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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Austin Riley goes yard, Rome Wins Again

Austin Riley mashed for the Fire Frogs, and Ozzie Albies recorded 2 hits for Gwinnett

Austin Riley
Austin Riley

(3-4) Gwinnett Braves 8, (1-6) Norfolk Tides 2

Box Score

Rio Ruiz, 3B: 0-4, .267/.313/.367

Ozzie Albies, 2B: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, .265/.257/.382

Lane Adams, CF: 2-3, 2B, BB, SB, .350/.364/.850

Sean Newcomb, SP: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 4.66 ERA

After 5 games of kind of ugly play, the Gwinnett Braves have decided to destroy all oncoming pitchers with 23 runs now in the last 2 games. Today’s onslaught was led by late inning firepower with Blake Lalli providing a big 2 run home run in Gwinnett’s 4 run 9th inning. The Braves scored their runs during all innings that are multiples of 3’s also scoring 2 each in the 3rd and 6th innings. Ozzie Albies has started to put all of the hard hit balls from the first few games into holes in the defense, and has hit safely in 6 consecutive games since his O-fer in the opening. Rio Ruiz saw his 6 game hitting streak that started out the season come to a close, as he struggled at the plate and was unable to make solid contact during the game.

It was an interesting start for Sean Newcomb, whose final line looks fair but was knocked around a bit in the game. Newcomb worked with a much higher emphasis on the usage of the fastball, but his tendency to leave it up led to Newcomb’s first home run offered up since July of last season (which is quite an amazing streak). He also recorded 10 of his outs via fly out vs 1 ground ball. In positive news for Newcomb, the walk rate isn’t particularly indicative due to some squeezing of the plate in those at bats. Still, he struggled with his command more than he did in his first start and it seemed like he never found a rhythm on the mound. There’s no real easy adjustment for Newcomb, but he flashes at least average command far more often than he did early last season, which while a bit of an empty compliment is still a step in the right direction. He might not be an immediate impact arm like the Braves may have hoped, but his slow yet steady upward curve should eventually at least lend him to being a back end starter even if the command problems don’t fully iron themselves out.

Next Game: 4/13 vs@ (1-6) Norfolk Tides @ 12:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

GWN: Matt Wisler (0-1, 7.20 ERA)

NOR: Chris Lee (0-1, 21.60 ERA)

(4-2) Mississippi Braves 6, (2-4) Tennessee Smokies 2

Box Score

Travis Demeritte, 2B: 1-4, RBI, K, .261/.346/.522

Connor Lien, CF: 2-3, HR, RBI, BB, .200/.259/.320

Dylan Moore, SS: 0-4, .053/.182/.105

Patrick Weigel, SP: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2.00 ERA

Just when you think the MBraves offense is doomed, they lead the game off with a guy hitting .000 on the season and GOSH DARNIT he came through with 2 RBI. Jared James had gotten off to a slow start, but keep an eye on that outfield for some solid under the radar outfielders. As for Travis Demeritte, the man just keeps on spitting out extra base hits with his 3rd double of the season. Most players going to the Southern League see their numbers dip, but Demeritte has dominated the SL just as he has in leagues before. Oh, and his strikeout rate is under 20% *faints*. A forgettable start for Connor Lien saw it’s best day of the year as he reached 3 times and added an insurance run late with his first run of the season. As for Dylan Moore, well I’ll allow you to forget this week ever happened.

Patrick Weigel went out today and did what a starter needs to do when handed a 4 run lead. While he didn’t pitch very efficiently, he pitched well enough in his 4 innings to get the MBraves through them unscathed. Nothing about what Weigel was able to do will jump off the page, but if he maintains that high strikeout/low walk pattern like he did in this start and all of last season, he will certainly start drawing strong consideration for Top 100 lists. His command tended to wax and wane throughout the start, with some bright enough showings to inspire confidence but poor stretches long enough to frustrate any onlooker. Michael Mader did a huge job for the MBraves out of the bullpen with 3 really good innings, and Akeel Morris closed it out with his second really strong outing. For Morris, his ability to avoid walks has been promising and his prior failures to do so have been the only thing that has been preventing him from pitching in a major league bullpen.

