MINOR LEAGUE NOTES: Braves pick Heffley off to good start with Rome

Brookwood graduate Ross Heffley isn't starting his professional career far from home. In fact, the second baseman is closer to Snellville now than he was while starring for Western Carolina University.

The Braves assigned Heffley to Class A Rome after taking him in the 18th round of the draft this month and he had an impressive first game in the South Atlantic League on Thursday.

Heffley, 22, went 2-for-5 with two RBIs as Rome opened the second half with 7-3 victory at Asheville.

Rome had the worst first-half record in all of the minors at 18-52 and the roster underwent a shakeup for the second half of the split season. Heffley is one of five new players. Another is left-handed pitcher Alex Wood, Atlanta's second-round draft pick from the University of Georgia.

Heffley is Western Carolina's all-time hits leader. He posted a .379 career average while getting 354 hits over four seasons with the Catamounts.

Blackmon rehabbing

A year after making his major league debut, Charlie Blackmon is temporarily back where his minor league career began.

The former North Gwinnett and Georgia Tech standout is rehabbing his turf toe injury with Tri-City of the Class A Northwest League. He previously played with the Dust Devils in 2008 after being taken by Colorado in the second round of the draft that year.

Blackmon, 25, went into the season ranked as Colorado's No. 11 prospect by Baseball America and No. 13 by MLB.com. But he got hurt in spring training with the Rockies and hit just .203 in 17 games at Class AAA Colorado Springs before going on the disabled list.

In his first seven games with Tri-City, he had four hits in 20 at-bats.

McHugh moves up to AAA

Providence Christian graduate Collin McHugh was promoted to Class AAA for the first time by the New York Mets after going 5-5 with a 2.41 ERA in 12 starts for Class AA Binghamton.

McHugh, 24, lost his first game for Buffalo, giving up five hits and four runs over five innings at Norfolk on Monday. He struck out five and walked four.

The right-hander was an 18th-round draft choice by the Mets in 2008 after pitching for Berry College. He was 8-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 18 games for Binghamton last season after beginning the year in the Class A Advanced Florida State League.

Tice promoted to AA

Dacula's Jeremie Tice was promoted to Class AA by Cleveland after going 1-for-3 with an RBI and run scored while serving as the designated hitter as the Carolina League defeated the California League 9-1 in their annual all-star game, which was played Tuesday in Winston-Salem.

Tice, 25, finished the first half tied for the Class A Advanced Carolina League lead with 12 homers for the Carolina Mudcats and was second with a .580 slugging percentage. He hit .278 in 51 games and drove in 47 runs.

The former College of Charleston standout was 1-for-3 with an RBI for Akron in his Eastern League debut on Friday.

Kang can't power up

Parkview graduate K.D. Kang, who was fifth in the Class AA Southern League with a .506 slugging mark during the first half, went deep just once in the home run derby prior to the all-star game at Tennessee on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old Montgomery outfield was 0-for-2 with a walk and run scored as his South team won the game 6-2 over the North to snap a seven-game losing streak in the event.

Kang, a Tampa Bay prospect, finished the first half with nine homers and 30 RBIs.Hawkins gets two hitsFormer North Gwinnett standout Chris Hawkins went 2-for-3 in the Class A Midwest League all-star game as his East Division team routed the West 18-2 on Tuesday at Kane County.

The outfielder finished the first half with a .287 average for Lansing. The third-round draft choice in 2010 is ranked as Toronto's No. 14 prospect by MLB.com.

Shields released by Arizona

Central Gwinnett graduate Jeff Shields was released by the Diamondbacks after going 1-8 with a 6.08 ERA in 14 games for Class A Advanced Visalia and Class A South Bend this season.

The right-hander was a seventh-round draft choice by Arizona in 2010 out of Chattahoochee Valley Community College.

Shields, 22, was 9-13 with a 4.63 ERA for South Bend in the Midwest League last year.