Monthly Archives: April 2016

G-Braves Fall to Columbus in Six Innings

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Michael Martinez hit a leadoff home run and the Columbus Clippers (15-7) scored three runs in the top of the first inning on the way to a 6-2 victory over the Gwinnett Braves (13-11) on Saturday night at Coolray Field. Rain forced the game to be called with one out in the top of the sixth inning.

Martinez belted the 2-2 offering from G-Braves’ starter Williams Perez (L, 0-2) into the Clippers’ bullpen down the right field line for his first homer of the season. Columbus collected five hits over the next six at-bats to open a 3-0 lead. Giovanny Urshela and Joey Butler each tallied RBI singles. Prior to the Clippers’ three-run frame, Gwinnett had allowed just one first-inning run in 23 games this season.

The Clippers added two more runs off Perez in the second, as Jesus Aguilar punctuated the inning with an RBI single.

Gwinnett got both of its runs in the second inning. Matt Tuiasosopo led off with a single and moved to second on a one-out single by Ronnier Mustelier. After Blake Lalli singled to load the bases,Brandon Snyder ripped an RBI single to left. Columbus’s Collin Cowgill bobbled the ball in the outfield, allowing Mustelier to score.

The G-Braves managed to record six hits and two walks against Columbus starter Mike Clevinger (W, 3-0), but went just 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left five on base.

Clevinger tossed 5.0 innings and struck out three, allowing just one earned run. He threw 56 of his 88 pitches for strikes.

Perez struggled for the second straight outing, allowing nine hits and six runs (four earned) while walking two and striking out five in 5.1 innings.

After earning a promotion from Double-A Mississippi earlier in the day, Atlanta’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB.com, Ozzie Albies went 0-for-3 with a pair of lineouts. The 19-year-old, who is also rated as the No. 26 prospect in all of Minor League Baseball by MLB.com, helped start two double plays and was involved in three total at shortstop. He did make a throwing error in the fourth.

Reid Brignac went 0-for-3 to end his streak of four straight multi-hit games. Mustelier went 1-for-1 with a walk and a run scored.

Aguilar finished 3-for-3 with two RBIs to lead the Clippers, who are now 5-0 vs. Gwinnett this season.

The G-Braves and Clippers play the finale of the three-game series on Sunday afternoon at Coolray Field, first pitch set for 2:05 p.m. Right-hander Tyrell Jenkins (2-1, 1.71 ERA) will start for Gwinnett. Columbus has not yet named a starter for the contest. Tony Schiavone will have the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM at 1:35 p.m.

Sunday is the second “Bark in the Park” game of the season, where fans can bring their dogs with them to the Coolray Field Lawn. It’s also “Sunday Funday” presented by Georgia United Credit Union, as fans are invited to play catch on the field from 1:10-1:25 p.m. and kids (ages 12 and under) are welcome to run the bases after the game.

Tickets for Sunday’s game are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets to purchase.

Advertisements

Clippers Down G-Braves in Ninth

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Michael Choice hit a tie-breaking two-run double in the top of the ninth inning to power the Columbus Clippers (14-7) to a 4-1 victory over the Gwinnett Braves (13-10) on Friday night at Coolray Field.

Choice’s double off Gwinnett reliever Ryan Weber (L, 0-1) one-hopped the wall in right-center with one out in the ninth, scoring Joey Butler and Collin Cowgill. Anthony Recker added insurance with an RBI double scoring Choice.

Weber had wiggled out of a jam an inning earlier, keeping Columbus off the scoreboard in the eighth despite allowing a leadoff hit. He yielded a single to Michael Martinez, who promptly stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. But Weber got Erik Gonzalez to ground out, Jesus Aguilar to pop out and Giovanny Urshela to ground out, all to third baseman Rio Ruiz.

Gwinnett had fought back to tie the game in the sixth, when Matt Tuiasosopo doubled home Reid Brignac to knot the game at 1-1. Brignac had doubled to lead off the inning, his second double and third hit of the night.

