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Braves Minor League Recap: Bethancourt Continues to impress

Christian Bethancourt had another couple of hits to continue his good work in August. Austin Riley hit another home run, and Connor Lien threw out another runner.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

(62-54) Gwinnett Braves 2, (62-56) Charlotte Knights 3

Box Score

Mallex Smith, CF: 0-5, SB, .244/.280/.313
Cedric Hunter, DH: 2-4, 1 R, .271/.315/.408
Christian Bethancourt, C: 2-4, 2B, 1 R, .319/.351/.469
Tyrell Jenkins, SP: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 3.24 ERA

Gwinnett faced Brad Penny, but came up broke on offense as he allowed no runs over 7 innings. Notably, he struck out Mallex Smith in their first 2 matchups today, this after Mallex struggled to catch up to Penny's fastball in their last match up. Gwinnett was able to add 2 late after an hour and 18 minute rain delay, but weren't able to scrap together enough to tumble the Knights. 4 GBraves (Bethancourt, Hunter, Sean Kazmar, and Luis Mateo) had multi hit nights, with Kazmar getting 3 hits. Despite going 0-5, Mallex was able to steal his 20th base in AAA after reaching on a fielder's choice. Cedric Hunter is on a 6 game hit streak during which he is 8-24. Perhaps no one in the system is as hot as Christian Bethancourt, who is hitting .405/.465/.676 with 1 HR and 9 RBI in August. Since July 24, when his average bottomed out at .271, Bethancourt has hit in 11 of 14, he has gone 22-53 (.415) with a Home Run, 12 RBI, 10 2B, and 6 BB to 6 K, good for a .415/.459/.604 slash line. He has also thrown out 16 of 28 potential base stealers. One could argue that his bat is slightly ahead of his glove at this point, though he will take a while to adjust to major league pitching as he has done at every level. Either way he actually has a pretty nice swing and should hit fine in the majors. That is if his ego and still occasionally poor attitude/hustle don't stand in the way.

(59-54) Mississippi Braves 10 vs. (64-48) Biloxi Shuckers 3

Box Score

Rio Ruiz, 3B: 0-4, RBI, 2 K, .220/.330/.277

Kevin Ahrens, 1B: 3-5, HR(8), 2B, 1 RBI, 3 R, .242/.323/.366
Matt Lipka, CF: 2-4, 2B, HR(2), 3 RBI, 2 R, .257/.286/.329

Lucas Sims, SP: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 5.87 ERA

Mississippi hit 3 home runs to beat Biloxi; in 8 games at Biloxi they have hit 11 home runs to Biloxi's 0, and in all other games (105) they have hit just 20 home runs and allowed 33. Ahrens, Lipka, and Emerson Landoni all went deep, with Landoni's being his first this season. Braeden Schlehuber's 2 run double following Rio Ruiz's sacrifice fly gave Mississippi the lead for good in the 4th, and they added 4 in the 7th and 3 in the 8th to give Lucas Sims the win-his first in AA. Sims had a shaky 1st inning, giving up a run on a hit and 2 walks while striking out 1, but settled down after posting a line of 5IP 3H 0R 1BB 5K after that rough first. Braeden Schlehuber also had another double and a single to be the MBrave with a multi hit game last night. Relief Pitcher Ryne Harper had a rough outing giving up 2 runs, but got his 5th professional hit, scored a run, and knocked in a run to even the score. Harper is a career .417/.417/.583 hitter in 12 at bats. Mississippi is now tied atop the second half standings in the South Division with Pensacola, who they play a 5 game series with starting on the 23rd.

(58-56) Carolina Mudcats 1 vs. (53-61) Wilmington Blue Rocks 2 F/12

Box Score

Connor Lien, RF: 2-6, Outfield Assist, .291/.344/.432
Dustin Peterson, LF: 1-6, .245/.317/.341
Carlos Franco, 3B: 1-2, 3 BB, 1 R, .246/.325/.186
Seth Webster, SP: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2.70 ERA

This one took awhile, but after 2.1 innings Wilmington was finally able to break through on Mudcats reliever Justin Jackson (who has been brilliant recently). Lien, Keith Curcio, and Jacob Schrader all had 2 hits on the day. For good measure Connor Lien threw out a runner on the bases, because 16 outfield assists in a season isn't enough, he had to get 17. The single season record for outfield assists in the Carolina league is 24, so while it may be a long shot, Lien has a chance to approach that record. Dustin Peterson has continued his disturbing post crash slump, following up a .202/.270/.248 July with a .162/.225/.189 August. Shortstop Johan Camargo made his 19th error on the season, and went 0-4 to drop his average on the season to .257, after sitting at a peak .302 on June 27. Since his appearance in the all star game Camargo is hitting just .210/.267/.266 mostly due to a .167/.186/.214 July.

