The Braves leave LA and enter its day off on Thursday having lost two of three against the Dodgers. However, with 14-straight games to start the 2022 season, just getting here with everyone still intact is probably just as important as the team’s record at the moment.
Meanwhile, down on the Braves farm last night, there was plenty to watch for, as Ronald Acuña Jr made his second rehab start with Gwinnett. And despite three of the four affiliates losing its game on Wednesday, there were plenty of notable performances throughout the minor league system. Let’s get to it. Here’s a recap of last night’s action.
AAA – Gwinnett Stripers (5-9)
L, 9-1 vs. Jacksonville
(P) Allan Winans – (W), 2 ⅓ IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 HR
(DH) Ronald Acuña Jr – 0 for 3, BB, R, SB
(3B) Phil Gosselin – 1 for 3, RBI
(SS) Braden Shewmake – 1 for 3
This one got out of hand in a hurry, as Allan Winans was tagged with five earned runs in the first inning on Wednesday. When 8 of 9 batters from the opposing lineup come to the plate to kick off the game, it’s probably not going to be a good day. Winans got an out in the third, then that was it.
On a more positive note, Justin Dean made another tremendous play in the outfield, this time in left field instead of right.
ICYMI: Dean topped SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays on Tuesday night, when he caught a flyball in deep right field and then proceeded to throw out a Jacksonville runner attempting to tag up and take third. The throw was unreal. The guy is a really great player, even if his bat isn’t quite good enough for the big leagues.
In his second rehab start, Ronald Acuna Jr. went hitless in three tries, but he did manage to score a run, thanks to a walk and a stolen base. I’m so ready for him to be back with the Braves… and I think he’s real close.
A four-man bullpen worked the rest of the game, with Nolan Kingham relieving Winans in the third, followed by Brandon Brennan, Brad Brach and William Woods. All were sharp, save for Brennan, who allowed a three-run homer in the fifth from the Jumbo Shrimps Charles LeBlanc (who slugged two dingers yesterday as part of a 4 for 4, 5-RBI performance). The appearance by Woods on Wednesday was his first at the Triple-A level.
AA – Mississippi Braves (3-8)
L, 4-3 vs. Chattanooga
(P) A.J. Puckett – (L), 3 ⅔ IP, 4 H, 2 ER, BB, 3 K
(RF) Jesse Franklin V – 1 for 4, HR, 2 RBI
(SS) Luke Waddell – 1 for 3, 2B, RBI
(CF) Michael Harris II – 0 for 3, BB, R, SB
The M-Braves nearly came back in what wound up being an exciting game in front of a record crowd at Trustmark Park yesterday. With over 5,200 fans in attendance, Chattanooga jumped out to 4-0 lead going into the bottom-half of the fifth, scoring a pair of runs off one of Mississippi’s best pitchers so far in 2022, reliever Hayden Deal. But an RBI double off the left-center wall by the M-Braves Luke Waddell cut the deficit to three, and then in the sixth, prospect Jesse Franklin Jr. put Mississippi within just one when he belted his first home run of the season (and his first at the Double-A level).
Unfortunately, though, that was all the offense the M-Braves could muster, as the Lookouts bullpen set down the final 10 Mississippi batters in order, preserving its lead and the win.
As you can see above, prospect Michael Harris II snapped his 10-game hitting streak, finishing Wednesday’s loss hitless in three tries. Although a walk in the sixth inning kept Harris’ on-base streak going at 11-straight games. It’s been a slow start for Franklin, but that’s now three hits in his last 11 AB, and two of those knocks have been for extra bases.
A.J. Puckett, Mississippi’s starter yesterday, takes his second loss of the year, and the two earned runs in 3 ⅔ innings pushes his ERA up to 6.23 for the season. Once Puckett left the game, and following two runs allowed by Deal mentioned above, a trio of M-Braves relievers – consisting of Indigo Diaz, Tyler Ferguson and Jake Higginbotham – combined to pitch three scoreless frames.
A+ – Rome Braves (7-4)
W, 8-5 vs. Bowling Green
(P) Dylan Dodd – (W), 5 ⅓ IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 K
(CF) Drew Campbell – 2 for 5, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, SB
(3B) Beau Philip – 2 for 5, HR, 2B, 2 RBI
(SS) Vaughn Grissom – 2 for 5
(RF) Christian Robinson – 2 for 5, 2B, RBI
(1B) Bryson Horne – 2 for 4, RBI, R, BB
Last year’s third round pick, lefty Dylan Dodd, made his third start of the season for Rome on Wednesday, and the 23-year-old pitched perhaps his best outing thus far. Dodd set down the first nine Bowling Green batters in order before running into trouble in the fourth, when he was forced to work around two singles and two doubles, resulting in two earned runs for the southpaw. But by that time, Rome had already put up seven runs of its own, allowing Dodd to continue, which proved to be the right choice as he retired the next four consecutive batters before being replaced with one out in the sixth.
The Rome offense compiled a dozen hits in the win, including a double and a solo home run for Beau Philip (his first of the season), plus doubles by Christian Robinson and David Campbell.
Prospect Vaughn Grissom also provided a pair of hits, giving him a solid .286 AVG so far in 2022. Overall, every R-Braves batter recorded a hit yesterday, except for lead-off hitter Cody Milligan and no. 9 hitter Javier Valdes. The Rome bullpen was shaky, but R.J. Freure, Rolddy Munoz (twin brother of Roddery Munoz) and Justin Yeager combined to preserve the three-run win, despite allowing three runs during the game’s final 3 ⅔ innings.
A – Augusta GreenJackets (5-6)
L, 3-1 vs. Fayetteville
(P) Royber Salinas – (L), 5 ⅓ IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K
(LF) Stephen Paolini – 1 for 3, RBI, BB
(P) Peyton Willams – 2 IP, H, BB, 4 K
Wednesday featured yet another strong outing by 21-year-old Royber Salinas, who again racked up the strikeouts, with seven in 5 ⅓. For the season, Salinas now has 31 punch outs in 14 ⅔ overall innings. I believe the kid is ready for more of a challenge.
Salinas had to take an L last night, though, as the GreenJackets offense just couldn’t get anything going against a Woodpecker pitching group that combined for 17 strikeouts. Two Fayetteville pitchers worked the nine-inning affair, with Ernesto Jaquez striking out 10 of the 15 batters he faced to end the game.
Stephen Paolini and Brandol Mezquita were the only Augusta batters to record a hit on Wednesday.