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G-BRAVES NOTES: Graham, Bethancourt headed to Class AA?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Gwinnett fans are still likely to see top Atlanta prospects J.R. Graham and Christian Bethancourt this year. It may not be at the start of the season, though.

With a week to go before minor league rosters are set, both right-hander pitcher Graham and catcher Bethancourt appear headed to Class AA Mississippi rather than Class AAA.

Graham, 23, made just seven starts at Mississippi last year after spending most of the season at Class A Advanced Lynchburg. Bethancourt, 21, had his year with the M-Braves limited to 71 games by a broken hand.

Graham, the Braves' minor league pitcher of the year in 2012, was impressive in major league camp and has a 17-4 record and 2.49 ERA since being taken in the fourth-round of the 2011 draft out of Santa Clara University.

But the Braves don't want to rush Graham and appeared inclined to give him a little more time in Class AA before elevating him to Gwinnett.

Bethancourt, Atlanta's top position prospect, still needs to work on his hitting, although there is little question about his receiving or throwing. He hit just .243 and had only eight extra-base hits with Mississippi last year.

Gilmartin in line to start opener

Sean Gilmartin, the G-Braves' likely pitcher for the opener against Charlotte on April 4, will get one more Grapefruit League start for Atlanta before reporting full-time to minor league camp.

The left-hander is scheduled to pitch for a Braves split-squad in Dunedin against Toronto today. Julio Teheran, who won the job as Atlanta's fifth starter, will pitch against Houston at Champion Stadium.

Gilmartin, the Braves' first-round draft choice in 2011 out of Florida State, has appeared in three Grapefruit League games, going 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA. He also started one minor league game, allowing just one hit in four scoreless innings.

Sore knee benches Mejia

Ernesto Mejia, bothered by a sore knee, is yet to play in a minor league game since being optioned to Gwinnett by Atlanta.

Mejia had six hits in his final nine at-bats for the Braves in Grapefruit League games and was hitting .364 when sent down.

The all-star first baseman led the International League with 92 RBIs and 55 extra-base hits last season and batted .296 with 24 homers for the G-Braves while making the all-star team. He is also coming off tying for the lead with 14 homers and being named MVP of the Venezuelan Winter League.

Johan Flande, who pitched in the Dominican Winter League, is also getting some time off after being sent down by the Braves and hasn't pitched so far in a minor league game.

Braves sign Russell

The Braves added an outfielder to the organization on Friday, signing former University of Texas slugger Kyle Russell.

Russell, who was released by the Dodgers this week, has twice hit 26 homers in a minor league season and smashed 20 another time.

The 24-year-old left-handed hitter was a third-round draft choice in 2008 and spent the last two years moving between Class AA Chattanooga and Class AAA Albuquerque.