(45-64) Rome Braves 2 vs. (55-54) Augusta GreenJackets 7

Box Score

Braxton Davidson, RF: 0-3, 1K, .247/.395/.377
Leudys Baez, DH: 0-3, 2 K, .219/.242/.313

Tanner Murphy, C: 1-3. K, .189/.277/.281
Oriel Caicedo, SP: 5 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 3.68 ERA

It was a rough night for the Rome offense, as they only got 2 runners on base all game (and 1 promptly got picked off). Rome has now lost 4 straight to Savannah and is 4-10 against them on the season. Braxton Davidson's offensive struggles continued, dating back to July 19 he is 4-32 with 9 BB, 1 RBI, 3 XBH, and 8 K in 12 games. After starting off in Rome hitting in 4 straight (the tail end of a 7 game streak and 25 of 28) Leudys Baez has only managed 2 hits in his last 4 to drop his Rome OPS to .555. Oriel Caicedo lost his 7th game on the season and his 6th in his last 9 appearances. In positive news, Rome native Stephen Gaylor has hit in 3 straight, 7 of his last 8, and 12 of his last 15.

(22-24) Danville Braves 5 vs. (27-20) Princeton Rays 3 Game 1

Box Score

Austin Riley, 3B: 1-3, HR(9), RBI, BB, .262/.361/.533
Justin Ellison, LF: 1-3, 2B, RBI, .270/.333/.441

Jose Morel, RF: 2-4, 2B, .297/.377/.367

Patrick Weigel, SP: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3.60 ERA

Matthew Custred, RP: 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1.23 ERA

(22-25) Danville Braves 1 vs. (28-20) Princeton Rays 4 Game 2

Box Score

Austin Riley, 3B: 1-3, .270/.363/.540

Kurt Hoekstra, SS: 2-3, 2 SB, .246/.347/.359
Daniel Cordero, SP: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1.80 ERA

Austin Riley wasted no time, hitting a home run in his second game back with Danville after he spent the weekend at his sister's wedding (or so I'm told. Cannot confirm). He extended his streak of games with a walk to 5 in the first game, though that streak was snapped in the second game of the double header. Justin Ellison continued his good work since being drafted in the 12th round out of Western Oklahoma State. Ellison is a raw player, but has incredible athleticism and could project for average or batter tools across the board-plus speed being his best. He already shows average power and has projectability in his frame to reasonably have a combination of above average power and hitting ability. He has an average arm, and will be limited to left or center field, both of which he has the athleticism to play, though his angles and reads need a lot of work. Matt Custred continued his domination of the lower minor leagues and has now struck 34 batters while walking 4 and giving up 10 hits in 23 professional innings. He should be a very good reliever if he can continue to keep his control, something he had struggles with as an amateur. As it currently stands he has a 40.4% strikeout rate and 4.8% walk rate.

(18-24) GCL Braves 8 vs. (14-26) GCL Yankees2 4

Box Score

Kevin Josephina, 2B: 4-5, 3B, 2 R, .333/.366/.410
Jose Pina, LF: 3-4, 2B, 2 SB, RBI, .267/.292/.344
Bradley Keller, LF: 2-4, BB, 2 RBI, SB, .315/.376/.472
Jhon Martinez, SP: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2.36 ERA

The GCL squad scored 6 runs in their last 2 times at bat, leading them to the win. Bladimir Matos got his second win of the season, an inning after Jesus Heredia held down the Yankees to drop his season ERA to 2.84. Jose Pina's 3 hit game was his 6th game with a hit in his past 7, and during that span he is hitting .520 (13-25) with 4 multi hit games. Jhon Martinez has improved his walk rate drastically this season (20.1% in 2013, 12.3 % in 2014, 4.8% in 2015), and has put up a career best ERA. Bradley Keller came up huge again for the GCL team, and he has carried the offense since Austin Riley's call up. His first game after that call up was August 1, and since then he has hit .324/.343/.618 with 3 home runs and 3 stolen bases in 9 games.

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