Atlanta’s Brando Beachy ready for center stage

Atlanta fans know the Brandon Beachy story. The rest of the

baseball world may know it soon enough.

The Braves right-hander Beachy may go from being someone no

Braves fan had heard of two years ago, to being the anchor of this

year’s staff. He made his first major league start in a

mid-September game in Philadelphia during the 2010 pennant run.

He was replacing Braves starter Jair Jurrgens back then. Now the

25-year-old Beachy needs to step up again with Tim Hudson sidelined

until May with a back injury, and Tommy Hanson and Jurrjens

battling minor injuries.

Longevity will be a key for Beachy this season.

He went at least seven innings in only two of his 25 starts last

season. He is trying to limit his pitch count to go further into

the late innings when he can turn the ball over to closer Craig

Kimbrell.

”The strikeouts are nice,” Beachy said. ”but I need to cut

down on the pitches so I can get deeper into the game. This year I

am concentrating on limiting my pitches.”

Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez has the same goal in mind instead

of Beachy going after five quality innings.

”The fifth is the inning that gets to some pitchers,” Gonzalez

said. ”It would be perfect to get him to the eighth. But that kid

has it all figured out.”

Not bad for somebody who estimates he might have thrown six

innings for Northwestern High School in Kokomo, Ind. Beachy was an

infielder who spent time as a closer at Indiana Wesleyan

University.

He was discovered in a Virginia summer league by a Braves scout

who offered a bonus to sign with nothing but potential on the

horizon. He spent 2009 in the Braves low minors.

Beachy had a 2.17 ERA in Triple A before the Braves called him

up to the big leagues for that stretch run in 2010. He started 25

games last season – more than he started during his minor league

career.

Beachy said he wasn’t expecting to make it to the majors as

quickly as he did but his attitude on and off the mound shows he

feels like he belongs. He is a potential Opening Day starter,

depending on the condition of Hanson and Jurrjens.

Braves’ pitching coach Roger McDowell said it is the mental

toughness that makes Beachy an important member of Atlanta’s

staff.

”We never rushed him,” McDowell said. ”He’s a strong kid with

a great work ethic. This year he will; play a pivotal role on our

staff.”

For now, Beachy is the No. 3 man in the rotation. By the time

Hudson returns, it will be up to Beachy to see where he fits into

the rotation.