Starter Casey Kelly was stellar in his third start for the G-Braves, equaling a career high with 7.0 innings while allowing just an unearned run on one hit. He walked a career-high six batters, but also struck out five in a 105-pitch, 63-strike outing. Kelly’s lone hit allowed was a leadoff single to Urshela in the second inning.

Columbus scored an unearned run off Kelly in the second. After Urshela’s single and a two-out walk to Cowgill, Kelly got Choice to ground to short, but Brignac booted it to load the bases. Recker followed with a bases-loaded walk scoring Urshela for a 1-0 lead.

Brignac picked up three of Gwinnett’s seven hits in the game, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored. It was Brignac’s third consecutive three-hit game and fourth straight multi-hit effort. Tuiasosopo’s RBI was his team-leading 13th of the season. Levi Hyams recorded his first career Triple-A hit, a two-out single in the ninth.

Clippers’ starter Will Roberts allowed five hits and a run in 5.0-plus innings, walking one and striking out two. Jeff Johnson (W, 2-0) earned the win after allowing just one hit over 1.2 innings in relief.

For Columbus, Choice finished 1-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, while Recker went 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.

The G-Braves and Clippers play game two of the three-game series on Saturday night at Coolray Field, first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Williams Perez (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will start for Gwinnett against right-hander Mike Clevinger (2-0, 3.20 ERA) for Columbus. Tony Schiavone and Nick Green will have the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM at 6:35 p.m.

The first 2,500 fans will receive a bobblehead of G-Braves’ manager Brian Snitker, commemorating his 40th season with the Atlanta Braves organization. It’s also Amica Insurance Night and night two ofStrike Out Hunger! presented by Fifth Third Bank.

Tickets for Saturday’s game are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets to purchase.

G-Braves Drop Series Finale to Durham

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Dayron Varona laced a two-out, two-run double to cap a three-run third inning as the Durham Bulls (8-6) slid past the Gwinnett Braves (10-4) 5-3 in the rubber match of a three-game set on Wednesday night at Coolray Field.

Varona finished 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, handing G-Braves’ starter Tyrell Jenkins his first defeat of the season and sending Gwinnett to its first series loss of 2016.

With one out in the third, Daniel Robertson singled and Taylor Motter drew a walk from Jenkins (L, 1-1). Richie Shaffer then rolled a grounder to first base and Tyler Moore tried to force out Motter at second. But the Gwinnett first baseman’s throw was wide, allowing Robertson to score to cut the G-Braves’ lead to 2-1. Two batters later, Varona doubled to the wall in left-center, putting the Bulls ahead for good.

Durham would add two more runs in the fifth against Jenkins, as Robertson doubled to open the frame and Motter walked before Shaffer doubled Robertson home. Nick Franklin provided the final cushion with a sacrifice fly.

Jenkins allowed five runs (two earned) over 6.0 innings, yielding eight hits while walking two. He struck out four and threw 97 pitches, 64 for strikes. The righty also registered two pickoffs, the first of the season for Gwinnett.

The G-Braves jumped on Durham starter Austin Pruitt in the first inning, as Chase d’Arnaud reached on a fielders’ choice and moved to third on a double by Reid Brignac before scoring on Moore’s sacrifice fly to center.

Ronnier Mustelier and Rio Ruiz opened the second with consecutive doubles, with Ruiz’s opposite-field hit plating his teammate and raising the lead to 2-0. In the first two innings of games this season, Gwinnett has outscored its opponents 26-5.

But Gwinnett wouldn’t get anything further against Pruitt (W, 2-0), who allowed six hits over 6.0 innings, struck out five and walked one.

The G-Braves got to Durham reliever Eddie Gamboa (H, 1) for an unearned run in the eighth, scoring when Robertson bobbled a Mustelier grounder to short and then threw wildly to first, plating Matt Tuiasosopo.

Tyler Sturdevant (S, 2) worked a perfect ninth inning for the Bulls. In addition to Varona’s multi-hit night, Jaff Decker went 3-for-5 while Robertson and Motter each scored twice.

Brignac and Ruiz each had two of the G-Braves’ seven hits, but the club went just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Ruiz went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, boosting his average to .367 on the year. Brignac finished 2-for-4 with a double.

