Schwinden Promoted, Johnson Back with Gnats

SAVANNAH, GA - One promotion was finally issued for a member of the formidable Sand Gnats staff and that was to Chris Schwinden. The right-hander is off to St. Lucie while reliever Jimmy Johnson returns to Savannah. Johnson has been dominant during his time in the South Atlantic League while Schwinden faces the challenge of a new level.

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With an average team and a below average record in 2009, the shining piece of the Savannah Sand Gnats this season has been their excellent pitching staff who has accumulated a South Atlantic League best 3.19 ERA.

Several Savannah pitchers have used the Gnats as a platform for promotion this year.

Now, 22-year-old right-hander Chris Schwinden becomes the most recent Savannah pitcher to be called up to High-A St. Lucie, the Mets announced Wednesday.

Schwinden leaves Georgia's first city with a 9-6 record in 21 games with the Sand Gnats and heads to St. Lucie after a 3.28 ERA with the Mets Low-A affiliate.

"He throws all four pitches out of the same arm slot," said Savannah pitching coach Mark Valdes of his now former pitcher.

"He's very consistent in his delivery and doesn't try throw harder than he can which can throw a guy out of sync. His rhythm and his delivery are very unique and it's the same every time," Valdes added.

That consistent delivery led to an outstanding strikeout to walk ratio, as he recorded 88 K's in 115.1 innings pitched, compared to just 15 bases on balls.

In St. Lucie, Schwinden joins his former Sand Gnat teammate Jeff Kaplan, who has been quite impressive himself, since being called up from Savannah in early June.

With this move comes another from the Mets minors, as southpaw Jimmy Johnson returns to Savannah, as he recovers from a left shoulder strain suffered while playing for the St. Lucie Mets.

Johnson was 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 12 outings for the Mets of the sunshine state. Since returning to Savannah, he has appeared three times for the Gnats totaling 3 2/3 scoreless innings.

Dating back to his promotion in early June (along with Kaplan), Johnson hasn't allowed a run over his last 15 appearances (20 2/3 innings pitched) with Savannah.

Savannah is 62-64 going into Friday night's contest against the Rome Braves, a three-game set which wraps up their final home stand of the season.

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