30 Nov

the fall finish

Bumped into Van Pope in the grocery store last night. He’s back from the Arizona Fall League, and he was in good spirits. Based, at least in part, on what he did there, don’t expect the former Terry High star to be back with the Mississippi Braves next spring. Pope hit .270 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in 74 at-bats in the high-level AFL. Atlanta Braves brass has to be pleased with those numbers. After a disappointing 2007 season with the Double-A M-Braves that saw him fall off the prospect charts, Pope got off to a good start in Pearl this past summer. But then he suffered a hamstring injury that benched him for a prolonged period. He bounced back OK, hitting .260 with 50 RBIs in 350 at-bats over 99 games for the Southern League champs. But he hit just four home runs, not what’s expected of a third baseman, even one whose defense is as good as Pope’s. But he showed better pop in the AFL and with a good spring training, he ought to be at Triple-A Gwinnett next season. That’ll open third base in Pearl for Eric Campbell, another former Top 10 prospect who needs to be tested in Double-A.