ATLANTA, Ga. – Former Gardner-Webb standout Blake Lalli was called up by the Atlanta Braves Sunday morning, his third trip to the majors since beginning his pro baseball career in 2006.
Lalli's contract was selected by the Braves with catcher A.J. Pierzynski heading to the disabled list.
The Gibsonia, Pa., native helped AAA Gwinnett to the Governor's Cup Championship series on Saturday, with his eighth-inning sacrifice fly lifting the G-Braves to a 5-4 win over Columbus.
Lalli was batting .256 with a home run, 22 doubles and 36 RBI for Gwinnett in 109 games this season, seeing action primarily behind the plate. He had a .301 on base percentage for the G-Braves in 2016.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder has played in 1,030 career minor league games and has a .286 lifetime batting average in stints with minor league organizations of the Cubs, Brewers, A's, Diamondbacks and Braves.
Lalli has 972 career hits, 59 home runs and 207 doubles as a minor leaguer. He has driven in 434 runs and has a lifetime .345 on base percentage. Just as versatile as he was as a collegiate player, Lalli has seen action at first, third and behind the plate in the minors. He has also pitched on occasion, posting a 2-1 record with a 3.44 lifetime ERA in 18.1 innings of work (15 strikeouts).
Lalli was first called up to the Major Leagues in 2012 by the Cubs, becoming the first Gardner-Webb product to collect an at bat – and hit – in an MLB game. He played in six games that season with Chicago and broke camp with the Brewers in 2013 – seeing action in 16 games.
Lalli was a three-time Southern League midseason All-Star selection with the Tennessee Smokies, earning that honor in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He was a postseason All-Star in 2009 with the Smokies and was an MILB.com organization All-Star with the Diamondbacks in 2014.
He finished his career at Gardner-Webb as one of the program's most decorated hitters, earning first-team All-Atlantic Sun Conference honors twice – once at third base (2005) and once at catcher (2006).
Lalli played for the Runnin' Bulldogs from 2002-2006, finishing his career as the program's career leader in games started (227), at bats (853), hits (290) and doubles (70). He ranks fourth in school history with a .340 career batting average and led all of NCAA Division I with a school-record 30 doubles during the 2005 season.
As a senior in 2006, Lalli batted .389 with 11 home runs, 13 doubles, 39 RBI and committed just seven errors while splitting time between third base, first base, catcher, shortstop and second base. On the mound, Lalli went 0-1 with an 0.00 ERA and three saves in four appearances out of the pen.
Lalli was recruited to Gardner-Webb by Hall of Fame Coach Clyde Miller, who coached the young slugger as a freshman.
Lalli joined the GWU program after a stellar prep career at Pine-Richland (Pa.) High near Pittsburgh, where he led the Rams to a 16-3 record as a senior after posting a .571 batting average. He earned a spot on the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Terrific Nine All-Star Team as a junior and senior.