Braves’ Minter shows promise as major league reliever

A.J. Minter’s perfect debut this past week is the first of what the Atlanta Braves hope is a long string of successful outings in his major league career.

 

Minter made his major league debut Wednesday and threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts against the Seattle Mariners. After picking up his first strikeout against pitcher Edwin Diaz, he fanned Jean Segura before getting Yonder Alonso to fly out.

It was a quick and easy inning with the Braves trailing by three in the ninth, but it served as the beginning of what could be an impact career in the Braves bullpen.

Minter was selected at the end of the second round, 75th overall, in the 2015 draft. He was known as a high draft possibility before undergoing Tommy John surgery, but the Braves took a chance and worked him back into pitching after the draft as a reliever.

The left-hander reached as high as Double-A Mississippi by the end of the 2016 season, his first full professional year. The Braves have again worked him slowly this season and he experienced a lengthy stint on the disabled list earlier in the year, but he was pitching well at Triple-A Gwinnett before the call to Atlanta this past week.

Minter has the potential to stick in a late-innings role in a major league bullpen, perhaps as high as a setup reliever. The 23-year-old consistently throws mid-90s with the ability to hit upper-90s from the left side, paired with a sharp breaking ball. The ingredients are there, along with the mentality, to be a successful major league reliever.

Health has been the issue since college and continues to be the one hesitation, but if Minter can stay on the field, he could be the next talented late-innings arm for the Braves.

FIREFLIES GO DARK: The Columbia Fireflies box score this past Monday includes a 19-minute delay in the official time of game. It was a once-in-a-lifetime reason.

The Fireflies played host to the Rome Braves at Spirit Communications Park with a 1:05 p.m. start time. At around 2:34, the game was stopped and a record crowd, along with the players, coaches and ballpark staff, all looked skyward for the eclipse.

Columbia was nearly in the center of the path of totality, and the Fireflies took advantage of their location by having a “Total Eclipse of the Park” day. An announced crowd of 9,629 packed into the stadium to watch baseball and the rare phenomenon.

Each fan was given eclipse glasses at the gate to watch it happen and the ballpark went dark during the 19-minute delay. MiLB.com reported that tickets were purchased from 34 different states to come watch the event.

Columbia further entertained those in attendance as Andres Gimenez notched a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to beat Rome 6-5, but for the record crowd, the day was about much more than just the game’s final result.

Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or david.lee@augustachronicle.com.

 

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