Go to the TV, Hanson’s pitching

 Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – It’s mere coincidence that today’s game is on ESPN and Tommy Hanson is making his debut, but what a sweet coincidence for Braves fans who can get in front of a TV.

    I mean, seriously, this is a much-anticipated debut. Granted, it’s just two relief innings (third and fourth innings) in the second Grapefruit League game on the slate, a game that has very little significance otherwise.

  But Hanson is the best pitching prospect the Braves have signed and developed since Kevin Millwood, and has the potential to make a far greater impact on the organization for years to come.

  The 6-foot-6, Oklahoma-born, California-raised right-hander has star potential, and if it doesn’t seem fair to put that burden on such a young pitcher before he’s pitched above the Double-A level, well, it’s too late.

  When you’re the first pitcher ever to win the MVP award at the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League, word gets around, and expectations soar. And honestly, I’ve never met a kid who seems less inclined to either buckle under the weight of those expectations or let them go to his head.

 This guy’s special, you can tell that from the minute you start talking to him. Calm, grounded, acts like he’s completely unfazed by all the attention and interviews and projections people are making for his future.

 “I feel zero pressure,” he said last week, when I asked him about competing for a spot this spring, when the starting rotation appears set with the addition of Tom Glavine in the 5-hole. “I just want to go out and throw.”

  He wants to be a big-time major league pitcher worse than anyone wants it for him; he’s driven like hell to succeed.

  It’s just that he doesn’t feel the need to let everyone know that in interviews, to walk around acting like nothing’s going to get in his way and that he’s a bad man. He lets his actions speak for him, in his work habits, his intensity on the mound, the way he goes at hitters, everything.

  And he’s got to know that if there are no injuries to Braves starters this spring, and he’s assigned to Triple-A Gwinnett to start the season, then it’s surely just a matter of time before the Braves need him and he gets the call.

 Anyone who’s talked to him and seen him pitch, who’s seen him carve hitters with his 94-mph fastballs with explosive movement, big curveballs, nasty sliders — Bobby Cox has already compared his slider to John Smoltz’s vaunted pitch — and quality changeups, agrees he’s as close to can’t-miss as they come.

 Hopefully you’ll get to see enough of him in two innings today to at least develop some appreciation for his talent, though it’s not going to be possible to fully grasp how good he is until you’ve seen him go six or seven innings and really show all he can do, how much he can dominate a lineup deep into games.

  I saw him pitch one game in the Arizona Fall League in November. I think he gave up two hits and an unearned run in the first inning, and I thought, well, wouldn’t you know it, I see his one mediocre game.

  He gave up one hit and no walks the rest of his five-inning performance.

  He completely dominated hitters in most of his AFL starts, going 5-0 with a 0.63 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 29 innings, with a .105 opponents’ average.

  Again, this was against some of the best prospects in all of baseball, guys like Matt Wieters, the former Georgia Tech catcher who’s the top-rated prospect in Baseball America’s just-released Top 100 ranking. Wieters is penciled in as the regular catcher for the Orioles this season.

  He continued in the desert what he’d done all last season, when he threw a 14-strikeout no-hitter after a May promotion to Double-A Mississippi. He went 11-5 with a 2.41 ERA in 138 innings between High-A Myrtle Beach and Mississippi, totaling 163 strikeouts and 52 walks in 138 innings and leading all minor league starters with a .175 opponents’ average.

  So get ready to watch him take another step, folks, but keep in mind: It’s just his first appearance in a Grapefruit League game.

  It’s probably not going to be any great indicator of what’s to come. Even Hanson has got to be feeling a little bit of extra butterflies in his stomach as he makes his first appearance for the Braves, and on ESPN to boot.

  (By the way, the only reason he’s relieving today is the fact that the Braves have so many starting pitchers in camp, and Bobby Cox wanted to give Jorge Campillo a start before he leaves to join the Mexican WBC team. Hanson is scheduled to make his first start in an exhibition game against Panama’s WBC team on Wednesday at Dark Star, aka Disney’s Wide World of Sports, which is serving as Panama’s training camp.)

