Braves could tab Foltynewicz or Blair to start

Club options Perez to Gwinnett, recalls reliever Kelly

April 20th, 2016

ATLANTA -- Mike Foltynewicz or Aaron Blair are now positioned to fill the rotation spot that was vacated on Wednesday, when the Braves optioned Williams Perez to Triple-A Gwinnett and recalled reliever Casey Kelly from Gwinnett.

The Braves have not yet revealed which of their two promising prospects will be promoted from Gwinnett to start in place of Perez on Sunday afternoon against the Mets. Blair, who tossed seven no-hit innings against Durham on Tuesday, would be on regular rest. Foltynewicz would make the start with one extra day of rest.

"We're open to a lot of different scenarios," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We haven't decided, but we will have somebody."

Blair ranks as baseball's No. 54 prospect, according to The 23-year-old right-hander, who was acquired via December's blockbuster trade with the D-backs, has recorded 22 strikeouts, surrendered 10 hits and allowed three earned runs over 19 innings (three starts) for Gwinnett this year.

Braves president of baseball operations John Hart was in attendance as Blair tossed seven no-hit innings before being removed with his pitch count at 87 on Tuesday.

Foltynewicz still possesses the tremendous upside that was touted when he stood as one of the Braves' top prospects, before he posted a 5.68 ERA over 15 starts for Atlanta last season. The 24-year-old right-hander spent much of this past offseason recovering from the blood clot that sidelined him in September. He has surrendered five earned runs while issuing 10 walks over 15 innings for Gwinnett this year.

While Blair might appear to be the more attractive option, promoting him now could position him to earn Super Two status and consequently gain an extra arbitration-eligible season. But Gonzalez said he does not anticipate service time influencing the decision.

"I've been lucky," Gonzalez said. "Ever since I've been here that sentence [regarding service time] has never come out of anybody's mouth, which is a good thing."

Perez lasted fewer than five innings in each of his three starts this season. After he lasted just 3 1/3 innings while pitching on short rest in place of the ill Julio Teheran on Tuesday, the Braves turned to Ryan Weber, who limited the Dodgers to one run over 3 2/3 innings and earned his first Major League win.

With Weber unavailable to serve as a long reliever until at least Friday, the Braves will give that role to Kelly, who surrendered eight hits and four earned runs over the 12 innings he totaled in two starts for Gwinnett this season.