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Braves promote another young star

ATLANTA — Freddie Freeman will reach the majors at age 20, just like close friend Jason Heyward did. It just took him until the last month of the regular season.

“He can help us,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said of the first baseman. “He’s had a tremendous year.”

Freeman, named International League rookie of the year, leaves Gwinnett with a .319 average, 35 doubles, 18 homers and 87 RBIs. The all-star pick had a 5-for-5 game last week and batted .394 in August.

Not bad for someone who doesn’t turn 21 until Sept. 12. Heyward, a National League rookie of the year candidate, turned 21 on Aug. 9.

“It’s pretty good to be in the majors at 20,” Cox said. “Jason did it first and now Freddie.”

Now, the roommates can share a ride to Turner Field. Freeman doesn’t have to head the other way anymore.

Freeman is being activated today when major league rosters can expand. He and the other players being promoted from Gwinnett didn’t leave with the G-Braves for Norfolk after the final home game at Coolray Field on Monday night.

Center fielder Nate McLouth was recalled and activated Tuesday for the second game of the four-game series with the Mets. Relievers Mike Dunn and Scott Proctor and catcher J.C. Boscan will join the Braves today along with Freeman. Troy Glaus, who had been on an injury rehab with Gwinnett, isn’t eligible to come off the Atlanta disabled list until Thursday.

Braves fans have been clamoring for Freeman to be promoted for at least a month. But with veteran Derrek Lee having been acquired from the Chicago Cubs, it isn’t clear how much playing time Freeman will get at first base.

“He’ll factor in,” Cox said of Freeman. “We’re trying to win every game we can.”

Another round of promotions will come when the Gwinnett season ends on Labor Day at Charlotte. Assured of being recalled are relievers Craig Kimbrel and Cristhian Martinez.

The Braves’ bullpen is already deeper with the lefty Dunn and the veteran Proctor. Dunn, who pitched in the AAA All-Star Game, was 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA and seven saves in 38 games for the G-Braves. Proctor, coming back from reconstructive elbow surgery, was 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 10 August appearances.

Boscan gives Cox the flexibility of three catchers. Clint Sammons had that role the past three seasons, but Boscan earned the promotion this time by hitting .250 and continuing to excel defensively.

McLouth hit .234 in 34 games with Gwinnett, while Glaus batted .333 with two homers in eight games during his rehab assignment.

Right-hander Kenshin Kawakami, who will serve as an emergency starter for the Braves, was technically sent to rookie-level Danville on Tuesday to make room for McLouth. But the Japanese veteran will return to the active list today.

To replace the promoted players, the G-Braves made a number of roster moves. Moved up from Class AA Mississippi were starting pitcher Erik Cordier, catcher Orlando Mercado and outfielder Antoan Richardson. Lefty reliever Mariano Gomez (elbow strain) was activated from the disabled list.