Even before the surprising addition of Jeff Francoeur for a couple weeks, things were looking up for the Mississippi Braves.
Thanks to the split-season format in the Class AA Southern League, Mississippi has gone from the bottom to the top quickly. The M-Braves began the second half 11-5 and took over first place in the South Division of the Southern League from first-half winner Birmingham.
Mississippi started the season 2-15, and it took a big recovery to even finish the first half with a 30-40 record.
The split season, used by most full-season leagues below AAA, worked the other way for Mississippi last year. Manager Phillip Wellman's team won the first half in the South Division with a 42-38 record, but went 25-44 in the second half. The M-Braves finished 67-72 overall.
Before the arrival of Francoeur, who went 2-for-4 with a walk in his first game, the big news this season was a no-hitter by Tommy Hanson. The right-hander struck out 14 in the first no-hitter in franchise history, walking three and hitting a batter.
Hanson, considered Atlanta's top pitching prospect, is 7-4 with a 2.81 ERA for Mississippi and Myrtle Beach, striking out 100 in 93 innings.
Better results in Mississippi are meaningful for Gwinnett fans because many of the players there will be moving up to AAA next season when the Richmond team relocates to the county.
Veteran outfielder Reid Gorecki was promoted from Mississippi when Jason Perry was moved up to Atlanta. Gorecki was hitting .319 with five homers and 23 RBIs in 29 AA games after being signed by Atlanta. He was released by the St. Louis organization this spring. ... Outfielder Brandon Jones was 1-for-5 with a double and two RBIs in his first game after being sent back down by Atlanta. ... Right-hander Chris Resop was 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in nine games since joining Richmond from Atlanta.
Outfielder Matt Young will start for the South in the Southern League All-Star Game on July 14 at Carolina. His average had dropped to .276, but he had 19 stolen bases. ... Right-handers Todd Redmond and Luis Valdez were also named to the All-Star Game. Redmond was 7-4 with a 3.60 ERA in 18 starts, while Valdez was 1-1 with a 2.16 ERA and 13 saves in 32 relief appearances. ... First baseman Isaiah Kaaihue hit .338 in June with five of his 10 homers. He was batting .254 and had 40 RBIs.
MYRTLE BEACH (A)
Left-hander Scott Diamond was 7-1 with the Pelicans after starting the season 3-1 at Rome. He had a 3.00 combined ERA. ... Shortstop Brandon Hicks had a run-scoring single as the Carolina League beat the California League 3-1 at Myrtle Beach in the annual all-star showdown between the two high Class A leagues. The Pelicans had six players in the game, including three pitchers. ... Myrtle Beach, first-half champion in the South Division, started the second half 8-6. ... Outfielder Jon Owings raised his average to .289 and had 13 homers and 44 RBIs. He started July 6-for-11 with two homers and five RBIs.
Outfielder Cody Johnson, Atlanta's first-round draft choice in 2006, was 16-for-39 with three homers and 13 RBIs in his first 10 games after the South Atlantic League All-Star break. He led the SAL in strikeouts with 115, but had 14 homes and 45 RBIs to go with his .242 average. ... Outfielder Jason Heyward, a first-round pick last year, was third in the SAL with a .338 average. ... Left-hander Cole Rohrbough came off the disabled list after missing three weeks with an ankle injury. ... Rome started the second half 7-7.
Danville got off to a fast start, leading the East Division of the Appalachian League with a 12-5 record. ... Manager Paul Runge's team has won four consecutive division titles. ... Shortstop Shayne Moody led Danville with a .364 average and first baseman Gerardo Rodriguez had seven homers and 22 RBIs. ... Left-hander Richard Sullivan was 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in three starts.