M-Braves Begin Season on Thursday

When the Atlanta Braves owned the National League back in the early 1990s to mid-2000s, the team dominated with starting pitching. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and others helped the club win its division from 1991 to 2005.

The Braves set a MLB record after winning their division 14-straight times. Not even the great New York Yankees match that record.

Since that epic run of division titles came to an end, the Braves have reached the postseason three times but haven’t won a postseason series, and finished in first place just once. Last season, Atlanta finished in last place in the NL East.

There is plenty of hope for the team, and that hopes begins with its farm system. The Braves are stacked with talent working its way up to the majors.

Last season the Braves’ farm system showed why it could be the start of stocking Atlanta with talent for years to come. The Rome Braves, in Rome, Ga., won the 2016 South Atlantic League Championship at the Low-A level. At the Triple-A level, the Gwinnett Braves, in Gwinnett County, Ga., reached the championship series in the International League, and the Mississippi Braves of the Double-A level reached the championship series of the Southern League.

In 2016, the M-Braves finished 39-30 as the team earned a playoff spot. The M-Braves defeated Pensacola 3-1 in the semifinals. In the finals, the Jackson Generals defeated the club 3-1 and took the championship.

It is safe to say that this year’s club at Trustmark Park will feature plenty of talent. The 2017 M-Braves feature four of the top-10 prospects in the Atlanta farm system, Baseball America says.

Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka are the No. 3 prospect and No. 4 prospects in the Braves’ farm system. Both are 19-year-old pitchers selected in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft, and Allard left-handed.

Patrick Weigel is the No. 9 prospect who split time between Rome and the M-Braves last season. Weigel is 22 years old, and his 11 wins last season were second in the Braves’ minor-league system.

Max Fried is the No. 10 prospect in the Braves’ farm system. The 23-year-old spent last season in Rome. The Braves acquired him in a trade with San Diego in December 2014.

The M-Braves welcome 2016 High-A level Player of the Year in Keith Curcio and Pitcher of the Year Matt Withrow, respectively. Both players spent last season playing for the Carolina Mudcats in the Carolina League.

As the season begins, the M-Braves’ roster features 16 players taken in the first nine rounds of their respective drafts, and six former first-round draft picks. The roster includes eight players who spent last season in Rome, and 16 players who spent time in Pearl.

The M-Braves open the 2017 season with a five-game homestand beginning Thursday, April 6, against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Last season, Jacksonville was known as the Suns before changing its name to the Jumbo Shrimp this season.

The first pitch on Thursday and Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m., with the gates opening up at 6 p.m. On Saturday, April 8, first pitch is at 6 p.m., with gates opening up at 5 p.m. Sunday’s first pitch is at 1 p.m., with gates opening at noon, and the homestand ends on Monday, with the gates opening at 9:30 a.m. and first pitch at 10:35 a.m. in a school-day matinee.

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