Gwinnett now hits the road for a three-city, eight-game road trip starting Thursday night at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, NC. Game one of a two-game series against the Charlotte Knights starts at 7:05 p.m. The G-Braves’ starting pitcher has yet to be announced, while the Knights will go with right-hander Jacob Turner (1-0, 1.80 ERA). Tony Schiavone will have the call of the action beginning at 6:35 p.m. on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com.

The G-Braves return home to Coolray Field on Friday, April 29 with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Columbus Clippers. Tickets are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets to purchase.

Bulls Hand G-Braves Their First Home Loss

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Richie Shaffer scored on a Joel De La Cruz wild pitch to cap a two-run sixth inning and Kyle Roller added the eventual winning run with a solo homer in the ninth as the Durham Bulls (7-5) handed the Gwinnett Braves (9-3) their first home loss of the season, 5-4, on Monday night at Coolray Field.

Roller took G-Braves’ reliever Brandon Cunniff deep to left-center leading off the final frame, putting the Bulls up 5-3.

Durham would need that run as Gwinnett made it 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth when Ryan Lavarnwayripped a single to score Chase d’Arnaud. But the two-out rally stalled against Ryan Garton (S, 1) whenBlake Lalli flew out to left to strand a pair and end the G-Braves’ six-game winning streak.

Garton got the first two outs in the ninth before d’Arnaud singled for his third hit of the night and Reid Brignac matched his teammate with his third single.

Gwinnett entered the sixth inning leading 4-3, but starter Mike Foltynewicz (L, 1-1) walked Taylor Motter and Shaffer before exiting with none out. De La Cruz (BS, 1) replaced the righty and allowed a single to Nick Franklin which loaded the bases. Jake Goebbert bounced into a 4-6-3 double play scoring Motter to tie the game, and De La Cruz uncorked a wild pitch that brought home the go-ahead run.

The G-Braves scored single runs in the first and second innings to open a 2-0 lead. Brignac plated d’Arnaud with an RBI single in the first after d’Arnaud doubled and stole third, and Emilio Bonifacioknocked in Ronnier Mustelier with an RBI single an inning later to double the lead.

But Durham battled back, working a two-out rally against Foltynewicz in the fourth to knot the game. Mikie Mathook led off with a single and scored when Franklin singled four batters later. Goebbert lifted a shallow fly ball into right field that d’Arnaud couldn’t corral before Foltynewicz got out of the frame with a strikeout.

For the night, Foltynewicz allowed four hits and four runs over 5.0 innings while walking four and striking out five. He threw just 49 of his 92 pitches for strikes in dropping his first decision of the year.

d’Arnaud finished 3-for-5 and was a home run short of a cycle. His five doubles are tied for the International League lead.

Brignac picked up his first RBIs of the homestand while also going 3-for-5.

Durham starter Matt Andriese (W, 1-1) allowed nine hits over 5.1 innings, but didn’t walk a batter and struck out five. Dylan

Floro (H, 3) and Tyler Sturdevant (H, 1) held the G-Braves scoreless over 2.2 innings, bridging the gap to Garton. Mahtook was 3-for-5 with a run scored for Durham.

The series continues Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. as Gwinnett right-hander Aaron Blair (2-0, 2.25 ERA) opposes fellow righty Jaime Schultz (1-0, 1.74 ERA) of Durham. Tony Schiavone will have the call of the action beginning at 6:35 p.m. on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com.

Tuesday night is the first “Two-for-Tuesday” of 2016 as all Dugout Seats are two for the price of one! Tickets are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.

Gwinnett Sweeps Away the Tides

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Ronnier Mustelier put Gwinnett ahead for good with an RBI single in the third inning, and the G-Braves (9-2) edged the Norfolk Tides (2-8) 4-3 on Sunday afternoon at Coolray Field. The International League South Division-leading G-Braves swept the four-game series, extending their winning streak to six games.

