Atlanta’s Kyle Wright wasn’t the only Braves starting pitcher that performed well on Thursday night. In fact, all four minor league starters turned in solid outings – a first so far in this 2022 season. And it wasn’t just about the arms, either. A team that’s been known to go crazy this year… well… went crazy again as High-A Rome routed its opponent.
Here’s a recap of Thursday’s action from down on the Braves farm…
AAA – Gwinnett Stripers (8-13)
L, 6-3 vs. Norfolk
(P) Tucker Davidson – 6 2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, BB, 9 K
(SS) Braden Shewmake – 2 for 4, 2B, R, BB, 2 SB
(3B) Pat Valaika – 1 for 4, 2B, RBI
Braves prospect Tucker Davidson took the mound for the third time this season for Gwinnett, and boy was he much better. In fact, Tuck tallied a team-high for the season in strikeouts (nine) on his way to 6 2/3 innings of three-hit ball. It’s as if he just TUCKered out(lol) in that final frame. Following the first two Norfolk batters reaching base in the seventh, from a walk and a hit-by-pitch, Davidson gave up an RBI single, cutting the Stripers lead to 3-1. Then, following a strikeout, Tuck allowed a sac-fly, slashing the deficit to just one (3-2). Brandyn Sittinger then replaced Davidson on the mound, but three batters Sittinger let Tuck’s baserunner come around to score when he surrendered an RBI base-hit, tying the game. The Tides wound up pushing across two more in the ninth inning, due to a fielding error by Pat Valaika at third.
The three runs allowed wasn’t bad, though Davidson still needs to do a better job of limiting contact; he’s allowed 13 hits in 15 1/3 innings so far. Tuck will enter his next start with a 4.70 ERA for the season.
The Gwinnett bats actually out-hit Norfolk’s (9-7), but the Tides just came up with more timely knocks. Also, after the third, the Stripers never scored another run – following a sac-fly by Chadwick Tromp in the second, and an RBI double by Valaika and a sac-fly by Greyson Jenista in the third. Although, prospect shortstop Braden Shewmake continues to swing a hot bat. Last night the former first-rounder tallied his third XBH in his last four games, as part of a two-hit night. Shewmake is up to a .281/.293/.439 slash line for the 2022 season.
AA – Mississippi Braves (5-13)
L, 5-0 vs. Montgomery
(P) Jared Shuster – (L), 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, HR
(C) Hendrick Clementina – 2 for 3, 3B
(CF) Michael Harris II – 1 for 4
The M-Braves and Biscuits flew through its game on Thursday, finishing in less than two hours (1:48), for what has to be one of the quicker games so far this season.
Braves prospect Jared Shuster made his fourth start of the year, and he appeared to have found his mid-season groove, because let me tell yah, the kid was super efficient last night. Shuster needed just 85 pitches to get through seven innings, and overall, it was a strong performance. Unfortunately the Mississippi bats just couldn’t break through, and the team finished just 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
Montgomery’s Jayden Murray – the Rays no. 23 prospect and one of the Biscuits best starters so far – didn’t have his best stuff, but the 25-year-old was sharp enough to limit any major damage. A lead-off single by prospect Michael Harris II to begin the game in the first and a lead-off triple by Hendrick Clementina to start off the third were really the only mistakes, as Murray allowed just three hits and two walks to go with five strikeouts in five innings.
Of course, Shuster matched the Montgomery starter inning for inning, until the seventh, when the M-Braves southpaw surrendered a lead-off walk, followed by a two-out, two-run home run.
Mississippi went with reliever Justin Maese for the eighth. He quickly induced a groundout for the first out of the inning, and then struck out the next batter – however, it was a swinging strike that got past the M-Braves catcher (ruled a wild pitch), so the batter wound up reaching first. Three batters later, Montgomery went up 5-0 when Curtis Mead homered to left.
The shutout loss for Mississippi of course wasn’t ideal. But on a positive note, Harris continued his on base streak, pushing it to 18-straight games. And for Shuster, that’s back to back outings in which he lasted seven innings.
