The Atlanta Braves signed Georgia and Greenbrier product Rich Poythress to a minor league contract and assigned him to Double-A Mississippi on Thursday.
Poythress’ deal with the Braves marks his third team since getting drafted in the second round in 2009 by the Seattle Mariners. He spent five seasons in the Mariners system, reaching Triple-A in 2013.
Poythress was released from the Mariners system and signed with the Miami Marlins at the beginning of this year. He played 46 games for Double-A Jacksonville, hitting .244 with four home runs while playing around a nagging right wrist injury that led to a stint on the disabled list.
Poythress said he started to gain a better feel at the plate in June, but his numbers failed to catch up in time. He was released from the Marlins system June 27.
“Hitting is all about timing,” Poythress said. “When something nags or you’re out a while, it can throw you off. The last few weeks with the Marlins felt good, and I’m just fortunate to get an opportunity with the Braves. I hope to make the best of it.”
Poythress, 26, will give the Braves minor league depth at first base. He said the goal is to help his team win and let the individual numbers take care of themselves.
If Poythress is able to progress to Triple-A Gwinnett or beyond in the Braves system, he would play on Georgia soil for the first time since his days in Athens, Ga.
“I’m excited for the opportunity,” he said. “We’ve always been Braves fans growing up. We would follow them as a family. It’s kind of weird, but it’s a cool feeling.”
Poythress starred at Georgia from 2007-09, hitting .376 with 25 home runs for the Bulldogs as a junior in 2009. Before that, the big first baseman anchored a strong Greenbrier lineup and was a member of the 2006 Class AAAA state championship team.