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Braves extend 11 Spring Training invitations

Braves extend 11 Spring Training invitations

Braves extend 11 Spring Training invitations
ATLANTA -- Infielders Drew Sutton and Josh Wilson are among the 11 Minor League free agents the Braves have signed and invited to Major League Spring Training.

Along with Sutton and Wilson, the Braves have also extended Spring Training invitations to right-handed pitchers Adam Russell and Jason Rice; left-handed pitchers Dusty Hughes and Yohan Flande; catchers J.C. Boscan and Jose Yepez; outfielders Luis Durango and Jordan Parraz and infielder Ernesto Mejia.

Russell, Sutton, Hughes and Wilson all spent more than just marginal time at the Major League level during the 2011 season.

Boscan is preparing for his 16th professional season and 14th with the Braves. The 31-year-old catcher made a career-high four Major League appearances (two starts) in 2011, and collected his first career hit on July 31. He likely has a future in the coaching or administrative fields once his playing career ends.

Yepez adds catching depth to the Braves organization after hitting .307 with 26 RBIs in 48 games with Triple-A Tacoma in 2011. The 30-year-old catcher has hit .307 in seven Minor League seasons.

With the Braves looking for a backup infielder who can capably handle the shortstop position when necessary, Sutton, Wilson and Mejia will enter Spring Training with hopes of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Wilson began the 2011 season with the D-backs and was claimed off waivers by the Brewers in May. He spent most of the season's final months flashing his impressive defensive skills as a backup in Milwaukee. The son of a former collegiate coach, the 30-year-old infielder has batted .227 in 930 career at-bats in the Majors.

Sutton batted .315 with seven doubles in 54 at-bats with the Red Sox in 2011. The 28-year-old infielder has batted .280 in eight Minor League seasons.

Mejia hit .297 with a team-high 37 doubles, 26 homers and 99 RBIs in 137 games for the Double-A Mississippi this past summer. The 25-year-old infielder has batted .283 during seven Minor League seasons.

Russell joins the Braves after posting a 3.03 ERA and a .254 opponents' batting average in 36 relief appearances for the Rays in 2011. The 28-year-old right-hander spent most of the season's second half with Triple-A Durham.

After making 57 appearances for the Royals in 2010, Hughes posted a 9.95 ERA in 15 appearances for the Twins in '11. He spent most of the season with Triple-A Rochester.

While the Braves have an abundance of talented left-handed relievers projected to be in their bullpen, Hughes and Flande provide some organizational depth. Flande produced a 4.01 ERA in 33 appearances for Triple-A Gwinnett during the 2011 season. This will mark the second straight year he has been given an invitation to attend big league camp with the Braves.

Rice, who produced a 3.69 ERA in 44 appearances (one start) for Triple-A Pawtucket this past summer, has worn a number of different hats lately. He was traded by the Red Sox to the A's in August. The Indians then claimed the 25-year-old right-hander off waivers in September before setting him free.

Durango played two Major League games with the Astros and also spent time in the Padres organization in 2011. Parraz joins the Braves after hitting .289 in 126 games with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in '11.

The Braves have also signed left-handed pitcher Jose Lugo, outfielder Brahim Maldonado and first baseman Ian Gac, who was the 2011 Carolina League Player of the Year, to Minor League contracts.

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

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