Braves' Hale Shows He Can Handle Any Role

ATLANTA—Righthander David Hale was pleased with his performance in the high Class A Carolina League in 2011, even though for the second time in as many full seasons of pro ball his role changed midstream.

A starter who became a reliever at low Class A Rome in 2010, Hale opened the 2011 season in the Lynchburg bullpen before returning to the rotation for the final two months. Along the way, he proved capable of handling just about any situation the Braves envision for the developing hurler who spent most of his time at Princeton manning center field.

"I think last year I proved I can relieve and this year I proved I can start," the 24-year-old said. "When I was in college, I was just a thrower. I was just trying to throw the ball hard. The progress I've made over the past two years really is night and day. I feel like I've become much more of a pitcher."

One reason for the changes centers on Hale's early season performance. At Rome in 2010, he opened the slate 0-5, 9.00 as a starter before going 5-3, 2.16 with five saves as a reliever. This year he allowed eight earned runs in his first three relief outings, covering six innings, before settling down. He later made 13 starts and went 3-4, 3.66.

"For some reason it takes me a while to get going," he said. "It seems that once I get comfortable in the city I'm in and get a few games under my belt, I start throwing well."

Even though pitching was not his primary role at Princeton, Hale had scouts intrigued with a lightning-quick arm that generates a mid-90s fastball. He made significant strides with his changeup this season but struggled to find a consistent feel with his mid-80s slider, which was tabbed the best in the Braves organization prior to last year.

Wigwam Wisps

• Atlanta named its minor league managers for 2012, with Dave Brundage remaining at Triple-A Gwinnett and Luis Sanchez returning to Lynchburg. Randy Ingle (Rome), Rocket Wheeler (Rookie-level Gulf Coast League) and Jonathan Schuerholz (Rookie-level Danville) have new assignments, while the lone newcomer is Aaron Holbert, who will guide Double-A Mississippi after managing in the Indians system the past four seasons.

• The Braves also made changes with their roving instructors by hiring three new coaches: Don Long (hitting coordinator), Doug Dascenzo (outfield/baserunning coordinator) and Luis Lopez (infield instructor).