Bryse Wilson strikes out season-high in Gwinnett’s win, while Touki Toussaint makes first rehab appearance for Rome

June 16, 2021

Clint Manry

Tuesday was a rough day down on the farm as offense across the board seemed mostly dead. Although, for a few teams at least, that just meant the starting pitching needed to step up. 

Here’s a recap of yesterday’s Braves minor league action…


Gwinnett Stripers (19-18)

W, 2-1 vs. Nashville 

SP, B. Wilson – (W), 6 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 9 K

RF, P. Ervin – 1 for 2, RBI, BB

C, J. Lucroy – 1 for 4, R

BOX SCORE 

Righty Bryse Wilson bounced back from one of his worst starts last week as he struck out a season-high nine Nashville batters last night. And for the first time in 2021 (after seven tries), the Stripers have now beaten the Sounds. Tuesday’s series-opening win also gives Gwinnett’s its 800th win as a franchise, so that’s pretty cool. 

The game itself, save for Wilson’s gem of course, didn’t offer much. In fact, Nashville’s offense actually out-hit Gwinnett’s in this one by a tally of 8-4. However, tied at one apiece in the 5th, Cristian Pache led off with a walk, and following a single by Orlando Arcia, the prospect outfielder was able to score the go-ahead run when Arcia got caught in a rundown between first and second. The Stripers only other run was pretty boring as well as it occurred when Philip Ervin drew a bases-loaded walk in the 4th.

This was yet another Drew Waters-less game as Travis Snider got the start in left field. And other than the players already listed, Ryan Goins was the only other Gwinnett batter to record a hit.

The trio of Dylan Lee, Yoan Lopez and Jesse Chavez combined to work the final three innings of the win, collectively allowing just three hits, no runs and striking out two. 


Mississippi Braves (20-17)

L, 7-0 vs. Birmingham 

SP, O. Javier – (L), 5 ⅓ IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 7 K

CF, J. Dean – 1 for 3, 2B, BB

RF, T. Harris – 1 for 3, BB

BOX SCORE 

Birmingham greeted Mississippi with a thumping last night as the M-Braves begin a 12-game homestand. The Barrons held Mississippi to just three hits altogether and it’s starter, Kade McClure (former 6th round pick), tossed a five-inning one-hitter.

And up until the 5th inning, Mississippi’s starter Odalvi Javier went frame by frame against McClure as it appeared he was going to put together yet another strong pitching performance. However, a hit-batsman and three singles spoiled Javier’s strong outing, and after walking a batter in the 6th with one out, his day was done. Javier’s seven strikeouts last night gives him four starts now (of seven total) with six or more punch outs.

For Mississippi’s offense, the three hits came from the lineup’s nos. 2-4 hitters and Monday’s Farm Bureau Batter of the Week Justin Dean provided the only XBH, his 10th double of the season (tying him for the second-most in the league). Outfielder Trey Harris and catcher Shea Langeliers contributed with the other pair of hits. 

Following Javier’s exit with two outs to go in the 5th, reliever Emmanual Ramirez finished the frame. The 7th and 8th innings were covered by Sean McLaughlin, though he continued his inconsistencies as he allowed four-straight hits at one point, including a solo-homer that resulted in five earned runs altogether. With the game all but out of reach, Kurt Hoekstra worked a hitless 9th. 


Rome Braves (19-18)

L, 7-3 vs. Bowling Green 

SP, T. Touissant – 3 IP, H, ER, BB, 2 K, HR

RF, J. Franklin – 2 for 3, HR, 2 RBI

SS, B. Philip – 1 for 3, 2B, R

BOX SCORE

Tuesday was an important day for righty Touki Toussaint as he completed the first step to making his way back from a shoulder strain that has kept him on the sidelines all season. He only threw 28 pitches (18 strikes) yesterday, but it was a very welcoming sign, nonetheless. Touki induced three-straight ground-ball outs in the 1st, worked around a lead-off solo-homer in the 2nd and then faced the minimum again in the 3rd. The Braves can either stretch Touki out and see if he can eventually help out the big league starting rotation, or he could soon become another option out of Atlanta’s bullpen. Regardless, Touki is very much needed at this point. 

