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Gwinnett Braves first baseman Ernesto Mejia granted his release; heads to Japan

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Ernesto Mejia requested, and was granted, his release from the Atlanta Braves 40-man roster so that he may sign a contract with the Seibu Lions of the Japanese Pacific League. The big first baseman will report to Japan sometime this week.

Mejia got off to a hot start this season, hitting .354 with five doubles, seven home runs, 12 runs scored and 24 runs-batted-in as of his last game played. The 28-year old ranked among the MiLB leaders in RBI (2nd), HR’s (T-6th) and total bases (7th) at the time of his release. Mejia was named the International League Batter of the Week on April 7, his second career IL weekly award, after hitting .308 with four home runs and seven RBIs the opening week of the 2014 season.

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His Triple-A career was impressive. In 2012, his first season at the highest level of minor league baseball, Mejia hit 24 HR’s and led the IL with 92 RBI as well as hitting close to .300 (.296) on his way to the IL Rookie of the Year award. He was also selected to both the IL midseason and postseason All-Star teams and was named Gwinnett’s Most Valuable Player at year’s end.

Mejia returned to the G-Braves in 2013 and hit .249 with a career-high 28 home runs and a league best 83 RBIs in 134 games. He was named to his second consecutive IL midseason All-Star team and also participated in the Triple-A Home Run Derby in Reno, NV.

The Venezuelan native played in 287 games, batting .279 with 72 doubles, two triples, 59 home runs. 143 runs scored and 199 RBI. Mejia is departs Gwinnett as the Gwinnett career leader in home runs, RBI and doubles, and is No. 2 in both games and hits.

Mejia was signed by the Atlanta Braves as a non-drafted free agent on July 8, 2002. After signing with Kansas City on December 11, 2009 and playing the 2010 campaign in the Royals’ system, he returned to the Braves on a minor league free agent contract on December 13, 2010.

The Gwinnett Braves return home to Coolray Field on Thursday, May 1 with a 6:35 PM game against Lehigh Valley.

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The Gwinnett Braves are the Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves and play their home games at Coolray Field. Gwinnett is in the South Division of the International League.