It took a while, but ex-Gwinnett Braves slugger Mauro Gomez has found a new home as a minor league free agent.
The first baseman signed with Boston after a breakout 2011 season with the G-Braves in which he batted .304 with 24 homers and 90 RBIs. He had an OPS of .878 thanks to an on-base average of .356 and slugging mark of .522.
But Gomez, 27, wasn't promoted to Atlanta last September or added to the 40-man roster, making him eligible for free agency.
Ernesto Mejia is expected to take Gomez's place at first base with the G-Braves this season after setting team records in homers and RBIs with Class AA Mississippi last season.
Mejia, 26, hit .297 with 37 doubles, 26 homers and 99 RBIs, posting a .906 OPS. He will be a non-roster invitee to spring training with Atlanta.
Gomez hit an extra-inning home run to win the Braves' final exhibition game last spring against Minnesota at Turner Field. But it was obvious that he had a limited future in Atlanta with Freddie Freeman at first base and no designated hitter in the National League.
With Boston, Gomez may get an opportunity as a right-handed bat off the bench if he starts well at Pawtucket.
Gomez was expected to be in greater demand as a free agent. But he struggled in the Dominican Winter League and the just-completed Caribbean Series, hitting just four homers and batting less than .200.
Cox back in dugout
In addition to seeing Braves' stars of the present and future on April 3, fans at Coolray Field will get a glimpse of the past in the first base dugout.
Former Atlanta manager Bobby Cox will put on a uniform again and manage Atlanta's top prospects against Fredi Gonzalez's 2012 Braves in the final exhibition of the spring.
The game, which replaces the exhibition series against an American League team that the Braves used to play at Turner Field, will begin at 7:05 p.m.
Cox visited all of the Braves' minor league teams last season in his first year of retirement and keeps track of the players Atlanta has coming up.
"I'm going to love it," Cox said of managing the future Braves. "I'm looking forward to filling out that lineup card."
Tickets go on sale Feb. 18 for those who aren't Braves or G-Braves season ticket holders.
Carolina League team on move?
Atlanta owns all of its minor league teams except for in the Class A-Advanced Carolina League. That may soon change.
The Braves have entered an agreement in principle to buy the Lynchburg, Va., franchise and move the team to Wilmington, N.C., by 2014 if a new ballpark is built there.
The Braves moved into Lynchburg last season from Myrtle Beach, but that was always expected to be a temporary situation.
All of the Braves' other top farms teams play in modern ballparks after moving from other cities. Gwinnett received its Class AAA team from Richmond and Class AA Mississippi is the former Greenville team. Rome, in the Class A South Atlantic League, is the transplanted Macon franchise.
The Braves are partnering with Mandalay Baseball in the potential move to Wilmington.
MLB.com ranks Braves prospects
There are two players on the MLB.com list of Top 10 Braves prospects that didn't make the Baseball America list. Third baseman Joe Terdoslavich is ranked No. 8 by MLB.com and right-handed pitcher J.R. Graham is No. 10.
Third basemen Edward Salcedo and Brandon Drury didn't quite make the MLB.com list, instead being ranked No. 11 and No. 15, respectively.
Terdoslavich, 23, is a switch hitter who set a Carolina League record last season with 52 doubles while batting .286. He is expected to start 2012 at Mississippi and may be the heir apparent to Chipper Jones in Atlanta after a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League.
Graham, 22, was a fourth-round draft choice last June and led the rookie Appalachian League with a 1.72 ERA while going 5-2. He will likely start this season at Rome.