Monday, April 11, 2011

Empire State Braves Prospects: 4/12/11

With this blog’s focus on being a Braves fan from Upstate, NY, I thought it might be a fun idea to follow Braves prospects who specifically have connections to New York State. With snow on the ground from October/November through March/April, the Empire State isn’t exactly conducive to professional-level baseball development. Spring practice usually involves weeks of indoor play and each season begins with plenty of snow-outs. But while New York State weather can wreak havoc, there are still a handful of New Yorkers scattered throughout the Braves organization. I hope to provide updates weekly.

Anthony Varvaro, RHP (Triple A - Gwinnett)
While not from upstate, Varvaro does have plenty of New York State roots, having grown up in Staten Island. After high school, he stayed in-state while playing for the St. John’s University Red Storm. Varvaro was drafted by the Mariners in the 12th Round in 2005 and was immediately sidelined following Tommy John surgery later that same month. The Braves claimed him off waivers this past January after 5 (mostly) minor league seasons with the Seattle organization. He did see some brief time in the majors last year with the Mariners, giving up 5 ER in 4 IP over 4 appearances. 

1 G (0-1), 2.1 IP, 1 ER, 0 H, 2 BB

Cory Brownsten, C (High Single A - Lynchburg)
Brownsten played his junior and senior collegiate seasons at the University of Pittsburgh, but he has plenty of prior New York State experience. He grew up, and played high school ball, in Lockport, just a short 30 minute drive from Niagara Falls. From there, he played his first two collegiate seasons at Monroe Community College outside of Rochester. Brownsten was drafted in the 15th Round of the 2010 and excelled during 35 games between the Gulf Coast League and Danville. He skipped over Rome and has begun the season with High A Lynchburg.
1 G, 3 AB, 2 H, 1 2B, 2 R, 1 BB

Dave Filak, RHP (Single A - Rome)
Filak is New York State through and through. The Scotia, NY, native grew up just north of Albany, the state capital, and then took the short trip down I-88 to play college ball for the Red Dragons of SUNY Oneonta (home to the amazing Brooks BBQ). The Braves selected Filak with their 4th Round pick in 2010 after three seasons at Oneonta, making him the first Division III pitcher taken in the ’10 draft. After breezing through 10 games (8 starts) at Danville this past summer, Filak will start off at Rome and has a good shot at a couple promotions during the 2011 season.

1 G (1-0), 5 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 1 HR, 4 K, 2 BB

Dan Jurik, RHP (Advanced Rookie - Danville?)
Another high school and college New Yorker, Jurik played high school ball in Vestal, NY (near-by home of the delicious Spiedie) and moved to join the St. John Fisher Cardinals. The Division III school is on the eastern edge of Rochester, a mere 5 miles from Brownsten’s Monroe Community College. Jurik is another product of the 2010 draft, having been drafted by the Braves in the 25th Round. Having pitched successfully with the GCL Braves (7 games), Danville (4 games) and Rome (3 games), starting off again at Rome would have seemed to make sense. But when the Rome roster was announced, Jurik was not listed. While a bit surprising, I expect to see him assigned to Danville and advance quickly.

Season Has Not Yet Begun

Brendan Rowland, C/OF (Rookie - Gulf Coast League Braves)
Rowland is another Capital Region native, having grown up in Colonie, NY, just 10 miles from Filak’s hometown. He moved on to a four-year career at the University at Albany (my alma mater...GO DANES!), seeing time both in the outfield and at catcher. Rowland was signed by the Braves as an undrafted free agent in July of this past year. Atlanta scout Brian DiPiazza coached Rowland in the Empire State Games while Rowland was in high school. He saw action in 9 games for the GCL Braves in 2010 and, assuming he’s with the organization in 2011 (as it looks like he is), should again begin the season there.

Season Has Not Yet Begun

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