Before this one got out of hand and Bowling Green stacked up six runs on Freddy Tarnok in the 4th and 5th innings, outfielder Jesse Franklin V kept his strong 2021 season going by knocking in a run in the 2nd to tie the ballgame.

Franklin would also come through in the 4th with his sixth home run of the season as part of a two-hit night, but his long ball to put Rome within one at that point was as close as the R-Braves got before the Hot Rods broke away. Both Beau Philip and Bryce Ball also contributed with a double apiece in the loss, and catcher Logan Brown joined Franklin by finishing with a multi-hit game. Prospect outfielder Michael Harris tallied a single in four tries.

The poor showing by Tarnok shouldn’t be much of a concern. The 22-year-old righty was just recently assigned to Rome so last night’s appearance was only his second of the season. Following Tarnok’s exit, the trio of Davis Schwab, Trey Riley and Coleman Huntley finished the game, combining to allow just two hits in 4 ⅔ innings.


Augusta GreenJackets (17-20)

L, 4-3 vs. Columbia 

SP, J. Estes – (L), 6 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR

DH, B. Parker – 1 for 4, 2B, R

SS, C. Shepherd – 1 for 3, R, SB

BOX SCORE 

The GreenJackets kicked off its week with a rough showing on offense as Augusta’s lineup tallied just three hits last night. And for the first time all season, prospect pitcher Joey Estes allowed more than one run in a start, although his streak of three hits allowed or less impressively stays alive. The six innings by Estes on Tuesday was a season-high, and the righty was efficient as he needed just 76 pitches (52 strikes).

Last night’s DH Brandon Parker put the GreenJackets up by one in the 2nd when he scored on a wild-pitch, but Columbia answered back with two runs in the 3rd. In Augusta’s half of the 6th, first baseman Landon Stephens and outfielder Willie Carter pushed the Jackets ahead with an RBI single and sac-fly, respectively, but the two-run homer served up by Estes in the bottom-half of the frame spoiled the team’s comeback. 

Miguel Pena relieved Estes for the 7th and tossed two scoreless innings. 


As of late Tuesday night, today’s announced probables so far are A.J. Puckett for Mississippi and Jared Shuster for Rome. 

2021 MLB Draft: Examining the five most popular pitchers mocked to the Braves

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Clint Manry

We have now crossed over into less-than-a-month-away territory as the 2021 MLB Draft mocks have come out in droves recently. Next month’s three-day event — July 11-13 — has been picked apart about as much as humanly possible at this point… just like every other year of course.

Although for the Braves this season, I have to say that the predictions are rather consistent: essentially every major outlet has Atlanta going with some sort of pitcher in the 2021 draft. Whether it’s a college arm from a Power 5 school or a two-way prep star — the general consensus remains the same… the Braves appear primed to return to its bread and butter this time around; although if it winds up true, hopefully it’ll work out better than it did in 2018.

To get a solid understanding of what’s being discussed for Atlanta’s first pick this year, I simply visited what I believe are probably a handful of the most-reputable sites in the industry — MLB.com, Baseball America, ESPN, The Athletic, Prospects Live and CBS Sports. As I’ve mentioned, the common denominator is that the Braves are expected to select an arm:

MLB.com – Michael McGreevy, RHP, UC Santa Barbara

Baseball America – Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest 

ESPN (ranked at no. 24) – Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State

The Athletic – Spencer Schwellenback, SS/RHP, Nebraska

Prospects Live – Bubba Chandler, SS/RHP, North Oconee HS

CBS Sports – Spencer Schwellenback, SS/RHP Nebraska 

Now there’s probably two other things you’ll notice from these mocks: a) two have the same player listed… and b) three include a two-way player. I should also note that the ESPN mock isn’t exactly a “mock” in its traditional sense. Instead of predicting which teams pick who, this year Kiley McDaniel (ESPN’s prospect guru) published a first-round ranking.

