G-BRAVES NOTES: Durango, Constanza make for speedy top of lineup

LAWRENCEVILLE -- When it comes to speed at the top of the order, few teams at any level can match the Gwinnett Braves.

Luis Durango leads the International League with 19 stolen bases and has been caught just three times. Jose Constanza is a perfect 7-for-7 on his steal attempts.

Durango and Constanza, who is among the IL batting leaders, regularly switch lineup spots. But no matter in what order, they provide a double doze of speed to rattle opposing pitchers.

"When either one gets on, no one can relax," G-Braves manager Dave Brundage said.

With the pair leading the way, the G-Braves rank first in the IL with 50 stolen bases. Best yet, Gwinnett runners have been caught just 11 times.

Durango, 26, has stolen as many as 46 bases in a season, doing that with Class AA San Antonio and San Diego in 2009. He had 40 steals with Class AAA Portland and the Padres in 2010.

Constanza's high for a season is 49 with Class AA Akron in 2009. He had 30 steals last season with the G-Braves and Atlanta.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Constanza, 28, hit .303 in 42 games with the Braves at the end of last season and went into this year with a .305 career average in the minors. He an 11-game hitting streak snapped in the first game of Friday's doubleheader, is batting .340.

Durango, from Panama, came into this season with a .308 career minor league average and a .292 mark for 65 major league at-bats. He was hitting .276 for the G-Braves through Friday.

G-Braves add veteran Pie

With Jordan Parraz out for up to four-to-six weeks with a broken left hand, the G-Braves needed outfield help. Enter former major leaguer Felix Pie.

Pie, 27, was hitting .353 with three homers in 13 games with Camden of the independent Atlantic League after being released by Cleveland at the end of spring training.

"(Atlanta) went out looking and found a good player with experience," Brundage said.

Pie has played in the majors with the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore, posting a .249 career average over five seasons. He hit .220 in 85 games with the Orioles last season.

New beginning for Young

Matt Young finally made it to Atlanta in his seventh season with the Braves organization in 2011. But he was dropped from the 40-man roster at the end of the season and signed with Detroit as a free agent.

That brought the hustling 29-year-old outfielder back to Coolray Field with Toledo for the five-game series that runs through Monday and he had two hits in the second game of Friday's doubleheader.

Young was one of the more popular G-Braves. In 2010, he hit .300 and led the IL with 39 stolen bases.

Young went into Saturday's game among the league leaders with a .446 on-base average thanks to 30 walks in 31 appearances. He was batting .270 and had 10 stolen bases.

Simmons, Gattis keep hitting

Slick-fielding shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who won the Class A Advanced Carolina League batting title last year for Lynchburg, was hitting .304 through Friday with Class AA Mississippi and had made just two errors.

Evan Gattis, promoted from Lynchburg recently, had a .318 average with four homers and 12 RBIs in his first 11 games with Mississippi. He had been tearing up the Carolina League, batting .385 with nine homes and 25 RBIs in 21 games.

Gattis is sharing the catching load with the M-Braves in place of Christian Bethancourt, who is on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.