Freeman excited about road ahead for Braves

First baseman optimistic club can exceed expectations in 2015

Freeman excited about road ahead for Braves

ATLANTA -- Given the close bond that Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward have shared since entering the professional ranks together in 2007, Freeman does not like the fact that they will no longer be teammates. Nor is he overly excited about the fact that Justin Upton and Evan Gattis will no longer be around to protect him in the middle of Atlanta's lineup.

But as Freeman evaluates all the Braves gained via their massive roster reconstruction this offseason, he is excited about what the future might bring and optimistic that many expectations will be exceeded during the upcoming season.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves boast four on Top 100 Prospects list

Peraza, Foltynewicz, Bethancourt and Sims lead talented farm system

Braves boast four on Top 100 Prospects list

ATLANTA -- After spending the past few months making a concerted effort to strengthen their future, the Braves can take pride in the fact that their recently maligned Minor League system now is now regarded as one of baseball's best.

Jose Peraza, Michael Foltynewicz, Christian Bethancourt and Lucas Sims stand as the four Braves included in MLB.com's latest Top 100 Prospects list, which was announced Friday night. Atlanta had one representative (Julio Teheran) on this list entering the 2013 season and two (Bethancourt and Sims) entering the '14 season.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miller 'stoked' to begin next chapter of career in Atlanta

Right-hander chronicles personal journey during stop on Braves Caravan

Miller 'stoked' to begin next chapter of career in Atlanta

ATLANTA -- As Shelby Miller prepares to embark on his new experience with the Braves, he is ready to distance himself from his days as a headstrong young pitcher who was slow to heed the advice he received from Adam Wainwright and some of his other former Cardinals pitching mates.

"I've had my ups and downs like a lot of players have," Miller said. "I've learned a lot of things the past two years. I feel like I'm more poised and more prepared for this season."

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves finalize one-year deal with Gomes

Braves finalize one-year deal with Gomes

ATLANTA -- The Braves officially announced the completion of their one-year deal with outfielder Jonny Gomes on Friday afternoon.

Gomes agreed to the terms of a one-year, $4 million contract (which also includes a $3 million vesting option for 2016) on Jan. 22. The Braves confirmed the completion of this deal after reviewing Gomes' physical and creating a 40-man roster spot by trading right-hander David Hale to the Rockies.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Tommy John surgery didn't foil Smoltz's Hall bid

Braves legend the first pitcher to enter Cooperstown after procedure

Tommy John surgery didn't foil Smoltz's Hall bid

John Smoltz pitched his way into the Hall of Fame, excelling as both a starter and a reliever.

But there is more.

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Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves land pair of catchers in trade with Rockies

Club sends righties Hale, Schlosser to Colorado for Minor Leaguers Briceno, O'Dowd

Braves land pair of catchers in trade with Rockies

ATLANTA -- Looking to utilize their pitching depth to enhance their catching depth, the Braves traded right-handers David Hale and Gus Schlosser to the Rockies on Friday in exchange for Jose Briceno and Chris O'Dowd.

Briceno and O'Dowd were acquired to add depth to what has been deemed a weak crop of catchers in the Braves' Minor League system. Hale was viewed as expendable once the Braves added to their long list of fifth-starter candidates by signing Eric Stults to a Minor League contract on Thursday.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Porter excited to reunite with Fredi in Atlanta

Third-base coach played for skipper in Minors, was on Gonzalez's Marlins staff

Porter excited to reunite with Fredi in Atlanta

ATLANTA -- As Bo Porter distances himself from his days as the Astros' manager and prepares to assume his new role as the Braves' third-base coach, he is looking forward to the opportunity to be reunited with Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, the man who gave Porter his first job as a Major League coach.

The duo met in 2002, when Porter was playing for the Triple-A Richmond Braves squad that was managed by Gonzalez. As they sat in the dugout during a rain delay that year, the outfielder got the sense that his skipper was hinting that it was time to start looking toward his future as a coach.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves sign rotation candidate Stults to Minors deal

Left-hander gets Spring Training invite in battle for fifth starter spot

Braves sign rotation candidate Stults to Minors deal

ATLANTA -- Looking to add experience and more certainty to the battle for the fifth spot in their starting rotation, the Braves have signed left-handed veteran Eric Stults to a Minor League deal and invited him to Spring Training.