Before today, save for one of those guys above, I hadn’t really looked too deep into these players, so I’ll share with you my findings…

FYI: The Braves 24th overall pick has a bonus pool of $2,831,300 million this year


Michael McGreevy, RHP

UC Santa Barbara 

Playing with reigning AL Cy Young MVP winner Shane Bieber’s alma mater, McGreevy is a tall (6-foot-4) righty who owns a 2.33 ERA in 189 ⅓ career innings at UC Santa Barbara, where he’s been since 2019. It was only last season that he began pitching as a starter, for during his freshman campaign, all 29 of his appearances came out of the team’s bullpen. 

But the transition to a starter has been flawless. McGreevy seems to have carried over his fast-working mentality from his bullpen days as he wastes no time on the mound. And his plus-control pairs nicely with a four-seam fastball that sits at 93 MPH and tops out as high as 96. McGreevy also has three solid secondary pitches: a slider that’s clearly his no. 2 offering, coupled with a strong curveball and an average changeup he’ll occasionally mix in. 

McGreevy’s 2021 campaign featured a 9-2 record in 16 starts to go with a stingy 2.92 ERA and only one walk per nine innings. MLB.com mocks him going to the Braves at no. 24 but I’ve seen him as high as no. 20 to the Yankees.

Ryan Cusick, RHP

Wake Forest 

Baseball America claims Cusick wields the most overpowering fastball in the 2021 class, which has allowed him to strikeout 108 batters in 70 innings this season with the Deamon Deacons (or a K rate of 13.9 strikeouts per nine). However, like many arms that routinely touch the century mark, Cusick’s superior velocity isn’t always on point, illustrated by his 45-grade Control by scouts. 

Consider this take by MLB.com:

“There isn’t much effort in Cusick’s delivery and his arm works well, but he has yet to provide consistent strikes. As impressive as his arm strength is, he’ll have to be more efficient to succeed as a starter at higher levels. His huge 6-foot-6 frame and high arm slot provide angle and plane on his pitches and add to the difficulty of trying to barrel them.”

Cusick tallied 12 starts with Wake Forest this season and finished with a 4.24 ERA. As you can see, this is a pretty high-upside arm, especially given the velo and body type (6-6, 225lb) — but there’s also some risk to consider. 

Jordan Wicks, LHP

Kansas State

I already covered Wicks back on May 12 over at SportsTalkATL, so you can check out a more in-depth look at his background and profile there. Honestly, as much as I’d love the Braves to grab a southpaw like Wicks, I really doubt he falls all the way to no. 24. This kid’s changeup is incredible… and everyone knows it.

Spencer Schwellenback, SS/RHP

Nebraska 

Schwellenback is 2021’s Big Ten Player of the Year as he compiled a 0.57 ERA (lol) as a pitcher and posted an .862 OPS as a hitter (so he’s NCAA’s verison of Shohei Ohtani?). 

Perhaps not as impressive as Ohtani, but this kid’s story is pretty cool. Schwellenback was actually drafted coming out of high school back in 2019 — 34th round by the Indians — but he wanted to play shortstop and all the interested MLB teams that year wanted him as a pitcher. Well Schwellenback’s impressive career as a college hitter now has him looked at as BOTH a middle-infielder and a pitcher. In three seasons at Nebraska (albeit with very little to go by in 2020), the dual-threat Schwellenback managed to show real upside as a plus-contact, gap-power type hitter at the plate, which pairs very nicely with his upper-90s MPH fastball and wipe-out slider on the mound (he also has a decent changeup). 

The consensus here is that Schwellenback is probably a 45 hitter as a pro… with 40 power, and his sole use as a reliever at Nebraska leads you to believe his absolute ceiling may be as a back-end starter. However this sort of versatility could really be valuable for the Braves, especially for a system that’s fairly thin at shortstop and second and has lost quite a bit of its second-tier pitching over the last few seasons. Schwellenback is certainly an interesting prospect. 

Bubba Chandler, SS/RHP

North Oconee HS

Prospects Live has such underrated content, and the site’s draft analysis is about as good as it gets. So I’m just gonna share what they have on Chandler, because it does a great job of covering the main points:

“Bubba Chandler is one of the more intriguing players in this year’s class. He’s a two-way, two-sport star committed to Clemson, though it’s looking likely that he won’t be reaching campus. On the mound, you’re looking at an uber-athletic operation with a lightning quick arm, boasting a fastball that has touched 97 MPH, sitting 92-95 MPH. Pair that with a tight-spinning slider, a big curveball, and a burgeoning change-up, you’ve got a recipe for a first round arm here. However, let’s not forget what he brings to the table in the dirt. Some teams have turned Chandler in as a shortstop instead of an arm. He’s a switch-hitter with average or better power potential and has shown solid speed on the base paths. The Braves built a dynamic farm system through arms, though we’ve heard they like the bat as much as the arm.”

