The Eighth Annual Rome Braves Hot Stove Gathering at The Forum brought former Rome pitchers Tommy Hanson, Kris Medlen and Ryne Reynoso back to one of their earliest minor league stomping grounds.
“I enjoyed my time in Rome,” Hanson said. “It’s good to be back.”
Hanson was called up to Atlanta in June of last season and immediately made an impact as a starting pitcher, going 11-4 with a 2.83 ERA in his rookie year.
“It’s what I wanted to do my entire life so once I found out, I was ecstatic,” Hanson said about playing in the majors. “I felt like I was ready to go up there and compete and I wanted to help the team win.”
Medlen also made his debut in the majors last season and became a strong reliever with the Atlanta club while Reynoso spent the end of 2009 in the bullpen of Class AAA Gwinnett.
While all three have moved on since playing for the Rome Braves during the 2007 season, they have kept a common thread with their days at State Mutual Stadium — they are all still roommates.
“Really, we’ve just been laughing the whole time, talking about all the fun times we had, both at the stadium and just around here,” Hanson said.
Medlen said he remembered Rome as a place where he got to take charge of his life after spending time in the short-season rookie league in Danville, S.C.
“This was our first real chance to be away from our families and kind of grow up on our own,” Medlen said. “You kind of forget after being away from certain spots but it all comes back to you and it’s really cool to be back here.”
For Reynoso, his season in Rome brought not only a new town, but also a new position as he went from outfielder to pitcher.
“When I came up here, everything was so new to me,” Reynoso said. “Rome was my first taste of pro ball so being back here brings up all sorts of memories.”
Proceeds from Tuesday’s event, which included an autograph session and a silent auction, benefited Cancer Navigators of Rome in memory of longtime Braves coach and instructor Jim “Beach” Beauchamp.
The night also allowed fans to interact with the Rome Braves field staff and other members of the Braves organization to talk about the upcoming season.
“I think we had a really good year last year as far as developing ball players and promoting ball players to the next level,” Rome manager Randy Ingle said.
“Our win-loss record wasn’t what we really wanted it to be but I think we had a very successful season in that regard.”
The Braves open the 2010 season on the road April 8 in Kannapolis, Md., and play their home opener on April 16 against Savannah.