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Alan Rangel strikes out 11 for M-Braves, while Chadwick Tromp homers again for Gwinnett

Alan Rangel strikes out 11 for M-Braves, while Chadwick Tromp homers again for Gwinnett

I witnessed an incredible game last night here at home, as I watched in the stands while the Rocket City Trash Pandas walked it off against the Chattanooga Lookouts with a game-winning grand slam by a scorching-hot Trey Cabbage. That’s the second walk-off hit for the Trash Pandas in two nights…

I was there to see RHP Sam Bachman, the Angels top prospect currently, but man was that a helluva game.

Anyways, the Atlanta Braves are frustrating us all, and I’ll admit, last night wasn’t much better for the farm as all four affiliates lost. However, there was some strong pitching on Friday, and there’s this catcher in Gwinnett just keeps slugging home runs, giving him four dingers in his last four games.

Here’s a look at what went down on the Braves farm on Friday…

AAA – Gwinnett Stripers (13-15)

L, 12-2 vs. Charlotte

(P) Huascar Ynoa – (L), 5 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR

(C) Chadwick Tromp – 1 for 3, HR, RBI

(RF) Preston Tucker – 1 for 3, HR, RBI

Just when we thought Huascar Ynoa was working his way into form, the righty had a start to forget on Friday night. It started in the first, when the Knights Yoan Moncada homered off Ynoa to go up 1-0, his first of 4 RBI on the night.

In the third, a couple of singles and a sac-fly by Moncada extended Charlotte’s lead to 3-0, though it all unraveled for Ynoa when, in the fifth, the 23-year-old surrendered a grand slam to Blake Rutherford (one of the Knights hottest hitters in ’22). An absolute screamer of a line drive by Rutherford…

The four-run fifth given up by Ynoa was far from ideal. However, in the bottom-half of the inning, Chadwick Tromp continued his hot hitting by slugging a lead-off dinger, cutting the Knights lead to 7-1. For Tromp, that’s now a nine-game hitting streak, which has featured four homers during that span.

Nolan Kingham replaced Ynoa for the sixth, but Charlotte appeared to have his number too. After Kingham quickly got two strikeouts, the Knights ripped off four-straight hits, ending the inning with three more runs to go up 10-1. Again, the Stripers offense homered, for in the bottom-half of the sixth, Preston Tucker belted his first homer of the season.

Another homer by Charlotte in the seventh put the Knights up 11-2, and then they tacked on one more to make it 12-2 in the ninth, making it a season-high in earned runs for Gwinnett, as well as hits (15 for the Knights). It’s as if no Stripers pitcher could consistently get any one out.

On a positive note, prospect outfielder Drew Waters was back in Gwinnett’s lineup on Friday, even though he went hitless in four tries at the plate. I’m wondering if that hamstring starting acting up a bit, because Waters DH’d last night.

AA – Mississippi Braves (10-15)

L, 6-4 (F/11) vs. Pensacola

(P) Alan Rangel – 4 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 11 K

(P) Victor Vodnik – 2/3 IP, H, 2 K

(RF) Trey Harris – 2 for 5, HR, 2 RBI

(CF) Michael Harris II – 1 for 6, 2B, RBI

(SS) Luke Waddell – 1 for 4, 2B, 2 BB

(C) Hendrick Clementina – 2 for 5, RBI, BB

The Atlanta Braves World Series trophy tour made its stop in Pearl, MS last night, as the Braves continue to celebrate last year’s championship. Oh, and the game was an great one too.

It finally happened, but I’ve been talking up Alan Rangel ever since this past offseason. The kid was great in his start on Friday, tallying a career-high 11 strikeouts, all through the first four innings.

Rangel absolutely dominated the High-A level in 2021, so it’s nice to see him with a strong start with Mississippi. He’s only real mistake came in the third, when he allowed back to back doubles to lead off the inning, resulting in a 1-0 lead for Pensacola. Regardless, though, it was a strong 80-pitch outing for the up-and-coming Rangel.

The Mississippi offense didn’t get going until the fifth. Hendrick Clementina started off the frame with a lead-off single, followed by another base-hit by Trey Harris two batters later. With two outs and two runners on, prospect Michael Harris II extended his on base streak to 25 games when he inside-outed a solid pitch down the left field line, scoring Clementina and tying the game at one apiece.

Following some solid pitching by Coleman Huntley in the top-half of the sixth, Mississippi’s lineup rallied again in the bottom-half of the inning, as Drew Lugbauer drew a one-out walk and Clementina knocked him in with a line drive single to center, putting the M-Braves up 2-1.

However, with Jake Higginbotham on the mound in the seventh, the Blue Wahoos answered back. And with two outs, Pensacola managed back to back base hits to push across the tying run and make it 2-2. That tie would hold through the eighth, ninth and tenth inning, setting up an 11th that featured a complete unraveling for the Mississippi bullpen, who allowed four runs, thanks to three hits and a pair of walks by usually-strong Odalvi Javier. Thankfully, prospect Victor Vodnik came on in relief to get the final two outs of the 11th, but not before Pensacola pushed across a run with an RBI double. Entering the bottom-half of the inning, the M-Braves trailed 6-2.