Stults and Michael Foltynewicz stand as the early favorites in what will be a crowded battle for the last available spot in Atlanta's rotation. Promising prospect Manny Banuelos seems best suited to gain a little more seasoning by beginning the season with Triple-A Gwinnett. Two of the other veteran candidates -- Wandy Rodriguez and Chien-Ming Wang -- remain long shots until they prove they are healthy enough for the job.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

When they were prospects: Teheran

Patience pays for righty, who has become Braves workhorse after No. 10 ranking in '11

When they were prospects: Teheran

It took a little longer than some had hoped, including a combined 5.19 ERA across brief callups in 2011 and 2012, but Julio Teheran has finally justified his spot as the No. 10 preseason ranking by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo on our 2011 prospect list (later moving up to No. 4), posting a 3.03 ERA in more than 400 innings over the last two seasons.

As we gear up for the unveiling of MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects for 2015 -- which will be revealed on MLB Network and MLB.com at 9 p.m. ET on Friday -- we're looking back at what was written about some of today's superstars back when they were still on prospect lists.

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Braves announce 4-year deal with Toscano

Club evaluated Cuban outfielder during November workouts in the DR

Braves announce 4-year deal with Toscano

ATLANTA -- After aggressively scouring the international market over the past few months, the Braves opted to take a chance on Dian Toscano, a relatively obscure Cuban outfielder who might become a part of Atlanta's outfield mix after gaining some seasoning at the Minor League level.

The Braves officially announced their four-year deal (with an option for 2019) with Toscano on Wednesday afternoon. The two parties reached an agreement in early December, but it took nearly two months to complete the clerical requirements necessary to allow the 25-year-old to enter the U.S.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

In Minors, Russell Wilson tackled tornadoes

Rome Braves GM Dunn saw qualities in quarterback during tragedy

In Minors, Russell Wilson tackled tornadoes

ATLANTA -- As a frightening string of destructive tornadoes ripped through the Southeast on April 27, 2011, Mike Dunn took precautionary measures to protect his Class A Rome Braves players and the visiting Asheville Tourists club that included a young second baseman named Russell Wilson.

Wilson's baseball career was nearing its end, but his leadership abilities were on full display as he helped take control of a potentially dangerous situation.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: What will determine Fredi's fate?

Fans ask about Braves manager, offensive upgrades, Spring Training, Seitzer

Inbox: What will determine Fredi's fate?

What do you think Fredi Gonzalez's fate will be after this year? If the Braves are in full-blown rebuilding mode and have kept him as manager in 2015, wouldn't that mean that he's the guy they're sticking with for the future?
-- Tommy D., Los Angeles

There is no doubt the Braves are hoping Gonzalez will be their manager for many years to come. But before committing to him, they will evaluate what transpires this year beyond wins and losses.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Free agent Beachy to decide on team closer to camp

Former Braves righty 'getting stronger' while he rehabs from Tommy John surgery

Free agent Beachy to decide on team closer to camp

While Brandon Beachy is reportedly "getting stronger" coming off a second Tommy John surgery, his agent told FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal that the free-agent right-hander intends to wait until closer to Spring Training to make a decision about signing with a club.

"Brandon has decided not to sign a contract at this time," Beachy's agent, Rob Martin, told Rosenthal. "With each day his arm is getting stronger and he's feeling even more confident about his progress. Thus, he is going to continue with his throwing program and make a decision closer to Spring Training."

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Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves sign veteran catcher Buck to Minors deal

Braves sign veteran catcher Buck to Minors deal

ATLANTA -- Attempting to strengthen their organizational depth in the catching department, the Braves have signed veteran John Buck to a Minor League contract with an invite to Spring Training.

Buck will be targeted to begin the upcoming season with Triple-A Gwinnett. But the 34-year-old would be the most likely option to join Atlanta's roster if anything were to happen to Christian Bethancourt or A.J. Pierzynski, who are slated to be the two catchers on the Braves' Opening Day roster.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Peraza No. 1 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 2B Prospects list

Braves' Peraza heads list, followed by White Sox's Johnson, Rockies' Wall

Peraza No. 1 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 2B Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at the Top 10 prospects at each position.

