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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Acuna, Riley go deep, Mississippi and Rome clinch the playoffs

Mallex red hot, Riley and Acuna both homer again, Fried 10K’s

Ronald Acuna Garrett Spain

Saturday was an eventful day where Austin Riley and Ronald Acuna homered, Travis Demeritte and Mallex Smith kept on hitting, and Max Fried recorded strikeouts for 10 of the 14 outs he got as the Braves went on to win four of five games on the day.

Gwinnett Braves 3, Durham Bulls 7

Box score

  • Emilio Bonifacio, LF/CF: 2-5, R, .299/.358/.372
  • Chris Ellis, SP: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 4 K
  • Jason Hursh, RP: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 0 K

The AAA struggles of Chris Ellis continued here, although they weren’t quite as bad as the final stat line indicates as he gave up all five runs in one inning and was having some success outside of that one bad inning. He actually faced the minimum hitters in every other inning, and outside of a single that led to a double play in the fourth they were all 1-2-3 innings. Jason Hursh relieved him and had a similar story, as he pitched three innings and limited the damage to coming in just one inning- but unlike Ellis, he didn’t completely shut down the Bulls in the other innings of work. Surely it’s just one rough outing after a very strong season in the minors for the former top pick.

At the plate Emilio Bonifacio continues to make his case for a potential promotion with the expanded rosters, as his two hit game brings him up to a .463 average over his last 10 games. Daniel Castro, who is similarly hoping for a promotion after Gwinnett’s season ends had a pair of hits in the loss. Rio Ruiz went hitless in three at bats, but did draw a walk.

Next game Sunday 9/4 visiting Charlotte @ 7:05 PM

Probable Starters: Charlotte-Terance Marin(7-7, 5.00)

Gwinnett-Rob Wooten(3-4, 3.25)

Mississippi Braves 6, Biloxi Shuckers 2

Box score

  • Mallex Smith, CF: 2-3, R, 2 BB, 2 SB, .778/.833/1.000
  • Michael Mader, SP: 5 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K
  • AJ Minter, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K

This was a very interesting game for the Braves to say the least. The Shuckers pitching staff struggled with command and walked a combined 11 hitters in this game, and each of the top four hitters in the lineup walked twice. Mallex Smith continued his red hot rehab stint with a pair of hits and pair of steals to go with his pair of walks, bringing his three game OPS to 1.833. It’s safe to say he’s probably ready to return to Atlanta. Ozzie Albies went hitless in his two at bats, but in addition to his two walks he got an RBI on a sacrifice fly.

Michael Mader’s fifth start with the Braves was very successful, as he allowed just one run over five innings. In his five starts he’s got a 2.40 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with four of his starts being very strong. AJ Minter finished the game with a strong inning, and he continues to make a case for a September promotion. It’s hard to ask for any more of a successful season from Minter than he has produced considering last spring he underwent Tommy John, but now he’s closing in on the big leagues either this year or next with only 31 career minor league games under his belt. That’s a special relief arm, especially when you look at the guy considered the consensus top relief prospect in baseball(Detroit’s Joe Jimenez) has needed more than double that many appearances over the past two seasons in his ascent through the minors.

Next game Sunday 9/4 hosting Biloxi @ 6:00 PM

Probable Starters: Biloxi-Brandon Woodruff(9-8, 3.21)

Mississippi-Max Povse(4-0, 2.64)

Carolina Mudcats 9, Winston-Salem Dash 4

Box score

  • Travis Demeritte, 2B: 2-3, BB, 3 R, SB, .246/.381/.474
  • Dylan Moore, 1B: 3-5, 2B, R, .385/.414/.538
  • Keith Curcio, CF: 2-4, BB, 3B, 2 RBI, 3 R, .266/.348/.383

Recent acquisitions keep producing for the Mudcats. With a pair of hits and a walk while scoring three times, Travis Demeritte has boosted his OPS in Carolina to .855. That’s the kind of number over 32 games to show his .935 OPS before the trade wasn’t just another California League mirage. He’s even shaved a percentage point off of his strikeout rate in comparison to his High Desert mark. Even more recent acquisition Dylan Moore had three hits in this one, and in his seven games since coming over from the Rangers in the three way Jeff Francoeur deal he has a .952 OPS. Keith Curcio isn’t a recent addition, but he is on a second half hot streak, and he picked up three runs scored and a pair of RBI in what was a very productive game for the top of the order. Jordan Edgerton deserves a mention as well, as he picked up four RBI in the win.

