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Toussaint among young candidates for spot in Braves rotation
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Toussaint among young candidates for spot in Braves rotation

Toussaint among young candidates for spot in Braves rotation
Photo Credit: Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2018, file photo, Atlanta Braves pitcher Touki Toussaint delivers the ball to a New York Mets batter during the first inning of a baseball game, in New York. There is room for at least one young pitcher to emerge in Atlanta's rotation as the Braves pitchers and catchers prepare to report to spring training this week. Touki Toussaint and Mike Soroka are two names to watch. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

FILUE - In this June 13, 2018, file photo, Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Soroka throws against the New York Mets, during the first inning of a baseball game, in Atlanta. There is room for at least one young pitcher to emerge in Atlanta's rotation as the Braves pitchers and catchers prepare to report to spring training this week. Touki Toussaint and Mike Soroka are two names to watch. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Toussaint among young candidates for spot in Braves rotation

ATLANTA (AP) - Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino has help for anyone confused by the team's long list of young starting pitchers, including several who had Atlanta auditions in 2018.

As Atlanta's pitchers and catchers prepare to report to spring training this week, there are many highly regarded candidates for at least one open spot in the rotation. The list includes Mike Soroka, Touki Toussaint, Kyle Wright, Kolby Allard, Max Fried, Bryse Wilson and Luiz Gohara.

Vizcaino sees one starter emerging from the crowd.

"Touki. Touki," Vizcaino said last month. "He's very good. He impressed me a lot."

Vizcaino wouldn't be swayed. Nor would he seek a diplomatic way out when asked about Soroka.

"I like Touki more," Vizcaino said.

And that was that.

Vizcaino isn't the only Braves player with high expectations for Toussaint, 22, who was acquired from Arizona in 2015. The Braves agreed to take on Bronson Arroyo's $10 million contract with Toussaint for third baseman Phil Gosselin.

Toussaint could make that $10 million price tag look like a bargain. First, though, the 6-foot-3 right-hander with the big curveball must win a job.

Mike Foltynewicz, who was last season's breakout starter while landing an All-Star spot, is expected to lead a rotation that also includes Sean Newcomb, Kevin Gausman and Julio Teheran.

The competition for the fifth spot could be the highlight of the Braves' spring. The first workout for pitchers and catchers is Saturday. The full squad reports next week.

"There are so many talented arms," said catcher Tyler Flowers. " ... Of course everybody wants to get a (Justin) Verlander or a (Max) Scherzer or somebody like that, but not every team can bring those guys in. Sometimes you've got to grow them yourself and I think we have a lot of guys who can grow into those types of pitchers."

The wealth of young starting candidates kept Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos from entering a bidding war to keep right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who instead signed with division rival Washington.

"Knowing we have guys internally we think are ready to take a step, the bar is high for us," Anthopoulos said.

Manager Brian Snitker believes the depth will allow Atlanta to bring up a sixth starter from Triple-A Gwinnett when needed to keep the rotation fresh.

Snitker said the depth was "real important" to the Braves' NL East title last season.

"The extra day's rest is big now with what we're doing and we have numbers you can bring up here and stretch guys out," Snitker said.

The Braves used 13 starting pitchers in 2018. Toussaint, Soroka, Wright, Allard and Wilson made their major league debuts. Toussaint's debut came after he was selected to pitch in the Futures Game on All-Star weekend.

Toussaint was impressive in his first start, allowing only two hits and one run in six innings in a win over Miami on Aug. 13. He was 2-1 with a 4.03 ERA in seven games, including five starts.

In what could be an indicator of the team's 2019 plans, Toussaint was placed on the postseason roster. Pitching in relief, he earned the decision in Atlanta's only win in the NL division series loss to the Dodgers.

Toussaint said his 2018 experience helped him believe he belongs in the major leagues.

"I'd say very confident," he said when asked about his mindset. "I know what I have. I've seen it. I've watched it. I'm ready to get after it."

Soroka also was impressive when healthy. He could be watched carefully in his return from a sore shoulder that put an early end to his 2018 season. He said he began throwing in November and feels strong.

Many of the young pitchers moved through the organization together after they were on the same Class A Rome staff in 2016.

"It's pretty incredible to be with those guys," Soroka said. "Healthy competition is always good. It brings out the best in everyone."

