Monday, June 21, 2021
Because of more rain, we only had two minor league games yesterday as both Rome and Augusta were washer out and will get an extra day of rest to go with their scheduled off day today.
There’s lots to discuss regarding the excitement that occurred down in Pearl, Miss., so let’s get started with the action from Sunday’s pair of games…
(21-20) Gwinnett Stripers
L, 6-2 vs. Nashville
SP, C. Johnstone – (L), 2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 K, HR
1B, J. Camargo – 3 for 4, R
SS, R. Goins – 1 for 4, 2 RBI
The Stripers ended its week on Sunday by losing a bullpen game versus the Sounds, despite a scorching-hot Johan Camargo who finished with his sixth multi-hit performance in his last nine games. During the nine-game span, the 27-year-old Camargo has slashed .432/.462/.622 with four XBH, and for the season overall he’s up to a .318 AVG and .911 OPS. Could he be part of a trade next month?
Nashville jumped up to a 3-0 lead early when Gwinnett’s starter Connor Johnstone allowed an RBI single and a sac-fly in the 1st, followed by a solo-homer to lead off the 2nd. Two innings and 34 pitches was all Johnstone would give the Stripers, and once he exited, the bullpen then deployed six different relievers over the following seven frames.
Johnstone — 26-years-old and a former 21st round pick by the Braves out of Wake Forest — appears to now be Gwinnett’s weekly opener, given Sunday makes five-straight starts in which he has only pitched two innings; that after averaging over four innings per outing in his first four starts of the 2021 campaign. The 6-foot-1 righty hasn’t been very effective as an opener, though; in those five recent starts, Johnstone sports an 8.10 ERA as opposing batters have hit .386 against him.
A loss is a loss, but perhaps the highlight of yesterday is the fact that prospect outfielder Drew Waters appears to be healthy and ready to roll. The 22-year-old started in right field and led off on Sunday, finishing 0 for 3 with a walk and three strikeouts. Waters, Cristian Pache and Orlando Arcia — the lineup’s nos. 1-3 batters — finished Sunday 0 for 10 with a pair of walks and 9 strikeouts.
Brewers top prospect, and Nashville’s starting first baseman yesterday, 24-year-old Keston Hiura has been a Gwinnett killer this season. The former first-round pick slugged two homers on Sunday and, despite his struggles in the majors this year, he’s now up to a .412 AVG with the Sounds this season.
(25-17) Mississippi Braves
W, 7-6 vs. Birmingham
SP, T. Touissant – 3 ⅔ IP, H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
DH, D. Lugbauer – 3 for 3, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI
SS, B. Shewmake – 2 for 4, 2B, 2 RBI
Coming into the game hitless in his last eight at-bats, and having failed to produce at the plate in three tries so far in yesterday’s contest, it appeared as if catcher Shea Langeliers was headed for at least a small slump. However, with the game tied at six in the bottom of the 9th, Langeliers turned on the second pitch of his fourth at-bat and with one swing gave Mississippi its fifth-straight win.
The walk-off dinger puts Langeliers in double-digits in homers with 10 (tied for second in the South league), and despite scuffling to the tune of a .450 OPS this past week, he’ll enter his next game on Tuesday with an .888 OPS and 20 RBI in 34 games this season. This kid is having a helluva year so far.
But it wasn’t just Langeliers who delivered yesterday as the M-Braves also received big hits from shortstop Braden Shewmake and first baseman Drew Lugbauer. In the 4th, down 5-0, first it was the former who knocked in both Trey Harris and CJ Alexander with a two-run double.
Then Lugbauer cut the lead to one when he crushed his fifth homer of the season over the left-center field wall.
Just like that the M-Braves were back in it, and later that inning they would actually tie the game up as Justin Dean came up clutch with a two-out RBI single, scoring Wendell Rijo. This team is NEVER out of it.
B-ham scored a run in the 5th off a wild-pitch, but again, Mississippi answered. Lugbauer came up huge again by doubling, and Rijo knocked him in with an RBI single to tie it at six, setting up what happened in the final inning.
The M-Braves definitely did better against Sunday’s Barons starter as the offense scored five against Kade McClure and knocked him out of the game in the 4th. Altogether in this one, Mississippi’s offense tallied 12 hits, six of which were XBH. Also notable, Dean finished with a pair of stolen bases, giving him a Double-A South lead of 12 swipes for the year. Dean is also tied for the league lead in doubles, with 10.
But this game was less about winning and losing… and more about giving righty Touki Toussaint an opportunity to work his way back from injury. With a total of 53 pitches (33 strikes) over 3 ⅔ innings, Touki started sharp but started getting hit a bit beginning in the 3rd, a frame in which he worked around a walk and a single (after setting down B-ham in order in the first two innings). The 4th was really just a total loss of control for Touki as he walked three alone in that inning, to go along with a hit-by-pitch. The runs charged against him came after Touki exited the game.
With the bases loaded from Touki’s wildness, Odalvi Javier had the tall task of getting one last out to end the 4th inning, however, the Barons scored five runs in the span of two at-bats as Javier allowed a two-run single and a three-run homer. Javier threw just four pitches in that unfortunate sequence.
Relievers Matt Withrow, Brooks Wilson and Brandon White also got in some work yesterday, and the trio was stingy as they combined to pitch four scoreless frames combined and punch out seven. All three relievers are currently sporting sub-2.00 ERAs for the season and deserve a lot of credit for keeping the game where it was so that the offense could eventually come through. Man it would be nice if the big league bullpen could do that!
Rome will make up yesterday’s postponed game on July 10 and Augusta will do so on July 24. Remember, today is a minor league-wide scheduled off day (save for the Triple-A West league), so all four Braves affiliates will rest before starting up their new series on Tuesday. Be sure to check back for my weekly preview.