LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - The Gwinnett Braves, in conjunction with the Atlanta Braves, have announced their Opening Day roster for the 2014 season. Manager Brian Snitker's club includes 12 players that spent time with Gwinnett last year, including 2013 International League midseason All-Star Ernesto Mejia and 2013 IL postseason All-Star Joey Terdoslavich. Newcomers include catcher Christian Bethancourt and infielder Tommy La Stella, ranked the Braves' No. 2 and 9 prospects by Baseball America, respectively.
Additionally, the G-Braves will open the season with right-hander Ervin Santana on the roster. Santana, signed by Atlanta as a Major League free agent on March 12, was optioned to Gwinnett on March 29 as a part of his continued preparation for the regular season. The nine-year Major League veteran went 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in two Spring Training starts with the Braves.
Snitker is joined on the Gwinnett coaching staff by fourth-year pitching coach Marty Reed, first-year hitting coach Garey Ingram, sixth-year trainer Mike Graus and first-year strength and conditioning coach Jason Curry.
2014 Gwinnett Braves Opening Day Roster (*On Braves 40-man roster)
RH Pitchers (10): Mitch Atkins, Juan Jaime*, Mark Lamm, Cody Martin, Yunesky Maya, Wirfin Obispo*, Andrew Russell, Ervin Santana*, Zach Stewart, Luis Vasquez*
LH Pitchers (2): Daniel Rodriguez, Atahualpa Severino
Catchers (2): Christian Bethancourt*, Steve Lerud
Infielders (7): Phil Gosselin, Tyler Greene, Mark Hamilton, Sean Kazmar, Tommy La Stella, Ernesto Mejia*, Edward Salcedo
Outfielders (4): Jose Constanza*, Todd Cunningham*, Derrick Mitchell, Joey Terdoslavich*
Disabled List (3): OF Mycal Jones, LHP Luis Perez, C Jose Yepez
Mejia and Terdoslavich each return to Gwinnett for the third straight Opening Day. Mejia hit .249 with a career-high 28 home runs and an IL-best 83 RBIs in 2013, earning selection to the IL midseason All-Star Team for the second consecutive year. Terdoslavich was Gwinnett's most decorated player last season, receiving the club's Player of the Year award from the Atlanta Braves, as well as selections to the IL midseason and postseason All-Star Teams and the 2013 SiriusXM MLB All-Star Futures Game. The switch-hitting outfielder batted .318 with 18 home runs and 58 RBIs in 85 games with the G-Braves prior to promotion to Atlanta on July 4, 2013. Terdoslavich went on to hit .215 in 55 games with the Braves during his Major League debut.
Other returning position players include infielders Phil Gosselin, Tyler Greene and Sean Kazmar and outfielders Jose Constanza and Todd Cunningham. Constanza, entering his fourth season with the G-Braves, was named the club's "Fan Favorite Player" in 2013 after hitting .276 with a team-high 21 stolen bases. The 2012 IL Batting Champion also posted Gwinnett's longest hitting streak (18 games) and on-base streak (25 games) last year. Cunningham was selected as Gwinnett's "Most Competitive Player" following his 2013 Triple-A debut, thanks to team highs in batting average (.265), on-base percentage (.342), triples (5) and runs (60). Gosselin and Cunningham both made their Major League debuts with Atlanta in 2013, while Constanza was included on the Braves' National League Division Series roster.
Bethancourt and La Stella headline the group of new position players. Bethancourt broke out offensively with Double-A Mississippi last season, hitting .277 with career highs in doubles (21), home runs (12) and RBIs (45). The "Best Defensive Catcher" in the Braves' system according to Baseball America, Bethancourt is also ranked the No. 82 prospect in all of Minor League Baseball by MiLB.com. La Stella, rated the Braves' "Best Hitter for Average" and "Best Strike-Zone Discipline" by BA, was named Mississippi's Player of the Year in 2013. The 2011 eighth-round pick hit .343 with 21 doubles, four home runs and 41 RBI in 81 Double-A games.
Newcomers Mark Hamilton (.261, 12 HR, 57 RBIs with Triple-A Pawtucket), Steve Lerud (.217, 3 HR, 21 RBIs with Triple-A Lehigh Valley) and Derrick Mitchell (.248, 4 HR, 15 RBIs with Triple-A Lehigh Valley) all spent time in the International League last season. Third baseman Edward Salcedo, ranked the Braves' No. 12 prospect by BA, is set to make his Triple-A debut after playing for Mississippi in 2012. Salcedo hit .239 with 23 home runs, 55 RBIs and 20 stolen bases for the M-Braves last year.
Right-hander Cody Martin is Gwinnett's top pitching prospect entering 2014. Ranked the Braves' No. 11 prospect by BA, Martin went 3-4 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 games, 11 starts with the G-Braves in 2013. The starting rotation could also include right-handers Mitch Atkins (5-2, 3.47 with Mississippi), Yunesky Maya (8-8, 3.87 with Triple-A Syracuse) and Zach Stewart (6-14, 4.25 with Triple-A Charlotte). Daniel Rodriguez, the lone left-handed starter on the roster, went 3-3 with a 5.77 ERA in 12 starts with Gwinnett prior to suffering a left elbow strain last season.
The Gwinnett bullpen features three pitchers returning from 2013, right-handers Mark Lamm, Wirfin Obispo and Andrew Russell. The hard-throwing Obispo led the IL with 54 appearances last year, going 2-4 with a 3.53 ERA and nine saves. Lamm (3-3, 3.63 in 18 games) and Russell (2-5, 3.86, 2 SV in 28 games) also enjoyed successful stints with the G-Braves a year ago.
Right-handers Juan Jaime and Luis Vasquez, both members of Atlanta's 40-man roster, add depth to the Gwinnett bullpen. Jaime, ranked the Braves' No. 27 prospect according to BA, struck out 70 batters over 42.0 innings while going 2-5 with a 4.07 ERA for Mississippi last season. Vasquez split 2013 between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Albuquerque of the Los Angeles Dodgers system, going a combined 3-3 with a 2.52 ERA in 25 games. Left-hander Atahualpa Severino also joins the G-Braves' bullpen after going 0-3 with a 3.60 ERA in 39 outings between Triple-A Omaha and Triple-A Indianapolis in 2013.
Outfielder Mycal Jones (.261, 4 HR, 36 RBI, 11 SB with Mississippi), left-hander Luis Perez (0-1, 5.40 with Toronto Blue Jays) and catcher Jose Yepez (.219, 25 RBI with Gwinnett) all open the season on the disabled list.
The Gwinnett Braves open their sixth season of play on Thursday, April 3 at Durham. The Home Opener at Coolray Field is scheduled for Friday, April 11 at 7:05 PM against the Durham Bulls. Tickets for all 72 home games are available for purchase now by calling the Coolray Field Ticket Office at 678-277-0340 and by visiting GwinnettBraves.com.