The longest homestand of Augusta's season begins just in time for July 4 festivities, and the GreenJackets have plenty lined up this weekend.
The GreenJackets will have 3-D fireworks Saturday and Sunday, including a special 7:05 Sunday start for a second consecutive night of fireworks. They'll wear patriotic jerseys Saturday to be auctioned off during the game. Both games feature pregame concerts.
The Atlanta Braves are expected to announce that left-handed pitching prospect Manny Banuelos will make his major league debut by starting Thursday's game against the Washington Nationals.
Banuelos will take the rotation spot of Williams Perez, who was placed on the disabled list last week with a left foot contusion after getting hit by a batted ball. The 24-year-old lefty will get quite the first test by facing Max Scherzer, the hottest pitcher in baseball right now.
New York Mets pitching prospect Casey Meisner was assigned to Advanced-A St. Lucie from Class-A Savannah on Saturday, a reward for an impressive first half that ended with a solid start at Augusta on June 21.
Meisner followed that up with a good first outing with the Mets in the Florida State League, allowing one run on three hits with six strikeouts in seven innings Saturday.
Braves right-hander Matt Wisler was impressive in his major league debut June 19 against the Mets, allowing one run on six hits in eight innings. He joined team history by becoming just the fifth starter to go eight innings in his MLB debut since the Braves moved to Atlanta.
What I noticed more than the numbers and more than the stuff was his demeanor and mound presence, something that first caught my eye when I watched him in late May at Gwinnett.
Although the Augusta GreenJackets were eliminated from first-half contention Friday, one of the better pitching matchups of the team's first half offers a little added boost of motivation before the break.
Savannah's Casey Meisner will face Augusta's Sam Coonrod in the first-half finale Sunday.
The Augusta GreenJackets entered the week with their backs to the wall in the division, and they have responded with one of their more impressive stretches this season.
It was reasonable to assume at the beginning of the week that the GreenJackets would have a pretty slim chance to claim a first-half title in the South Atlantic League Southern Division. After going 5-3 in their past nine games, including four wins in their past five, they're still alive with three games left before the break.
The Braves officially said right-handed pitching prospect Matt Wisler will make his major league debut Friday.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Thursday night that Wisler will get the start for Atlanta on Friday in the series opener against the Mets. It will be the 22-year-old's first career major league start. He's taking the rotation spot of Mike Foltynewicz, who was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday after three consecutive rough outings.
Right-hander Sugar Ray Marimon was optioned to Gwinnett as the corresponding move to Wisler.
After getting knocked around in three consecutive outings, the Braves optioned right-hander Mike Foltynewicz to Triple-A Gwinnett prior to Wednesday's game.
Friday's spot in the rotation, which would have been Foltynewicz's next start, is still undetermined. Cody Martin, who would throw on normal rest if started Friday, is the safe bet to come up from Gwinnett for the outing.
Augusta GreenJackets left-hander D.J. Snelten has a history of starting, so the move back to a rotation isn't a total surprise.
Snelten started parts of three seasons with Minnesota, including 13 starts his sophomore year, before getting drafted by the Giants in the ninth round in 2013. He continued partly starting in the Arizona League to begin his pro career that same year before the Giants moved him to the bullpen between Augusta and Salem-Keizer last season.
The Braves placed teenage left-hander Ricardo Sanchez on Rome's disabled list at the end of April after four rough starts that featured low-end velocity and inconsistent command. After resting for a month, they brought him back at the beginning of June and he looks refreshed.
In his second start since returning from the disabled list, Sanchez threw four scoreless innings on one hit with three walks and two strikeouts against a good Greenville lineup. He has allowed one earned and two total runs on four hits in eight innings this month.