Down on the farm: Braves minor league report
Cormier pitching well again in Richmond

Lance Cormier is pitching like he might be worthy of another look by the Atlanta Braves.

The right-hander has won three straight starts for Class AAA Richmond, the most recent an 8-0 victory over Ottawa in which he needed just 84 pitches - 61 strikes - in the complete game.

Ottawa had six hits, but Cormier induced five double plays. He walked none and struck out four.

"I had a good sinker and a good cutter," Cormier told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "I was able to let the defense work out there."

It was the cutter that made Cormier so effective with the Braves during spring training, when he earned a spot in the starting rotation.

But Cormier felt a pain near his shoulder during his final Grapefruit League start and landed on the disabled list. When he finally returned, he was hit hard, giving up 13 runs in two starts. That landed him back in the minors.

In his past three starts with Richmond, Cormier has allowed just one run on 17 hits over 22 innings. The 26-year-old is 4-1 with a 3.60 ERA.

A fourth-round draft by Arizona out of the University of Alabama in 2002, Cormier was obtained by the Braves along with Oscar Villarreal for Johnny Estrada prior to last season.

Cormier was in 29 games last season, making nine starts for the Braves. He was 4-5 with a 4.88 ERA.

Richmond (AAA)

Second baseman Martin Prado led the International League with a .327 average and had committed just two errors. . . . Kyle Davies struck out nine over five innings in his first start after being sent down from Atlanta, allowing a run on five hits and four walks in a no-decision. . . . Outfielder Gregor Blanco went on the disabled list because of a strained oblique muscle. . . . Outfielder Doug Clark had a 4-for-4 game, giving him 37 hits in 79 at-bats. . . . Left-hander Dan Smith came off the disabled list and pitched four scoreless innings, allowing two hits. . . . A telephoned bomb threat forced The Diamond to be evacuated in the sixth inning and Richmond's game against Toledo to be suspended. It was finished the next day.

Mississippi (AA)

Outfielder Matt Esquivel, who missed the second half of last season, was suspended again for an undisclosed violation of team policy. He was hitting .247 with 19 homers and 70 RBIs in 98 games. . . . First baseman Isaiah Ka'aihue was promoted from Myrtle Beach, where he was hitting . 298 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs in 89 games. He has been a hitting machine since batting .167 in April. . . . Second baseman J.C. Holt was 18-for-37 over nine games, raising his average .332. . . . Outfielder Matt Young was 4-for-12 in his first three games after being promoted from Myrtle Beach.

Myrtle Beach (A)

Right-hander Jairo Cuevas won six consecutive decisions after a 0-8 start, lowering his ERA to 3.69. His ERA was under 2.00 in his past nine starts and he had 55 strikeouts in 57 innings. . . . Since being promoted from Rome, right-hander Tommy Hanson was 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in four starts. . . . Right-hander Jeff Lyman was the latest pitcher to move up from Rome. He was 4-8 with a 4.59 ERA in 20 starts.

Rome (A)

Shortstop Brandon Hicks, a third-round draft pick from Texas A&M, had four hits in his first game and started 7-for-12. . . . Brett Butts, the nephew of Atlanta bullpen catcher Allen Butts, was also moved up from Danville to Rome. The former Auburn right-hander was 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA in five games. . . . Second baseman Travis Jones hit .344 in his first 12 games. . . . Right-hander Tim Gustafson allowed five earned runs in the first two innings at Augusta, but finished a seven-inning outing by retiring 17 of 19 batters in the no-decision.

Danville (rookie)

Outfielder Cody Johnson suffered a 1-for-30 slump before bounding back. The 2006 first-round draft choice had six homers, 22 RBIs and a .264 average. . . . Shortstop Michael Fisher of Georgia Tech was hitting .328. . . . Left-hander Cole Rohrbough pitched five hitless innings, lowering his ERA to 0.59 - the best in the Appalachian League. He struck out 10 and walked none, with an error accounting for the only runner.