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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  • NEW YORK (AP) - Just about every newcomer to the Atlanta Braves has made an immediate impact lately. Francisco Cervelli fit right in Saturday night. The newly signed catcher had three hits and three RBIs in his Atlanta debut, and the Braves beat the New York Mets 9-5 for their seventh straight victory. 'He was excited about getting here - and it showed,' Braves manager Brian Snitker said. Ronald Acu a Jr. hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning, and recent addition Billy Hamilton dashed home with another run on the play thanks to a mental lapse by Mets left fielder J.D. Davis. Freddie Freeman launched his career-high 35th home run in the ninth. Freeman, who began the day leading the majors in RBIs, increased his season total to 105. Along with Cervelli and Hamilton, substitute shortstop Adeiny Hechavarr a was picked up off the scrap heap (from the Mets) not long ago. That trio and three key relievers acquired at the July 31 trade deadline have given the Braves a huge boost over the past two nights and beyond. 'All the new guys were - golly!' Snitker said. Ozzie Albies and Josh Donaldson also went deep for the NL East leaders, each connecting on a solo shot in the third off starter Zack Wheeler. Atlanta improved to 10-5 this year against the Mets, who remained two games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild card. Rookie slugger Pete Alonso matched a Mets record with his 41st home run, a three-run shot that put New York ahead 5-4 in the fifth after trailing 4-0. But third baseman Todd Frazier was unable to snag Cervelli's hard one-hopper in the sixth, a two-base error that led to Cervelli scoring the tying run on Rafael Ortega's single. After recovering from yet another concussion, Cervelli played his first major league game since May 25. The veteran backstop stroked a two-run double on the second pitch he saw for a 2-0 lead in the second. 'I was playing like a little kid,' Cervelli said. 'That's all that matters, man. From now on, just enjoy every game, every opportunity, and do what I have to do.' He singled his next time up and added an RBI double to deep center in the ninth. 'Hasn't played in three months, comes out and gets three knocks. Just makes it look that easy,' Hamilton said. From his knees, Cervelli also threw out Amed Rosario trying to steal second in a tie game in the seventh. 'After he got that hit in the second inning I just said, 'Well, just get a new guy every single day,'' Freeman said, adding that the recent additions are energizing the entire clubhouse. 'It's been pretty amazing.' Cervelli, released Thursday by Pittsburgh, signed with the Braves earlier Saturday to help fill in with Brian McCann on the injured list. Josh Tomlin (2-1) tossed two scoreless innings for the win. Ortega sparked Atlanta's two-out rally in the eighth with a single against Brad Brach (4-4) that went off the glove of a leaping Jeff McNeil at second base. The speedy Hamilton followed with a pinch-hit single and scored from third when Davis held the ball after Acu a's single and then lobbed it back to the infield, drawing boos from the crowd of 38,300. 'This is definitely fun. I keep getting a chance to play and I keep having fun with it,' said Hamilton, who hit a go-ahead single in the 14th inning of Friday night's victory for his first hit with Atlanta. Davis called it a 'helpless' feeling.' 'That's my fault. I should be throwing into (Rosario at shortstop) right away instead of picking up the runner at first,' Davis said. Atlanta starter Max Fried, handed a 4-0 lead and looking for his 15th win, allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings. Wilson Ramos extended his hitting streak to 18 games for the Mets, the longest active streak in the majors. KID DYNAMITE Alonso had the souvenir ball in a plastic case after becoming the first rookie to tie his team's home run record since Hall of Famer and former Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner did it for the Pirates with 23 in 1946, according to STATS. Todd Hundley (1996) and Carlos Beltran (2006) also hit 41 home runs in a season for the Mets. 'It's surreal,' Alonso said. 'That moment was really special. I couldn't have dreamed it up any better.' The slugger also has 100 RBIs, making him the first Mets player to reach the plateau since David Wright had 103 in 2010. 'Really cool,' Alonso said. SPOTLESS Atlanta's bullpen has fired 24 consecutive scoreless innings. The relievers are 5-0 with three saves and a 0.34 ERA during the winning streak. TRAINER'S ROOM Braves: Dansby Swanson (bruised right foot) was scheduled to play shortstop in his third rehab game at Class A Rome. ... LF-3B Austin Riley (right knee sprain) was set to play left field for the first time on his rehab assignment at Rome. Mets: McNeil, the NL batting leader, was reinstated from the injured list after missing 10 days with a strained left hamstring. With the score tied, he delivered a pinch-hit double on the first pitch he saw leading off the seventh but was thrown out trying to advance to third on a grounder to shortstop. McNeil remained in the game and singled in the ninth. ... Mets reliever Edwin D az, who gave up Freeman's homer, exited with tightness in his back and neck area. He said he doesn't think it's serious. ... Backup catcher Tom s Nido was placed on the seven-day injured list with a concussion and the club selected the contract of veteran catcher Ren Rivera from Triple-A Syracuse. Reserve outfielder Aaron Altherr was designated for assignment. ... OF Brandon Nimmo (neck) had a day off on his rehab assignment at Syracuse. UP NEXT LHP Dallas Keuchel (4-5, 4.14 ERA) tries to pitch Atlanta to a three-game sweep Sunday afternoon. LHP Steven Matz (8-7, 4.18) goes for the Mets. