With Mauro Gomez a minor league free agent, the Gwinnett Braves have a hole at first base. Ernesto Mejia is expected to fill it next season.
Mejia, 25, was named to the Class AA Southern League all-star team after batting .297 with 37 doubles, 26 homers and 99 RBIs for Mississippi this year. His home run and RBI totals were team records.
As a reward, Mejia was one of 11 minor leaguers receiving invitations to major league spring training with Atlanta.
Mejia, a right-handed hitter, spent seven seasons in the Braves organization before signing with Kansas City as a minor league free agent in 2010. He rejoined Atlanta last season and re-signed for next year.
Gomez, 27, elected to become a free agent after hitting .304 with 24 homers and 90 RBIs for the G-Braves while making the International League all-star team. He has not yet signed with another organization.
Braves sign infielder Sutton
Diory Hernandez failed to hit when given opportunities with Atlanta. Drew Sutton had no such problem last season while filling in as a utility infielder with Boston.
The Braves signed Sutton as a minor league free agent and he will likely battle fellow newcomer Josh Wilson for a big league job during spring training. Wilson was also signed as a free agent and invited to spring training.
Sutton, 28, hit .315 in 31 games for the Red Sox last season while playing all infield spots and batted .295 in 45 games with Pawtucket in the IL.
He has a .280 career average in the minors and a .258 mark in 86 major league games.
Hernandez, who split the past three seasons with Gwinnett and Atlanta, became a free agent. He has not signed with another organization.
Atlanta signed right-handed relievers Adam Russell and Jason Rice to minor league deals with invitations to major league spring training.
Russell, 28, appeared in 36 games for Tampa Bay last season, going 1-2 with a 3.03 ERA. He was 0-1 with a 4.24 ERA in 15 games for Durham. Russell has an 8-3 record and 3.95 ERA in 85 major league games.
Rice, 25, was 4-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 44 games for Pawtucket last season before being traded to Oakland and later being claimed on waivers by Cleveland. Like Russell, he elected to become a free agent when not protected on a 40-man roster.
Atlanta prospects honored
Catcher Christian Bethancourt and third baseman Joe Terdoslavich were named to the Arizona Fall League's top prospects team.
Bethancourt, 20, batted .306 with five homers in 19 AFL games. Noted more for his defense until last season, the native of Panama hit .303 at Rome and .271 for Lynchburg in 2011.
The switch-hitting Terdoslavich, 23, stamped himself as the Braves' top power prospect by hitting 20 homers and setting a Carolina League record with 52 doubles last season while batting .286 for Lynchburg. He hit .321 with three homers in the AFL.
Bethancourt and Terdoslavich are both expected to start next season at Class AA Mississippi.