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Braves sign 14 Minor League free agents

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves today announced the signing of 14 minor-league free agents. Eleven of the minor league players have been invited to Major League spring training camp as a non-roster invitee.

The list of non-roster players who were signed and received an invite to Major League camp includes right-handed pitchers Adam Russell and Jason Rice, left-handed pitchers Dusty Hughes and Yohan Flande, catchers J.C. Boscan and Jose Yepez, infielders Ernesto Mejia, Drew Sutton and Josh Wilson, and outfielders Luis Durango and Jordan Parraz. In addition, the three players signed to minor league contracts includes left-handed pitcher Jose Lugo, first-baseman Ian Gac, and outfielder Brahiam Maldonado.

Returning for his fourth consecutive season as a non-roster invitee is catcher J.C. Boscan. Boscan, 31, appeared in four games, including two starts behind the plate, with the major league Club in 2011, and collected his first career hit on July 31. In 61 games with Triple-A Gwinnett Braves last season, Boscan batted .182 with eight doubles and eight RBIs and threw out 31% of would-be base stealers. Boscan, who made his Major League debut with the Braves in 2010 after 14 seasons in the minor leagues, is a .224 career hitter and has thrown out 34% of attempted base stealers. Yohan Flande returns as a non-roster invitee for the second-straight year. Flande, 25, reached the Triple-A level for the first time in his career as he spent the 2011 season as a member of the Gwinnett Braves pitching staff, posting an 8-8 record with a 4.01 ERA over 33 appearances (19 starts). He finished third on the Club in innings pitched (137.0) and strikeouts (104). Since being signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as a non-drafted free agent in 2004, Flande has gone 45-31 with a 3.38 ERA and has fanned 516 batters in 697.1 innings pitched over seven minor-league seasons.

Durango, 25, joins the Braves after splitting the 2011 season between the San Diego Padres and Houston Astros, batting a combined .257 in 108 games played. Durango, who was claimed off waivers by the Astros in June, made two appearances with Houston last season. Over eight minor-league seasons, Durango is a .308 hitter with 49 doubles and 185 stolen bases. Durango has appeared on a major league roster on three separate occasions, batting .292 in 65 games.

Gac, 26, joins the Braves after being named the 2011 Carolina League Player of the Year and also garnering CL Most Valuable Player honors in 2011. While leading High-A Winston Salem in nearly every offensive category last season, he also led the Carolina League in home runs (33), RBIs (96), slugging percentage (.535) and games played (140). Gac, who was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2003 owns a .251 career batting average with 160 home runs over nine minor-league seasons.

Hughes, 29, was originally signed by the Kansas City Royals in 2006 and remained with the organization until he was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Twins prior to the 2011 season. Last season, he split time between the major league Club and the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. Hughes appeared in 15 games out of the bullpen for the Twins last season, going 1-0 with a 9.95 ERA, and in 43 appearances (two starts) with Triple-A Rochester he went 3-1 with a 4.29 ERA. Hughes made his major league debut with the Royals in 2009 and in 2006 he was side-lined the entire season with an injury. Over his eight-year career, he owns a 39-26 record with a 3.50 ERA in 190 minor league games and is 2-5, 4.99 at the major league level.

Lugo, 27, returns for a second season with the Braves organization after being signed as a minor league free agent prior to the 2011 season. Lugo went 4-4 with a 2.82 ERA in 33 games combined between Triple-A Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi last season, and is 38-38 with a 3.84 ERA in 325 (57 starts) minor league contests spanning 10 seasons.

Maldonado, 26, joins the Braves after being originally drafted by the New York Mets in 2004. He batted .222 with 28 homers and 74 RBIs for Double-A Binghamton last season. His 28 round-trippers ranked second in the Eastern League and he collected 16 assists from the outfield. He is a .259 career hitter over eight minor league seasons.

Mejia, 25, completed his eighth season as a member of the Braves organization in 2011. He hit .297 and led the team in doubles (37), home runs (26) and RBIs (99) in a team-high 137 games for the Double-A Mississippi Braves. Last season, Mejia was named the Southern League Player of the Week for the week ending July 10th, and was also named to the Southern League postseason All-Star team. Mejia owns a .283 career average over nine minor-league seasons.

Parraz, 27, was drafted by the Houston Astros in the third round of the 2004 draft and has spent time with the Kansas City Royals, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees organizations. 2011 marked his third full season at the Triple-A level and his first season as a member of the Yankees organization. In 126 games for Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees he batted .289. Over an eight-year minor league career, he owns a .289 batting average.

Rice, 25, joins the Braves after spending the 2011 season with the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox where he went 4-5 with a 3.69 ERA over 44 games (one start). In August 2011, Rice was traded to the Oakland Athletics and in September he was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Indians. He was originally drafted in the 11th round of the 2005 draft by the Chicago White Sox and owns a 26-31 mark with a 3.91 ERA over seven minor-league seasons.

Russell, 28, was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the sixth round of the 2004 draft and made his Major League debut in 2008. In 2011, Russell appeared in 36 games (all in relief) for the Tampa Rays, going 1-2 with a 3.03 ERA and with Triple-A Durham, he went 0-1 with a 4.24 ERA in 15 relief appearances. In 85 appearances at the major league level, he is 8-3 with a 3.95 ERA and over eight minor league seasons, he owns a 41-40 mark with a 3.94 ERA.

Sutton, 28, joins the Braves from the Boston Red Sox organization where he split time in 2011 between the major league club and Triple-A Pawtucket. In 31 games for the Red Sox, he hit .315, while defensively playing at every infield position and in 45 games with Pawtucket batted .295. Sutton was originally drafted by the Houston Astros in 2004 and has been a part four major league organizations. In eight minor league seasons, he is a .280 hitter. He has played in 86 games at the major league level and owns a .258 average.

Wilson, 31, was selected by the Miami Marlins in the third round of the 1999 draft. In 2011, he spent time with two different clubs, including stints at the major league level with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers. In 60 major league contests, he batted .224 with two home runs and in 16 games at the Triple-A level (Reno Aces), he hit .351. Over his 13-year career, he has been a part of 10 organizations and is a .227 hitter at the major league level, and a .281 hitter at the minor league level. He made his debut with the Marlins in 2005.

Yepez, 30, comes to the Braves after spending the 2011 campaign in the Seattle Mariners organization at Triple-A Tacoma. He batted .307 with 26 RBIs in 48 games for Tacoma and was selected to the Mariners roster in June, but did not play in a game. Yepez is a .307 hitter spanning seven minor league seasons, after being originally signed as a non-drafted free agent in 1997. 

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