Braves Resist Temptation To Move Top Arm Gilmartin





ATLANTA—Several scouts have suggested that polished lefthander Sean Gilmartin might be the top pitching prospect in the organization, so naturally his name came up frequently during July trade talk.

General manager Frank Wren resisted the urge to deal Gilmartin, Atlanta's first-round pick in 2011, who went 5-8, 3.54 in 20 starts for Double-A Mississippi and made the Southern League all-star team.

Promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett at the end of July, Gilmartin pitched into the seventh inning in his first two Triple-A starts while registering a 3.95 ERA in his first 14 frames.

"I feel good and feel like I'm getting better," the Florida State product said. "The hitters here are more experienced than they were in Double-A. Every level the competition gets a little tougher, which is the only way you can improve as a pitcher.

"I felt like I was ready when the Braves promoted me, and now I'm trying to learn as much as I can."

Gilmartin, 22, had not put up gaudy numbers this season, but they were solid considering he reached Triple-A a year after signing. He allowed 123 hits—including nine home runs—in his first 133 innings this season, while striking out 91 and walking 32.

Gilmartin said his primary focus was maintaining fastball command while improving the consistency of his other offerings. That includes upgrading the bite and deception of his slider and throwing the changeup at any time in the count.

"Everything for me is based on fastball command, getting strike one and getting ahead of the hitter," he said. "The higher you go in the game, the more important that becomes. If you're behind in the count, these hitters are going to sit on the pitch they want to hit."

The acquisitions of veterans Ben Sheets and Paul Maholm have reduced any immediate needs in the Atlanta rotation. However, the Braves could call on Gilmartin to work out of the bullpen in September.

WIGWAM WISPS

• The Braves released lefty Chris Masters after he struggled to get back on track (5.40 ERA in 30 innings) following a demotion to high Class A Lynchburg. The 2009 11th-round pick led that year's Appalachian League with 85 strikeouts.

• Low Class A Rome reeled off a 13-game winning streak that ended with a loss on Aug. 5, a run that gave them a temporary five-game lead in the South Atlantic League's Southern Division. The club had the worst record in the minors (18-52) during the first half.