Monday, October 4, 2021
Braves regular season baseball is officially over. A few hours before Atlanta played its final game versus the Mets on Sunday (in which they won 5-0), Triple-A Gwinnett also concluded its 2021 regular season campaign in a matchup against Jacksonville. Unfortunately, though, the Stripers didn’t end the year as well as the major league Braves.
The Jumbo Shrimp of Jacksonville (the Marlins Triple-A affiliate) went with lefty starter Daniel Castano yesterday, and let me tell you, Gwinnett had no answer for the former 19th-round pick. Castano was perfect for the first seven innings on Sunday as the 27-year-old southpaw flew through the Stripers lineup. Finally, to begin the eighth, recently-claimed catcher Chadwick Tromp provided Gwinnett with its first hit of the game when he singled to left. Ryan Casteel followed with a single as well, and Philip Ervin loaded the bases with a fielder’s choice. However, even then the Stripers offense still couldn’t muster up a run as they lost 4-0.
Sunday’s outcome certainly wasn’t the most significant storyline of the day, though. Everyone was way more focused on the fact that prospect Tucker Davidson was scheduled to take the mound. The 25-year-old Davidson – currently sixth on my Braves Top 30 list – started yesterday’s season finale, returning to the bump for the first time since leaving prematurely in an outing with the Braves back on June 15. Tuck hadn’t pitched for the Stripers since late May, but he was sharp in his Triple-A return. Coming back from a forearm injury, Davidson threw 40 pitches on Sunday, working three innings of three-hit ball, allowing one run and striking out five. His only real trouble was in the second inning, when Jacksonville got to him with back-to-back singles, which were followed up with a sac-fly. The talented prospect ended up missing a lot of time in 2021, but Davidson ends his campaign with four starts apiece at both the major and minor league level, posting a 3.60 ERA and 1.17 ERA, respectively. Too bad he can’t help out the Braves in its upcoming NLDS versus the Brewers.
At 71-58 overall, Gwinnett put together another solid season in 2021. Nearly all year long the Stripers were among the top teams in the Triple-A Southeast division, but a poor second-half really cost them in the final standings, leaving them in third-place and 14.5 games back from the top team (Durham). Now that the season has concluded, I’ll soon begin recapping each of the Braves five minor league affiliates.