PEARL, MS -- The Mississippi Braves, Double-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, is proud to unveil its Opening Night roster for the 2013 season which begins Thursday, April 4 at Trustmark Park. The roster features many familiar faces including J.R. Graham and Christian Bethancourt, Baseball America's second and third-best prospects in the Braves farm system.
Graham led the Atlanta Braves organization with a 2.80 ERA last season. He posted a 12-2 record in a combined 26 starts between High-A Lynchburg (9-1) and Double-A Mississippi (3-1). The Carolina League Mid-Season All-Star was also named as a MiLB.com Organization All-Star following the 2012 season.
Bethancourt, Best Defensive Catcher in the Braves system according to Baseball America, returns behind the plate. The Panamanian averaged .243 at the plate last season before landing on the disabled list in early August with a left-hand fracture. Bethancourt participated in big league camp and is listed on Atlanta's 40-man roster.
Right-hander Gary Moran also returns to the starting rotation. Moran captured the 2012 Southern League ERA Title after leading the league with a 2.91 ERA. That mark also ranked second behind Graham's organizational-leading ERA. According to Baseball America, Moran has the "Best Control" in the Atlanta system.
Returning to the M-Braves bullpen are lefties Chris Jones and Chasen Shrevealong with right-hander Mark Lamm. Lamm led the M-Braves relievers with 10 saves last season, second-most in the Atlanta Braves organization.
Catcher Braeden Schlehuber also returns in 2013. He spent last year with High-A Lynchburg but saw time with the M-Braves in 2011. Schlehuber was named as a Carolina League Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star in 2012.
Five infielders and one outfielder are set to return to Double-A. Alden Carrithers,Phil Gosselin, Barrett Kleinknecht, Christian Marrero, and Jaime Pedrozawill see action on the diamond for the Mississippi club. Outfielder Mycal Jones is the lone familiar face in the outfield.
Newcomers to the M-Braves pitching staff include right-handers Ryne Harper,Michael Lee, Cody Martin, Aaron Northcraft and Gus Schlosser. All five were members of the 2012 Carolina League Championship-winning Lynchburg Hillcats. Southpaws making the jump from Low-A Rome include Ian Thomas and Alex Wood.
Northcraft, the M-Braves Opening Day starter, led the entire Braves organization with 160 strikeouts in 151.2 inning pitched last season. He also ranked fourth in wins (10) and 10th in ERA (3.98). Northcraft made a career-high 27 starts in 2012.
ranks Wood as the seventh-best prospect in the Atlanta system. It also named Martin as having the "Best Slider" in the organization. Among Braves minor leaguers last season, Schlosser ranked first in wins (13), second in strikeouts (139) and fourth in ERA (3.38). Martin was tied for second in wins (12) and ranked fourth in strikeouts (123).
New faces in the Double-A lineup include infielders Luis Nunez and Edward Salcedo along with outfielders Dan Brewer, Jose Martinez and Kyle Russell. Salcedo ranked fourth in the Braves system with 17 home runs last season. Having joined the Braves after spending time in the White Sox and Dodgers systems, neither Martinez (Birmingham), Nunez (Chattanooga) nor Russell (Chattanooga) is new to the Southern League.
Starting the season on the M-Braves disabled list is catcher Shawn McGill and right-handed pitchers Brett Cammons, Benino Pruneda and Jason Rice.
M-Braves Manager Aaron Holbert returns for his second season. Hitting CoachGarey Ingram returns for his fourth year while Pitching Coach Dennis Lewallynjoins the M-Braves for his first season. Rounding out the field staff is Trainer Ricky Alcantara (sixth season) and Strength and Conditioning Coach Jason Curry (first season).
The Mississippi Braves take the field for the first time in 2013 on Thursday, April 4 against the Mobile BayBears. First pitch is slated for 7:00 PM at Trustmark Park. Gates open at 6:00 PM. The first 5,000 fans through the gates receive a free 2013 M-Braves magnetic schedule compliments of the Mississippi Army National Guard. In addition to Thirsty Thursday, fans will want to stick around for Opening Night Fireworks.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.