A hundred wins. That’s a pretty remarkable feat in a Minor League Baseball season, but that’s exactly how many wins the Greenville Braves racked up in 1992. It’s a team and a season that is still considered one of the greatest in the history of the MiLB.
In today’s edition of days of prospects past, we look at that team. But before we get to the breakdown, catch up on those prospect retrospects you missed:
- Jose Peraza
- Tyrell Jenkins
- Steve Avery
- Lucas Sims
- Keeping up with the Joneses (Andruw and Chipper)
- Jason Heyward
- Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur headline the 2003 Rome Braves
The 1992 Southern League Champions
The ‘92 Greenville squad was the first team in SL history to win 100 games. And they did so in dominant fashion.
The Braves locked up a playoff birth going an impressive 49-23 in the first half, finishing 11 games ahead of Jacksonville. Only problem for the Southern League was that Greenville was even better in the second half. It finished 51-20, 16 games ahead of the Charlotte team it would sweep in the first round of the playoffs.
It was utter domination. Greenville led the league in hitting (.266), runs scored (709), hits (1,258) and home runs. The pitching staff, although none of the marquee names that would shine in the 1990s for the Braves, held opponents to a +258 run differential behind a league-best 2.64 ERA.
The second half surge was in large part because a young shortstop named Chipper Jones was promoted from High-A. Jones was a monster in his 67 games with Greenville, slashing .364/.367/.594 with 17 doubles, 11 triples and nine home runs to stuff the box scores. We already took an in-depth look at Jones’ minor-league career, so let’s focus in on the other big star of the team.
Javy Lopez breaks out in 1992
Lopez was signed by the Braves in 1987 out of Puerto Rico and did not look good in his Gulf Coast League debut as a 17-year old. In fact, it took a little while for Lopez to get rolling, but in 1990 and 1991 in A-ball, he started to show some pop at the plate and maturity behind it.
He entered that 1992 season the No. 78 prospect in baseball. By the end, he had a breakout season, made his big-league debut and was a top-20 prospect heading into 1993.
Lopez was an absolute beast. He slashed .321/.362/.507 with career-highs in doubles (28) and home runs (16). Furthermore, he caught the best pitching staff in the league, you know, the one that racked up 100 wins?
He had another big season for Richmond in Triple-A leading those Braves to the playoffs as well. By 1994, he was the everyday backstop in Atlanta, finishing 10th in the NL Rookie of the Year voting that season and earning three All Star appearances in a 12-year tenure in which he caught three future Hall of Fame pitchers.
You can say things turned out well for Javy. He finished his Braves’ career with an impressive .287/.337/.502 slash line with 214 home runs (ranking him in the top 10 in Braves history) and 694 RBI.
Other memorable names from 1992:
Eddie Perez: Perez and Lopez were a solid package behind home plate for the Braves in the 1990s. He split time between first and catcher in 1992, hitting .229 with six home runs for the team. He played nine seasons with the Braves and then went on to coach with the team before becoming a special advisor.
Perez’s brightest spot of his career was the 1999 NLCS when he won MVP honors against the Mets. He hit .500 with two home runs and five RBI in six games.
Mike Mordecai: Not the best time to be the starting shortstop when a young Chipper comes to town. It wasn’t the prettiest, but Mordecai put together a 12-year career in which he was a reliable pinch-hitter and utility infielder. He hit .261 with four home runs and nine stolen bases for Greenville in 1992.
Mike Kelly: Kelly led the team with 25 home runs, but struggled to do much else, hitting .229 that season. He struggled to hit in the big-leagues, as well but was able to muster a six-year career.
Tony Tarasco: We all know what Tarasco became most famous for, but before he had a date with Jeffrey Maier he was one of the best all-around hitters on the Greenville team. He hit .286 with a .752 OPS, 22 doubles, 15 home runs and 33 stolen bases. Tarasco played eight years in the big leagues.
Melvin Nieves: The big-hitting outfielder was second on the team with 18 home runs and led the squad with 76 RBI. He had a seven-year MLB career and wound up with back-to-back 20-home run seasons with the Detroit Tigers in 1996 and 1997.
Pedro Borbon: Borbon was a cog in the 1995 World Series-winning bullpen for the Atlanta Braves. He pitched just one inning in that World Series, striking out two, so he made it count. Borbon went 8-2 with a 3.06 ERA and three saves for Greenville and played nine seasons in the MLB.
Greg McMichael: McMichael was another big piece in that 1995 bullpen. For Greenville, he went 4-2 with a 1.36 ERA, one save and 53 strikeouts in 46.1 innings. For the 1995 Braves, McMichael went 7-2 with a sparkling 2.70 ERA and two saves. McMichael had an eight-year MLB career, five of which were with the Braves.