Results tagged ‘ John Cornely ’

Carolina Countdown – Lynchburg Hillcats

The countdown continues with the seven-time Carolina League champion Lynchburg Hillcats. For the previous countdowns, click here.

INTRODUCTION: The Lynchburg Hillcats were established in 1963, playing in the South Atlantic League and Southern League before joining the Carolina League in 1966. They have been affiliated with several Major League clubs over the years and have been associated with the Atlanta Braves since 2011.

Robby Hefflinger carried the Hillcats in 2013 (John Absalon/MiLB.com).

Robby Hefflinger carried the Hillcats in 2013 (John Absalon/MiLB.com).

LAST SEASON: The Hillcats concluded 2013 in second place in the Northern Division, going 69-70 and qualifying for the playoffs for a second consecutive season. They were then swept by the division-winning Potomac Nationals in the best-of-three Northern Division Championship Series.

Left fielder Robby Hefflinger clubbed 21 home runs, which was second in the league to the Dash’s Chris Curley.  Hefflinger also won the All-Star Game MVP out in San Jose. Lynchburg boasted a solid bullpen in 2013, as Nate Hyatt tied for the league lead in appearances (43) and finished second in saves (12). Meanwhile, John Cornely tied for third in appearances (42) and was third in saves (11).

MANAGER: Luis Salazar will guide the Hillcats for a fourth straight season. Salazar played in the Major Leagues from 1980-92 with the Padres, White Sox, Tigers and Cubs. He will be joined in the dugout by hitting coach John Moses, who was with the club in 2013, and pitching coach Derrick Lewis, who comes to Lynchburg from Low-A Rome.

SYSTEM: The Braves have historically had a knack for producing homegrown talent during their run of success, and that trend has continued in recent years. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons and utility player Evan Gattis are among the current Atlanta stars who have donned Hillcats uniforms during their path to the big leagues.

Other prospects that may see time in Lynchburg include pitcher Lucas Sims, a first-round draft pick of the Braves in 2012. The 19-year-old posted a 12-4 record and 2.62 ERA with Low-A Rome in 2013, striking out 134 batters in 116.1 innings.

A position player of note includes shortstop Jose Peraza, a 19-year-old native of Venezuela who batted .288 with 47 RBI and 64 stolen bases in 114 games with Rome last season. He is rated by Baseball America as the 12th-best prospect in the Braves’ system.

Wear a bowtie, get a discounted ticket on "Kentucky Derby Night" in Lynchburg.

Wear a bowtie, get a discounted ticket on “Kentucky Derby Night” in Lynchburg.

BEST PROMOTION: On Saturday, May 3, the Hillcats will host “Kentucky Derby Night” against the Potomac Nationals, where fans arriving in seersucker clothing, a bow tie and/or a fancy hat will receive discounted admission to the game.

(NOT SO) FUN FACT: Just before Luis Salazar’s first season as the Hillcats’ manager in 2011, he had to overcome a freak accident during Spring Training. A foul line drive by Brian McCann struck Salazar in the face while he was standing in the Braves’ dugout. Salazar underwent surgery and had his left eye removed. One month later, he returned as Hillcats’ manager.

HILLCATS IN WINSTON-SALEM: The Hillcats first come to BB&T Ballpark for a four-game series from May 30-June 2. Lynchburg will also make two visits during the summer, on August 1-3 and August 12-14.

- Dave

Playoff Perspective – Game 2

Winston-Salem rallied for a thrilling 5-4 victory over Lynchburg in Game 2 of the Mills Cup Championship Series Sunday afternoon at BB&T Ballpark. First off, hear from the man who gave the Dash their first lead in the series–catcher Kevan Smith.

Now, it’s time for our postgame analysis.

PLAYOFF PERSPECTIVE:

  • Wow. Once again, the Dash’s collective back was against the wall in a Game 2, and this offense found a way to battle back for a narrow win. After five frustrating innings of offense, Smith, Daniel Wagner and Keenyn Walker came up with huge hits in the sixth, and Marcus Semien’s solo shot in the eighth proved to be the difference in the game. This offense, despite struggling at times in the playoffs, is so good.
  • Everyone knew Dash skipper Tommy Thompson was going to be the Carolina League’s Manager of the Year, and he pushed the right button today when he submitted his lineup card. Winston’s catcher had hit in the seven hole in all four previous postseason contests, but Thompson switched Smith with Cyle Hankerd. Sure enough, Smith’s turn came around when the Dash needed a hit, and the former Pittsburgh star came through in a big way.
  • As for Semien’s homer, credit the former sixth-round pick for coming up with the first run scored against Lynchburg reliever John Cornely at the High-A level. Semien is only 3-for-18 in the playoffs, but those three hits have been huge: solo homer in the first inning of Game 2 of the SDCS, game-winning two-run double in that same game and this homer today. Semien is a clutch player.
  • How important has Chris Curley been to this playoff run? He is 8-for-16 with four runs scored, and the late-season acquisition made the defensive play of the game in the seventh. Curley, who was playing in on the grass, stabbed a Nick Ahmed liner and doubled off a runner at second to end the threat.
  • Starter Justin Collop and reliever Taylor Thompson turned in gritty efforts Sunday, and both Max Peterson and Kevin Vance continued to pitch well out of the bullpen. All in all, a solid day for Winston’s pitching staff.
  • Thank goodness Andrelton Simmons will be heading back to Atlanta tomorrow, according to multiple reports. It is incredible that this young man played in the CL last year. His ninth-inning double was one of the hardest-hit balls I’ve seen this year.
  • Series tied at one game apiece. Momentum-shifting Game 3 on the horizon. Erik Johnson versus Gus Schlosser. It doesn’t get much better than that, and it’s 47 hours away.

The Dash and Hillcats have tomorrow off, but the Dash Board blog will be packed with more #Dash12 coverage in advance of Game 3 Tuesday. Talk to you then.

- Brian

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