Next Game: 4/13 @ (2-4) Tennessee Smokies @ 11:30 AM ET

Probable Starters

MIS: Kolby Allard (0-1, 3.60 ERA)

TNS: Jen-Ho Tseng (0-0, 1.80 ERA)

(4-3) Florida Fire Frogs 5, (3-4) Dunedin 11

Box Score

Ronald Acuna, RF: 0-5, SB, .222/.276/.296

Austin Riley, 3B: 2-5, HR, 3 RBI, .231/.310/.462

Alex Jackson, C: 1-5, RBI, .286/.286/.571

Tyler Pike, SP: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 6.23 ERA

The Fire Frogs offense has tiptoed a bit early in the season, and today was awful until an explosive final inning got them up to 5. Already down 11-1, the offense tacked on 4 runs with the help of Austin Riley’s home run. That was Riley’s 2nd of the season, a mark he didn’t reach last year until April 21st, and he didn’t reach 3 until May 7. RIley is also striking out less and walking more than he was at this stage last season, and receiving heaps of praise for his defensive improvements. Alex Jackson has provided no shortage of offense, and he and Riley rank first and third in the Florida State League through the first week. Reports on his play behind the plate have been mixed, but not horribly negative which for a guy in his stage of the transition process is not a bad place to be. Ronald Acuna stole his 5th base of the season, which makes him one of 2 players in all 3 High A leagues to do so this season without getting caught stealing.

I’m gonna make this short, because believe me you do not want the details. Tyler Pike went out for his second start as a Brave but got hit around a good bit, allowing 11 baserunners and 5 runs in less than 5 innings of work. Taylor Lewis was the only real bright spot for the team, and it’s really a bit shocking that he’s even on the team given how he played in High A and AA last season. Lewis allowed only 1 hit in 2.1 IP and struck out 3 batters, making for a nice bounce back after a rough first 2 appearances. Sean McLaughlin allowed 2 runs in his inning of work, and Corbin Clouse’s control problems have really taken a toll on him at the beginning of this season. He walked 4 batters in this one and only recorded 2 outs, giving him now 7 walks in 3.1 IP.

Next Game: 4/13 @ (2-5) St. Lucie Mets 6:30 PM ET

Probable Starters

FLO: Drew Harrington (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

STL: Thomas McIlraith (0-0, 3.00 ERA)

(6-1) Rome Braves 4, (1-6) Kannapolis Intimidators 3

Box Score

Randy Ventura, RF: 1-2, SB, .389/.476/.444

Tanner Murphy, C: 1-1, 2 BB, SB, .308/.500/.462

Cristian Pache, CF: 2-3, 2 RBI, .238/.273/.333

Bryse Wilson, SP: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 3.00 ERA

Another day, another Rome Braves win, as the South Atlantic’s steam engine continues to lead the charge in the early going. It was no cake walk for Rome, who fell behind 3-0 after 4, but they chipped away at the lead and were able to take it home with late inning performance. The first run came off the bat of Cristian Pache, and two innings later he knocked in the second run for Rome to bring the game within one in the 7th. A wild pitch brought in the tying run, and then Derian Cruz was able to score after being brought on as a pinch runner, bunted over, and then scoring after the ball was thrown away on his stolen base attempt. The Rome Braves stole 4 bases in this one, 3 off of starter Alec Hansen. This was Cristian Pache’s first multi-hit and multi-RBI performance of the season despite him coming off the bench to replace Randy Ventura (we have received no word on his status). Brett Cumberland’s abysmal start continued with 3 strikeouts, and he now has 11 in 19 plate appearances this season. This is a major disappointment for a bat who was drafted to be one of the more advanced and is now fighting for playing time with 3 other talented catchers. Speaking of which, in addition to his performance at the plate Tanner Murphy also gunned down the only attempted base stealer of the game for Kannapolis.

Bryse Wilson had his worst start as a professional baseball player, and he still struck out 5 batters in 4 innings of work. It was a battle today for Wilson, especially in relation to his control, but he battled to limit the damage despite some ugly innings. Tucker Davidson pitched 2 scoreless innings, and now as a Braves has a 1.36 ERA in 33 IP since being drafted in the 19th round last season. Bladimir Matos is making his second attempt with Rome, and pitched 2 fabulous innings with 4 strikeouts. Jon Kennedy closed the game out with a scoreless innings despite giving up 2 hits, being able to work around it with one strikeout. Rome leads the South Atlantic League with a 2.10 ERA, with second place being 2.86, and is the first team to reach 6 wins on the season.

Next Game: 4/13 Rome Braves vs Charleston RiverDogs 7:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

ROM: Jeremy Walker (0-0, 8.10 ERA)

CSC: Freicer Perez (0-0, 6.75 ERA)

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