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Braves Organization Report

Bill Ballew -Premium Content

The past two seasons for J.C. Holt have been eerily similar, but the high Class A Myrtle Beach second baseman is certain the results are nothing more than a coincidence. Holt, the Braves' third-round pick in 2004, got off to a slow start in 2005, and his batting average stood at just .215 on July 1. A strong finish that included hits in 12 of his last 13 games got him to .268.

Majors | #2006#Atlanta Braves#Organization Reports

Braves Organization Report

Bill Ballew -Premium Content

It is only appropriate that in his 50th year with the Braves, Paul Snyder has made yet another major impact on the organization. After announcing his retirement as Atlanta's director of scouting and player development in 1999 because of health reasons, the 70-year-old Snyder is back as the Braves' farm director. Snyder replaced Dayton Moore, who became the Royals' general manager May 31.

Majors | #2006#Atlanta Braves#Organization Reports

NL East Organization Reports

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ATLANTA—No one was surprised that it was business as usual for John Schuerholz at the winter meetings in Dallas. It also was not considered a shocker that every move made by the Atlanta general manager had a direct effect on the team's farm system. The most notable transaction came on the meetings' final day when Schuerholz sent third baseman Andy Marte to the Red Sox in exchange for veteran Edgar Renteria, who will replace the departed Rafael Furcal at shortstop. Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2000 for $600,000, Marte had lived up to the organization's initial high expectations by emerging as the Braves' top prospect.

Majors | #2006#Atlanta Braves#Organization Reports

NL East Organization Reports

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ATLANTA—The Braves entered 2006 pleased with their progress in retooling the everyday lineup, yet realized an opening might remain on pitching coach Roger McDowell's staff. That scenario is fine with Chuck James, who is not lacking any confidence when it comes to believing he can fill a void. I'm ready to get there," said James, who is coming off a 2005 campaign in which he tied for the organization lead with 13 wins. "I think I got a pretty good chance to make the team. I want to get there and keep things rolling. The two weeks I was up there last season, it was unreal."

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NL East Organization Reports

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ATLANTA—It was easy to deem the Braves' December deal that shipped catcher Johnny Estrada to the Diamondbacks as insignificant. After all, part of the strategy involved creating an opening for Brian McCann to handle the starting chores behind the plate. Yet with every appearance Oscar Villarreal has made this winter in Mexico, the Braves have grown more confident that the offseason trade will play a significant role in upgrading the Atlanta bullpen. The righthander, who the Braves acquired from Arizona along with righthander Lance Cormier, helped Hermosillo advance to the second round of the winter playoffs versus Guasave. In three postseason outings, Villarreal earned a save while allowing only one hit in three shutout innings.

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NL East Organization Reports

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ATLANTA—It was easy to deem the Braves' December deal that shipped catcher Johnny Estrada to the Diamondbacks as insignificant. After all, part of the strategy involved creating an opening for Brian McCann to handle the starting chores behind the plate. Yet with every appearance Oscar Villarreal has made this winter in Mexico, the Braves have grown more confident that the offseason trade will play a significant role in upgrading the Atlanta bullpen. The righthander, who the Braves acquired from Arizona along with righthander Lance Cormier, helped Hermosillo advance to the second round of the winter playoffs versus Guasave. In three postseason outings, Villarreal earned a save while allowing only one hit in three shutout innings.

Majors | #2006#Atlanta Braves#Organization Reports

NL East Organization Reports

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ATLANTA—Mention the name Owings in baseball circles throughout Georgia and the first name that will come to mind is Micah. That's understandable, as the former two-way standout challenged the national high school career home run record in Gainesville prior to earning recognition in college for his abilities on the mound and at the plate for three years at Georgia Tech. He then transferred to Tulane for his senior season and is now considered one of the top prospects in the Diamondbacks organization.

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NL East Organization Reports

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ATLANTA—The Braves already have Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and they hope they found another version of him Down Under. Matt Kennelly, who recently helped guide Western Australia to the under-18 Australian championship in Geelong, showed considerable natural ability in his first stint behind the plate during instructional league and drew favorable comparisons to the Braves' top prospect.

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NL East Organization Reports

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ORLANDO—Of all the players who tested positive for banned substances and were suspended last season, no one was more forthcoming than James Jurries. The first baseman did not plead ignorance, question the test's validity or point fingers in other directions. Instead, Jurries showed his character by admitting his mistake and accepting his punishment. That reaction did not go unnoticed by the Braves front office.

Majors | #2006#Atlanta Braves#Organization Reports

Braves Organization Report

Bill Ballew -Premium Content

ORLANDO—Chances are the low Class A Rome outfield, not to mention the entire roster, will be formidable in 2006. Yet there's no question the loss of Jon Mark Owings to a broken jaw in spring training could limit the club's power potential early in the season. Owings' injury occurred when the right fielder collided with center fielder Ovandy Suero. Suero had a concussion but was not expected to miss more than a few days of spring training, while Owings was expected to miss four to eight weeks.

Majors | #2006#Atlanta Braves#Organization Reports