsters are starting to show why there's excitement about the future of the Braves

MLB: Atlanta Braves at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports


Wisler has another great performance as Braves beat Mets

Over the course of the Braves' eventual 3-0 victory over the Mets, Matt Wisler never looked dominant or overpowering. However, if you blinked then you might have missed him throwing eight innings of one-hit action as he completely befuddled the Mets on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, all of Atlanta's offense came in the fifth and sixth innings, and this included Mallex Smith's first career home run -- which came after a review, because nothing is easy around here.

Nowhere to go but up for Atlanta right now

Despite last night's victory (and two wins out of three!), the Braves are still currently mired at the bottom of baseball with the game's worst record, and their start to the season had some wondering if this could be one of the worst teams in history. While things should even out and the Braves will end up being just a simply bad team instead of a historically bad team, everybody around the team knows that this year was never going to be a year of success for the Braves -- unless you were looking for success on the farm.

But even the veterans recognize that the major league team is not the priority now.

The average age of the Braves’ position players, according to Baseball-Reference, is 29.7 years, the oldest in the National League. The emphasis in the organization is on long-term assets that can lead to sustained success.

"They’ve made it fairly clear where they’re at," said infielder Kelly Johnson, who compared the Braves to his previous team, the Mets, for their talent in the minors. "They had to treat it like a full-on rebuild from the bottom up, and it’s going to take time. Hopefully, guys force their hand and play out of their minds. They’ve already moved up the shortstops [Ozhaino Albies and Dansby Swanson]. Anytime you get guys competing and pushing each other, that’s what the team wants."

A look at Lucas Sims

Speaking of the farm, one guy who is currently having a lovely time in the minor leagues right now is Lucas Sims. He currently leads all minor league pitchers with 42 strikeouts over 26.2 innings pitched so far, and has already had a pretty quick promotion to AAA Gwinnett. Another promotion is definitely in the cards for Sims, as he's definitely done a good job of bouncing back from the bus crash that derailed his season last year.

Inciarte and Beckham are on track to return soon

There's good news on the injury front for Atlanta: Ender Inciarte may be returning soon. The Braves expect to see their center fielder return to action "sometime this weekend," and Gordon Beckham should return in time fr the series against Philadelphia next week. Either way, the Braves defense has sorely missed having Inciarte, and having him back will certainly be a boon for the team.


Justin Smoak hits two clutch homers as Jays beat Rangers

Tuesday night was a pretty wild evening for Toronto sports fans. The Toronto Raptors were busy dealing with the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Semis while the Toronto Blue Jays were playing the Texas Rangers for the first time since that epic Game 5 from last year's ALDS. While nothing could match the drama from that game, Toronto sports fans did have a bit of a wild moment of action last night. As Kyle Lowry managed to hit a half-court shot that forced overtime at the Air Canada Centre, Justin Smoak's was busy hitting a walk-off homer in extra innings. Imagine flipping channels while that's going on!

Papelbon blows save for Nats as Royals end up winning

So, here's an interesting stat concerning Washington Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon:

The fourth blown save of Papelbon's tenure with the Nats occurred last night, when he managed to turn a two-run lead against the Royals into a 7-6 walk-off defeat. Granted, the Royals have made a living off of late-inning heroics, but still -- blowing a two-run lead in the ninth inning is some kind of painful.