  – Speaking of Baseball America’s Top 100, the Braves were the only organization with two prospects in the top 10, and they have two in the top five – Hanson was No. 4 and man-child OF Jason Heyward No. 5.

  The Braves had five in the Top 100, including CF Jordan Schafer at No. 42, CF Gorkys Hernandez at No. 62, and 1B Freddie Freeman at No. 87.

  By the way, Schafer is playing CF and batting leadoff today, after his big day yesterday that included a homer and a stolen base.

  There were also four other former Braves prospects in the Top 100, guys who’ve been traded away in recent years, including RH Neftali Feliz at No. 10 (yes, the Braves could have had three in the top 10); SS Elvis Andrus at No. 37 (he was traded to Texas along with Feliz and three other prospects in the July 2007 Mark Teixeira deal); C Max Ramirez at No. 84, and C Tyler Flowers at No. 99.

  The only pitcher rated ahead of Hanson is Tampa Bay lefty David Price, who’s already appeared in five games in the ALCS and World Series.

  When I mentioned to Bobby Cox that the Braves had two prospects, Hanson and Heyward, in BA’s top five, his response was: “They better look at Freeman.”

  Freeman, another big (6-foot-5) Braves kid, terrorized A-ball pitchers last season at Rome in the same lineup with Heyward, his roommate (both of them are 19, folks. yes, 19). The two had a sort of competition at Rome to see who could produce the higher OBP.

  That’s exactly what you’d like to have two guys with that much hitting ability doing in the minors, and which is exactly what you’re not going to see most in that position doing.

 Instead of swinging for fences, those two worked counts and tried to get on base as much as possible, all the while mashing. Heyward hit .323 with a .483 slugging percentage and .388 OBP, with 44 extra-base hits (six triples, 11 bombs) and 52 RBI in 449 at-bats before an end-of-season promotion to high-A.

 Freeman hit .316 with a .521 slugging percentage, .378 OBP and 58 extra-base hits (seven triples, 18 homers) amd 95 RBI in 491 at-bats at Rome.

 Cox thinks the world of both of them, and has commented several times on Freeman’s compact stroke – “You expect a big guy to have a longer swing, but he doesn’t,” he says with approval. When Freeman got a two-out, two-run single in his spring debut Wednesday against the Tigers, Cox said he wasn’t surprised.

  He also pointed out, as he has several times, that Freeman actually chokes up on the bat a little, which you don’t see much these days by hitters other than Barry Bonds. Again, Cox also said that with an obvious tone of approval. Loves the old-school hitters.

  – Another anticipated debut: Kenshin Kawakami is scheduled to make his Braves debut Friday with a start over in Bradenton, a long haul for the large Japanese media contingent that chronicles his every move (and a long haul for me; which means a good cigar and a few CDs will be onboard tomorrow, and the bike will stay back at the rental house in Kissin’me, Fla.

 

   — Changing gears…. Today is a great man’s birthday. Johnny Cash would’ve been 77. Enjoy this video for Hurt, the greatest video ever.
   — Some have asked me, who’s Neko Case, and why do we love her so? This is why
   
  – Shooter Jennings and Alabama boy Jamey Johnson are doing a CMT Crossroads episode to be shown later this month. Here’s the details

 

Today’s Braves lineup vs. Roy Oswalt and Astros at Dark Star, where you’ll be happy (or maybe not) to know that Suzy Q is back, as is the loop of music that includes Afternoon Delight. Every day. Several times a day.

  1. Jordan Schafer, CF
  2. Kelly Johnson, 2B
  3. Chipper Jones, 3B
  4. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  5. Yunel Escobar, SS
  6. Jeff Francoeur, RF
  7. David Ross, C
  8. Brandon Jones, LF
  9. Greg Norton, DH
  

 

   Oh, and here’s a special request. Very special.

 

“PLEASE COME TO BOSTON” by Dave Loggins (also covered memorably by David Allan Coe)

Please come to Boston for the spring time.

I’m stayin’ here with some friends

And they’ve got lots of room.

You can sell your paintings on the sidewalk

By a cafe where I hope to be workin’ soon.