To me, of the two-way players here, Chandler appears to possess more upside… at least on the pitching end (although you can’t discredit what Schwellenback has done in that role while in college ball either). I’ll just say both Chandler and Schwellenback offer very interesting cases as a potential first-round pick for the Braves. I believe either one brings tremendous value.

Hopefully my schedule will allow it, but now that we’re closer to draft day, soon I plan to look at a handful of hitters. Guys like prep outfielders Joshua Baez and Will Taylor will most likely be included in that piece… if it’s written. 

Justin Dean tallies four hits in M-Braves win

The minor league week was wrapped up yesterday as all four Braves affiliates will enjoy a scheduled off day today. Here’s a recap of Sunday’s action…

Gwinnett Stripers (18-18)

L, 7-6 (10 inn.) vs. Memphis

SP, C. Johnstone – 2 IP, 3 H, ER, K

SS, O. Arcia – 1 for 5, HR, 2 RBI

CF, P. Ervin – 1 for 3, HR, 2 RBI 

BOX SCORE 

Gwinnett’s series finale against Memphis on Sunday wound up being an exciting one, despite the extra-inning loss. The Stripers came back from a two-run deficit in the 9th, thanks to a home run by Philip Ervin. However, the Redbirds Ali Sanchez came away with the bases-loaded RBI single off Gwinnett reliever Jay Flaa for the walk-off victory. The Stripers will leave Memphis and enter Monday’s off day with a series split with the Redbirds.

Other notable performances from yesterday include, as usual, shortstop Orlando Arcia, who’s now up to double-digit homers for the season. Arcia’s long ball on Sunday was an absolute no doubter that added to Gwinnett’s lead.

One of three Stripers with multiple hits yesterday, Johan Camargo finished 2 for 4 with an RBI, a run and a walk, giving him four-straight games now with two or more hits. Johan finishes the week with a .322 AVG and a .938 OPS so far this season. 

Once again, prospect Drew Waters was nowhere to be found in Gwinnett’s lineup, nor was Cristian Pache. The 30-year-old Terrance Gore got the start in left, Yolmer Sanchez was in right and Ervin manned center. Gore was one of the other Stripers batters with two hits in Sunday’s game, along with veteran second baseman Jason Kipnis. 

The pitching, on the other hand, was far less exciting. Connor Johnstone got the start but was out of there after just 26 pitches (though it was one of his better days as only six of those were called a ball). Then it became a convoy of Gwinnett relievers, starting with Tanner Roark and ending with Flaa, with four different pitchers in between. It was both Chasen Bradford and Jacob Webb that single-handedly allowed Memphis’ five runs, following the 2nd-inning RBI single surrendered by Johnstone. Yesterday was only the fourth time Bradford had been used this month so maybe he was just rusty. The two runs allowed by Webb, though, was pretty surprising; his problem on Sunday was his complete and utter lack of control. The 27-year-old righty walked three and only managed to get two outs, all while needing 29 pitches to do so. 

Mississippi Braves (20-16)

W, 11-2 (7 inn.) vs. Biloxi 

SP, H. Deal – 3 IP, R, 3 BB, 2 K

CF, J. Dean – 4 for 5, 2B, 3 RBI 

LF, J. Pearson – 2 for 3, HR, 3B, 3 RBI

BOX SCORE 

Because of a 2 hour and 23 minute rain delay leading up to Mississippi’s 2:05 PM (ET) start time, the M-Braves and Shuckers played only seven innings yesterday, and it was probably for the best… at least for Biloxi’s sake. This Mississippi team is waay more fun to watch than its big league club some 375 miles east. 