Mustelier’s RBI single brought home Chase d’Arnaud, who had doubled to lead off the third against Norfolk left-hander Ariel Miranda (L, 0-1). The Cuban-born Mustelier finished 2-for-3 for his second consecutive two-hit game, raising his batting average to .348. He picked up RBIs in three of the four games against the Tides, helping Gwinnett sweep a four-game series for the first time since August 20-23, 2015 vs. Louisville.

Right-hander John Gant (W, 1-0) completed five innings for the G-Braves, allowing three runs on three hits while walking two and striking out six. He was perfect through the first two innings and held a 3-0 lead before Norfolk scored three times in the bottom of the third. Ozzie Martinez singled and Michael Almanzar walked before Sharlon Schoop brought them both home with a double to left. It appeared that Gant would get through the inning with a lead still intact, but Henry Urrutia hit a two-out RBI single to tie the game.

Norfolk’s three-run outburst ended a streak of 27 straight scoreless innings thrown by G-Braves’ starting pitchers, a span that dated back to April 12 at Durham.

Gwinnett had built a 3-0 lead in the second inning, with Brandon Snyder, Rio Ruiz and Braeden Schlehuber each collecting RBIs off Miranda. Ruiz punctuated the inning with an RBI triple to center and came in to score on Schlehuber’s first hit of the season in his first plate appearance.

After Gant’s exit, Rob Wooten (H, 2), Kanekoa Texeira (H, 2) and David Peterson (S, 2) allowed a total of two hits over four scoreless innings of relief. Peterson, who was 11-for-13 in save chances across three levels of the Braves’ system in 2015, retired the side in order with help from strong defensive plays from right fielder Matt Tuiasosopo and first baseman Blake Lalli.

Mustelier had the only multi-hit game for the G-Braves, while Ruiz and Schlehuber each finished 1-for-3 with an RBI. The double by d’Arnaud was his fourth of the season, tying him with Tuiasosopo for the league lead.

Miranda allowed four runs on five hits over 6.0 innings for the Tides. Schoop went 1-for-3 with the two-run double, one of just five Norfolk hits on the day.

The G-Braves continue the homestand on Monday night with the opener of a three-game series against the Durham Bulls. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (1-0, 0.90 ERA) takes the mound for Gwinnett against fellow righty Matt Andriese (0-1, 4.91 ERA) of the Bulls. Tony Schiavone will have the call of the action beginning at 6:35 p.m. on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com.

Tickets for Monday’s game are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.

Kelly Guides G-Braves To Series Victory

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Casey Kelly tossed seven scoreless innings and Emilio Bonifacio had three hits and an RBI to lead the Gwinnett Braves (8-2) to a 4-1 victory over the Norfolk Tides (2-7) on Saturday night at Coolray Field.

The G-Braves, off to their best 10-game start in the eight-year history of the team, now lead the International League South Division by 2.0 games over Durham.

Kelly (W, 1-0) turned in the fourth straight scoreless outing by a G-Braves starting pitcher, scattering four hits and a walk. He matched a career high with seven innings for the first time since July 9, 2011 for Double-A San Antonio of the San Diego Padres’ organization. The right-hander threw 58 of his 87 pitches for strikes and was the beneficiary of two double plays.

Norfolk did not collect a base hit until the top of the third, when former G-Brave Paul Janish lined a two-out single to center. Kelly did not run into trouble during his outing, allowing only one runner to reach second base.

Bonifacio spearheaded the offensive attack for Gwinnett, going 3-for-4 with two stolen bases. The speedy center fielder put the G-Braves up 3-0 when he dumped a single into shallow left field in the fifth inning, plating Brandon Snyder. Bonifacio is batting .450 since joining the G-Braves and has a team-high five stolen bases in his first five games.

Gwinnett scored twice in the fifth against former G-Brave Terry Doyle (L, 0-1) as Ronnier Mustelier led off the frame with a triple to center and scored on a single by Snyder. Mustelier went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and two runs scored, while Snyder went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

The G-Braves pounded out 11 more hits against Norfolk after posting 13 hits on Friday night and nine on Thursday.

