I wasn’t able to preview this week’s matchups down on the farm, but Week 2 of the minor league season started last night, with all four Braves affiliates taking part in the action. Thankfully, Gwinnett was able to pull out a win, because if not, the system would’ve suffered a farm-wide sweep.
Here’s a recap of Tuesday’s games.
AAA – Gwinnett Stripers (4-3)
W, 4-3 vs. Nashville
(P) Touki Toussaint – 4 IP, 4 H, ER, 3 BB, 8 K
(DH) Greyson Jenista – 2 for 3, 2 HR, 2 RBI
(1B) John Nogowski – 2 for 3, HR, 2 RBI
With prospect Bryce Elder called up to the majors before the game, Touki Toussaint started in his place in last night’s home opener for Gwinnett, and boy did he impress. Touki’s pitch-count ran a little high, thanks to three walks and a 48-32 strikes/balls ratio, but all in all the righty kept the Sounds hitters off balanced. Other than a pair of singles in the third, Touki’s only bit of trouble came in the fourth, when he allowed a lead-off single and then later an RBI base-hit. Four measly singles was all Nashville could muster against Touki.
In addition to the solid outing by Touki, a notable storyline to pay attention to is the hot start by 1B/OF Greyson Jenista, who homered twice on Tuesday.
… and #2…
In his first stint in Triple-A, Jenista is really swinging the bat well. And through his first seven games this season, the 25-year-old is 6 for 17 (.353 AVG) with already four homers. He’s historically a frequent strikeout victim, so I’m sure all this contact will eventually start to fade some. But right now Jenista is in the zone.
Other notable contributions on offense last night came from both Travis Demeritte and John Nogowski, who each tallied two hits, including a triple for the former and a homer for the latter. Second baseman Pat Valaika also added a double to give the Stripers four XBH in the win.
AA – Mississippi Braves (1-3)
L, 6-4 vs. Biloxi
(P) Alan Rangel – (L), 1 ⅔ IP, 2 H, ER, 4 BB, K
(P) Hayden Deal – 3 ⅓ IP, 2 H, 5 K
(1B) Drew Lugbauer – 1 for 4, HR, 2 RBI
(CF) Michael Harris II – 1 for 4, 3B, RBI, R
Mississippi hit the road for the first time this season, traveling in-state to Biloxi. Although its road opener was spoiled as the M-Braves defense committed five errors in the loss.
Starter Alan Rangel, who I profiled on Tuesday before the game, had one of his worst outings as a pro, exiting in the second inning after laboring through 59 pitches. However, reliever Hayden Deal kept Mississippi in it as best he could, as Deal continues to dominate out of the bullpen.
Trailing most of the game, and with a 5-2 deficit in the eighth, prospect Michael Harris II came through with an RBI triple to put the M-Braves within two with no outs. And a batter later Luke Waddell knocked in Harris with a groundout.
But it wasn’t meant to be, as both Jesse Franklin V and Hendrik Clementina grounded out to end the threat.
The rough outing by Rangel is disappointing. I didn’t get to see him pitch last night, so I’m not sure what he was struggling with. It appears he was having difficulties throwing strikes.
On a positive note, Drew Lugbauer belted his second home run of the season on Tuesday, as he continues to swing a hot bat. Plus, Harris is still sporting a .350+ AVG, and his triple last night was his first XBH of 2022.
A+ – Rome Braves (2-2)
L, 11-1 vs. Hudson Valley
(P) Luis De Avila – (L), 3 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K
(3B) Justyn-Henry Mallow – 2 for 4, 2 2B
(1B) Cade Bunnell – 1 for 4, RBI
Perhaps Rome’s name change to its stadium is bad luck? Last week it was announced that the name State Mutual Stadium was no longer, and that the new name would be AdventHealth Stadium. Either way, Tuesday’s home opener didn’t go well.
Yesterday’s starter, Luis De Avila, managed to keep Hudson Valley at bay during the game’s first 3 2/3 innings, striking out seven in his first outing in the Braves organization. Avila wasn’t as crisp as he probably needed to be, but he left with two outs in the fourth, with Rome only trailing by two runs.
However, the R-Braves offense could never figure out the Renegades pitchers, as Hudson Valley’s arms combined to strikeout 13. A lack of hitting by Rome, coupled with an implosion by the bullpen, resulted in an 11-1 rout.
Young sensation Roddery Munoz pitched out of the bullpen in this one, replacing Avila in the fourth and working both the fifth and sixth innings. It wasn’t pretty. After getting the final out of the fourth, Munoz surrendered a lead-off home run in the fifth, to go with a single – then allowed another homer in the sixth, giving the Renegades a 5-1 lead. It got out of hand from there, as the quartet of Munoz, Benjamin Dum, Marrick Crouse and Dylan Spain all combined to allow nine runs from seven hits throughout the remaining 6 1/3 innings.
Prospect Vaughn Grissom had his first hitless game, and on offense Rome went just 1 for 9 with RISP. Hopefully they’ll get it going in Game 2 on Wednesday.
(A) Augusta GreenJackets (2-2)
L, 2-1 (12 inn.) vs. Myrtle Beach
(P) Landon Leach – 5 IP, 3 H, BB, 7 K
(P) Luis Vargas – 3 1/3 IP, 2 BB, 4 K
(SS) Cal Conley – 1 for 5, 2B, R, SB
(C) Adam Zebrowski – 2 for 4, 2B, RBI, BB, SB
Augusta’s first road trip resulted in a bit of pitcher’s duel. Both GreenJackets starter Landon Leach and the Pelicans Porter Hodge combined for 13 strikeouts in nine scoreless innings, causing the game to extend into extra innings. Neither team scored a run during regulation, as Augusta finally got on the board when catcher Adam Zebrowski slapped an RBI double, scoring prospect Cal Conley.
However, that 1-0 lead didn’t last very long. In the bottom-half of the 12th, Myrtle Beach led off the inning with back to back hits, of which the former was an RBI double to tie it at one apiece (remember, extra innings begins with a runner on second). With still no outs, and a runner on second, the Pelicans added another base-hit to put runners on the corners against Augusta’s Elison Joseph. Then, a batter later, Myrtle Beach walked it off when it slapped an RBI single to center. A tough loss, but a damn good effort by the GreenJackets group of pitchers.
The double by Conley last night has him up to a .316 AVG so far this season. If the prospect shortstop can keep it up, he’ll likely be in Rome sooner then later.
All four Braves affiliates are back in action on Wednesday. With Gwinnett’s starting rotation getting mixed up a bit (thanks to the Elder promotion), I’m not too sure who’ll take the mound tonight. Mississippi should start prospect Freddy Tarnok. And Rome… well… MiLB.com has Munoz listed, but I’m not sure they’ll use him since he worked over two innings last night. For Augusta, it looks like Tyler Owens will get the start.