Gwinnett Braves 6, Charlotte Knights 2
- Blake Lalli, C: 2-4, 2B, 4 RBI, .256/.301/.328
- Rio Ruiz, 3B: 0-4, RBI, .271/.355/.400
- Tyrell Jenkins, SP: 7.2 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2.47 ERA
The Gwinnett Braves secured a spot in the playoffs after hopping on to Tyrell Jenkins’ back and getting a bit of an offensive outburst from Blake Lalli as Gwinnett beat Charlotte. In a game where the winner got to go to the playoffs as a representative of the division that no one seemed to want to win, Tyrell Jenkins was excellent. While his effectiveness waned later in the start (from the 6th inning onward), he gave Gwinnett nearly 8 strong innings and gave up just 2 earned runs and one walk. The low strikeout totals remain an issue, but this was a start to remind all of us that despite his struggles at the major league level, he can really pitch and has the talent to help the organization in some capacity in the near future. Steve Janas came in and closed the game out with 1.1 innings of scoreless relief. Janas, converted to a reliever this year after a successful run last season as a starter, moved up to AAA after starting the season in Mississippi and could be in the mix to join the bullpen in the majors during spring training or at the very least be in Gwinnett next season to fill in if the need arises.
On offense, if you had Blake Lalli as the guy who was going to power Gwinnett to a playoff appearance in the final game of the regular season...you are likely very rich now. His 4 RBIs were a big portion of Gwinnett’s offense on this day, although overall Lalli’s season was iffy at best. Rio Ruiz had an RBI as well and despite being held hitless, he improved on his OPS from last season by nearly 100 points despite an aggressive promotion to AAA and playing most of the season at Gwinnett as one of the youngest players in the league. It will be interesting to see what the Braves do with Rio going forward, but he certainly flashed the talent the Braves saw when he was included in the trade that sent Evan Gattis to Houston. Kyle Kubitza’s homecoming to the Braves’ organization has not gone well so far due to the .157/.283/.216 line he slashed in 20 games with Gwinnett after the Braves snatched him back off of waivers.
Mississippi Braves 1, Biloxi Shuckers 4
- Ozzie Albies, 2B: 1-4, 2B, run, .321/.391/.467
- Dustin Peterson, LF: 1-3, BB, RBI, .282/.343/.431
- Lucas Sims, SP: 3 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2.67 ERA
Mississippi, with their spot in the playoffs secured, fell a bit short on the final day of the regular season as they fell to Biloxi 4-1. Lucas Sims kept the walks off the board, but did not seem to be fooling Biloxi hitters very much and he was done after 3 innings after giving up a pair of runs and 5 hits. Not sure if an injury had him leave the game early or if it was just an end of the year early yank, but since it was only 55 pitches its worth noting. Unfortunately, the bullpen gave up a pair of runs (one earned), but that ultimately proved to be irrelevant as the Biloxi pitching staff held Mississippi’s lineup in check.
On offense, Mississippi did not do much but a couple of familiar faces finished their regular seasons strong. Ozzie Albies had yet another extra-base hit (he finished the season with 49 XBHs) and scored Mississippi’s only run. Dustin Peterson reached base twice and drove in Albies, ending his regular season on yet another hot streak as he put together his best season as a pro in 2016. Peterson could easily be in the running for a major league roster spot (Albies is all but a mortal lock), and a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League could cement his status.
Carolina Mudcats 1, Winston-Salem Dash 0
- Travis Demeritte, 2B: 0-4, .250/.384/.476
- Jordan Edgerton, 3B: 2-4, 2B, RBI, .213/.248/.317
- Wes Parsons, SP: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 3.86 ERA
Jordan Edgerton was the hero on the last day of a tough season for the Mudcats as Carolina walked off against Winston-Salem 1-0. Wes Parsons, who was a regular on Braves’ prospect lists before the massive influx of talent of the past couple of seasons, put together one of the best starts of his career with 8 scoreless innings. Injuries have really derailed Parsons over the last couple of seasons, so hopefully his success in the latter part of this season is a sign of things to come for the right-hander. Unfortunately, the offense didn’t score until the 9th inning, so Carlos Salazar was credited with the win after he pitched a scoreless inning of relief during which he struck out the side.