Kelly’s flawless start, combined with a scoreless inning of relief from Joel De La Cruz pushed Gwinnett’s scoreless-innings streak to 27.1 entering the ninth. But Christian Walker crushed a solo home run to left-center off Ian Krol to lead off the final inning, putting Norfolk on the board for the first time in the series. The left-handed Krol regrouped to retire the side.

Walker’s home run was his lone hit of the evening and former G-Brave Joey Terdoslavich went 2-for-2 with two walks for the Tides. Janish also collected two hits for Norfolk.

Gwinnett will look to sweep the Tides on Sunday afternoon as right-hander John Gant (0-0, 4.91 ERA) opposes left-hander Ariel Miranda (0-0, 1.93) at 2:05 p.m. Tony Schiavone will have the call of the action beginning at 1:35 p.m. on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com.

Sunday’s game is the first “Bark in the Park” game of the season, as fans are permitted to bring their dogs with them to Coolray Field. It’s also “Sunday Funday,” allowing fans to play catch on the field prior to the game from 1:10 to 1:25 and kids 12 and under to run the bases after the game. Tickets are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.

Jenkins Shines as G-Braves Shut Out Norfolk

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Right-hander Tyrell Jenkins scattered five hits over six scoreless innings, and Gwinnett’s International League-leading offense pounded out 13 hits in a 10-0 rout of the Norfolk Tides on Friday night at Coolray Field.

The G-Braves (7-2), first place in the IL South Division, are off to the best nine-game start in team history thanks to consecutive home shutout wins over the Tides (2-6). Gwinnett has an IL-best three shutouts on the young season, all coming against Norfolk.

For the second straight night, the G-Braves got stellar pitching from a top prospect, with Jenkins (W, 1-0) following fellow righty Aaron Blair’s lead from Thursday’s 6-0 win. As Jenkins put up zeroes, his teammates continued their hot hitting to begin the season.

Facing former G-Brave Todd Redmond (L, 0-2) for the second time already this year, Gwinnett scored six times in the first two innings to chase the Tides’ starter after just 1.2 frames.

The G-Braves scored twice in the first as Blake Lalli and Ryan Lavarnway each knocked in runs. An inning later, Matt Tuiasosopo, Tyler Moore, Lalli and Lavarnway collected consecutive RBI singles, opening a 6-0 lead.

The early offensive outburst was more than enough for Jenkins, who cruised to his first victory of the year. He ran into trouble only once, loading the bases in the fourth before inducing an inning-ending double play. The Atlanta Braves’ No. 8 prospect according to MLB.com, Jenkins walked one and struck out five as he lowered his season ERA to 2.00.

Emilio Bonifacio added a sacrifice fly to make it 7-0 in the fifth, and a three-run seventh capped by Moore’s two-run single extended the lead to 10-0.

Danny Burawa, Madison Younginer and Ryan Weber each tossed scoreless innings in relief to complete the shutout. Gwinnett pitchers haven’t allowed a run over the last 19.1 innings dating back to the eighth inning of Wednesday’s 6-2 win at Durham.

Rio Ruiz extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single to lead off the seventh. He added a single in the eighth and finished 2-for-5, also giving him four straight multi-hit games. Chase d’Arnaudwent 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, Moore went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and Lavarnway went 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Lalli and Tuiasosopo also had a hit and two RBIs each.

For Norfolk, Dariel Alvarez went 3-for-4 and Henry Urrutia reached base three times on a single and two walks.

The G-Braves and Tides play game three of the four-game series on Saturday night, first pitch slated for 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Casey Kelly (0-0, 7.20) takes the mound for Gwinnett, while Norfolk counters with former G-Braves right-hander Terry Doyle (0-0, 6.00). Dave Lezotte, filling in for Tony Schiavone, will have the call of the action beginning at 6:35 p.m. on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com.

The first 2,500 fans at Saturday’s game will receive a Coolray Field Fleece Blanket, compliments of Coolray Heating and Cooling. It’s also Princess and Pirates Night, with Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Pirate Jack greeting fans on the concourse. Tickets are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.

Blair Sharp as G-Braves Blank Norfolk

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Aaron Blair tossed six scoreless innings and the Gwinnett Braves broke it open late to earn a 5-0 victory over the Norfolk Tides (2-5) in the club’s home opener Thursday night at Coolray Field.

