June 17, 2021
As has been a recurring theme this season, the Braves coughed up a lead in the latter-innings and lost last night against the Red Sox. That team is getting really difficult to watch. However, it was a system-wide, four-game sweep down on the farm as all of the full-season affiliates won its games.
Here’s a recap of Wednesday’s Braves minor league action…
(20-18) Gwinnett Stripers
W, 9-3 vs. Nashville
SP, C. Johnstone – 2 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 2 K
LF, J. Kipnis – 2 for 4, HR, 2 RBI
1B, J. Camargo – 2 for 4, 3B, 2B, RBI
The big news prior to Gwinnett’s game yesterday was the major league call-up of prospect pitcher Kyle Muller, who wound up making his debut for the Braves versus the Red Sox on Wednesday night. According to Stripers media relations manager Dave Lezotte, Muller is the 102nd Gwinnett player to go on to pitch in the majors and the first this season. Cool stuff.
As for the game itself, once again there was no Drew Waters in the Stripers starting lineup, the fifth consecutive game he has missed. The prospect outfielder is dealing with a sore thumb so this extended absence shouldn’t be anything to worry about, although it’s unfortunate given how great he was at the plate.
With Connor Johnstone getting the start on Wednesday, Gwinnett went with a bullpen game that featured five relievers. This one was actually a tight game up until the 8th, when the Stripers offense broke out for four runs, including a three-run home run by a pinch-hitting Yolmer Sanchez to extend the Stripers lead from three to six. Veteran Jason Kipnis also went deep in yesterday’s win as he belted a two-run homer in the 5th to put Gwinnett up 4-2.
To make it a typical offensive game for the Stripers, Philip Ervin also homered, giving the team three long balls for the night. Home runs are always the best, and that was especially true on Wednesday considering Nashville actually outhit Gwinnett 13-7. So far this season the Stripers are 16-10 when hitting at least one homer.
The bullpen was strong as well for Gwinnett yesterday as it struck out eight and walked just one. Tanner Roark, Chasen Bradford, Ty Tice, Thomas Burrows and Trevor Kelley all combined for seven innings. And though the group allowed 11 hits altogether, it only resulted in two runs by the Sounds.
Also, look out… Johan Camargo is red hot at the plate. His season AVG is now up to .316, but over his last seven games he’s 12 for 25 (.480 AVG) with 19 total bases. It sure would be nice if that kind of success would translate to the majors. It’s hard to believe Johan is 27-years-old now.
(21-17) Mississippi Braves
W, 2-1 vs. Birmingham
SP, A. Puckett – (W), 5 IP, 4 H, BB, 6 K
CF, J. Dean – 1 for 3, RBI
RP, J. Graham – IP, 3 K
Mississippi only managed three hits last night (compared to eight by Birmingham), but an RBI single by Justin Dean all the way back in the 3rd inning wound up being the key hit that made the difference.
The other notable part of this game was the continued sniping done by catcher Shea Langeliers behind the plate as he threw out two more would-be base stealers.
… and no. 2…
For Langeliers, that now gives him a caught-stealing rate of 58.6% for this season, which is an absolutely ridiculous number when considering the average in the big leagues is usually somewhere around 30%. Langeliers also tallied one of the M-Braves trio of hits on offense.
Shortstop Braden Shewmake went hitless last night but he did notch his 11th RBI of the year when he scored Greyson Jenista from home on a ground-ball out to shortstop in the 3rd.
The 26-year-old A.J. Puckett — who was actually a 2nd round pick by the Royals back in 2016 — notched his first win in an M-Braves uniform this season. Prior to his late-May promotion from High-A to Double-A, Puckett primarily worked out of Rome’s bullpen. But with Mississippi he has been used solely as a starter, and it’s been successful so far as Puckett’s four hits allowed last night were the most he’s surrendered in a given start during his time with the M-Braves — a span of five outings and 20 ⅓ innings.
Matt Withrow relieved Puckett in the 6th and worked two innings, allowing a run from three hits. But the Barons never threatened again as Josh Graham entered in the 8th and nearly notched an immaculate inning as he struck out three B-Ham batters with just 11 pitches (nine strikes). Brandon White picked up his seventh save of the season by tossing a scoreless 9th.
(20-18) Rome Braves
W, 5-0 vs. Bowling Green
SP, J. Shuster – 4 IP, H, BB, 6 K
1B, B. Ball – 1 for 4, 2B, RBI
RF, J. Franklin – 2 for 4, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 SB
Surprisingly, Rome’s win on Wednesday was the team’s first shut-out victory of the 2021 campaign. Starter Jared Shuster, plus a trio of stud relievers — Zach Daniels, Kasey Kalich and Indigo Diaz — combined to strike out 13 Bowling Green batters and allow just two hits over five frames. Shuster’s scoreless one-hitter through four innings drops his season ERA from 4.09 to 3.00 as the 22-year-old continues to impress with the R-Braves. The kid now has 21 strikeouts and just four walks in 15 innings.
The current run that outfield prospect Jesse Franklin V is on deserves its own article as he’s now up to a .272 AVG and .803 OPS this season, thanks to an eight-game hitting streak and a crazy hot month of June (.400 AVG & .971 OPS). The former 3rd round pick just continues to crush left-handed pitchers, and last night Franklin was involved in mostly all of Rome’s scoring as he tallied two RBI and scored a run. And on the other end of the spectrum, it was nice to see Bryce Ball contribute with an RBI double. The 22-year-old Ball has mostly struggled this season but he seems to be heating up; Wednesday’s two-bagger marked his second-straight game with a double.
(18-20) Augusta GreenJackets
W, 7-5 vs. Columbia
SP, J. McSteen – (W), 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 5 K
1B, L. Stephens – 1 for 4, HR, 2 RBI
RF, W. Carter – 3 for 5, 2 2B, RBI, 2 R
Columbia nearly came back in the 9th, scoring three runs after entering the frame down 7-2, but Augusta preserved it’s lead in what was a strong performance from its offense.
Down 2-0 after three innings, the GreenJackets proceeded to answer with six unanswered runs, beginning with two in the 4th, one apiece in the 5th and 6th, and then two in the 7th. Four different Augusta batters finished with a multi-hit game as Willie Carter led with three hits, followed by 2 for 4 performances from all of Vaughn Grissom, Victor De Hoyos and Bryson Horne. The hitting just continues for Carter, who, after last night’s hat trick now has a .339 AVG entering Thursday.
Starter Jake McSteen got his first opportunity in Single-A on Wednesday, and he pitched well with five strikeouts in five innings. McSteen — 25-years-old — was signed to a minor league deal by the Braves back in early May and spent a short time in Rome before receiving his current assignment. The left-handed McSteen is coming off an impressive 2020 campaign in the Independent League, where he posted a 2.70 ERA to go with 9.4 strikeouts per nine in 50 innings as a member of the Joliet Slammers starting rotation.
Relievers Luis Santos, James Acuna and Ben Thompson pitched the final four innings and impressively struck out eight. Although, following scoreless appearances from both Santos and Acuna, Thompon was nearly a victim of the mentioned above comeback as he surrendered three runs and a homer in the final inning.
Probables that have been listed as of Wednesday night for today’s slate of games include Jose Rodriguez for Mississippi and Alan Rangel for Rome.