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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Acuna and Ventura run wild

Ronald Acuna and Randy Ventura continue to battle to see who can lead the system in stolen bases, while Ian Anderson had an outstanding start to lead Rome

MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

(12-6) Gwinnett Braves 3, (9-8) Rochester Red Wings 2

Box Score

Johan Camargo, SS: 0-4, .308/.379/.615

Ozzie Albies, 2B: 2-4, 2B, RBI, SB, .291/.318/.443

Ryan Howard, DH: 0-4, .300/.417/.300

Luke Jackson, SP: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 4.32 ERA

It’s a good thing for Gwinnett that Ozzie Albies showed up, otherwise the team would have had a tough time in this one. Albies scored 2 of Gwinnett’s 3 runs, and his RBI accounted for the other as he single-handedly drove this Gwinnett offense. After losing his 13 game hitting streak Albies has now hit in 3 straight, with 2 of those being multi-hit games. He’s hitting .324 in his last 16 games, and leads the league in doubles and stolen bases with 8 each - 2 more than any other player in both categories. He has yet to be caught stealing this season and also leads the league in runs scored. Albies is one of only 3 players in professional baseball with at least 8 stolen bases without being caught stealing (the other 2 are in the Eastern League). David Freitas has been unexpectedly good behind the plate for Gwinnett with a .974 OPS this season, and had 2 hits and a run scored today.

Luke Jackson, back from his stint in Atlanta’s bullpen during which he was oddly used, made his second start of the season with more success to show than the first. Jackson worked himself into trouble by allowing a walk and a double with on out in the first inning, but forced a strikeout and ground out to escape without allowing a run. He was perfect in the 2nd, and then worked out of another 2nd and 3rd with 1 out situation in the third inning to preserve what was a 3-0 Gwinnett lead. He did allow a run in the 4th and was pulled after the inning, but overall had a successful outing given he was 16 days removed from his first start. Jason Hursh allowed a run in his 2 innings of work but struck out 3 batters and didn’t walk anyone. Coming into the season Hursh had a career K/BB rate of 1.76, but has struck out 12 to just 2 walks in 11.1 innings this season and has separated himself as the most impressive early performer from that bullpen.

Next Game: 4/27 @ (12-6) Rochester Red Wings @ 11:05 AM ET

Probable Starters

GWN: Lucas Sims (2-0, 2.70 ERA)

ROC: Jason Wheeler (2-1, 4.76 ERA)

(9-11) Mississippi Braves 2, (11-8) Montgomery Biscuits 5

Box Score

  • Travis Demeritte, 2B: 1-3, BB, .212/.307/.348
  • Connor Lien, CF: 1-4, HR, RBI, .192/.244/.411
  • Dylan Moore, SS: 1-4, .143/.273/.214
  • Mike Soroka, SP: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 4 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2.61 ERA

The Mississippi Braves are hitting .218 as a team this season, and are still a roughly middle-of-the-pack offense in the Southern League. So, usual stuff here. Dylan Moore was pretty hopeless at the plate for the first couple of weeks of the season, but has been able to put up 5 hits and 2 walks in his last 5 games to even out some of the struggles he showed earlier. Connor Lien has been a bit of a marvelous disaster, striking out an appalling 31 times in 78 plate appearances, but hitting 4 home runs and posting a .219 ISO. I have no idea what to do with these numbers. Anyways, Travis Demeritte snapped a string of 3 games without a hit, and while he’s started to strike out a bit more over these last few games he still has not struck out 3 times in a game this season, something he did 18 times last season and 47 times in 333 games prior to this season. He also only has one extra base hit since April 14, something that is not what we were hoping would trade out. Finally, Jared James has performed reasonably well with a .693 OPS despite a .255 BABIP. He’s hitting .282/.317/.436 over his last 10 games and has an .813 OPS out of the leadoff spot.

So Mike Soroka actually looked like a 19 year old in AA for the first time today, giving up 8 hits over 4 innings and allowing 2 home runs in a single game for the first time in his career. He was still his classic ground ball self with 6 ground outs today, but his control escaped him a bit more than is typical and he threw strikes on less than 60% of his pitches. Guys have bad days, and home runs+walks makes this probably the most anti-Soroka game I’ve seen him pitch. Chad Sobotka has been on fire out of the bullpen, and with his 2 scoreless innings today lowered his ERA on the season to 1.46. Evan Phillips has not had such a good start, but struck out 3 and didn’t walk anyone today in his 2 innings of work. After allowing 14 runs over his previous 4 outings Phillips hasn’t allowed any in his last 2.