These are the sort of games you love to see as a follower of Braves prospects. This game featured a home run hit by one of the system’s biggest underperformers so far this season in shortstop Braden Shewmake, who jumped all over the third pitch of the game to put the M-Braves up 1-0.

Shewmake finished with two hits, by the way. But staying with the “underperformer” narrative, yesterday’s game also included a much-needed multi-hit finish for prospect Greyson Jenista, whose first hit came in that three-run 1st inning, pushing across two runs for Mississippi.

But the fun didn’t stop there. DH Drew Lugbauer tallied two hits… Jacob Pearson homered (as part of a two-hit day)… and… Trey Harris also contributed with two singles. It was hits for everybody on Sunday. 

However, Mississippi’s MVP yesterday unquestionably goes to speedy outfielder Justin Dean, who finished with a season-high four hits and three RBI, including his ninth double of the season. Dean — a former 17th round pick by the Braves — was involved in everything during what more than likely will go down as the best game of his pro career. You gotta love this kid’s style of play. Nothing but hustle.

Much like Gwinnett’s game, though, Mississippi went with an assortment of pitchers for Sunday’s win, beginning with starter Hayden Deal before using four different relievers. Overall, all five M-Braves pitchers combined to strikeout seven and allow just two runs (one earned) from three hits in seven innings. 

Rome Braves (19-17)

L, 9-0 vs. Asheville 

SP, B. Elder – (L), 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, HR

RF, J. Franklin – 2 for 4, 2B

DH, S. Michel – 2 for 4

BOX SCORE 

Well, you have games like Mississippi’s up above… and then you have Rome’s on Sunday. The R-Braves were shutout yesterday and finished 0 for 7 with RISP. Although the team’s poor performance didn’t stop prospect Jesse Franklin V from keeping his hitting streak going, as for the seventh-straight game the outfielder picked up a hit (his third multi-hit game in that span). Franklin is up to a .252 AVG this season, and is one of the few more-well-known hitters enjoying his time in Rome. Guys such as Bryce Ball (.202 AVG), Logan Brown (.212) and Beau Philip (.188) have really become quiet lately. 

Last year’s 5th round pick and 22-year-old righty, Bryce Elder, got the start for Rome on Sunday, and for essentially only the second time in his short pro career… he struggled. Back in Elder’s season-opening start in early May, he allowed five runs, but since then had pitched to a 2.65 ERA entering yesterday’s outing. However, versus the Tourists to end the week, Elder surrendered a ton of contact, and despite inducing 10 ground-ball outs, he also gave up a homer and a pair of doubles to go with his three walks. 

Reliever Gabriel Noguera got roughed up pretty badly in his 7th-inning appearance and only managed to get one out before four runs were charged against him. Mitch Stallings and Coleman Huntley finished up the game.

Augusta GreenJackets (17-19)

W, 4-2 vs. Myrtle Beach 

SP, D. Vines – 6 IP, 2 H, ER, 2 BB, 8 K

SS, C. Bunnell – 2 for 5, 2B, 2 RBI

1B, L. Stephens – 2 for 4, 3B, RBI 

BOX SCORE

A single and a triple was all Myrtle Beach could muster yesterday against Augusta’s starter Darius Vines as he continues to impress down in Single-A. Vines needed 84 pitches to get through his six innings, his third-straight outing in which he lasted five or more frames; that three-outing stretch also features a 1.59 ERA to go with 22 strikeouts and just four walks in 17 innings. The 23-year-old Vines has no doubt earned himself a promotion.

Offensively, a lot of the GreenJackets production on Sunday came from a familiar name, lead-off hitter Cade Bunnell, who tallied a pair of hits in the win. Bunnell has been streaky this season, but when he gets hot it usually lasts for several games. The 24-year-old provided Augusta with the two go-ahead runs it needed in the 8th, when he singled to right to put the GreenJackets up by two. 

Outfielder Willie Carter also had an RBI yesterday, as did first baseman Landon Stephens, who, along with Bunnell, was one of several Augusta batters to finish with a multi-hit game. 

Alec Barger and Justin Yeager pitched the final three frames of the GreenJackets victory, and the latter received the win as he struck out two in 1 ⅓ innings. 

Monday is a scheduled off day, and just like last week, also means no Braves baseball either.