Braves turn to Foltynewicz for tonight's start

Braves turn to Foltynewicz for tonight's start

ATLANTA -- Pleased with what they have seen from Mike Foltynewicz as he has spent the past few weeks gaining additional seasoning at the Minor League level, the Braves will send the highly-regarded prospect to the mound to start Friday night's game against the Reds.

"He's earned the opportunity to come up and pitch," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said following his club's 5-1 loss on Thursday night. "It's not a one-deal tryout. I'm excited, and he's earned it."

Foltynewicz will be making his first Major League start. He will fill the roster spot created when Chris Johnson was placed on the disabled list Thursday night with a fractured left hand.

The Braves are hoping Foltynewicz will strengthen a starting rotation that has produced a 4.89 ERA during the club's current 4-11 skid. The weakest link within this rotation has been right-hander Trevor Cahill, who was moved to a long-relief role earlier this week.

When the Braves acquired Foltynewicz from the Astros in January, they initially hoped he would begin the season as their fifth starter. But after evaluating the hard-throwing hurler during Spring Training, the club determined that he needed some additional time at the Minor League level to harness his command and get a better feel for his secondary pitches.

"He's gone down and made adjustments and pitched well," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said. "It's the right time for the right reasons."

Foltynewicz, who ranks as MLB.com's third-best Braves prospect and No. 77 overall, produced a 2.08 ERA through his first four starts with Triple-A Gwinnett. The 23-year-old right-hander surrendered nine hits, allowed three earned runs and notched 18 strikeouts over 13 innings in his past two starts.

Given that Foltynewicz has completed at least five innings in just two of his four starts, there is reason to argue that he could benefit from some additional seasoning. His only previous Major League experience came via 16 relief appearances he made for the Astros during the final two months of the 2014 season.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.