Here I am, Garrett Spain, writing his first minor league recap of the season. I would like to have everyone’s attention at this time to thank you all for sticking through another long winter, and liking Talking Chop enough to give me the views fix I so desperately pine for. It is going to be a pleasant season, and I am looking forward to writing so many recaps. At least that’s what Eric is making me say as he stands behind me with an aluminum bat to ensure I write the daily recaps every time I’m asked. (Haha just kidding)
(Editor’s note: he isn’t kidding. -Eric)
(0-3) Gwinnett Braves 4, (3-0) Durham Bulls 11
Rio Ruiz, 3B: 1-5, RBI, .286/.375/.286
Ozzie Albies, 2B: 2-5, 3B, SB, Error, .188/.188/.313
Johan Camargo, SS: HBP, .300/.417/.700, Left Game With Injury
Matt Wisler, SP: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 7.20 ERA
The first time through the rotation has gone swimmingly for the Braves, just like you would expect from a Manta Ray with a missing wing. The offense for Gwinnett put out a fight in the first two innings, jumping out to a 2-1 and 3-2 lead, but couldn’t keep pace with the raging Bulls bats. Ozzie Albies has looked a bit behind early in the season after a shortened spring, but his two hits today are a great sign and he has hit more than a few balls hard that have just been caught. It sounds extremely cliche, but Rio Ruiz has looked much better to the eye than he has on paper in the early going. He has worked counts well and has been timing the ball beautifully, but has been struck out after going deep into some counts. Johan Camargo left after falling awkwardly trying to avoid a hit by pitch. No update on his status has been posted at this time, though all early indications are that the removal is simply precautionary.
I want to pretend Matt Wisler didn’t pitch poorly in this game, but he simply was not sharp from the beginning. He allowed a triple after going up 1-2 on the first batter of the game, setting the tone for what was a shaky start all around. Wisler was able to work innings 3-5 very clean, but didn’t strike out any batters in that time. The wheels fell off in the sixth with a leadoff single and 2 consecutive walks, then Wizzles was removed for Joel De La Cruz. My prayers for the safety of Wisler’s final line went unanswered, as the defensed botched 2 easy balls and allowed 5 runs to score in the inning. From there, the Bulls poured it on the thin Gwinnett bullpen and scored 4 runs in the final 3 innings to take a hefty win and leave Gwinnett at 0-3 to open the season.
Next Game: 4/9 vs (3-0) Durham Bulls @ 1:05 PM ET
GWN: Lucas Sims (2016: 7-11, 4.40 ERA)
DUR: Ryan Yarbrough (2016: 12-4, 2.95 ERA)
(1-2) Mississippi Braves 1, (2-1) Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 6
Travis Demeritte, 2B: 0-2, 2 BB .200/.333/.300
Connor Lien, CF: 0-4, .077/.077/.077
Dylan Moore, SS: 0-3, BB .100/.250/.200
Kolby Allard, SP: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 3.60 ERA
The MBraves offense got oxymoroned to death in this one, not scoring until the bottom of the 9th and only eking out 3 hits. I know you’re all only reading this for Demeritte (and in some cases Dylan Moore, ya weirdos) and TDem was solid today. He drew two walks and lined out hard to center field in the 6th, and has only struck out twice in 12 plate appearances this season. Dylan Moore reached base once via walk but had three other meh at bats with 2 strikeouts and a fly out to left field.
If you aren’t a Braves fan, then your favorite 19 year old pitcher didn’t pitch 5 solid innings in his AA debut yesterday. If you are a Braves fan, rejoice as Kolby Allard has arrived. Allard was a bit shaky in the first inning, and allowed the first 3 men to reach base (though one was via error) but escaped it with the help of some good defense and settled down for much of the rest of the game. In the 4th inning Allard allowed 3 straight men to reach once again, and after striking a man out got the ground ball he wanted but the MBraves were unable to turn 2 and Allard allowed his first AA run. He allowed his next on a home run in the 5th, but ended the game with a solid line that is even more special when it comes from a 19 year old. Now, I sit here after my long layoff relearning how to spell
Fie Pfie Pfeiff Pfeifer as Philip Pheifer made his first appearance of the season for the MBraves. Pfeiferr allowed 2 runs in his inning of work. Evan Phillips ended the game for the MBraves with a scoreless inning. He hopes to build off a mostly strong 2016 campaign and push himself into the conversation to be in Atlanta’s bullpen next season.
