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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Starting pitchers continue torrid start to the season

The Braves’ farmhands continue to impress in the early going of the particular the starting pitchers

Have a day, Ian Anderson
Jeff Morris

Gwinnett Braves 6, Durham Bulls 4

Box Score

  • Ozzie Albies, 2B: 1-5, 2B
  • Adam Walker, LF: 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI, run
  • Lucas Sims, SP: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 8 K

Gwinnett rallied late with a five-run 6th inning while taking advantage of some sloppy fielding to beat Durham 6-4. Lucas Sims, for the most part, was quite good in this outing. He now has 13 Ks in his first 9.2 IP and while he has had some walks as well (5 on the young season), it is clear he has worked on keeping his mechanics sound throughout his starts during the offseason. His overall line in this game was marred by a 3-run homer, but he struck out two of the next three batters before exiting the game. The bullpen of Jason Hursh, Jason Motte, and David Hernandez did fine work again as they combined for 4.1 innings of scoreless relief while striking out 4 and walking none.

On offense, Gwinnett had contributions up and down the lineup with every hitter getting at least one hit and 6 different batters scoring runs. Adam Walker had himself a pair of RBIs to go along with a pair of doubles while Matt Tuiasosopo had the other multi-hit game of the day for Gwinnett. Ozzie Albies has casually started the season on an 8-game hitting streak (was held hitless in the opener) which is pretty much par for the course for him at this point. He does only have one walk on the season which is a bit unusual, but such statistical things are bound to happen in small sample sizes like this.

Next Game: 4/15, 6:35 PM @ Durham. Probable starter - Andrew Albers

Mississippi Braves 10, Tennessee Smokies 2

Box Score

  • Travis Demeritte, 2B: 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 runs
  • Carlos Franco, 3B: 2-4, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 runs
  • Connor Lien, CF: 1-4, HR, 3 RBI, BB
  • Matt Withrow, SP: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

Mississippi used yet another strong start from Matt Withrow plus an offensive explosion from the middle of Mississippi’s order to rout Tennessee 10-2. Withrow, coming off a decent if unspectacular year in high-A, has been excellent to start the 2017. After throwing 5 perfect innings in his first start before being let down by the bullpen, Withrow put together a fine start here as well with 6 innings and 5 Ks while the sole run he gave up coming on a solo shot in the first inning. Wes Parsons helped restore some dignity to a bullpen that gave up a huge lead in the bottom of the ninth the day before while pitching three innings while giving up just one unearned run.

On offense, Carlos Franco is a man on a mission. He has put up nearly 20% of the RBIs he had all of last season in his first 8 games of this one (10 RBIs so far) and now has two homers on the year after only hitting 4 all year last season. Travis Demeritte reached base three times including a double and has only struck out 6 times on the season in 35 plate appearances. Connor Lien now has two home runs in his last 3 games and is now riding a 5 game hitting streak.

Next Game: Doubleheader 4/15, starting at 5 PM @Tennessee. Probable Starters - Max Fried and Mike Soroka

Florida Fire Frogs 3, St. Lucie Mets 7

Box Score

  • Alex Jackson, C: 1-4, run, pickoff
  • Braxton Davidson, LF: 1-4, RBI
  • Ricardo Sanchez, SP: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K

The Fire Frogs’ bullpen continues to struggle and after they gave up 6 runs, the Fire Frogs fell to St. Lucie 7-3. This game was notable if for no other reason because Ronald Acuna did not play (he took a ball to his hand in the previous game, but as far as we know isn’t DL bound) and AJ Minter was placed on the 7-day DL. As for the game itself, while Ricardo had some of the same control issues that have plagued him in the past, he limited the damage to just an unearned run thanks to giving up just one hit. As for the bullpen....woof. Particularly concerning is that Josh Graham has given up multiple earned runs in two straight appearances now and Corbin Clouse is having immense trouble throwing strikes to start the season. That said, the season is still very young, but these are situations worth monitoring going forward.

On offense, the only batter who didn’t record a hit was Ray-Patrick Didder (he did record a walk fwiw). However, Florida also failed to record an extra-base hit in the game and went 2-7 with runners in scoring position. Alex Jackson now has an 8 game hit streak and Jonathan Morales reached base twice in the game. Braxton Davidson and Carlos Castro were the only Fire Frog batters credited with RBIs in the game.

Next Game: 4/15, 6:30 PM @ St. Lucie. Probable Starter - Touki Toussaint

Rome Braves 9, Charleston RiverDogs 2

Box Score

  • Cristian Pache, CF: 2-5, RBI, 2 runs, OF assist
  • Juan Yepez, 3B: 4-5, 2B, RBI, run
  • Randy Ventura, RF: 2-5, run
  • Ian Anderson, SP: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K

Ian Anderson is good at baseball....Charleston found this out the hard way as Rome routed the RiverDogs 9-2. After his debut where he was striking out batters left and right while battling through a few command issues, Anderson went one better as he was dominant through 5 innings while giving up just two hits and two walks while striking out 8 batters. He now has 16 strikeouts in his first 9.2 innings of full season ball. Enderson Franco, who has moved to the bullpen seemingly after being a starter in high-A last season, pitched 2.2 innings while giving up two runs (one earned) before Thomas Burrows came in, battle through some command problems, and closed out the win for Rome.

On offense, Rome continued its assault on the SAL using its tried and true method of a lot of singles and a TON of speed on the basepaths. Five different batters (Anfernee Seymour, Cristian Pache, Juan Yepez, Randy Ventura, and Marcus Mooney) had multi-hit campaigns with four of those guys being real speedsters. Seymour is a fascinating case as he really struggled in the field last season when his feet were in the dirt and his offensive profile was iffy since it relied on getting infield hits with his speed which doesn’t necessarily “age well” as you go up the minor league ladder with better and better fielders. This season, however, he is making better contact, getting on base at a much better clip, and has shown himself to be an able outfielder. With his speed and improvement, he is a guy to keep an eye on. Juan Yepez was excellent yet again with a four hit night and Cristian Pache had a good night at the plate and also recorded his third outfield assist of the season.

Next Game: 4/15, 6 PM hosting Charleston. Probable Starter - Joey Wentz

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