Progress Comes At Triple-A For Braves' Gearrin, Resop
ATLANTA—Although Triple-A typically isn't the level where players make big strides in their development, that is exactly what has happened in the early stages of the 2010 campaign for two Gwinnett pitchers.
Chris Resop and Cory Gearrin have gone from being considered possibilities if needed to potential contributors at the major league level. Resop, who twirled briefly with Atlanta in 2008 as a reliever, was making an impressive transformation into a starting pitcher. Gearrin, meanwhile, was putting the tutelage he received from former big leaguer Gene Garber during spring training to use to emerge as a solid set-up man.
"Those guys are making the most of their opportunities, which is great to see," Gwinnett pitching coach Derek Botelho said. "Resop has a great arm; it's hard to believe he's never been a starter. And Gearrin is making strides with his changeup."
Possessing a mid-90s fastball, Resop, 27, has made the move to starting by refining his secondary pitches since returning to the Braves after pitching in Japan in 2009. He became more consistent in throwing his changeup and curveball for strikes and at different times in the count. Resop, who was 2-1, 2.35 in 31 innings, also added a slider to his repertoire, although the offering remains a work in progress.
"It's been a matter of finding a routine in order to get ready to pitch every fourth or fifth day," Resop said of the biggest adjustment to starting. "I'm starting to discover what works best for me in order to get in that comfort zone."
Gearrin had been equally effective out of the bullpen, going 0-1, 3.68 in 15 innings over 12 outings. The fourth-round draft pick in 2007 out of Mercer was a middle infielder in high school who became a sidearming pitcher in college. He made steady progress since signing with the Braves by throwing a low-90s fastball with late movement and a sweeping slider.
It wasn't until he spoke at length with Garber, a sidearmer during his heyday as one of the game's top closers, that everything seemed to come together in terms of adding a changeup to his repertoire. Gearrin, 24, allowed runs in only two of his first 11 outings this season while posting 16 strikeouts in 14 innings. His biggest hurdle remained his command, as evidenced by his 12 walks.
"The changeup gives him three pitches, even against righthanded hitters," Botelho said. "He had good stuff before, but now he has the hitters worrying about something else, which should help him down the road."
• Gwinnett first baseman Freddie Freeman rebounded from a slow start by raising his batting average more than 50 points in a five-game stretch in late April and early May.
• Righthander Julio Teheran and lefthander Chris Masters started only a combined 1-4 at low Class A Rome despite posting the top ERAs in the organization at 1.03 and 1.20, respectively. The duo also ranked one-two in the South Atlantic League in opponents average, with Teheran limiting batters to a .144 norm and Masters .151.