Gwinnett (6-2) added to a 1-0 lead with four runs in the eighth, capped by Rio Ruiz’s first Triple-A home run, a three-run blast into the Norfolk bullpen in right field. The G-Braves loaded the bases with one out and Ronnier Mustelier beat out a potential inning-ending double play to plate Matt Tuiasosopo and extend the inning to Ruiz.

Blair (W, 2-0), who received 11 runs of support in his season debut on April 9 in Norfolk, did the heavy lifting himself Thursday, holding the Tides to just five hits. He was greeted rudely by Xavier Avery to lead off the game, but responded by getting Alfredo Marte to bounce into a double play.

Blair did not allow more than one baserunner until the sixth, when Norfolk loaded the bases. Avery started the frame with his third hit of the night and promptly stole second, before Marte and Christian Walker were set down on strikes. But back-to-back walks to Dariel Alvarez and former G-Brave Joey Terdoslavich filled the bases. Manager Brian Snitker left Blair in to face Francisco Pena.

The Tides’ catcher hit a high chopper to Reid Brignac at second, who made the easy play to retire the side.

Blair has now allowed three earned runs over his first 12 innings for an ERA of 2.25. The right-hander threw 57 of his 97 pitches for strikes.

Rob Wooten (H, 1), Kanekoa Texeira (H, 1) and Brandon Cunniff each threw 1.0 scoreless inning to complete the eight-hitter, Gwinnett’s second shutout of 2016.

Gwinnett opened up a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth as Sean Kazmar Jr. led off with a single to center and scored on Emilio Bonifacio’s double into the left-field corner.

Ruiz finished 2-for-4 with the homer and three RBIs for the G-Braves, while Bonifacio went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

Avery went 3-for-4 and Alvarez reached base safely with a pair of walks for the Tides, who got six strong innings from lefty Nick Additon (L, 0-1). The southpaw scattered seven hits and did not walk a batter, while allowing just one run and striking out three.

Right-hander Tyrell Jenkins (0-0, 6.00 ERA) takes the mound for Gwinnett in the second game of the series on Friday night against former G-Brave Todd Redmond (0-1, 24.30 ERA) for the Tides. Tony Schiavone will have the call of the action beginning at 6:35 p.m. on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com.

The first 2,500 fans through the gates will receive a 2016 G-Braves Schedule Magnet. G-Braves’ players and coaches will wear Brooklyn Dodgers-themed jerseys as part of “Jackie Robinson Day,” and the jerseys will be autographed and auctioned off following the game. The night concludes with post-game fireworks, courtesy of Fox 5 Atlanta. Tickets are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.

Q&A: “Folty” Rebounds from Scary Injury

The following Q&A appears in the Opening Week edition of “Tomahawk Talk,” the official gameday publication of the Gwinnett Braves. Pick up a FREE copy at Coolray Field from April 14-20.

Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz experienced his fair share of ups and downs in 2015, his first season as a member of the Atlanta Braves organization.

Acquired as part of the trade that sent catcher Evan Gattis to the Houston Astros on January 14, 2015, Foltynewicz entered the year ranked the Braves’ No. 3 prospect by MLB.com. He began the season in Triple-A Gwinnett and was the club’s Opening Day starter. After posting a 2.08 ERA in his first four starts with the G-Braves, he was recalled by Atlanta and joined the Major League rotation on May 1.

Foltynewicz displayed a fastball that touched triple digits while going 3-2 with a 3.96 ERA in his first six starts with the Braves. He struggled over his next 12 outings, however, going 1-4 with a 6.97 ERA.

As he worked to refine his pitches and regain his early-season form, Foltynewicz was dealt a pair of health setbacks in September.

On September 2, he was placed on the Braves disabled list with costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage that connects each rib to the sternum. On September 21, a life-threatening blood clot was discovered in his right arm that prompted surgery to remove part of one of his ribs.

Six months later, Foltynewicz is fully healed from the surgery and is beginning his journey back to Atlanta with a stint in Gwinnett. Andrew Constant of Tomahawk Talk caught up with the man fans call “Folty” to talk about the surgery, his rehab and moving forward.

Andrew Constant: I know it was a weird offseason for you, but are you feeling good and getting back to full-strength now?

Mike Foltynewicz: Right now I’m just trying to focus on getting my strength and stamina back in the game. My body feels good now; I dropped 20 pounds, so I’m trying to get a little of that (weight) back and maybe that’ll help me with the strength and stamina, but other than that the arm feels good.

AC: The injury you suffered last year was an uncommon one. Was there any fear in you when it first happened?

MF: There really was. My right arm was three times the size of my other arm and I didn’t know what happened. I went to the trainers and they said to get to the hospital immediately. It was just sinking in that ‘this is life-threatening’ and you don’t even worry about baseball at that point. You worry about getting healthy. It was scary, but once (the doctors) knew what it was and they could figure it out, it was a little easier on my mind. It wasn’t a fun process.

AC: You had to have part of a rib taken out. What was it like having to rehab from that procedure this offseason?

MF: It wasn’t that bad, really after that two-week span where we found (the blood clot) and got rid of it and then all of this stuff took care of itself. It was really an easy process after that, but it was a lot of sitting around and I couldn’t do a lot of the things I like to do like golfing or playing basketball with my friends. I’m just glad I got it taken care of and I’m healthy and I’m back out on a baseball field and still pitching after that. I’m a lucky guy and I’m thankful for all of it. I hope I can get back to 100 percent and keep battling.

AC: This is your second season in the Braves’ organization. Do you feel more comfortable this year?

MF: Oh yeah, 100 percent more comfortable. A lot of these guys are in the same position I was last year, being a new guy in the organization. I was luckily a part of it last year with like 20 new guys, so there were a lot of guys in that boat with me and that really helped me get through it. We’re all buddies now and this is a great group of guys right here. We’re going to have a lot of fun here and hopefully all get to go up to Atlanta together. (Braves) fans are going to have a lot of fun watching this group for the next 4-5 years.

AC: You got off to a late start in Spring Training, how would you sum up your pitching in Florida?

MF: It was a little bit shaky down there. It’s weird, my off-speed pitches are there, but my fastball isn’t, which is kind of the opposite from last year. I was working on the (change-up), slider and curveball last year in the spring. But everything is there, I just need to get back to pitching and not (worrying about how I feel). We know at the same time though that I need to be worried about both. Once I get that happy medium and I’m ready to go, then I’ll start pitching and I’m just happy to be back on the mound. I was at 70 pitches in my last outing (of Spring Training) and everything felt good. I just left a few pitches up and I gave up quite a few home runs, but get them out of the way early is what I like to say. I think I’ll be just fine when I’m reading swings and whatnot.

AC: This is your second year with Gwinnett, is familiarity with this team helpful in returning?

MF: A little bit, but once you get out on that mound in front of all those people, you get a little nervous and some butterflies in the system. After that first pitch, it’s another baseball game and you just go out there and pitch. It is kind of cool, having been here last year and knowing what to expect. It’s always a rush out there on Opening Day and in that first series. I’m glad I get to be a part of it.

AC: Does it also help that you’ll face some International League opponents for the second or third time this season, as opposed to last year when you were just learning the league?

MF: Absolutely. Sitting in the dugout watching or charting from the stands, you are able to see it in front of you and all the video we have now is helpful. Hopefully being here last year helps give me a leg up seeing some of those guys. It’s a good league, there’s a lot of good hitters so you have to study up or they’ll take advantage of you.

AC: Do you have a certain goal for the 2016 season?

MF: My goal in the spring was to just get out there in a game and I did that. I haven’t really set a goal after that. I didn’t know what to expect; I had never had a surgery before so I wasn’t sure how this would go. I’m just hoping it’s all going to stay intact and nothing goes badly. But beyond that, just get back to the Major Leagues and while I’m here, get my work in and grind it out. There’s really nothing else you can do, just go out and pitch. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m just thankful to be able to still pitch after what happened. I’m excited for the season.