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Last updated: April 28. 2013 12:29AM - 2154 Views
By DAVE ROSENGRANT



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It’s the first southern swing of the season -- eight games below the Mason-Dixon Line -- that will take the RailRiders into May.


Here’s a closer look at this week’s upcoming opponents for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.


Charlotte Knights


Scranton/Wilkes-Barre began an eight-game, nine-day road trip to International League South Division opponents on Saturday in Charlotte. The series with the affiliate of the Chicago White Sox continues through Tuesday before the first scheduled off day of the season.


The Knights are planted in last place in the division and are losers of seven of their last 10 games despite having a few prospects ranked highly in the organization according to Baseball America.


The highest-rated by the publication is 20-year-old infielder Carlos Sanchez, who is No. 3. But he’s had problems so far this season batting .211 with just three extra-base hits, 15 hits and 13 strikeouts.


Andre Rienzo, a 24-year-old right-hander, is the No. 7 prospect in the organization and has also got off to a rocky start. He’s allowed at least four runs in three of his four starts this season resulting in a 1-2 record and an ERA of 7.70.


Catcher Josh Phegley has hit four home runs this season for Charlotte and has driven in 10 runs, while outfielder Jim Gallagher is batting .346, good for ninth in the league.


Gwinnett Braves


Once the RailRiders leave Charlotte and finish their day off festivities on Wednesday, they will take a three-hour ride to Gwinnett to visit the Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves from Thursday through Sunday. Gwinnett is in third place in the South. And like Charlotte, the club possesses a highly-ranked prospect by Baseball America.


The Braves’ best prospect on the club is left-hander Sean Gilmartin, who is rated fourth. Unlike the Knights’ top arm, Gilmartin has been solid so far this season for the G-Braves. In five starts, he’s 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA. Gwinnett’s best pitcher to date in the campaign has been Omar Poveda, who’s posted a 1.75 ERA in four starts with a 2-0 record and a 0.70 WHIP.


There’s also a few familiar faces on the Braves’ roster in former SWB Yankee Jordan Parraz. The outfielder played for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2011 and hasn’t been in top form so far batting just .151 with three home runs in 20 games. Luis Nunez, a shortstop for Gwinnett, also played for SWB in 2008, 2009 and 2011. He’s seen minimal time for the G-Braves this season.


Atlanta all-star catcher Brian McCann began a rehab assignment over the weekend playing for the Rome Braves. Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said Friday that the catcher needs two weeks of rehab.So he could make a few appearances for Gwinnett later this week.


Outfielder Joey Terdoslavich has been the team’s most consistent batter so far this season hitting .333 with four home runs and 15 RBI. And don’t forget about slugger Ernesto Mejia, who leads the I.L. in home runs (8) and RBI (23), while batting .289.


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