On offense, there was little to write home about beyond Edgerton’s walk-off RBI. Keith Curcio and Erison Mendez each had two hit days to go along with Edgerton with Edgerton and Curcio having the only extra-base knocks on the night for Carolina. Travis Demeritte was held hitless with 3 Ks, but he has certainly gotten the attention of many Braves fans with loud contact and elite on-base skills. He will be one to watch in the Arizona Fall League and going in to 2017 as he has the talent to be a good major-league regular. Braxton Davidson did not play in the regular season finale and finished the season with a .224/.344/.360 line (just barely reaching .700 OPS for the season).
Rome Braves 5, Augusta GreenJackets 0
- Ronald Acuna, CF: 1-4, 3B, RBI, .311/.392/.429
- Austin Riley, 3B: 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI, .271/.324/.479
- Anfernee Seymour, 2B: 3-5, 2 runs, RBI, .257/.296/.303
- Touki Toussaint, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3.88 ERA
Rome finished their regular season strong as the “bullpen” pitched great and the offense did what it has been doing for most of the recent past as the Braves cruised to a 5-0 victory. Oriel Caicedo made the spot start for Rome tonight as they tried to preserve their stellar rotation for their upcoming playoff run and he was excellent in throwing 7 scoreless innings. Oriel made 6 starts for Rome this season and this one was pretty clearly his best. Then, in a bit of a surprise move, Rome sent out Touki Toussaint for a relief appearance. No...there are not two Touki Toussaints on Rome’s roster. He needed only 11 pitches to strike out all three batters he faced in a scoreless inning of relief. Not to be out done, Matt Custred pitched an immaculate inning with 9 pitches and 3 strikeouts, ending the 31st round pick’s up and down regular season on a high note.
On offense, it was the usual suspects doing work, which made all of us happy. Ronald Acuna is back to doing Ronald Acuna things as he had an RBI triple. If not for an injury that robbed him (and us really) of a large portion of his season, I would be a top 100 prospect in all of baseball right now...its that simple. In talking to many folks I trust, I would not be surprised that, with a healthy season, he ends up in the top 50 by the end of next season. Austin Riley collected his 61st extra-base hit of the year with a two-run double that put Rome ahead and kept them there. Riley’s second half OPS of .929 is incredibly encouraging and a reminder that these guys are young and still figuring things out. Riley may not have plus-plus bat speed, but that just means he needed to get his timing and pitch recognition down and now you are seeing the results of all that hard work. Anferneee Seymour had one of his best games as a member of the Braves organization and showed off his speed at times this year, but has a long ways to go as an OPS of around .600 on the season to go along with 42 errors at shortstop is just not going to do.
And with that ends our regular season coverage of the Braves minor league system in 2016. Yes, we are covering the playoffs. Yes, we will be covering the Arizona Fall League (may be on a weekly basis, but we are still nailing that down). I just want to thank some folks: first and foremost, my guys on the front lines here. Garrett Spain has been here with me since last season to keep me sane and I could not do this without him. Gaurav Vedak joined us at the beginning of this season and has been an invaluable asset and even better guy to have around. Finally, Matt Powers joined us shortly after the draft and has enthusiastically jumped right in and we realized pretty quickly he is one of us. Also big thanks to Kris Willis who gave me my opportunity here, Brad Rowland for constantly trolling me and for whatever reason enjoying my company on the Talking Chop podcast, Ivan for dealing with my insufferable questions about metrics and basically doing whatever is needed to make sure Talking Chop runs the way its supposed to, and lastly all of our readers.
We have been blown away by the response we have gotten to all of the minor league content this season. We knew it would be more popular than usual, but the response we have gotten has been surreal. Please keep a look out this offseason as we will continue to post scouting reports, various lists, interviews, and all sorts of other content for you to keep us all warm until the season starts anew in 2017. Minor league playoffs start this week, the AFL starts in October, and there is still that big league club in Atlanta that could call up some guys before the end of the season...so keep coming to Talking Chop and we will try to make sense of all of together. Thanks again guys.