That four-run deficit was going to be tricky to overcome, but after a lead-off strikeout by Andrew Moritz, Trey Harris did his best to get the M-Braves back in it by launching a solo home run over the left field wall, cutting the Blue Wahoos lead to three.

But Michael Harris struck out, and after a walk by Luke Waddell, Yariel Gonzalez grounded out to end the game. Tough loss for Mississippi.

Even though it was in defeat, it appears Trey Harris is starting to heat up. It’s been a rough start to the year for the former Braves minor league Batter of the Year (2019), but Harris has three hits in his last eight tries. Hopefully this is in fact the start of something good for the 26-year-old, because at this point it’s now or never.

A+ – Rome Braves (14-11)

L, 8-7 vs. Greenville

(P) Roddery Munoz – 5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, BB, 2 K, 2 HR

(1B) Cade Bunnell – 1 for 3, 2B, 2 RBI, R, BB

(3B) Justyn-Henry Malloy – 1 for 5, HR, 2 RBI

(C) Tyler Tolve – 1 for 5, 2B

(RF) Jacob Pearson – 1 for 4, 2B, R

(SS) Vaughn Grissom – 2 for 4, BB, 2 SB

(LF) Christian Robinson – 2 for 4, HR, RBI, R, SB

It was another rough outing for youngster Roddery Munoz, who, despite being provided five runs in the first two innings, gave up five of his own to Greenville. For some reason, Drives catcher Jaxx Groshans had Munoz number all game, as the former launched two home runs off the Rome starter, ending his night with four RBI. That’s now three outings this season in which Munoz has allowed three or more runs, with last night’s five runs being a season-high. Through five starts in 2022, the 22-year-old righty owns a 5.48 ERA.

Of course, the R-Braves offense did what he does best and racked up the hits on Friday, coming up big in the opening inning when prospect Justyn-Henry Malloy blasted a two-run homer to put Rome up 2-0. This kid has pure power…

Then in the second, thanks to four consecutive hits to start the inning, Rome added three more runs – coming from a two-run double by a scorching-hot Cade Bunnell and a sac-fly by Drew Campbell. Following a Greenville homer in the bottom-half of the frame (by Groshan), the R-Braves led 5-2 through two.

But Rome wasn’t done scoring. The R-Braves made it 6-2 in the fourth when Cody Milligan scored off a passed ball. Unfortunately, though, that Groshan fellow clobbered his second homer of the game in Greenville’s half of the inning, cutting the Drives deficit to just two.

Greenville would go on to score runs in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh, jumping out to an 8-6 lead with a two-run dinger in the latter inning. And despite a clutch homer by Rome’s Christian Robinson in the eighth, the deficit was just too much to overcome. In the ninth, Vaughn Grissom, Malloy and Tyler Tolve all went down quietly to end the game.

A – Augusta GreenJackets (13-12)

L, 5-4 vs. Carolina

(P) Jordano Perez – 5 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 5 K

(C) Adam Zebrowski – 2 for 4, HR, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 R

(RF) Brandol Mezquita – 2 for 3, RBI, R

(3B) Geraldo Quintero – 1 for 5, 2B, R

(LF) Brandon Parker – 1 for 3, RBI, BB

Along with the rain at the game I was at (Trash Pandas vs. Lookouts) last night, Augusta and Carolina dealt with over two hours worth of delays in its game, only to eventually lose.

Instead of going with Samuel Strickland, 21-year-old Jordano Perez made his GreenJackets debut on Friday.

Perez has been decent as mostly a reliever during his short pro career. Although, last night, the kid was sharp, needing 66 pitches to get through five innings. And luckily for him, Augusta’s offense gave him a 3-0 lead in the first, when three of the first four batters recorded a hit, highlighted by Adam Zebrowski’s two-run home run.

Before that dinger, it was Brandol Mezquita that provided the first GreenJackets run, giving him a team-high 17 RBI this season. Mezquita has absolutely raked during his first opportunity in full-season ball, and so far he’s been one of the top hitters in the Braves minor league system.

But the Mudcats began chipping a way in the fourth, scoring a run in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Luckily an RBI single by Brandon Parker in the top of the sixth kept Carolina from taking the lead, as Augusta led 4-3 through six.

Then in the seventh we were given some incredible defense. Although outfielder Kadon Morton hasn’t hit well so far in 2022, the kid showed off his glove by making a circus catch up against the left-center wall. Talk about some focus…

That one-run lead wasn’t enough in the eighth. After Augusta’s reliever Miguel Pena walked the lead-off batter to kick off the inning, Peyton Williams replaced him and quickly induced a groundout. However, a batter later Williams served up a costly two-run homer, putting Carolina up 5-4. Despite a lead-off single by Morton to begin the ninth, the rest of the GreenJackets offense went down quietly, ending the game.

Along with Mezquita, who has been hot all year, catcher Zebrowski is really heating up. Last year’s 13th-round pick is currently in the midst of a four-game hitting streak, in which he has went 6 for 13 (.461 AVG) with a homer, a triple, a double and seven RBI. He’s certainly in the running for Batter of the Week down in Augusta.

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