Atlanta Braves Preview, by Florida Georgia Line's Brian Kelley - Rolling Stone
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MLB 2015: Atlanta Braves Preview, by Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley

In Fredi Gonzalez he trusts: One half of FGL believes the Braves can both rebuild and contend in 2015

Brian KelleyBrian Kelley

Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line doesn't believe his beloved Atlanta Braves are "rebuilding."

Joseph Okpako/Redferns/Getty

Brian Kelley may have been raised in the Sunshine State – and represent it as one half of Florida Georgia Line – but he grew up a fan of the Atlanta Braves, coming of age during the franchise’s heyday in the Nineties. He translated that fandom into a standout career as a high school pitcher and a scholarship at perennial baseball powerhouse Florida State, and though country music ended up being his career of choice, he remains a fan first and foremost.

While FGL have blown up, it’s been a trying time for Braves fans everywhere (though always competitive, Atlanta hasn’t won a postseason series since 2001). But Kelley is convinced that another World Series title is just around the corner – in fact, he thinks it could come as early as this year. So while most are predicting a down season, he’s not buying the rebuilding business. Here’s Kelley’s take on the 2015 Atlanta Braves.

I was a huge Braves fan growing up. Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Mark Wohlers, John Rocker. I was a huge fan. And lately, with Heyward and the Uptons, I’ve stayed that way. I used to love watching Glavine. I grew up playing baseball and I pitched all through college, and I molded my game after him. He was a very consistent pitcher and had a lot of movement on everything that he threw. Steve Avery was a favorite to watch too.

The Marlins came around in 1993, but I was already a Braves fan at that point. When we’d go to Nashville to visit family and friends, we’d stop in Atlanta to catch a game. I got to see Mark Wohlers warm up in the bullpen and then pitch. I remember walking up to the bullpen and you could hear the catcher’s glove. The ball hitting it sounded like a damn cannon going off. I’ll never forget walking up and seeing that with my dad. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life.

Now, they’re in a rebuilding mode, but I think that’s good. Youth is good, fresh faces are good. It’ll bring a new energy to the team. Fredi Gonzalez, he’s a younger guy and he’s going to lead a great team. Melvin Upton Jr., he’s extremely talented and still young [Upton will likely begin the year on the disabled list]. Freddie Freeman, I think he’ll be fine. They signed A.J. Pierzynski. He brings a lot of leadership to a young team. It’s going to be key for the Braves, he’s going to bring a lot of maturity and toughness and he won a ring with the White Sox – for the pitchers and catchers especially, he’s going to be a big leader.

Jason Heyward left, and I was a big Heyward fan. He reminded me of Ken Griffey Jr. back in the day. I hate to lose him, but that’s part of the game.

Their pitching last year was good and I think it’ll be good this year. They signed Chien-Ming Wang. And Craig Kimbrel, I’m a huge fan of his. He’s been to some shows and we’ve gotten to hang out with him. I think he’s going to have a really big year.

Famous Fan Fearless Forecast: 92-70. Nothing is ever written in stone. I think it’ll be rebuilding year, but that’s not a bad thing – it’ll be a great thing.

In This Article: Florida Georgia Line, MLB, sports


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