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Pop tops pitching in G-Braves first roster

Led by last year's rookie of the year Ernesto Mejia and a reconstituted Joey Terdoslavich, the Gwinnett Braves, at first glance, seem to boast a power-packed lineup.

Mejia, who hit .296 with 24 home runs a season ago, returns to the Gwinnett infield at first base, but Terdoslavich will get a stab in Class AAA in the outfield. Last year's high-profile arrival in Gwinnett as a third baseman hit four home runs while hitting .180, but his bat and his defense improved when he was dropped down to Class AA Mississippi where Terdoslavich hit .315 with five more homers.

The plus-.300 average from 2012 is just one of four, including the International League batting champion Jose Constanza, who hit .314 a season ago. Corey Wimberly, an offseason addition, hit .301 with Class AAA Buffalo last year and switch-hitter Todd Cunningham his .314 with Class AA Mississippi.

The Atlanta Braves opening day shortstop, Tyler Pastornicky, will begin the season back in the minors and outfielder Jordan Parraz returns hoping for an injury-free season after twice breaking his hand in 2012. Blake DeWitt joins the organization after splitting time a season ago between the Chicago Cubs and Class AAA Iowa.

Catcher Jose Yepez returns after hitting .264 with 30 RBIs last year and is joined by Matt Pagnozzi, who spent last season with Columbus in the International League, hitting .224 with seven home runs for the Cleveland Indians' affiliate.

The pitching staff, however, will need some development.

Sean Gilmartin, a first-round draft pick in 2011 and one of the Braves top pitching prospects leads the rotation. The lefty was 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA in Gwinnett last season, arriving toward the end of the year. David Hale, a Marietta native, makes the jump to Class AAA after going 8-4 with a 3.77 ERA in Mississippi last year. Yohan Flande is back for his third season with the G-Braves, the lefty starter was 6-11 with a 4.21 ERA a season ago. The bullpen will be anchored by a former major leaguer and 2012 G-Braves pitcher Dusty Hughes. The Mississippi native had a 3.31 ERA in 54 appearances and was fourth on the team with four saves last season. David Carpenter, an offseason addition, is the only pitcher, starter or reliever, who saw time in the bigs last year. Carpenter spent time with both Houston and Toronto in 2012 with a 8.07 ERA in 33 appearances. In the minors his ERA dipped to 3.08 in 23 appearances with four saves.

Here is a look at the full Gwinnett Braves roster for Thursday's opener against Charlotte at 7 p.m. at Coolray Field.

Pitchers

David Carpenter*

Tim Corcoran

David Hale*

Wirfin Obispo

Omar Poveda

Cory Rasmus*

Andy Russell

Ryan Buchter

Yohan Flande

Robert Fish (DL)

Sean Gilmartin

Dusty Hughes

Jose Lugo (TI)

Cole McCurry

Daniel Rodriguez

Catchers

Matt Kennelly (DL)

Matt Pagnozzi

Jose Yepez

Infielders

Blake DeWitt

Sean Kazmar

Joe Leonard

Ernesto Mejia*

Tyler Pastornicky*

Corey Wimberly

Outfielders

Jose Constanza*

Todd Cunningham

Jordan Parraz

Joe Terdoslavich

*on 40-man roster