Please come to Boston.

She said, “No.

You come home to me.”

 

And she said, “Hey, ramblin’ boy,

Why don’t you settle down?

Boston ain’t your kind of town.

There ain’t no gold and

There ain’t nobody like me.

I’m the number one fan

Of the man from Tennessee.”

 

Please come to Denver with the snow fall.

We’ll move up into the mountains so far

That we can’t be found.

And throw “I love you” echoes down the canyon

And then lie awake at night until they come back around.

Please come to Denver.

She said, “No.

Boy, would you come home to me?”

 

And she said, “Hey, ramblin’ boy,

Why don’t you settle down?

Denver ain’t your kind of town.

There ain’t no gold and

There ain’t nobody like me.

I’m the number one fan

Of the man from Tennessee.”

 

Now, this drifter’s world goes ’round and ’round

And I doubt it’s ever gonna stop,

But of all the dreams I’ve lost or found

And all that I ain’t got.

I still need to lean to

Somebody I can sing to.

 

Please come to L. A. and live forever.

California life if just too hard to break.

I live in a house that looks out over the ocean.

And there’s some stars that fell from the sky

Livin’ up on the hill.

Please come to L. A.

She just said, “No.

Boy, won’t you come home to me?”

 

And she said, “Hey, ramblin’ boy,

Why don’t you settle down?

L. A. can’t be your kind of town.

There ain’t no gold and

There ain’t nobody like me.

No, no, I’m the number one fan

Of the man from Tennessee.

I’m the number one fan

Of the man from Tennessee.

 

1,035 comments Add your comment

Buffalo NY Braves Fan

February 26th, 2009
12:56 pm

If anyone is around a TV and computer today, and wants to give play by play…. I would appreciate it. No TV here in the office, and they block the game channel stuff on MLB and ESPN…. apparently it makes people unproductive.

Dusty

February 26th, 2009
12:58 pm

DOB,

Any word on the Braves signing our pre-arb guys?

arobs3

February 26th, 2009
12:58 pm

DOB, what kind of bike do you have? How long have you been riding?

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
12:59 pm

Hey buffalo fan, have you tried channelsurfing.net ? The game has not come on yet be other stuff works on that site

Buffalo NY Braves Fan

February 26th, 2009
1:01 pm

That is blocked here to Daniel. They apparently want us to be productive….. they haven’t caught onto the AJC site yet though.

jcfromut

February 26th, 2009
1:02 pm

Love the line up. Esco should hit 5th every day.

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:02 pm

Hey that site is not working for me yet, anybody else getting the game?

MinnesotaJacket

February 26th, 2009
1:03 pm

not yet daniel Im still crossing my fingers since Gameday sux…

ShipHockey7

February 26th, 2009
1:03 pm

channelsurfing is tryin to get a password out of me, dont know what thats all about

DWW

February 26th, 2009
1:03 pm

Daniel
Not working for me either. What was that espn360 link?

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:05 pm

same here ship, but they didn’t want it for the soccer

matt022

February 26th, 2009
1:06 pm

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:06 pm

doggone it… this really stinks, my team and our #1 prospect are playing and I can’t get any radio or video, without paying mlb.

BraveTiger

February 26th, 2009
1:07 pm

DOB – Heard on Sirius Radio that today would’ve been Johnny Cash’s birthday. Surprised no Man in Black song. Enjoy your daily thoughts.

David O'Brien

February 26th, 2009
1:07 pm

Daniel, the zero-to-three non-arb guys signed contracts this morning. Announcement should come shortly. But really, no drama there.

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:07 pm

matt02 do you have to use one of their internet explorers?

Fred

February 26th, 2009
1:08 pm

Buffalo NY braves fan, On the last blog, we talked about the best pizza joints here in GA. But NOTHING beats a Ted’s hot dog with their famous hot sauce (with a Loganberry to drink). And for dessert, why not head down Sheridan for a delicious soft-serve cone? My grandparents used to live in Buffalo so we visited often. Is Bocci pizza still open? They make a really good pie.

