As we count down the days to 2018’s opening day, we take a look at the greatest Braves to wear each jersey number that’s been worn. Due to a scheduling error, Monday’s article went unpublished, so it has been combined with Tuesday’s. Enjoy!
Sunday marked 67 days until opening day, so we take a moment to honor the greatest Brave to wear #67, Danny Burawa! Ok, it’s possibly A.J. Minter, who wore #67 for 15 innings for the 2017 Braves, striking out 26 batters and walking 2. But we’ll have plenty of opportunities to laud Minter down the line. How many chances do we get to talk about Danny Burawa, a player only some of you actually recognize as a living, breathing major leaguer.
The former St. John’s pitcher was drafted in 2010 by the Yankees. He worked his way slowly up through the Yankee system as a reliever, and finally reached the bigs in 2015. Entering a game down 7-2 to the Tigers, here was Burawa’s major league debut: Groundout, walk, single, RBI single, 3-run home run, strikeout. Fearing the 11-2 game might soon get out of hand, they took him out mid-inning. With 2 outs. And no one on base. Down by 9.
And like that, the Yankee career for the kid born on Long Island was over. The Braves picked him off the waiver wire and he saw action in 12 games that September for the Bravos. Burawa may not have the best impression of the Braves, since the team went 1-11 in his appearances (his one win was helping Atlanta shut out the Cardinals). Burawa didn’t stand out in a meaningful way. He was somewhat hard to hit, but not remarkably so.
After a miserable 2016 stint in the upper minors, Burawa was released by the Braves and has yet to resurface in the minors.
Honorable Mentions: A.J. Minter
The greatest Brave to wear #66 is the only Brave to wear #66, 2015 reliever Matt Marksberry. Marksberry pitched in 2016 as well, but by then he wore #56, so perhaps we’ll see him later on this list.
Drafted in 2013 out of Campbell University, Marksberry spent 2013 and 2014 mostly starting games in the low minors. A switch to the pen allowed him to move quickly, however, and 2015 saw him conquer high-A (2.78 ERA) and AAA (2.61). The 24-year old was called up mid-summer and made his debut on July 31. He would appear in 31 games, walking 16 batters in 23.2 innings and sporting a 5.01 ERA. He also gave us this fun little moment:
He made his return to Atlanta in 2016 with a new number but the same inability to keep runs off the board. Later that year, Marksberry suffered a bizarre and scary medical emergency which required a medically-induced coma, a broken lung, and severe dehydration. If his Twitter feed is any indication, he seems to be quite healthy and playing ball in Australia. That’s good to hear. Best wishes, Matt!
In 12 games with the 2008 Atlanta Braves, #65, Jorge Julio, pitched 12 1/3 innings, struck out 19 batters, had a 0.73 ERA, and even went 3-0 in the win-loss column.
A product of the Baltimore Orioles system at a time when the Baltimore Orioles system actually produced anything, Julio picked up 83 saves in his first 3 full years in Baltimore. After a 2005 spent in middle innings, Baltimore traded Julio and John Maine to the Mets for Kris Benson. After about 5 weeks in Queens, the Mets overreacted at a 5.06 ERA (which was brought on by a .354 BABIP) and traded Julio the Diamondbacks for Orlando Hernandez, a 40-year old former Yankee with a 6.11 ERA. Jorge had a 3.83 ERA and 15 saves that year in the desert, and looked possibly like a fixture in the pen until the following March (2007), when Arizona traded him to the Marlins for prospect Yusmeiro Petit. He lasted 11 days less with the Marlins than he did with the Mets the year earlier, although the Fish were pretty justified, having watched him allow 29 baserunners in 9.2 innings. He was traded to Colorado for Byung-Hyun Kim (hey, do you remember when the Rockies let Kim be a starting pitcher for like 3 years? Wasn’t that fun and stupid?). With the Rockies, Julio ironed things out and kept his ERA under 4 for over 50 innings of relief work. Hitting free agency after 2007, Julio signed with the Cleveland Indians. In 17.7 innings with the tribe, he allowed 29 baserunners and owned a 5.60 ERA. So, for the 3rd straight year, the team which acquired Julio in the offseason cut ties with him in May. Atlanta signed him in June and called him up to the big leagues in September.
In his first appearance with the Braves, #65 allowed a run in a wild 16-14 win over the Marlins. After that, he was more or less lights out, throwing 11.1 shutout innings to close the season. Julio’s career was one of ups and downs, and Atlanta caught him during an up phase.
In the offseason following 2008, Julio signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. He was released midseason in 2009 with a 7.79 ERA. But this time, at least he wasn’t released until June. This was his last MLB season.