The Atlanta Braves announced today their 25-man roster for the National League Division Series vs. the St. Louis Cardinals, and 14 of the players set to suit up for the NL East Division champions are former Gwinnett Braves/Stripers.
Six members of that group played for the Stripers this season: pitchers Mike Foltynewicz, Mike Soroka, Sean Newcomb, and Darren O'Day, and outfielders Adam Duvall and Rafael Ortega.
Foltynewicz, tabbed to start Game 2, logged 10 starts in two stints with the Stripers this season. He made four starts with Gwinnett in April while rehabbing a right elbow bone spur, going 1-1 with a 6.11 ERA, .250 BAA, and 1.47 WHIP. After a rough initial stint with the Braves (2-5, 6.37 ERA in 11 starts from April 27-June 22), he was optioned back to Triple-A on June 23. Foltynewicz turned his season around following the demotion, going 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA, .254 BAA, and 1.19 WHIP in six starts with the Stripers. He rejoined the Braves' rotation on August 5 and went 6-1 with a 2.65 ERA, .211 BAA, and 1.08 WHIP over his final 10 starts, including an NL East Division-clinching win on September 20 vs. San Francisco (8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 SO).
Soroka opened 2019 with Gwinnett while working back from right shoulder inflammation, going 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA, .156 BAA, and 0.64 WHIP in two April starts. He was named the International League Pitcher of the Week for April 4-7 before being recalled by the Braves on April 18. In his first full Major League season, Soroka went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA, .236 BAA, and 1.11 WHIP in 29 starts.
Newcomb, like Foltynewicz, spent both a rehab and regular stint with the Stripers this season, going 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA, .192 BAA, and 0.92 WHIP in four games. A shaky start in Atlanta's rotation in April (0-0, 4.38 ERA in three starts) prompted him to be optioned to Gwinnett on April 14, and he went 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA, .197 BAA, and 0.91 WHIP in three starts before being recalled on May 4. Newcomb suffered a concussion after being struck in the head by a J.T. Realmuto comebacker on June 16 vs. Philadelphia, but needed just one rehab appearance with the Stripers (June 22 vs. Syracuse, 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO) before rejoining the Braves. Utilized mainly out of the bullpen, Newcomb went 6-3 with a 3.16 ERA, .236 BAA, 1.32 WHIP, and one save in 55 games with Atlanta.
O'Day's long-awaited return from a right forearm strain included an August/September rehab stint with the Stripers in which he logged 2.0 scoreless innings across two relief appearances. The Braves activated him from the 60-day injured list on September 5, and the submariner had a strong finish to the regular season, going 0-0 with a 1.69 ERA, .158 BAA, and 0.75 WHIP in eight outings.
Duvall, optioned to Triple-A on March 24 after struggling in Spring Training, put together a historic season for the Stripers. He set Gwinnett single-season records in home runs (32), RBIs (93), slugging percentage (.602), and OPS (.966), batting .266 in 101 games across two stints with the club. Duvall was selected to the International League Postseason All-Star Team after ranking among league leaders in slugging percentage (1st), homers (2nd), RBI (2nd), OPS (2nd), extra-base hits (T-6th, 56), and total bases (9th, 222). The Stripers went 24-5 (.828) in 29 games when he homered, a major reason why Gwinnett finished with an 80-59 record to win the IL South Division title. Duvall supplied similar power in his limited action with Atlanta this season, hitting 10 homers in 41 games while batting .267 with an .882 OPS.
Ortega, signed by Atlanta as a minor league free agent on November 18, 2018, capitalized on a dominant Triple-A season and an injury-depleted Braves outfield to reach the Majors in mid-August. The 28-year-old hit .285 with 34 doubles, three triples, 21 home runs, 83 runs scored, 58 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, and an .898 OPS in 111 games, earning Gwinnett's Player of the Year award. He proved to be the Stripers' offensive catalyst, reaching base safely in 99 games (89.2%) and scoring runs in 57 games (51.4%). When Atlanta selected his contract on August 13 to replace injured left fielder Austin Riley, he led the IL in runs, doubles, and extra-base hits (58) and ranked among the top 10 in total bases (2nd, 226), at-bats (2nd), games (3rd), hits (5th), and walks (T-6th, 59). Ortega hit just .205 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 34 games with the Braves, but provided a signature win on August 18 with a game-winning grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In addition to the six players from the 2019 club, Atlanta's NLDS roster also includes former Gwinnett pitchers Max Fried (2017-18) and Luke Jackson (2017-18), catchers Tyler Flowers (rehab assignments in 2016 and 2018) and Brian McCann (rehab assignments in 2009, 2011, and 2013), infielders Ozzie Albies (2016-17), Freddie Freeman (2010, rehab assignments in 2013, 2015, and 2017), and Dansby Swanson (2017), and outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (2017-18).
Former Gwinnett manager Brian Snitker (2014-16) and former Gwinnett pitching coach Marty Reed (2011-16) will lead the Braves into Game 1 of the best-of-five NLDS tonight vs. St. Louis, first pitch scheduled for 5:02 p.m. at SunTrust Park. Dallas Keuchel, who nearly made his Atlanta organization debut with the Stripers in June, gets the Game 1 start.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.