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:08 pm

Thanks Dave, but Dusty asked that one.
Hope you have heard AC Newman’s cover of Take on Me… very cool

David O'Brien

February 26th, 2009
1:09 pm

BraveTiger, every day is a celebration of The Man In Black on this blog (but I gotta be honest, I forget it was his birthday).

Damn, it’s too late now. Hey, we used “The Man In Black” a week or so ago, and “Big River” recently.

Happy Birthday to The Real Thing.

matt022

February 26th, 2009
1:09 pm

I have had it for over a year but if I recall I had to download something just not sure.I am on internet explorer.
I am watching it now though, so it works.

matt022

February 26th, 2009
1:11 pm

ShipHockey7

February 26th, 2009
1:12 pm

Crap, I live outside ESPN360 area apparently…man channelsurfing you let me down

Rev Buddy Greene

February 26th, 2009
1:13 pm

good to know Suzi Q is going to be there to greet us when we go to the game against Panama and the Yanks next we.Say what u will about the girl but she is fairly easy on the eyes! :)

Looking forward to seeing Tommy Hanson today.

JPHunt

February 26th, 2009
1:15 pm

Do we have a volunteer for the play by play? DOB? Robert? Anyone?

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:15 pm

I can’t get espn 360 due to the server we use. I got nothing…. This really stinks

Tomahawkin

February 26th, 2009
1:16 pm

Frenchie! Where U at that should’ve been caught! Come On

bf bravesfan

February 26th, 2009
1:16 pm

stros 2-0 still in 1st

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:16 pm

I vote for Matt02 to bring us the goods

David O'Brien

February 26th, 2009
1:16 pm

Campillo is getting knocked around something fierce here in first inning. Hard-hit balls, bloops, a little of everything. Three runs in, four hits, still only two outs….

BraveTiger, thanks for the reminder. Went back into the blog and added a little something for J.R. (Cash)….

President of Matt Diaz Fan Club

February 26th, 2009
1:17 pm

I hate ESPN’s coverage of the Bravos + Jorge Campillo looks terrible.

CameronInNC

February 26th, 2009
1:17 pm

3-0 astros going to the bottom 1st

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:17 pm

what?!! bf you gotta give us more than that

Tomahawkin

February 26th, 2009
1:17 pm

Nasty first Inning 3-0 stros…

toga party

February 26th, 2009
1:17 pm

Anyone listening to the Astros feed? Are the two commentators at completely different volumes? The play by play is like twice as loud as the color.

DOB, let those guys know their audio sucks.

David O'Brien

February 26th, 2009
1:17 pm

Campillo 26 pitches, 14 strikes in first inning. It’s over, at least. Braves down 3-0 headed to second.

matt022

February 26th, 2009
1:17 pm

Looking bad fast. Astro up 3

bf bravesfan

February 26th, 2009
1:18 pm

going to bottom half 2-0 stros

President of Matt Diaz Fan Club

February 26th, 2009
1:18 pm

This guy needs to cancel his appearance with Mexico in the WBC and work on throwing a fastball.

Tomahawkin

February 26th, 2009
1:18 pm

Oh yea We’ve Got Steve Phillips doing color. Get ready to hear about his Past GM experiences with the Mets

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:18 pm

Campillo will be fine, get a few WBC starts…
I like him in long relief

Knuckle Sandwich

February 26th, 2009
1:18 pm

I’m having trouble getting Gameday Audio off of the Braves site. It keeps trying to get me to purchase, instead of just logging in an listening. Is anyone else having problems?

bf bravesfan

February 26th, 2009
1:18 pm

mbatl

February 26th, 2009
1:19 pm

matt, here is the message I get when trying to use espn360:

ESPN360.com is available at no charge to fans who receive their high-speed internet connection from an ESPN360.com affiliated internet service provider. ESPN360.com is also available to fans that access the internet from U.S. college campuses and U.S. military bases.

I’ve got the game on tv but was curious… apparently you have a setup that works for you, but I don’t think it’s freely available to everyone.

And Campillo… wow – I KNOW it’s the first game, but a 68 mph curveball, followed by a couple of low-80’s fastballs… he’s junkballing, big time.

