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Chris Ellis enjoys trip home, as Mississippi Braves face Birmingham Barons

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Chris Ellis, a Birmingham native and current pitcher for Mississippi, is spending a few days in his hometown as the Braves face the Barons.

Garrett Spain

Being in Double-A for the time being has its perks for Chris Ellis.

For starters, there's only one more level separating him from the major leagues. But in the Southern League, he gets a chance to visit home, which is Birmingham, Alabama.

Ellis will get the opportunity to visit with family, friends, and old coaches, as the Mississippi Braves are in Birmingham to face the Barons through Sunday.

"It's great. Any time you come back and play at home in front of people you know and spend time with your family, and just kind of feel at home," he said. "I'm super excited to be back here."

He's off to a great start to his season, boasting an 8-2 record in 13 starts with a 2.75 ERA. He has allowed two runs or less in each of his last three starts, most recently a six-inning, one-run performance on June 13.

When asked what has worked so well for him, he mentioned that "it's just been a little bit of everything."

He said, "Early on, for most of the year, it's been fastball and changeup and as of late, it's been a little bit of breaking ball and some offspeed pitches to help me get out of situations."

Ellis is one of many parts to the Braves' farm system overhaul over the past two years, as he was acquired by Atlanta in a trade that sent Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels.

"It's awesome that they traded for me and think of me as a guy like that," he said. "Every time you go out there, you try to do your best."

For most people, including himself, the MLB team of choice in the Birmingham area is the Braves, so being traded to a team whose big league club is within driving distance certainly excited him.

As for whether or not that call from the big club comes any time soon, Ellis will be ready.

"It's cool. It keeps your phone on loud. You don't ever want to put it on silent. It's pretty cool, especially being able to play for the Braves. Growing up in the South, (they are a) team I always wanted to play for."

During his short time back in his hometown, Ellis will get to catch up with most of his friends, but not all of them.

"Most of them are off doing better things, having real-people jobs, and stuff like that. It's pretty cool to be able to hang out with the friends I do have here," he joked.

Those friends with "real-people jobs" will certainly be calling on him in the not-too-distant future.

"My friends are going to be excited. It's a short drive to Atlanta, so I imagine I'll have a pretty good ticket list."