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Atlanta Braves Minors Recap 9/4: Ronald Acuña, Travis Demeritte have big games

Acuña hasn’t missed a beat since returning from injury.

Ronald Acuna

(64-78) Gwinnett Braves 1, (65-78) Charlotte Knights 7

Box Score

  • Rio Ruiz, 3B: 1-4, RBI, .273/.357/.403
  • Rob Wooten, SP: 3.2IP 10H 4ER 0BB 4K

This is er, a rather uninspiring recap. In the midst of a playoff seeding battle Gwinnett continues to streak - in the wrong way to end the season. Gwinnett was thumped once again by Charlotte and now trails them by 12 a game in the standings. But for now let us focus on this game.

Overall, it was an uninspired game on both sides of the ball with Gwinnett pitchers combining to surrender 7 runs on 16 hits. After the duo of Wooten and Roney surrendered 7 runs through 6, Madison Younginer and Carlos Portuondo held the Knights scoreless through the final 3 frames to try and give the offense a chance to come back. Unfortunately the duo for the Knights, Terance Marin and Matt Purke, had other plans with the two combining to limit the Braves to 1 run on 6 hits. Rio Ruiz had the lone hit with a runner in scoring position as hit single scored Ronnier Mustelier in the 9th inning. Other than that, there weren’t many opportunities for the Braves as they only had 5 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and stranded 6.

It all comes down to today with Tyrell Jenkins on the mound to try and somehow win the division and secure a playoff bid.

(71-67) Biloxi Shuckers 7, (73-64) Mississippi Braves 0

Box Score

  • Mallex Smith, CF: 0-3, BB, .583/.688/.750
  • Ozzie Albies, 2B: 0-4, .322/.392/.466
  • Max Povse, SP: 6.0IP 9H 6R 4ER 0BB 6K

A day after clinching a playoff birth Mississippi played an absolute dud of a game surrendering 7 runs on 12 hits and committing 3 errors while being shut out while only collecting 6 hits. Shuckers starter Brandon Woodruff silenced the Mississippi bats with 7 strong innings striking out 9.

The tempo of the game was set early in the first after the Shuckers leadoff hitter reached on a fielding error by Reed Harper. He then stole 2nd base, and scored after a fielding error by Stephen Gaylor. They never relinquished that lead. While the Shuckers went on to tack on 6 more runs, the Mississippi offense mounted 2 credible threats with one in the 2nd, and the other in the 8th. Mississippi had just 2 runners reach 2nd base the entire game, hit no extra base-hits and at maximum collected 2 hits in just one inning.

Levi Hyams had the lone multi-hit game for Mississippi going 2-for-4. Connor Lien, Willians Astudillo, and Reed Harper all collected one single a piece. Connor Lien now has 84 strikeouts in 63 games.

(56-81) Winston-Salem Dash 0, (50-87) Carolina Mudcats 5 - F/7

Box Score

  • Travis Demeritte, 2B: 3-3, 2(2B), RBI, BB, .258/.395/.492
  • Enderson Franco, SP: CG 7.0IP 3H 0ER 2BB 7K

With Gwinnett, and Mississippi laying duds it only makes sense that Carolina absolutely dominated game 1 of their double header. Enderson Franco picked up his 6th win of the season and was marvelous, allowing just 3 hits while striking out 7. Franco induced 8 groundouts, and threw 58 strikes on 96 pitches. Enderson has been a great organizational pickup and has really provided a steady force through the Carolina rotation that has been pretty bad. I don’t see him returning to the club next year with the depth of high end pitching talent working its way up, so if this was his final start for the organization a small thank you for providing 144 innings in a rotation that was...not great.

Offensively, Travis Demeritte stole the show, and continues to impress. Every time I have watched him he’s shown great plate discipline, and when he makes contact he absolutely smokes the ball. He picked up 2 more extra base-hits and through this game 54% of his hits in a Carolina uniform were extra base-hits. There were a lot of questions as to if his power was because of the league he was in, high desert, but those have quickly evaporated. We all of different ways of evaluating talent, and I’m sure there will be plenty of you that disagree with me on this point, but I think he will be one of the most rapid risers in the organization next year. He is on pace to finish 2016 with an OPS exceeding .900, and could have an OPS of >.900 while in a Carolina uniform. He does strike out a ton, coming in at 32% on the season, but his walk rate is up near 18%, and an ISO of .228.

Dylan Moore and Luis Valenzuela both had hits, and Tanner Murphy and Jordan Edgerton also had multi-hit games. Edgerton provided a big 2 run double in the 4th to increase the lead to 5-0, a lead as you know, they did not surrender.

(56-82) Winston-Salem Dash 2, (51-87) Carolina Mudcats 3

Box Score

  • Travis Demeritte, 2B: 0-3 BB, R, .258/.395/.492
  • Braxton Davidson, DH: 1-2 RBI, BB, .224/.344/.360
  • Keith Curcio, RF: 3-3, 2B, .269/.351/.385

Without looking I’m pretty sure Carolina is close to eclipsing their win total of August, in September. Despite stranding 7 and going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position the offense was able to muster together 3 runs which was enough for the duo of Ryan Lawlor, and Raymond Navarro. The two pitchers combined to yield just 4 hits over 7 innings while striking out 6, and walking 3. In an awful season for Carolina, this is a nice way to end the season for the players that have played their the entire year.

The offense was completely shut down through the first 6 innings but an absolutely terrible 7th inning for Dash relief pitcher Jacob Morris allowed the Mudcats to walk off. Here is how the walk off win occurred: HBP, 1B, BB, 1B, FO, BB, BB. Yes, two consecutive walks with the bases loaded allowed Carolina to walk off. You have to love minor league baseball.

(69-69) Rome Braves 3, (76-62) August Greenjackets 8

Box Score

  • Ronald Acuña, CF: 3-4, R, SB, .313/.390/.424
  • Juan Yepez, 3B: 0-4, .270/.323/.360
  • Lucas Herbert, C: 0-3, .184/.234/.278
  • Ricardo Sanchez, SP: 5.1IP 4H 3R 2ER 3BB 8K

In what is likely his final work, at least as a starting pitcher, for this season Ricardo Sanchez was solid - only giving up 4 hits over 5.1 innings pitched while striking out 8. It’s been a fantastic season for the 19 year old as he has shown the ability to stay healthy and flashed absolute brilliance at times that show why he is considered a top prospect. After having a total of 78 innings pitched coming into 2016, the lefty has logged 119 innings, and I would expect to hopefully take a huge step forward in 2017. He left the game with Rome only down by 2, but Grayson Jones got lit up surrendering 5 earned runs in 1.2 innings and put the game out of reach for Rome. Chase Johnson-Mullins worked a perfect 8th.

The Ronald Acuña show continued last night and he is showing no rust after missing most of the season with an injury to his wrist. He collected 3 more hits yesterday, while playing a superb centerfield. Based on our midseason prospect reviews it’s fair to say we are all super excited about his future, and look forward to watching him over a full season in 2017. Between Acuña, Pache, and Didder we may see one of the most dynamic outfields in recent Braves minor league play with 3 plus defenders, and all 3 being high ceiling prospects.

Of note, Carlos Castro hit his 17th homer of the season and the big first baseman is having one of his best years. Justin Ellison, Anfernee Seymour, Tyler Neslony, and Jared James also all collected hits. Juan Yepez played third.

Rome begins their playoff series on Wednesday.

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