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:19 pm

Hey toga where are you getting that?

toga party

February 26th, 2009
1:20 pm

Lol, these guys are brutal on A. Jones

David O'Brien

February 26th, 2009
1:20 pm

Hanson’s beginning to stretch in bullpen, but isn’t throwing yet, so no, he won’t be coming in early because of Campillo’s high pitch count in first….

Schafer leading off, goes to 2-2 count against Oswalt, then strikes out swinging at a 91-mph fastball

bf bravesfan

February 26th, 2009
1:20 pm

jordan k’s

Tomahawkin

February 26th, 2009
1:20 pm

Damn! The Wizard (Oswalt) Just took Schafer to School, You Can tell its the second game by the hitters timing…

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:21 pm

I feel like the last kid at school, left by his parents…
everyone else is getting the game

President of Matt Diaz Fan Club

February 26th, 2009
1:21 pm

Schafer had the deer in the head lights look

bf bravesfan

February 26th, 2009
1:21 pm

lol you got it dob

toga party

February 26th, 2009
1:21 pm

Daniel, I still have my MLB.tv subscription from last year. Nick was kind enough to inform me yesterday that it’s still working.

BosnianBaller

February 26th, 2009
1:22 pm

I’d rather not see this.2 strikeouts

Mets Stink!

February 26th, 2009
1:23 pm

It sucks being stuck at work when the braves are on national tv.

Jeff

February 26th, 2009
1:23 pm

3 straight K’s after falling into a 3-0 hole…..man, this looks promising

matt022

February 26th, 2009
1:23 pm

Thats right, I remeber now. Not sure which ones that use but I have AT&T. It has been over a year since I downloaded it and couldn’t remeber. I tried.

Tomahawkin

February 26th, 2009
1:23 pm

Good the Wizard (Oswalt) Looked in Midseason form…! Hitters will catch up in 2 weeks

President of Matt Diaz Fan Club

February 26th, 2009
1:23 pm

Some use the ground hog to predict Spring – I prefer to predict spring’s arrival by how Chipper looks. Looks like we got a while.

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:23 pm

lucky dog toga

toga party

February 26th, 2009
1:24 pm

Ouch, struck out Chipper too.

mbatl

February 26th, 2009
1:24 pm

Of course… thanks!

Anders

February 26th, 2009
1:25 pm

1-0 Mets over Marlins bottom of the first. Castillo, another hit, stolen base, run scored.
Look out Rickey Henderson.

Mike

February 26th, 2009
1:25 pm

Well, that’s a great start. Campillo gets rocked and Roy O blows ‘em away.

toga party

February 26th, 2009
1:25 pm

For $110 a year, you can be a lucky dog too Daniel. ;)

Original Jon

February 26th, 2009
1:25 pm

Anyone want to tell Mr. Oswalt that this is just spring training and not game 7 of the NLCS!!!!!!!!!!

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:25 pm

I am with you tomahawkin’…
It is all about how Hanson looks today

Andrew

February 26th, 2009
1:25 pm

well that was an outstanding inning

Anders

February 26th, 2009
1:26 pm

Mets, Braves, Yanks – All on the tube at once today. What recession?

David O'Brien

February 26th, 2009
1:26 pm

Oswalt strikes out the side, including Chipper to end inning (after Schafer and K.J.)

Oswalt picking up where he left off last year, apparently. I was just looking at his numbers from last season, had forgotten just how dominant he was in second half (or longer, actually).

He was 12-3 with a 2.29 ERA and three complete games in his last 17 starts (beginning June 30), with a .215 opp average and 90 strikeouts/22 walks in 114 innings. had 10 quality starts in his last 11 games.

DWW

February 26th, 2009
1:26 pm

Daniel
I’m with ya

GTSteve

February 26th, 2009
1:26 pm

I have the game recording at home, i guess i can fast forward through the first inning

moose knuckle

February 26th, 2009
1:26 pm

is it me or are they playing those annoying sounds at Dark Star?