Ryan Clark scattered nine hits over his five innings, but he allowed just two runs. That was enough for him to earn just his second win in what has been a rough season for him as he is now 2-13. He was followed by Jon Kennedy, who was making his High A debut, and pitched two scoreless innings while striking out four. The 20 year old Aussie has had a very nice professional debut this year despite not being a guy on most people’s radar at this point, though he could be on his way to changing that.

Next game Sunday 9/4 hosting Winston-Salem @ 4:00 PM, Game 2 to follow

Probable Starters: Winston-Salem-Robinson Leyer(3-4, 3.95), Jordan Stephens(7-10, 3.57)

Carolina-Wes Parsons(0-2, 4.50), Enderson Franco(5-12, 4.93)

Rome Braves 6, Augusta GreenJackets 5

Box score

  • Ronald Acuna, CF: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, .300/.381/.414
  • Austin Riley, 3B: 2-4, HR, RBI, .270/.324/.478
  • Kolby Allard, SP: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 5 BB, 4 K

The Braves won the first game of the double header in the second time this week where both Austin Riley and Ronald Acuna homered. Riley’s hot streak continues with this one, as his season feels like two different seasons in one. In 63 first half games he hit .252/.299/.372 with three homers and an 86/17 strikeout to walk ratio. In his 65 second half games he is at .288/.348/.570 with 17 homers and a 61 to 22 strikeout to walk rate. Acuna meanwhile is just trying to make up for lost time, and is doing a very good job of it. Carlos Castro doubled, tripled, and picked up a pair of RBI as well.

After a great August, Kolby Allard slipped up in this one as he struggled with his command by walking five over his six innings. Allard also gave up six hits on his way to giving up three runs, but he did get enough run support to earn the win. One thing that jumps out about Allard’s stat line for his last 10 starts is that he’s walked 19 batters, with nine of them coming in this game and the 7/28 game where he last struggled- meaning he has been very strong with his command otherwise with just 10 walks across those eight starts. Corbin Clouse struggled to finish the game off, a rarity for him, but Devan Watts was able to come in to get the final out and the save.

Rome Braves 6, Augusta GreenJackets 2

Box score

  • Ronald Acuna, CF: 2-4, .300/.381/.414
  • Ray-Patrick Didder, RF: 2-2, BB, 2 R, RBI, .273/.386/.379
  • Max Fried, SP: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 10 K

The Braves took the second game and swept the double header against Augusta. With a pair of hits here Ronald Acuna raised his average in Rome to an even .300, as he went three for eight with a homer in the double header. Austin Riley added a double and RBI making him also three for eight with a double, homer, and 2 RBI on the day. However the guy who helped to power the offense here was Ray-Partrick Didder, who went two for two with a walk and scored a pair of runs out of his leadoff spot.

It’s been a frustrating second half for Max Fried, who has finally really started to find success on the mound after shaking off the rust from missing last year but has battled blisters which have sent him to the disabled list a couple of times. In this one he was dominant at times, striking out 10 guys in the process of recording 14 outs, but leaving after 4.2 innings due to reaching 104 pitches. Matt Custred and Josh Graham pitched a final 2.1 scoreless innings to finish off the double header sweep.

Next game Sunday 9/4 visiting Augusta @ 5:05 PM

Probable Starters: Augusta-Raffi Vizcaino(1-1, 3.27)

Rome-Ricardo Sanchez(7-10, 4.82)

The GCL Braves play in a playoff game against the GCL Phillies starting at noon on the road.

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