Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Look out, the big league club is tied for second in the division off the backs of six wins in its last 10 as veteran starter Charlie Morton notched his 100th career win last night. Man, that signing is looking better and better as of late.
But unfortunately the farm was condensed to three games instead of four on Tuesday as them pesky rain showers followed Gwinnett up north to Virginia. The Stripers will play two games today, beginning with Game 1 at 5:05 PM (ET).
Here’s a recap of Tuesday’s Braves minor league action…
(25-18) Mississippi Braves
L, 2-0 vs. Tennessee
SP, A. Puckett – (L), 4 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, BB, 2 K
CF, J. Dean – 2 for 5
RP, T. Bacon – 2 IP, 4 K
The M-Braves bats finally fizzled out as the offense combined for just four hits versus the Smokies last night. Mississippi left 11 runners on the bases and finished only 1 for 9 with RISP, as Tennessee’s starter Luis Lugo and a four-man relief effort did a nice job of containing one of the best lineups in the league.
M-Braves starter A.J. Puckett ran into some trouble in the opening frame, working around a double and a single, but the Smokies’ first run crossed the plate when the 26-year-old righty threw a wild pitch with a runner on third. A double in the 2nd and a single in the 3rd were Puckett’s only mistakes soon after as he began to settle down and pitch rather well. However, a lead-off walk in the 4th came back to bite him as Tennessee later doubled to push its lead to 2-0. Before getting out of that final frame, Puckett allowed a single off the bat of Grayson Byrd — the son of former Atlanta Braves TV analysts, Paul Byrd.
Center fielder Justin Dean, right fielder Trey Harris and third baseman CJ Alexander were the only Mississippi batters to record hits on Tuesday, with the first of that trio notching his sixth multi-hit performance of the 2021 season. Despite the lack of hits, the M-Braves mostly kept the strikeouts to a minimum, punching out 10 times as a team.
Perhaps the only highlight of Mississippi’s evening came in the 6th when reliever Troy Bacon accomplished an immaculate inning. Bacon struck out the Smokies nos. 4-6 batters with the minimum of nine pitches, and his current four-inning scoreless streak has slashed his ERA down to a stingy 1.93 for the season. Will Latchman, Chris Nunn and Daysbel Hernandez completed the final three innings of the game, combining to shut down Tennessee in hitless fashion to go with four strikeouts.
(21-20) Rome Braves
W, 14-0 vs. Aberdeen
SP, B. Elder – (W), 5 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 7 K
RF, J. Franklin – 3 for 4, HR, 5 RBI
C, L. Brown – 1 for 4, HR (GS), 4 RBI
Rome snapped its two-game losing streak last night in a rout over Aberdeen that featured 14 runs from a dozen total hits, including five XBH.
The R-Braves didn’t waste any time in this one as they tallied five runs in the 1st inning, with two of those coming from Jesse Franklin’s seventh long ball of the season. As part of a 12-game stretch in which the outfielder is hitting a ridiculous .487 at the plate, Franklin’s three hits on Tuesday gives him five multi-hit finishes in his last six games; plus, his five RBI were by far a career-high, giving him 18 this season. The man just cannot be stopped right now.
That 5-0 lead was more than enough for one of the Braves most-recently drafted prospect pitchers, righty Bryce Elder. The 22-year-old Elder allowed a lead-off single to the IronBirds in the opening inning and a base-hit in the 2nd, but then flew through the opposing lineup during the rest of his outing. The righty’s only issue was a lack of control towards the end of his start as he walked three and hit a batter in his final pair of frames. Elder will enter his next start with a 2.60 ERA.
As if it wasn’t already enough, Rome’s offense provided the dagger in the 7th when it scored four more runs, all with two outs. Following back-to-back singles by each of Kevin Josephina and Bryce Ball, plus a walk by Franklin, catcher Logan Brown connected with a grand slam to push the R-Braves lead to 10-0. The long ball gives the catcher four for the season. Then in the 8th, Rome was just pouring it on at that point. Nine R-Braves batters came to plate and tacked on four more runs as Cody Milligan, Riley Delgado and Franklin all recorded hits, to go along with three walks.
Rome’s bullpen was sharp as well. The trio of Davis Schwab, Trey Riley and Marrick Crouse pitched four scoreless innings combined with five strikeouts to seal the win.
(19-23) Augusta GreenJackets
L, 7-5 vs. Charleston
SP, J. Estes – 3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 K
2B, C. Bunnell – 2 for 4, HR, 2B, RBI
3B, V. Grissom – 2 for 4, 2 R
Augusta basically gave away this one last night as catcher Victor De Hoyos allowed a passed-ball to score, and immediately after… reliever James Acuna threw a wild-pitch, allowing Charleston to score the two go-ahead runs in the 6th to wind up with a victory. It was also the second-shortest start of pitcher Joey Estes’ young pro career as he only lasted three innings. Estes pitched rather well, though, for only a pair of RBI singles and a forceout — pushing in a runner from third — wound up as his only real mistakes.
The opening frame of this game was insane, and makes it even more surprising that the GreenJackets lost. Augusta started the game by putting six consecutive balls in play against Charleston’s prospect starter Cole Wilcox, including three runs from four hits. However, Wilcox bent but didn’t break, and wound up striking out nine in five innings, despite allowing eight hits before he hit the showers. Following Cade Bunnell’s solo-homer in the 5th, the RiverDogs bullpen shut the Jackets down as during the rest of the game Augusta only managed two hits, all coming in the final frame.
Overall, the GreenJackets offense still managed to outhit its opponent (10-8), and it was yet another multi-hit performance for outfielder Willie Carter (his 12th in 2021), who’s now up to a .326 AVG for the season. Prospect shortstop Vaughn Grissom is also carrying a nice .276/.384/.366 line so far this season, thanks to what’s ultimately been a hot two weeks now. Since back on June 4 (a span of 14 games), Grissom is 18 for 54 (.333 AVG) with four doubles and seven RBI. He also made a nice play at third last night…
Estes was followed up by relievers Miguel Pena, Luis Santos and Acuna, who combined to allow two runs from two hits.
Today we get extra baseball given Gwinnett’s doubleheader, though as of late Tuesday night there have been no announced probables for the Stripers two-gamer. Nolan Kingham will start Mississippi’s game today, and for Rome it will be prospect Freddy Tarnok.