‘NWL Alumni in Spring Training’ – Atlanta Braves

The NWL will breakdown the Atlanta Braves of the National League East today.  The youthful Braves expect to compete for a NL East again this year after finishing in 2nd place to the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Braves have soon to be superstars Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, but will also count on seasoned veterans such as Chipper Jones, Tim Hudson, and George Sherrill. 

Former Kenosha Kroaker, George Sherrill will provide depth to a bullpen that finished in the top five in the NL in wins, earned run average, and saves.  The former undrafted Independent League star made his Major League debut in 2004 with the Seattle Mariners and has seven successful MLB seasons since his debut.  In 2011, Sherrill will join his fourth team after four seasons in Seattle, two in Baltimore and two in Los Angeles with the Dodgers. 

Sherrill went undrafted out of Austin Peay State University, but caught the eye of Seattle Mariners scout Charlie Kerfield while he was pitching for the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Northern League.  After signing with the Mariners, the Memphis native only allowed one run in 27 plus innings in the Texas League and quickly reached Triple-A.  In 2004 Sherrill made the Triple-A Pacific Coast League All-Star Game, but did not get to play in the game as he was called up to the Major Leagues. 

2008 was Sherrill’s best year in the Major Leagues as he earned the ‘closer’ role after Chris Ray was injured.  Sherrill had a dominant 1st half of 2008 as he earned 27 saves and was named a 2008 National League All-Star. 

The 6’0’’ lefty has a career 16-16 record with a 3.76 earned run average and adds value to the Braves as he is very versatile.  In 2008 thru 2009 he had 52 saves for the Baltimore Orioles, but has been primarily used as a situational lefty this past year with the Dodgers.  The hard throwing lefty is working hard to get back to his 2008 form and contribute to an already productive Braves bullpen. 

Other former NWL alumni to watch in the Atlanta Braves organization – Willie Kempf

The former Wisconsin Woodchuck was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 27th round of the 2010 Major League Draft.  The former Baylor Bear right handed pitcher threw extremely well in 2010.  Kempf finished 2010 with an 8-2 record with 1 save and a 1.70 earned run average.  Kempf tore through the Rookie League with the Gulf Coast League Braves and Danville Braves of the Appalachian League as he was 4-0.  He finished 2010 with the Rome Braves of the South Atlantic League (Single-A) with a 4-2 record in 35.0 innings. 

Check back Tuesday as the NWL features the Milwaukee Brewers and Casey McGehee.