Next Game: 4/9 vs (12-1) Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp @ 2:00 PM ET
MIS: Matt Withrow (2016: 9-10, 3.74 ERA)
JAX: Mike Kickham (2016: 0-1, 6.75 ERA)
(2-1) Florida Fire Frogs 4, (1-2) Dayton Tortugas 1
Ronald Acuna, RF: 0-4, SB, .167/.231/.333
Austin Riley, 3B: 1-4, RBI, .182/.250/.455
Alex Jackson, DH: 2-4, 2B, RBI, .250/.250/.583
Ray-Patrick Didder, CF: 1-3, BB, .222/.462/.333
Drew Harrington, SP: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 0.00 ERA
I will attempt to keep my pants on whilst talking about the Florida Fire Frogs this season, but I make no promises as this team really stirs my pot. Each of the 5 hitters at the top of this order are legitimate top prospects in the system, and all 5 contributed to one of the runs in today’s game. Ronald Acuna is off to a slow start to the season, but stole a base and scored the first run today in the Fire Frogs 3 run first inning. Austin Riley was the RBI man that brought Acuna in, and Alex Jackson backed up Riley with a double. Jonathan Morales knocked in Riley and Jackson came around to score on a bases loaded hit by pitch. Our Ray-Patrick continues to pile up walks at will, which is especially surprising given the power he bats in front of, and now sports a strong .462 OBP despite his slow start at the plate. Carlos Castro reached base 4 times today, with 2 hits, the aforementioned run scoring hit by pitch, and a walk. Oh and just for giggles Morales picked a guy off at first base because he can do that. Man I love baseball.
Drew Harrington has been the least talked about of the earlier round draftees from the 2016 class, but he stepped up his game with a nice debut in his first start this season. Harrington threw only 69 pitches in a 6 innings shutout, striking out 3 and getting 9 ground ball outs. Harrington may not have much of a chance as a starter for the Braves, but a strong performance could either improve his trade stock or make the Braves more willing to fast track him through the system as a classic lefty swingman type. Jacob Webb made us all hold our breath a little with 3 walks in his 1.2 IP, but escaped unscathed and turned it over to Sean McLaughlin. McLaughlin struck out 3 in his 1.1 innings of work, though he did allow the only run of the game for a Triple F starter.
Next Game: 4/9 vs (1-2) Daytona Tortugas 1:05 PM ET
FLO: Ricardo Sanchez (7-10, 4.75 ERA)
DBT: Jesus Reyes (5-5, 2.40 ERA)
(3-0) Rome Braves 8, (0-3) West Virginia 3
Derian Cruz, SS: 1-3, 2B, 3 RBI, HBP, .286/.333/.429
Juan Yepez, 3B: 1-5, RBI, .250/.250/.583
Cristian Pache, CF: 1-4, Outfield Assist, .182/.250/.182
Jeremy Walker, SP: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 6.75 ERA
The Rome Braves have started their title defense with a bang, knocking out three straight wins to start the season. While the Cruz/Pache duo we’ve been most excited to see has not screamed out of the starting gate, the offense has rolled nonetheless with the contributions of other players. Anfernee Seymour had 2 more hits today and has now reached base in 4 of his 8 plate appearances. Anthony Concepcion had the big hit of the day with a 2 run home run, his first of the season. The most promising early season lines have been from Tanner Murphy and Lucas Herbert, two of the top catching prospects in the system. Murphy has reached base 5 times with 3 walks and 2 doubles in his 7 plate appearances, clearly not deterred by his demotion and taking advantage of his playing time. Herbert was really bad with the stick last season, but with 3 hits in his first 8 games is showing signs of life. The Braves desperately need a catching prospect to separate himself from the pack, and so far Morales, Herbert, and Murphy have done a fine job in the early going with the bat and glove. As for Pache, he recorded his first outfield assist of the season in a pivotal moment. Kevin Mahala led off the bottom of the second with a double in a 1-0 game, giving West Virginia a chance to tie it early. On trying to advance to third, Pache and Marcus Mooney combined to snuff out the attempt and help keep the Power scoreless. Then in the 3rd, Rome scored 4 runs and never looked back in the game.
There have been quiet whispers about Jeremy Walker throughout this winter, and they intensified a bit as spring wore on. Walker made his 2017 debut for Rome, but was a bit shaky with 37 of 65 pitches for strikes and 2 walks in 4 innings. Walker only struck out 2 and allowed a home run and 3 runs before being removed. Thomas Burrows pitched 2 perfect innings for the Braves and struck out 2. It likely won’t be long before Burrows cruises through the system, as he expected to be a very early impact bullpen arm for Atlanta. Bladimir Matos and Adam McCreery closed out the last 3 innings scoreless, and Rome took home an easy win to extend to 3-0. Oh, and we haven’t even seen the 2016 3rd overall pick throw a pitch yet.
Next Game: 4/9 Rome Braves @ West Virginia Power 2:05 PM ET
ROM: Ian Anderson (2016: 1-2, 2.04 ERA)
WV: Luis Escobar (2016: 6-5, 2.93 ERA)
Hopefully Eric will feed me now that I’ve finished.
(Editor’s note: Food is for the weak. - Eric)