A+ – Rome Braves (11-7)
W, 11-0 vs. Greensboro
(P) Tanner Gordon – (W), 6 IP, 4 H, 10 K
(SS) Vaughn Grissom – 2 for 4, HR, 4 RBI
(LF) Landon Stephens – 3 for 5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI
(C) Tyler Tolve – 3 for 4, 3B, 2 RBI, R
(CF) Drew Waters – 2 for 3, 2B, 2 R
(2B) Cody Milligan – 3 for 5, 3 R
Rome’s game against Greensboro on Thursday night had it all: incredible starting pitching by Tanner Gordon, all kinds of runs from the offense, and of course the return to the field for prospect outfielder Drew Waters, as he begins his rehab assignment.
As you can see by the score, the R-Braves had no trouble with the win last night. Not as if he needed that much run support, but Gordon was spectacular, setting down the first nine Grasshoppers batters he faced, before finally allowing a single in the fourth. Although, that base-hit was followed with back-to-back-to-back strikeouts. Over the next two frames (fifth & sixth), Gordon worked around a pair of singles and a double, but still managed tally two more punch outs and keep Greensboro runs off the board.
For the 24-year-old righty, Gordon will head into his fifth start next week with a stingy 1.64 ERA and 14.7 strikeouts per nine. He keeps this up, he’s definitely going higher than 24th on my updated Braves prospect list.
For those concerned about Waters – don’t be. The kid looked amazing out there last night, picking up two hits while showing off not just his bat but also his wheels.
A little inside-out action from Waters…
Showing that plus-speed by going first to third on a ground ball to shallow right-center…
Yup. I’d say that hamstring is doing just fine for Waters.
Of course, it wasn’t just Waters on Thursday. Rome received contributions on offense from nearly everyone, including both Landon Stephens and Vaughn Grissom, who both went deep last night (the first HR of the season for the latter).
Other R-Braves notables featured catcher Tyler Tolve, who finished with three hits, including a triple and two RBI; as well as second baseman Cody Milligan, who went 3 for 5 with a double and three runs. All in all, Rome tallied 13 hits as a team in its rout. Plus, the R-Braves bullpen pitched well, as Dylan Spain, David Schwab and Justin Yeager combined to strike out six in three innings, to go with no runs and just two hits allowed. This is a crazy-good team when it’s clicking.
A – Augusta GreenJackets (9-9)
L, 4-3 vs. Delmarva
(P) AJ Smith-Shawver – 5 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 BB, 7 K, HR
(SS) Caleb Durbin – 2 for 5, 2B, RBI, SB
(CF) Stephen Paolini – 2 for 4, 2B, RBI
(C) Adam Zebrowski – 2 for 4, R
(RF) Brandol Mezquita – 2 for 4, R
AJ Smith-Shawver tossed a nice outing for Augusta on Thursday night, but the usually-hot hitting GreenJackets offense just couldn’t muster up many runs against Delmarva. For Smith-Shawver, who’s still just 19-years-old, the five-inning start last night was by far his longest of the season so far. And he’ll enter his next one with a respectable 4.50 ERA and 14.1 strikeouts per nine overall.
After neither team could break through in the first three innings, Augusta finally scored a run when Stephen Paolini slapped a line drive to left-center, pushing in Brandol Mezquita and giving the GreenJackets a 1-0 lead.
That one-run lead wouldn’t last very long, though, as the Shorebirds added a score in each of the fifth and sixth, followed by a pair of runs in the seventh to go up 4-1 through 7 1/2 innings. However, in the bottom-half of the seventh, follwing an easy score for Adam Zebrowski off a Delmarva wild pitch to make it 4-2, the GreenJackets quickly made it 4-3 thanks to some hustle by Caleb Durbin, who managed an infield single, scoring Braulio Vasquez. The two hits by Durbin on Thursday has him sporting a solid .339 AVG and .939 OPS for the season.
But unfortunately, Augusta came up short on Thursday. A single, walk and a double was all the GreenJackets offense could come up with through the final two frames, ending with a one-run loss, despite out-hitting the Shorebirds 11-9.