Next Game: 4/27 vs (12-8) Tennessee Smokies 8:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

MIS: Patrick Weigel (1-0, 2.66 ERA)

TNS: Trevor Clifton (2-1, 3.00 ERA)

(9-11) Florida Fire Frogs 8, (10-9) Palm Beach Cardinals 9

Box Score

Ronald Acuna, RF: 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI, BB, 2 SB,, .271/.320/.471

Austin Riley, 3B: 1-5, .238/.289/.369

Alex Jackson,C: 1-5, 2B, RBI,, .329/.354/.658

Touki Toussaint, SP: 5 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 7.20 ERA

The Palm Beach cannot get the Fire Frogs out, but unfortunately the offense was not enough to get Florida a win in this one. So, if any of you were worried about the start from Ronald Acuna, his play the last 2 games has much more closely emulated what he was able to do last season. Tonight extended his hitting streak to 6 games, and in his last 2 he has 5 hits and 8 RBIs. He is 3rd in the league in stolen bases, and is the only player in the league with double digit RBIs and stolen bases (10). Alex Jackson continues to hit the ball hard and had his 5th double of the season. Braxton Davidson went 0-1 in this game, but added 4 walks (and still only scored once). This was Davidson’s 2nd career 4 walk game, and in his 75 plate appearances this season he has left the box with either a walk or a strikeout in 55% of them.

Touki Toussaint struggled again in this one, and allowed 6 of the runs in this one. It started quickly in this one, as he allowed a 2 run home run to the second batter of the game and put the Florida offense in a quick hole. They fought back to take the lead, but he couldn’t shut down the Cardinals and allowed them to tie it at 3 in the 4th. After Florida took a 6-3 lead, Toussaint was brought out in the 6th inning and was unable to get an out. He hit the first batter and walked the second, and after an error by Tyler Neslony at first base left the game with the bases loaded. Taylor Lewis allowed 3 runs to score (all charged to Touki). Mauricio Cabrera made a rehab appearance and pitched a perfect inning with one strikeout. Bradley Roney had his second straight poor rehab appearance, and allowed 3 runs in two-thirds of an inning and ended up taking the loss for the Fire Frogs.

Next Game: 4/27 vs (10-9) Palm Beach Cardinals 7:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

FLO: Luis Gohara (2-0, 1.29 ERA)

PMB: Zac Gallen (1-1, 1.50 ERA)

(14-6) Rome Braves 3, (6-14) Hickory Crawdads 1

Box Score

Derian Cruz, SS: 1-4, RBI, .171/.213/.243

Randy Ventura, RF: 2-3, 2B, BB, 2 SB,, .394/.444/.439

Juan Yepez, 3B: 1-5, RBI, .324/.360/.500

Ian Anderson, SP: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1.93 ERA

The Rome Braves won their third straight game and have the best record in the South Atlantic League, but more incredibly are now 11-2 in road games this season. Randy Ventura’s 2 stolen bases in this game give him a South Atlantic League best 11 stolen bases on the season, and he has only been caught once. His .394 average and 26 hits are both second in the league and he is currently on a 6 game hitting streak. Juan Yepez only had one hit in this game, but continues to be the best-producing middle-of-the-order player for Rome this season and has been stellar in his second stint in A ball. Anfernee Seymour’s stolen base breaks an 8 game streak he had of going without a stolen base.

The Rome Braves lead the SAL with a 2.15 team ERA, .39 runs better than any other team, and Ian Anderson has played perhaps the biggest role on the team. His 1.93 ERA is second among starters on the team, and his 29 strikeouts in best in the system through the first few weeks. While his control hasn’t been as sharp as it was in the past early this season, he threw 70% of his pitches for strikes today and made hitters look foolish in a multitude of ways. Anderson is quickly establishing himself as the best pitching prospect in the system, something hard to do with a system so deep in pitching talent. Tucker Davidson has done nothing but excel in his professional career, and pitched 2 scoreless innings with 3 strikeouts. Brandon White closed the game out with 2 scoreless of his own and struck out 4 hitters.

Next Game: 4/27 vs (9-12) West Virginia Power 7:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

ROM: Joey Wentz (1-1, 3.86 ERA)

WV: Matt Anderson (1-1, 5.29 ERA)

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