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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap 8/23: Riley, Ruiz, and Cunningham homer; Sims dominates

Several Braves' prospects, young and old, cleared the fences as the Braves' affiliates went 3-2

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

(60-69) Louisville Bats 4 vs. (70-58) Gwinnett Braves 5

Box Score

  • Mallex Smith, CF: 2-4, 2 runs, 1 SB (27), .285/.325/.373
  • Todd Cunningham, RF: 3-4, 1 2B, HR(2), 2 runs, 4 RBI, .276/.340/.362
  • Greg Smith, SP: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R (1 ER) , 2 BB, 2 K, 2.39 ERA
  • Jason Hursh, RP: 1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 K

Despite a shaky relief outing from Jason Hursh and a couple uncharacteristic errors from Mallex Smith, the Braves were able to score the go ahead run in the bottom of the 7th and beat Louisville 5-4. Mallex's night was a bit of a mixed bag. He did have a couple of hits, scored a couple of runs, and stole his 50th bag of the year (between two levels), but he also made two fielding errors. Given that they were only his 2nd and 3rd errors on the year at Gwinnett, it seems possible he was having trouble seeing the ball last night for whatever reason...although no confirmation of that is available at this moment. Todd Cunningham, on the other hand, had a night that was ALL good as he finished a triple short of the cycle and drove in 4 of Gwinnett's 5 runs on the night. As for the pitching, Greg Smith had a good night on the mound yet again, giving up just one earned run while going 7 strong innings. Jason Hursh had to work to get out of his inning, giving up 3 hits and a run. This is the second straight appearance where Hursh has seemed very hittable (his last appearance was a bit of a disaster), so it is worth monitoring going forward given his struggles this year.

(64-59) Mississippi Braves 3 vs. (56-68) Pensacola Blue Wahoos 1

Box Score

  • Rio Ruiz, 3B: 1-4, HR(3), 2 RBI, .224/.327/.294
  • KD Kang, RF: 1-3, 1 RBI, .277/.354/.391
  • Lucas Sims, SP: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 4.19 ERA

Lucas Sims was absolutely dealing in this one as Mississippi beats Pensacola 3-1. Lucas struck out 10 batters over 6 innings of work while only giving up one run (on a solo homer) on three hits. In his seven starts since being promoted to Mississippi, he has given up 3 runs or less in 6 of them (including one run or less in his past 3 starts). Kyle Kinman was his usual excellent self in relief as he notched his 18th save of the year across three levels. The offense for Mississippi came primarily from Rio Ruiz who has been performing very well of late. His 2-run homer in the top of the 4th inning extended his hitting streak to 8 games. While he only has one game during that streak where he has more than one hit, hopefully Rio can build on his recent success and finish the year on a strong note. KD Kang drove in the other run for Mississippi as he continues to provide a steady presence in the middle of Mississippi's lineup even if he is not considered much of a prospect at this point.

(64-61) Carolina Mudcats 1 vs. (65-60) Winston-Salem Dash 3

Box Score

  • Connor Lien, CF: 2-4, .286/.345/.415
  • Dustin Peterson, LF: 1-4, 1 run, .250/.322/.351
  • Brandon Barker, SP: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 3.00 ERA

Despite a strong start from Brandon Barker, Carolina's offense was shut down as they lose to the Dash 3-1. Barker has quietly been one of the Braves system's more consistent starters this season. While he is a little older for the level than one would want at 23 years old, expect him to start next season at AA and he certainly has a shot at making the major league roster in some capacity in the next couple of years. Brad Roney was also excellent again in relief and has a 2.57 ERA over 3 levels this season. The offense was very quiet on this night, with no extra-base hits at all and only Connor Lien recorded more than one hit. Dustin Peterson continued his good work at the plate of late, scoring Carolina's only run. He has hit safely in 11 of his past 14 games.

(65-60) Asheville Tourists 13 vs. (52-74) Rome Braves 1

Box Score

  • Luke Dykstra, 2B: 2-4, 2 2B, .260/.302/.340
  • Joseph Daris, RF: 2-3, .271/.339/.394
  • Braxton Davidson, DH: 1-4, 1 2B, 3K, .242/.384/.378
  • Alec Grosser, SP: 0.1 IP, 5 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 7.32 ERA

Rome continued its second half struggles as they fell to Asheville 13-1. Alec Grosser started this game (why he was moved back to starting from the bullpen is unknown, although it could be just be based on team need this late in the season), and he could not even record a 2nd out in the game as he posted one of the uglier lines you will see this season. Considered a top 20 prospect by many coming in to the season, its safe to say that he isn't anymore except by the biggest of optimists. The offense continues to struggle in Ozhaino Albies' absence, although recent promotee Luke Dykstra has been performing admirably. Braxton Davidson hit a double in the game for his 7th hit in his past 10 games.

(26-30) Johnson City Cardinals 4 vs. (28-31) Danville Braves 6

Box Score

  • Austin Riley, 3B: 1-4, HR (3 - 10th overall this year), 2 RBI, .300/.391/.488
  • Jeff Campbell, DH: 3-4, 2 2B, 2 runs, .254/.271/.373
  • Juan Yepez, 1B: 1-3, 1 2B, 2 RBI, .212/.250/.333
  • Mike Soroka, SP: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 4.05 ERA

2015 draftees Mike Soroka and Austin Riley teamed up in this one to help Danville beat the Cardinals 6-4. Mike Soroka was excellent for most of his start until he had a hiccup in the 4th inning, but he still posted a very respectable line. Of note, in 30.0 IP this year across two levels of rookie ball, Soroka has walked a total of 4 batters while striking out 30. Dalton Geekie made his debut for Danville with an inning of scoreless relief. On the offensive side of things, Austin Riley remembered that he hadn't hit a home run in several games and remedied that in this game with a 2-run shot. Now at 10 home runs on the year in just 51 games across two levels, Riley has positioned himself already as one of the Braves' best power hitting prospects. Jeff Campbell had a big game as well with 3 hits including 2 doubles while driving in 2 runs.

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