Graduations to the Major Leagues have taken a heavy toll on this list in the past year. Six of the second basemen on last year's preseason Top 10, including the top four, have lost their rookie eligibility, creating room for several newcomers.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smoltz recalls bellhop joke he played on teammates

Smoltz recalls bellhop joke he played on teammates

John Smoltz, one of the new electees to the Baseball Hall of Fame, once spent time as a bellhop. Well, not exactly. But he pretended to be one once for about 30 minutes to pull off a joke on his teammates after they arrived at a hotel late one morning on a road trip.

Smoltz told his "Glory Story" on Tuesday on MLB Network, and it had nothing to do with any of his many accomplishments on the baseball field.

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Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seitzer encouraged by workouts with Upton

New Braves hitting coach spent three days working on outfielder's swing

Seitzer encouraged by workouts with Upton

ATLANTA -- Through his first two years in Atlanta, B.J. Upton has provided plenty of reasons to assume his days as a productive Major Leaguer are complete. But Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, after spending time working with Upton in Florida this week, has reason to be optimistic about his new project.

"I feel really, really good about it, because [Upton] was very open to everything that I suggested," Seitzer said. "We had a really good three days together -- three pretty intense days together. I think he feels pretty good about what I'm going to bring, and I feel good about the adjustments he has made."

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kimbrel excited to play for new-look Braves

All-Star closer isn't concerned with trade talks heading into 2015 season

Kimbrel excited to play for new-look Braves

ATLANTA -- As Braves president of baseball operations John Hart spent time late Thursday night talking about Jonny Gomes' addition and some of his other offseason moves, Hart again made it crystal clear that he has no desire to trade Craig Kimbrel.

This was certainly pleasing to the ears of Kimbrel, who has spent the past week hearing and reading opinions expressed by those who believe the Braves should trade him if they are in a rebuilding mode.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

S. Simmons ready after shedding shoulder issues

Reliever excited for upcoming season following injury-plagued 2014

S. Simmons ready after shedding shoulder issues

ATLANTA -- After getting a few months of rest this offseason, Shae Simmons is looking forward to the opportunity to prove that he can be the same impressive reliever that he was before right shoulder discomfort sidelined him for the final two months of the 2014 season.

Simmons has not experienced any discomfort since he began his preseason throwing exercises three weeks ago. The 24-year-old reliever will get a better feel for where he stands when he begins throwing off a mound next week.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves claim Perez off waivers from Yankees

Braves claim Perez off waivers from Yankees

ATLANTA -- The Braves added to their list of outfield candidates by claiming Eury Perez off waivers from the Yankees on Friday afternoon.

Perez has totaled just 26 games at the Major League level since making his debut with the Nationals in 2012. The 24-year-old outfielder appeared in four games with the Yanks last year, but he spent most of his season with the Nats' Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gomes, Braves agree on one-year contract

Hart expects the veteran outfielder to be a clubhouse leader in 2015

Gomes, Braves agree on one-year contract

ATLANTA -- As the Braves neared the completion of their aggressive roster reconstruction process, they targeted Jonny Gomes as the one available free agent who could help fill their void in left field and also enrich a clubhouse atmosphere that proved to be a concern last year.

Thus, president of baseball operations John Hart was certainly pleased on Thursday night, when Gomes agreed on terms for a one-year, $4 million contract that includes a $3 million vesting option for the 2016 season.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Optimistic Fredi eyes postseason for Braves

Skipper looks forward to mixing and matching new-look lineup

Optimistic Fredi eyes postseason for Braves

ATLANTA -- As the division-rival Nationals have strengthened their bid to win a second straight National League East crown, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has read and heard all about how his team's flurry of significant offseason moves signal that 2015 will be a rebuilding year.

"Our goal is still to get in the playoffs," Gonzalez said. "That always will be my goal."

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minor pleased with pain-free offseason workouts

Braves lefty headed for salary-arbitration hearing in February

Minor pleased with pain-free offseason workouts

ATLANTA -- Mike Minor would have liked to avoid the salary-arbitration hearing that awaits him. But the Braves left-hander is otherwise pleased with what has transpired during his discomfort-free offseason.

