Week 10 MiLB Preview: Mississippi and Rome both face division-leaders this week

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

-Clint Manry

It’s already Week 10 in the minor leagues, with most clubs having completed nearly roughly 55 games of the scheduled 120. Here’s what’s on tap for this week…

*FYI: Thursday morning I’m traveling to Rome, GA to watch the R-Braves play. So my reporting may be a bit light on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, though hopefully I’ll get some better insight since I’ll get to see the team play in person. 

Gwinnett Stripers (23-30 / 5th)

vs. Nashville Sounds (MIL)

Well… I claimed Week 8 was possibly Gwinnett’s worst stretch of play so far this season, but I believe they played even worse last week. Against an admittedly loaded Durham Bulls club (the top team in Triple-A’s Southeast league), the Stripers only won one of six games during Week 9… and dropped the last four in a row. At seven games under .500 this season, Gwinnett enters its new series today 13 games behind the first-place Bulls in the East division and have lost eight of 10 recently. The schedule this week versus Nashville features traditional start times, although on Thursday the two teams will play a doubleheader, beginning with Game 1 at 5:05 pm (ET).

Who’s hot? Two players stand out for Gwinnett — infielder Johan Camargo and outfielder Drew Waters. The former has been raking in Triple-A essentially all season, but lately he’s turned it up a notch to the tune of a .354 AVG and .965 OPS since June 10, which is a span of 21 games and a stretch that features eight multi-hit performances. Whether Camargo is hitting from the left or right side, he’s been a force in the Stripers lineup in 2021. Meanwhile, Waters’ run isn’t quite as impressive, though he has had to deal with an ill-timed thumb injury that hampered him back in June. Over his last three games, Waters is 5 for 12 (.416 AVG) with three XBH and a pair of stolen bases. It would be great if he could get back on a roll. I must also add righty Bryse Wilson here for his three-hitter thrown against Durham last Wednesday. The outing was Wilson’s best of the 2021 season AND earned him Pitcher of the Week for Triple-A’s East League.

Notable transactions: Sean Newcomb and Kyle Muller were recently optioned to Gwinnett; Orlando Arcia was promoted to Atlanta; reliever Trevor Kelley was placed on 7-day IL.

Mississippi Braves (32-22 / 2nd)

vs. Pensacola Blue Wahoos (MIA)

While the M-Braves have cooled just a tad lately, the team has still won six of its last 10, including a series split in Montgomery last week. This new home series against Pensacola (33-21 overall) comes at a great time as the Blue Wahoos are currently one game ahead of Mississippi in the South division standings. Of the two team’s 11 matchups so far this season, the M-Braves are 5-6, so this should be a great series competition-wise. Mississippi will play in the evenings during the week, save for Wednesday’s 1:05 pm (ET) day game. Sunday’s series finale will start at 3:05 pm (ET). 

Who’s hot? Braden Shewmake began his 2021 campaign with a 7 for 71 (.099 AVG) skid in May, and I won’t lie, I was starting to get pretty concerned. However, the month of June featured a huge improvement, and in 22 games the prospect shortstop turned in a .264 AVG with nine XBH to bump up his season numbers to much more palatable marks. Now… just three games into July and it appears this is more than just a hot streak — Shewmake looks primed to completely transform his season as he’s currently 5 for 13 (.385 AVG) so far this month. It’s easy to simply follow box scores and get excited about his improved results, but this is more than that. Shewmake is squaring the ball up on a regular basis and looks a lot more comfortable in the box. We’ll see how long he’ll keep this up. 

Notable transactions: This past Saturday, reliever Josh Graham was transferred to 60-day IL.

Rome Braves (29-23 / 3rd)

vs. Bowling Green Hot Rods (TBR)

Taking the M-Braves spot as the system’s hottest affiliate, Rome has now won 8 of its last 10 as they’re now five games behind Bowling Green for first-place in the South division. The R-Braves won five of six against Wilmington last week and outscored the Blue Rocks by a margin of 45-19. This week’s series with the Hot Rods should be another one to look forward to down on the farm as Rome could possibly pace the division by Sunday. The R-Braves and Bowling Green will play a doubleheader on both Thursday and Saturday, with Game 1 each day beginning at 5:00 pm (ET). 

Who’s hot? All-world prospect Michael Harris is a weekly name here, but I can’t just ignore Jesse Franklin’s run… even if I’ve mentioned him a ton already this season. Franklin has been solid at the plate all year… but June 1 is when he started hitting at an entirely different level.

Jesse Franklin (since June 1)

  • 26 G, .360 AVG, 1.274 OPS
  • 11 HR, 8 2B, 27 RBI, 6 SB
  • 10.7 BB%, 26.4 K%

Those numbers above illustrate a guy seeing the ball about as good as you can. I mean, the kid is getting on base at a .431 clip and slugging .843! Along with Harris, look for Franklin to get a promotion to Mississippi soon. I just hope BOTH players remain in Rome long enough for me to see them in person later this week. 

Notable transactions: None.

Augusta GreenJackets (24-29 / 3rd)

vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (CHC)

Anecdotally at least, it seems like Augusta has performed better offensively, which this season has been the team’s biggest issue. The GreenJackets surge in scoring runs has led to a 5-5 record over the last 10 games, including a series win over Columbia last week at home. Today the homestand at PRC Park continues with yet another series versus Myrtle Beach, a team they’ve gone 6-5 against so far in 2021.

Who’s hot? Signed for $20,000 last year as an undrafted free agent, Bryson Horne really hasn’t been used as a full-time player with Augusta this season… until recently. Although since he began receiving more everyday opportunities in early June, the 22-year-old has flourished. Since June 11 (a span of 15 games), Horne is slashing .309/.344/.673 and has belted all five of his homers for the year. He wasn’t a very sought-after prospect last year, but Horne is a player to keep an eye on from here on out. 

Notable transactions: I was hoping shortstop Vaughn Grissom would return last week, but that may happen in the coming days; both outfielder Brandon Parker and righty Chad Bryant were activated from the IL last week and each played in one game; righty Malcom Van Buren was placed on the 7-day IL.

FCL Braves (2-2 / 5th)

Tue, July 6 – vs. Pirates Gold (PPD)

Wed, July 7 – OFF

Thu, July 8, 12:00 PM — @ Pirates Gold

Fri, July 9, 12:00 PM — vs. Rays

Sat, July 10, 10:00 AM — @ Rays

Sun, July 11 — OFF

The FCL Braves opened its season last Monday and have played only four games so far due to rain. In fact, the Braves second game against the Orioles Black on Monday was suspended in the eighth inning because of weather, although they were able to complete Game 1 — a 1-0 win for the Braves. As you can see from the schedule above for this upcoming week, there’s a good chance the Braves only play one or two games if there’s any rain in the forecast.

Who’s hot? So far the players we expected to lead this Braves team… have. Outfielder Brandol Mezquita and first baseman Mason Berne are both leading the way each with a .333 AVG this season, and infielder Geraldo Quintero isn’t far behind, hitting .286. And despite a bit of a slow start (just 3 for 13 so far), first baseman Mahki Backstrom also belted his first home run of the year for the Braves on Monday. Meanwhile, because of the suspended games and postponements, the FCL Braves pitching hasn’t really been able to log many innings consistently. However, Rolddy Munoz started Monday’s suspended game and pitched really well, working four hitless innings and striking out five. Of the Braves four games so far, I believe that’s the best starting pitching performance yet. Hopefully the Braves will get to play all four games this week.

Notable transactions: None.

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