Braves take trip to Evans

Fans embrace opportunity to meet prospect, former players

Jamie and Shellie Stuckey said they wanted to give their two sons, Joseph and Corey, the chance to meet some of their Braves heroes.

 

To do so, the lifelong Braves fans made the two-hour trip from Statesboro, Ga., to Evans for the Braves Caravan stop at Academy Sports and Outdoors on Sunday afternoon.

"This is the closest the caravan comes to us so we planned our entire month around coming up here," Jamie Stuckey said. "I'm glad we did because this is really, really neat."

Braves infield prospect Freddie Freeman, radio play-by-play announcer Jim Powell, former pitchers Zane Smith and Paul Assenmacher, and other members of the organization attended the annual event to meet with fans and sign autographs.

Assenmacher, who pitched for Atlanta from 1986-89, was a late replacement for center fielder Jordan Schafer, who had a scheduling conflict.

"I was excited to see that Freddie Freeman was coming. After reading up on him, I can't help but think he's going to be great," 10-year-old Joseph Stuckey said.

Freeman is one of the organization's most highly touted prospects. The 20-year-old from Fountain Valley, Calif., was a second-round draft pick in 2007 and has scouts raving about his upside.

He's expected to battle for a spot on the Opening Day roster and eventually take over as the starting first baseman.

Freeman said that he was impressed by the fans' reception of him, especially since he has yet to make his major league debut.

"Coming out here from southern California and to have these fans know who I am and want to meet me is a real blessing. It's really humbling," Freeman said.

Fans spoke with high hopes about Freeman and outfielder Jason Heyward creating a youth movement that could lead the Braves back to the postseason for the first time since 2005. Freeman said that he embraces that kind of pressure.

"I'm a pressure person. I like pressure situations. I think that I thrive in that kind of situation," Freeman said.

Both Freeman and Powell acknowledged their opportunity to be a part of the final chapter in the sure-to-be Hall of Fame career of Bobby Cox, who has been the Braves manager since 1990.

"When I heard (Cox) announce that he was going to do one more year and that was it, I went right into his office and thanked him," said Powell, who took over last year after the retirement of Pete Van Wieren. "If I had only gotten to work with him for one year, I would have felt cheated somehow."

 

 

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