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Feleipe Franks threw a costly interception just after the Gators stopped Miami on defense. The camera immediately cut to Steve Spurrier. The former Florida coach was less than impressed by what the Florida quarterback did on first down no less. Steve Spurrier watching Feleipe Franks play Quarterback pic.twitter.com/VsR8B6yKPx Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) August 25, 2019 The interception was Franks' second of the game. He also had a fumble in the redzone earlier in the game as well. Franks did score three touchdowns, including a go-ahead rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Gators the lead. But this has not been a great night for the Florida quarterback. Franks has also been seen chirping with fans on the sideline during the game. It has been an incredibly sloppy game from both Florida and Miami. The Florida defense has bailed out the Gators offense, as Florida has sacked Miami quarterback Jarren Williams 9 times. The Gators and Bulldogs meet on Nov. 2 in Jacksonville, Fla. If the Franks plays like he did against the Hurricanes, Georgia should be celebrating a third-straight win over the Gators. The post LOOK: Steve Spurrier has priceless reaction to Feleipe Franks interception appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Florida played poorly in the first half of its season-opener against Miami. The Gators trailed 13-7, giving a touchdown just before halftime. Florida also fumbled the ball twice, including once in the red zone. Georgia fans loved watching the Gators struggle in the first half, as Florida is seen as the top threat to the Bulldogs in the SEC East. The post Georgia football fans laughing at Florida's poor first half appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ORLANDO, Fla. Florida has not yet received a ruling on the eligibility of former Georgia football outside linebacker Brenton Cox. Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin told DawgNation that Florida is still waiting for more information on the appeal that has been filed for Cox to have immediate eligibility. White Cox won't dress or play against Miami in the Gators' 7 p.m. Saturday opener against Miami, he has worked hard to impress his new teammates in Gainesvillefrom all indications. A recent social media post provided evidence of Cox's positive mindset. All these shots I'm takin, they must not know I'm Bulletproof #Themanforever pic.twitter.com/t7gfnJhI70 Brenton Cox Jr. (@Brenton_cox) August 12, 2019 Cox's transfer from Georgia was a whirlwind. The former 5-star recruit from Stockbridge, Ga., was signing autographs at UGA's Fan Day on Aug. 3, reportedly parted from the team on Aug. 4, announced his transfer on Aug. 5 and was signing autographs at Florida Fan Day on Aug. 10. RELATED: Brenton Cox enters transfer portal Georgia coach Kirby Smart seemed to take the Cox transfer in stride when asked about it on Aug. 10, Smart's first media availability after the transfer took place. ' Concerns? I don't know about that,' Smart said. 'Brenton chose to withdraw from the University of Georgia, going into the portal. He's now at another SEC institution so we wish him nothing but the best and we appreciate his contributions while he was here.' The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Cox had 20 tackles and a sack last season, appearing in 13 of the Bulldogs' 14 games. Cox had a career-high six tackles in the 28-21 Sugar Bowl loss to Texas, making his only career start in place of injured All-SEC linebacker D'Andre Walker. It was a tough season for Cox, who struggled with containment responsibilities, most notably after Walker was injured in the SEC Championship Game before Alabama's comeback. Things grew more challenging for Cox in the spring, when he was arrested on April 2 for misdemeanor marijuana possession. RELATED: Brenton Cox speaks out after marijuana arrest Georgia coach Kirby Smart disciplined Cox and Robert Beal who was also arrested on misdemeanor possession in part by making them run steps during a scrimmage. RELATED: Details emerge on misdemeanor arrest of Brenton Cox The Bulldogs have not had any off-field incidents reported since. For Cox, it may prove to be as simple as needing a fresh start. Cox has impressed his new teammates in Florida's fall camp. 'Elusive guy, great off the ball,' tailback Lamical Perine told Florida's Rivals.com site, Gators Territory. 