LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - The Gwinnett Braves, in conjunction with the Atlanta Braves, have announced their 2013 Opening Day roster. First-year Manager Randy Ready will lead a 25-man group that features 13 players that spent time in Gwinnett in 2012. Included in the returnees are 2012 International League Batting Champion Jose Constanza, 2012 IL Rookie of the Year Ernesto Mejia and the Braves' fourth-ranked prospect according to Baseball America, left-hander Sean Gilmartin.
Ready is joined by a veteran coaching staff including fifth-year Hitting Coach Jamie Dismuke and third-year Pitching Coach Marty Reed. Trainer Mike Graus returns for his fifth season in Gwinnett, while Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Will Townsley is new to the club.
Constanza and Mejia both return to anchor a veteran Gwinnett offense, each having won major awards the previous year. Constanza paced the IL with a .314 (108-for-344) batting average in 88 games for the G-Braves in 2012, becoming the second Gwinnett player to win the Batting Title. Mejia, meanwhile, became the third-straight G-Brave to win the IL's award for top rookie thanks to a league-high 92 RBI, 24 home runs (T-3rd) and a .296 batting average (9th).
Also returning to the Gwinnett lineup from 2012 are catcher Jose Yepez, infielder Tyler Pastornicky and outfielders Jordan Parraz and Joe Terdoslavich. Yepez hit .264 with three home runs and 30 RBI as he spent the entire season in a G-Braves' uniform a year ago. Pastornicky spent 38 games with Gwinnett sandwiched in between stints with the Atlanta Braves, hitting .268 with 15 doubles, a home run and 20 RBI. Parraz was limited to just 34 games in Triple-A as the result of a broken left hand, but hit .288 with a pair of homers and nine RBI in that span. Terdoslavich, ranked the No. 18 prospect in the Braves' organization according to Baseball America is also back for his second Opening Day with Gwinnett. The third-baseman-turned-outfielder hit .180 in 53 games with Gwinnett a year ago, but bounced back to hit .315 with five homers and 51 RBI for Double-A Mississippi to finish the year.
Gilmartin stands as the best prospect arm on the Gwinnett roster, checking in at No. 4 on Baseball America's list. Atlanta's 2011 first-round pick out of Florida State University went 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA in seven starts with the G-Braves late last season. He's one of seven pitchers on the Opening Day roster that spent time in Gwinnett last season.
Left-hander Yohan Flande is the club's most experienced returning pitcher, having spent both 2011 and 2012 with the G-Braves. Last year, the El Seibo, Dominican Republic native went 6-11 with a 4.21 ERA in 29 games, 27 starts. Left-hander Daniel Rodriguez is another potential rotation candidate, having gone 0-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two games, one start for Gwinnett a year ago. Rodriguez made his states-side debut with the G-Braves after pitching for Saltillo of the Mexican League from 2006 to 2012. Left-hander Dusty Hughes will be the experienced staple of the bullpen after going 3-2 with a 3.31 ERA in a full season with Gwinnett last year.
The cast of new faces set to play for Gwinnett is headlined by three pitchers on Atlanta's 40-man roster. Right-handers David Hale and Cory Rasmus are each set to make their Triple-A debuts this season, while right-hander David Carpenter works to get back to the big leagues. Hale, Atlanta's third-round pick in 2009 out of Princeton University, went 8-4 with a 3.77 ERA in 27 starts with Double-A Mississippi last year. He's ranked the No. 16 prospect in the Braves' system according to Baseball America. Rasmus, a supplemental first-round pick in 2006, went 3-5 with a 3.68 ERA and seven saves with Double-A Mississippi in 2012. Carpenter spent time in the Major Leagues with both Houston and Toronto a year ago.
Expected to make their Triple-A debuts in the lineup are outfielder Todd Cunningham and third baseman Joe Leonard. Cunningham, ranked the No. 12 prospect in the Braves' system by Baseball America, was Atlanta's Minor League Player of the Year in 2012. He hit .309 with 51 RBI and 24 stolen bases in a full season at Double-A Mississippi. Leonard also spent all year with the M-Braves, hitting .263 with a team-high nine home runs and 66 RBI.
Newcomers adding experience to the diamond will be catcher Matt Pagnozzi, infielders Blake DeWitt, Sean Kazmar and Corey Wimberly. DeWitt has a .257 career batting average in 422 Major League games with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs, while Pagnozzi has 33 games of Major League experience between St. Louis, Colorado and Pittsburgh. Kazmar and Wimberly were both briefly members of International League opponent Buffalo last season.
The Gwinnett Braves open their fifth season of play on Thursday, April 4, 2013 as they host the Charlotte Knights for a 7:05 PM contest at Coolray Field. The first 2,000 fans through the gates will receive a T-Shirt courtesy of Georgia Power. Single game tickets as well as 5-game packs and season tickets are on sale now. For more information, contact the Coolray Field Box Office at 678-277-0340 or visit www.gwinnettbraves.com.