Thursday, June 24, 2021
Other than a solid win by the M-Braves, last night was a pretty rough one for the Braves farm. In fact, Mississippi’s victory was the lone win as the organization barely avoided a system-wide sweep.
Here’s a recap of Wednesday’s Braves minor league action…
(21-22) Gwinnett Stripers
Game 1: L, 9-3 (F/7) vs. Norfolk
Game 2: L, 5-2 (F/7) vs. Norfolk
Bullpen combined (both games) – 8.2 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 11 K
Because these two games featured such similar results for Gwinnett, we’ll just cover them together as one. Game 1 versus the Tides yesterday evening was a disaster. Righty Julio Rodriguez — making his first start for the Stripers since returning from Double-A Mississippi — got ambushed in the opening frame. He first walked the lead-off hitter, then allowed nine-straight batted-balls, resulting in eight earned runs (including a HR) before he was finally given the hook. Here’s that two-run homer that matched a team-high for Norfolk, in terms of most runs in a single inning…
But after all of that… and Rodriguez is replaced, Gwinnett’s bullpen basically shuts down Norfolk’s offense the rest of the game. The trio of Dylan Lee, Victor Arano and Mitch Horacek combine for six strikeouts in 5.1 innings, including just one earned run allowed from a pair of hits. I guess it just wasn’t Rodriguez’s day.
In that first game, the Stripers only managed five hits as the Tides’ starter Spenser Watkins was tough, allowing just three hits over six innings, with four strikeouts. However, the incredibly hot-hitting Johan Camargo put Gwinnett on the board in the 4th when he ambushed the first pitch thrown of the AB.
Game 2 was more of the same for the Stripers, who had intended on going with a bullpen game, but probably wished its opener would’ve been a bit more effective (this team has barely any starting pitching right now!) Anyways, Connor Johnstone started, and just like Rodriguez in Game 1, he was pummeled, at one point allowing back-to-back homers in the 1st. By the time the 2nd inning began, Gwinnett was down 4-0.
The Stripers lineup did a little more in the second game, tallying seven hits as a team, as both Jason Kipnis and Ryan Goins provided a pair of doubles, the latter of which knocked in a run in the 6th to put the Stripers on the board. But again, Norfolk’s pitching just didn’t allow much, and the Tides cruised to another victory.
Overall, it was a rough day for Gwinnett. In the two games combined, the Stripers were outscored 14-5. Prospect Drew Waters finished the doubleheader hitless in five at-bats, though he did walk twice and score a run. Cristian Pache, who went 0 for 3 in Game 1, did not play in Game 2; and Orlando Arcia, finished 1 for 6.
One bit of cool news, though, prior to the game: it was announced that righty Touki Toussaint will be making his third rehab start at some point this week with Gwinnett. A healthy Touki down the stretch for Atlanta could be huge.
(26-18) Mississippi Braves
W, 3-0 vs. Tennessee
SP, N. Kingham – (W), 7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 K
SS, B. Shewmake – 2 for 4, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI
RF, T. Harris – 1 for 1, RBI
Coming into the 2021 season, who ever would’ve thought that 24-year-old Nolan Kingham — a former 12th round pick — would be one of the best pitchers in Double-A? Last night, after lasting into the 7th inning for the fourth time this year, Kingham extended his scoreless streak to 25 innings as he held the Smokies batters in check. The Las Vegas native will enter his next start with a solid 2.29 ERA in 55 innings this season, which is pretty amazing given he’s currently averaging 6.1 strikeouts per nine.
On offense last night, the M-Braves continued its quiet stretch at the plate by only managing to tally three hits all game. However, it was prospect Braden Shewmake that provided the team with its first runs as he doubled in Wendell Rijo and Shea Langeliers in the 3rd for a 2-0 lead (Shewmake also tripled in this one). Immediately after Shewmake’s pair of RBI, outfielder Trey Harris tacked on a run when he popped up a sac-fly to center.
After that three-run 3rd inning for Mississippi, neither team’s offense did much else. Kingham of course continued to shut down Tennessee’s bats, and even Smokies starter Cam Sanders ended up allowing just two hits in his five-inning outing.
The M-Braves used just one reliver in this one, Emmanuel Ramirez, who got the final two outs of the 8th and worked the entire 9th. And once Tennessee opted to go with its ‘pen, a two-man crew combined to allow just one hit over the last three frames.
(21-21) Rome Braves
L, 3-2 (F/11) vs. Aberdeen
SP, F. Tarnok – 3.2 IP, H, 2 BB, 8 K
RF, J. Franklin – 1 for 4, HR, RBI, SB
CF, M. Harris – 1 for 3, RBI, BB
Usually tough as nails out of the bullpen (shown by his 19.4 K/9 so far this season), righty Indigo Diaz came on to pitch the 11th for Rome with the score tied at two and a runner on second. Diaz did his usual thing, he struck out the first two batters he faced. However, on the first pitch of the third at-bat, Aberdeen’s J.D. Mundy made contact and a sent line drive to center to push across the winning run. The IronBirds had walked it off.
Don’t worry about Diaz. The loss was his first of the 2021 season and the kid still sports a sub-1.00 ERA this year. If it wasn’t for the extra-inning rule, though, perhaps Diaz gets out of the inning.
This was just Freddy Tarnok’s third start of the year and perhaps one of his best. Still evidently on a pitch count as he threw just 69 pitches last night, a single and a pair or walks was all Aberdeen could do versus the righty. However, reliever Mitch Stallings, after keeping the strong pitching going for another pair of frames, allowed the IronBirds to tie the game at two in the 6th.
Rome’s two runs came from a Michael Harris sac-fly in the opening inning, and then a solo-homer by Jesse Franklin in the 2nd. Although, other than a base-hit by Harris in the 4th and a single by Kevin Josephina in the 6th, the R-Braves offense couldn’t get anything else going. Aberdeen’s four pitchers combined for a whopping 17 punch outs on Wednesday night, as Cody Milligan, Bryce Ball and Brett Langhorne all each finished with three strikeouts apiece.
(19-24) Augusta GreenJackets
L, 5-3 vs. Charleston
SP, J. McSteen – 4.2 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 6 K
3B, V. Grissom – 1 for 5, HR, RBI
C, V. De Hoyos – 1 for 4, 2B, RBI
Augusta started a rally in the 4th when, following a single and a stolen base by Willie Carter, catcher Victor De Hoyos hit an RBI double to right. However, Charleston tied it right back up in its half of the frame as Jack McSteen walked the lead-off batter and allowed two consecutive batted-balls, one of which was a double. GreenJackets reliever Alec Barger replaced McSteen shortly after and was sharp, but then reliever no. 2, Ben Thompson, quickly allowed the RiverDogs to take the lead in the 7th from a sac-fly.
Despite a home run by prospect Vaughn Grissom in the 8th and Braulio Vasquez’s run from a wild-pitch in the 9th, Augusta’s bullpen just couldn’t contain Charleston’s bats and the RiverDogs three-run 8th versus Thompson pretty much made the difference last night.
This was just a sloppy game altogether as both teams combined for a whopping nine errors, to go along with a 3 for 21 performance with RISP. The loss is the GreenJackets second in a row as the pitching continues to spoil what’s been a pretty solid stretch by the offense.
As of Thursday morning, only Rome’s starter has been announced for today’s slate of games. The R-Braves will go with Jared Shuster for Game 3 of its series versus Aberdeen. Be sure to check back Friday morning for a recap of all the Braves minor league action.