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Locals Blackmon, McHugh get called back to majors

The season opened with just two players from Gwinnett high schools on major league active rosters. But the Royals' Jeff Francoeur and the White Sox's Jeff Keppinger have plenty of company now.

In fact, the number of active Gwinnett major leaguers has tripled.

In addition to Brian McCann's return from the disabled list with the Braves, three former local standouts have been recently called up from the minors.

Veteran infielder Nick Green is in his second stint with the Marlins, while Charlie Blackmon of the Rockies and Collin McHugh of the Mets were recently promoted for the first time this season.

Blackmon, a former North Gwinnett and Georgia Tech standout, had a successful 2013 debut. The outfielder was 2-for-4 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs scored on Sunday in an 8-2 victory at St. Louis.

The 26-year-old left-handed hitter had a pinch-hit single in a 6-3 loss to the Cubs in Chicago on Wednesday and was batting .375 after his first three games.

Blackmon had a .336 average with 15 extra-base hits and 21 RBIs in 31 games when he called up from Class AAA Colorado Springs. He had a .452 on-base mark thanks to 23 walks and was slugging .545.

An infection in his left knee kept Blackmon from having a chance to make the team out of spring training, but he was promoted from the Pacific Coast League when veteran outfielder Michael Cuddyer had to go on the disabled list and got into the lineup immediately

Blackmon played parts of the past two years with the Rockies, his 2011 rookie season ended by a broken foot suffered during a game against the Braves at Atlanta. In 72 major league games, he has a .274 average and four homers.

McHugh, a Providence Christian graduate, was called up by New York from Class AAA Las Vegas on Tuesday after the Mets placed reliever Scott Atchison on the disabled list.

McHugh, 25, was 3-2 with a 2.74 ERA over eight starts in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but will work out of the bullpen with the Mets.

The right-hander had a memorable debut in the majors last August, blanking the Rockies on two hits over seven innings during a no-decision in New York. But he finished 0-4 with a 7.59 ERA in eight games, four of them starts.

The first and second stints by Green with the Marlins were separated by just five days. The 34-year-old Duluth gradate had played 12 games total and had a .250 average.

Parkview graduates Francoeur and Keppinger have had slow starts to the season.

Keppinger, 33, has especially struggled in his first season with the White Sox after signing as a free agent. The veteran infielder was hitting just .185 through 32 games.

Francoeur, 29, had a .221 in 34 games and the outfielder had just one homer and nine RBIs.

In addition to the six active major leaguers, Gwinnett has one player still on the disabled list.

Relief pitcher Blake Wood, a North Gwinnett graduate, had Tommy John elbow surgery last year while with the Royals and the 27-year-old is on the 60-day DL with Cleveland after being claimed off waivers. He has pitched twice on a minor league rehab assignment.

GWINNETT MAJOR LEAGUERS

Six players from Gwinnett high schools are on active major league rosters and one more is on the disabled list.

Player Position High School Team

Charlie Blackmon OF N. Gwinnett Rockies

Jeff Francoeur OF Parkview Royals

Nick Green INF Duluth Marlins

Jeff Keppinger INF Parkview White Sox

Brian McCann C Duluth Braves

Collin McHugh RHP Providence Mets

*Blake Wood RHP N.Gwinnett Indians

*On disabled list