Coming off a frustration-filled season during which he was plagued by left shoulder soreness, Minor admitted he initially wondered if he needed more than just a few months of rest. But while completing long-toss exercises in pain-free fashion over the past month, he has gained a sense that this year will be different.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Bethancourt No. 9 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 C Prospects list

Red Sox's Swihart sits atop list, followed by Rangers' Alfaro and Cubs' Schwarber

Bethancourt No. 9 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 C Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday, Jan. 30, on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.

Though only one catcher (Blake Swihart of the Red Sox) fits in the top 40 spots on MLBPipeline.com's upcoming 2015 Top 100 Prospects list, talent behind the plate actually runs deep. The Minors are teeming with backstops who have the tools to contribute offensively and defensively in the big leagues in the near future. This list could see a lot of turnover a year from now, as Christian Bethancourt figures to be the Braves' starter and Swihart, Kevin Plawecki (Mets) and J.T. Realmuto (Marlins) could be playing regularly in the Majors by season's end.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

K. Johnson returns to Braves on Minors deal

Veteran will vie for utility role at Major League Spring Training

K. Johnson returns to Braves on Minors deal

ATLANTA -- After spending the past four seasons making a complete tour of the American League East, Kelly Johnson is set to return to the organization that drafted him and made him one of the earliest members of the Baby Braves.

The Braves have signed Johnson to a Minor League contract and given him an invitation to compete for a roster spot at big league Spring Training. Johnson's versatility provides him a chance to serve as a utility player who could see time at second base, third base or left field.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smoltz selects Braves Hall of Fame cap

Martinez's plaque will feature a Red Sox logo; other two pick longtime clubs

Smoltz selects Braves Hall of Fame cap

The Hall of Fame has announced the cap selections for the plaques of recent electees Craig Biggio, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, with all three players choosing the teams they spent the most time with during their careers.

Biggio, who played his entire 20-year career in Houston, will wear the Astros cap; Martinez, who spent seven of his 18 seasons in Boston, will wear a Red Sox cap; and Smoltz, who spent 20 of his 21 years in Atlanta, will don a Braves hat.

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Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves eye Gomes as potential platoon player in left

Additional options include Almonte, Cunningham, Terdoslavich and Constanza

Braves eye Gomes as potential platoon player in left

ATLANTA -- Now that the Braves have restructured their organization through a flurry of significant changes, it appears their remaining offseason decisions will be influenced by whether they land Jonny Gomes.

Once Atlanta traded projected left fielder Evan Gattis to Houston last week, Gomes stood as the one unsigned free-agent outfielder who piqued the club's interest. The two parties have continued to talk, but at least one unidentified American League team is also showing interest in Gomes.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

No limitations for Wood heading into spring

No limitations for Wood heading into spring

ATLANTA -- As Alex Wood has spent the past few months going through his normal offseason preparations, he has not been given any reason to be concerned about the left forearm soreness that led the Braves to scratch him from starting their regular-season finale in September.

"I think once you have played baseball long enough, you kind of know if something is serious or not," Wood said. "I took two or three weeks off before I started lifting [weights] and all of that stuff. Once I got back into it, I waited another two weeks before I did a ton of upper body [workouts]. After about three weeks or a month, I was feeling normal."

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wood got early glimpse of MadBum's power

Braves pitcher crossed paths with '14 World Series MVP in high school

Wood got early glimpse of MadBum's power

ATLANTA -- As Alex Wood watched Madison Bumgarner lead the Giants to their latest World Series title with one of the most dominant postseasons ever fashioned by a pitcher, he recognized the same competitive fire he had witnessed while watching Bumgarner pitch in a high school playoff game.

"I saw him play against Butler High School, a team that was in my conference," Wood said. "Butler had a guy, Mickey Brennan, who was a big football guy. Madison was 93-96 [mph], and he wouldn't miss a spot. He tried to go inside to [Brennan] and missed in, off the plate. He wasn't trying to buzz his tower or anything. Mickey had words for him. Madison literally threw his glove down and said, 'Let's go.' Then, he threw the next one behind his head."

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smoltz looks ahead as Hall election sinks in

Smoltz looks ahead as Hall election sinks in

It's been two weeks since John Smoltz was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he's already looking forward to the day he is officially inducted alongside Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Craig Biggio.

Smoltz stopped by the set of MLB Network's "Hot Stove" show on Tuesday morning to discuss what comes next.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.