Andrew

February 26th, 2009
1:26 pm

campillo is like a hitting machine

Mike

February 26th, 2009
1:27 pm

Rocking BB’s off Campillo!!!

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:27 pm

yeah, I will save my buck ten. the mlb gets enough of my money already.
maybe Selig should take a couple million in a pay cut to let everyone see or hear the spring training games

Tomahawkin

February 26th, 2009
1:27 pm

Damn! that ball was smoked, Thats two balls that should’ve been outs, and probably be in midseason

richbrave

February 26th, 2009
1:27 pm

Well, BC’s had his obligatory look at CAMPILLO as he pitches his way out of MLB and back to the MEXICAN Leagues. OSWALT and CAMPILLO combine to take the heat off HANSON. When he’s in it won’t matter. He can relax and do his thing. GO TOMMY.

propp

February 26th, 2009
1:28 pm

I can just hear Skip saying “and the hits keep coming…”

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:29 pm

you know Bud, Roger Goodell took at 20% paycut this year, and his league is in a lot better shape than yours..

Tomahawkin

February 26th, 2009
1:29 pm

Good discussion On ESPNY suprisingly, about how the economy will affect teams getting rid of large contracts, should be interesting come July with the way that the economy is heading

Original Jon

February 26th, 2009
1:29 pm

Jeezzzz, Campillo is throwing batting practice fastballs while Oswalt is throwing like he is in mid-season form. Sheesh! I know its spring training but gosh, lets at least do something right, lol.

Mike

February 26th, 2009
1:29 pm

The Astros might be tired from running around the bases before Hanson gets up.

Andrew

February 26th, 2009
1:30 pm

campillo is ass cheeks gettin’ outta there

DWW

February 26th, 2009
1:30 pm

Where is Robert? He did a nice job yesterday.

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:30 pm

c’mon guys Oswalts one of the best pitchers in the game, and Jorge is our long relief at best.

Daniel

February 26th, 2009
1:32 pm

is everyone stunned? what is happening?

TnBrian

February 26th, 2009
1:32 pm

Campillo’s gettin a little squeezed by the ump, but other than that, he looks pretty aweful. You talk about timing, Oswalt’s just not giving us a chance so far.

Roy Hobbs

February 26th, 2009
1:32 pm

DOB — To we read anything into the batting order today, or is it just Bobby shuffling things around for the spring?

Also, really bummed that Neko’s coming to Savannah at the beginning of April and I’ll be out of town. If you or anyone’s interested, her new yet-to-be-released solo album is up on NPR for a free listen. Sounds strong.

toga party

February 26th, 2009
1:32 pm

c’mon Campillo, get Berkman and keep your ERA under 100

Anders

February 26th, 2009
1:32 pm

Daniel – The NBA took out a line of credit today for $150 mil to help out some teams that are struggling to make ends meet right now due to drops in attendance etc.

I’m thinking all sports owners are scared to death right now. It’s all about discretionary spending – and there ain’t gonna be a lot of that going on for a while.

Kurt

February 26th, 2009
1:32 pm

The score hardly matters. Its the second Spring Training game.

It’s not going to be the same without Skip and Pete. I can hear that too propp…

Andrew

February 26th, 2009
1:33 pm

nice diving play kotchman

Tomahawkin

February 26th, 2009
1:33 pm

Nice Stab! Kotch! Campillo has looked a litter better over the last 10 pitches

JPHunt

February 26th, 2009
1:33 pm

Robert must be back at work today with the rest of us.

David O'Brien

February 26th, 2009
1:33 pm

Terrific defensive play by Casey Kotchman, going to his right and to his knees to stop a hot grounder, then tossing to first for third out to get Campillo out of a jam.

President of Matt Diaz Fan Club

February 26th, 2009
1:33 pm

There you go Kotchman

toga party

February 26th, 2009
1:33 pm

Nice diving stop by Kotchman, out of the inning.

Mitchie-san

February 26th, 2009
1:34 pm

nice dig Kotchman

FaninFaytown

February 26th, 2009
1:34 pm

oswalt looks dirty

getnathan

February 26th, 2009
1:34 pm

Is Hanson pitching?

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