'He's just a guy we glad to have, and he came from Georgia, so I'm pretty sure they kind of salty about that. Hey, we'll take him. He's a great guy.' Receiver Trevon Grimes was even more impressed. 'He's phenomenal; he's good, he's fast, he's quick,' Grimes said. 'He actually has some move that I've never seen before a spin move, like reversal, crazy. 'He's just gonna help our O-line get better.' No doubt, that's the sort of performance Cox's high school resume has suggested. A 2018 Under Armour All-American, Cox was named to the 2017 All-State Class 5A First Team defense by the AJC and the Associated Press. Cox was an ESPN.com five-star prospect, #11 in the ESPN 300, #8 overall prospect in the Southeast, #5 ranked DE nationally, #3 overall prospect in Georgia. RELATED: Breaking down the 8 Georgia football offseason transfers The post Former Georgia football linebacker Brenton Cox won't dress for Florida-Miami game appeared first on DawgNation.
  • NEW YORK (AP) - Francisco Cervelli caught on with a playoff contender, just as he hoped. The first-place Atlanta Braves signed Cervelli to a one-year contract Saturday and immediately plugged the veteran catcher into the starting lineup against the New York Mets. After recovering from his latest concussion, it was his first game in the majors since May 25. 'The only way he's going to get to know these guys is to catch 'em,' Braves manager Brian Snitker said. About two hours before the game, Cervelli said he was still waiting for his catching equipment to arrive at Citi Field. But on the second pitch he saw in his first at-bat, he laced a two-run double into the left field corner for a 2-0 lead. He added a sharp single his next time up. Cervelli, who has a long history of concussions, was granted his release Thursday by the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates after telling them he wanted to hook on with a big league team that had playing time to offer and a chance to reach the postseason. He gives the NL East leaders a proven replacement for injured catcher Brian McCann, sidelined earlier in the week by a sprained left knee. 'It's amazing,' Cervelli said. 'My only mission here is win. I'm wired that way.' Atlanta will pay Cervelli $110,403, a prorated portion of the $555,000 major league minimum. That is offset against his $11.5 million salary in the final season of the $31 million, three-year contract with Pittsburgh that he was released from. The 33-year-old Cervelli joined the Braves at Citi Field and batted seventh against Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler. Snitker said Cervelli will split playing time with Tyler Flowers behind the plate and likely remain with the club when McCann returns because by then rosters will have expanded in September. 'He's got skills. He's a good little catcher,' Snitker said. 'While Mac's out, he's going to be nice little pairing with Tyler.' Cervelli dealt with multiple concussions this season and batted .193 with one home run and five RBIs in 34 games for the Pirates. He recently completed a minor league rehab assignment that began Aug. 11 at Double-A Altoona in the Pittsburgh organization. He played one game there and then caught six games at Triple-A Indianapolis. 'I'm not a little kid anymore, so I kind of know exactly what I need and how many games,' Cervelli said. 'I've been working so hard besides the game for a long time to get back at my best.' Cervelli acknowledged that two months ago, he was a little jittery about catching again after his most recent concussion in May. A report suggested he didn't plan to go back behind the plate, but Cervelli insisted he didn't say that - someone else did. After working out in the infield, he moved back to catcher in the minors. He said he was bored at other positions and threw away his infield glove. 'I'm not a baseball player. I'm a catcher,' he said. 'I've been doing it for 17 years and that's all I'm going to do. And, I like to be behind the plate. It sounds crazy, but I like to get hit and do my thing. So, I'm here now.' He said he quietly underwent a new therapy with a new doctor and is feeling good. 'I put everything I had,' said Cervelli, the Pirates' opening day catcher each of the past five years. Cervelli began the night a .269 career hitter with 36 home runs and 261 RBIs in 700 major league games. His .362 on-base percentage in 450 games with Pittsburgh was second among big league catchers during that span to San Francisco's Buster Posey (.368). To make roster room for Cervelli, the Braves optioned catcher Alex Jackson to Triple-A Gwinnett and transferred left-hander Grant Dayton to the 60-day injured list. Cervelli, from Venezuela, spent the first seven years of his career with the New York Yankees and played in 42 games for the 2009 World Series champions. 'I feel like a lucky man,' he said. 'Just the fact that I went to Triple-A and played baseball. It doesn't matter what it is. I played there like a kid again, and now I feel more grateful just to get picked up by a team who is in first place and they like to win. That's the whole idea.' ___ AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports