Posts Tagged ‘Gwinnett Braves’

Jason Heyward Has Awesomeness Confirmed With Awards From Baseball America, USA Today

Two years ago, Bus Leagues began building its massive empire on the strength of Jay Bruce, the Cincinnati Reds farmhand who won Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year award at the end of the 2007 season.  We spoke of Bruce in hushed tones until he was called up midway through the 2008 campaign, followed his early days in the majors with guarded interest, and performed a complicated set of Internet high-fives when someone mentioned this blog to him and he said he liked the nickname we gave him last year.

In short, Jay Bruce was our first man-crush.

Conversely, when Matt Wieters won the same award last year, Bus Leagues Headquarters was largely silent.  I remember thinking to myself, “Gee, I should write something about this,” but it never came to fruition, and while I tried to give Wieters a nice welcome to The Show by pointing out his Chuck Norris-like facts site, it just wasn’t the same.  We enjoy Wieters, we think he’s gonna be a great player for a long time, we just don’t get the same sense of awesome that we did about Bruce.

The question now is this: where will Jason Heyward fit into the equation?

Heyward, the top prospect in the Atlanta Braves system, was named the Minor League Player of the Year this week by both Baseball America and USA Today (neither Bruce nor Wieters won the latter award, losing out to Justin Upton and David Price, respectively; in addition to Heyward, four players – Andruw Jones (1995-96), Rick Ankiel (1999), Josh Beckett (2001), and Jeff Francis (2004) – have taken home both) after a season that began in the High-A Carolina League, continued through the Double-A Southern League, and will likely end in the Triple-A International League (barring a late September experiential call-up to the Braves).

The 20-year-old Heyward was the fifth-rated prospect by Baseball America prior to last season and the only one of the top eleven on the list who has not seen action at the major league level.

His overall numbers at three stops – 17 homeruns, 63 RBI, 69 runs, 51 walks, 51 strikeouts, .323/.408/.555 – were very good.  What set Heyward apart, however, was the environment in which he posted those stats:

“When you consider his ability and his actual performance, especially what he’s done at higher levels, and the power he showed as a notorious pitcher’s park (in Myrtle Beach) … he had a standout season,” Baseball America editor John Manuel said. “His advanced plate discipline, combined with his youthfulness and the difficulty of those leagues ñ the Carolina League, the Southern League, they are very difficult for a 19 to 20-year-old – he made it look easy.”

That’s the amazing thing, when you think about it: Jason Heyward is still just 20-years-old (and a young twenty at that – his birthday was August 9).  Despite that, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing him in the Atlanta outfield next season.  You have to be at least a little special to reach the majors that early.

I don’t know how Heyward’s career will turn out, or if he will become an official Bus Leagues Favorite.  If nothing else, though, he’s off to a great start.

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“This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”

Great game in Durham last night, as the Bulls overcame deficits of 1-0, 6-1, 7-3, and 9-7 to beat the Gwinnett Braves, 10-9, in fourteen innings.  It was Durham’s sixth win in a row and gave them a one game lead over the Braves in the International League’s South Division.

In the bottom of the ninth, two outs, down 9-7, Reid Brignac worked the count to 2-2 before fouling off four straight pitches.  On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, he homered to right to tie the game.

It stayed there into the fourteenth.  Gwinnett’s first batter, Wes Timmons, broke the tie with his first homerun of the season and the Braves added another for the aforementioned 9-7 lead.

Durham loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom half.  Jon Weber lined a double to right, clearing the bases and giving the Bulls the walkoff win.

Gwinnett trails in the division by one game, but holds a 3 1/2 game advantage in the wild card.

$15 May Be A Bit Much For Minor League Baseball

A couple weeks ago, Extra P and I were talking about some ideas for Bus Leagues when he mentioned the Gwinnett Braves, specifically that it would be hilarious if they managed to outdraw their major league counterparts this season.

A quick check of the facts – Gwinnett was averaging about 5,600 per game at the time, compared to nearly 24,000 for Atlanta (although the Big Braves fill the ballpark to less than 50% of capacity on average) – made us realize that this pipe dream was just that, a dream.  (This realization did not stop us from being irrationally excited.  This is what minor league baseball does to us.)

Apparently, though, Gwinnett has it’s own problems – namely, some of the local folk consider the ticket prices to be outrageously high:

Apparently, the Braves organization forgot that this is minor league baseball. The Columbus Clippers are held up as leading the International League in attendance. What the writer fails to mention is that Clippers tickets are more reasonably priced.

And what is the deal with $6 hot dogs? I love baseball, but I wanted minor league because it is more cost-effective. If I want to get gouged, I will brave a trip inside the perimeter. It is painfully obvious that the Braves organization looks on Gwinnett County as a cash cow.

Frank Carter in Buford is mad as hell and he’s not gonna take it anymore.

I was ready to write this off as the sort of fan we used to see all the time in Nashua, the ones who complain that $8 tickets are WAAAY overpriced.  These are the people who generally want minor league sporting events to be presented totally free of charge.

Before I dissed Frank like that, I ventured over to the Gwinnett Braves web site to look at the prices for myself.  It turns out he’s kind of right – $15 for seats to a minor league game is a bit much.  $12 is probably too much as well.  As a general rule, anything over $10 is probably a little high, unless it’s some sort of special event like an All-Star game.

So, in the end, I don’t think we can pull off our master “hype Gwinnett over Atlanta and see what happens” plan, which is a shame.  Maybe Indianapolis vs. Pittsburgh would be better.

Richmond Moves to Replace Braves

defenders_20081018093305_320_2401As a resident of central Virginia, I have spent a fair amount of time covering the drama surrounding the former Richmond Braves. When the parent club decided to move their triple-A affiliate from Virginia’s capital city to the suburbs of Atlanta itself, Richmond residents were stunned.

The R-Braves, as they were known locally, had been in the area since 1966, so many couldn’t believe their beloved franchise was gone.

Local investors took a deep breath and plunged into the search for a replacement, however. And it’s starting to look like they’ve zeroed in on the next team to call Richmond home.

From the website of Norwich’s WTNH:

According to a Richmond newspaper, the plans call for the Richmond group to buy the Defenders for about $15 million and move the team to Virginia at the end of the 2009 season.

The deal must be approved by the Eastern League and by officials at Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball.

[WTNH-TV]

Virginia hasn’t had a double-A team since I moved here ten years ago, so I’m kind of happy to hear this. It’s kind of like hitting for the cycle, affiliation-wise. The Defenders are tied into the Giants, so that should be an interesting change. Whether the club’s nickname changes or not doesn’t really matter to me, but I do hope they get a new stadium. The Diamond, where the R-Braves used to play, is a concrete eyesore, in my humble opinion. Then again, we don’t want to be wasting big bucks in these economic times do we?

Here’s hoping the sale goes through. It’ll be great to have a new Bus Leagues option near home.