CHICAGO – Infelder Phil Gosselin didn't know what was going on when Triple-A Gwinnett manager Brian Snitker replaced him after the third inning of Saturday's doubleheader nightcap at Norfolk, Va. But he quickly went from puzzled to pleased after being informed that the Braves had summoned him to the big leagues.
The Braves brought him up for Sunday’s series finale against the Cubs after suspending second baseman Dan Uggla for one game.
Gosselin, 25, hit .345 with a .381 on-base percentage and 37 extra-base hits — including five triples and five home runs — in 86 games for Gwinnett, extending his hitting streak to 10 games Saturday. He was selected to play next week’s Triple-A All-Star game.
“I was pretty confused at first, I didn’t know why I was coming out of the game (Saturday),” Gosselin said after arriving at Wrigley Field at about 11 a.m. “But it was awesome, just to be there with my teammates. They were all giving me hugs and stuff. My parents were there in the crowd, too. So to be able to share it with them was pretty special.”
His parents dropped him off at the Norfolk airport for an 8:45 a.m. flight to Chicago, then drove home with plans to watch the Braves-Cubs game on TV.
Gosselin leads the International League in hits (120) and doubles (27) and has logged 20 or more games at second base, third base and shortstop, along with eight in left field and four as designated hitter. He 2-for-6 with a walk in four games with the Braves last season in his first major league callup.
“One of my favorite things to do in the morning is look at the game reports (from the minor league affiliates),” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Every night he’s having two hits, three hits. And I talk to Snit about him all the time. Snit plays him anywhere on the diamond. He’s one of those guys who’s a hell of a National League player that you can use, he’s a nice piece.”
A fifth-round draft pick by the Braves in 2010 out of the University of Virginia, Gosselin opened some eyes with Braves officials during his brief callup last season and especially during major league spring training this year.
“I was really impressed with him in spring training,” Gonzalez said. “He stayed with us the whole time, put the ball in play and you ask him to hit and run he hits and runs. He can bunt. He can do a lot of great stuff for a National League player. It’s a nice thing to have. He’s gotten used to that role, I think he likes it.”
Gosselin played mostly second base in the past, but he’s smart enough to know how versatility can enhance the major league chances for a young player in his position.
“It’s been good (playing several positions this season),” he said. “There’s a little bit of a learning curve at first, I haven’t played a ton of shortstop and third. But I’ve been playing third every day lately, so I’ve been getting better there. Played second, short, third and outfield, so hopefully I can provide some value in a number of spots for the team.
“The more positions you can play, the better.”
He was removed from the 40-man roster in the fall, but the Braves have a spot available on that roster after outrighting reliever Pedro Beato to Gwinnett on Saturday. Even though they dropped him from the 40-man after the 2013 season, the Braves always intended to keep Gosselin. And that was even before he increased his batting average so far this season by 91 points and his OPS (.875) by a whopping 255 points over last season when he split time between Double-A and Triple-A.
Asked to what he attributed the dramatic increase in his performance, Gosselin said, “I think confidence. I had a good spring and did OK when I was up here last year. So I feel like I can play up here and do a good job. Things started rolling.”
Gonzalez didn’t know for sure if Gosselin would be up just for a day this time, but it sounds like he believes the rookie could help the Braves.
“Snit goes, ‘Freddie, this guy understands the game, understands his role, understands what he can do, and you’ll enjoy him for the time that you have him,’” Gonzalez said. “So we’ll see.”
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