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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Albies stays hot, Newcomb pitches well

Ozzie Albies has now reached base 8 times in his last 2 games, while Ronald Acuna stole another base and Sean Newcomb kept his good work on the mound going.

Ozzie Albies Garrett Spain

(21-17) Gwinnett Braves 4, (16-23) Norfolk Tides 5

Box Score

David Freitas, C: 2-4, .358/.469/.472

Ozzie Albies, SS: 2-4, BB, .275/.323/.418

Rio Ruiz, 3B,: 1-4, 2B, .262/.305/.447

Sean Newcomb, SP: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 2.74 ERA

Offense was difficult for either team to come by early as both pitchers had great starts, but Gwinnett put up 4 runs combined in the 8th and 9th to tie the game after falling behind 4-0. They could not hold on though, getting walked off on a base hit. For the second straight game, Ozzie Albies was hard to keep off the bases, as he reached 3 times this game and raised his OBP to .323-the highest mark it’s been this season. Over his past 10 games, Albies has struck out just 5 times in 44 plate appearances while maintaining a .432 OBP. Ozzie hasn’t been the only resurgent prospect for Gwinnett as Rio Ruiz is breaking out of his early season funk and has an .862 OPS in May. In 15 games this month, he has 9 extra base hits including 7 of his 12 doubles on the season. Also playing well is Mel Rojas Jr. who has an .863 OPS and an equal 7 doubles to Rio Ruiz in the month of May. Perhaps no player has played as well as David Freitas in limited action as he has a tremendous .940 OPS behind the plate and has 11 BB to just 8 K in 17 games.

Sean Newcomb had another very good start today, but even more than the line above would suggest. Through 5, Newk had dominated with 6 strikeouts to 0 walks and 1 hit allowed, but it went off the rails for him as he allowed 2 consecutive singles and then two walks in the inning before being pulled. While his inability to maintain his control for the entirety of a game has always been his problem, the sheer dominance he showed early in this game and the command of the ball he showed was one of the brightest signs of the season for him. If he can manage to stretch that deeper into games it will go a long way towards helping him fulfill his potential. Joel De La Cruz was able to help Newcomb escape that inning, but ran into troubles of his own in the seventh and allowed 3 runs before being pulled with one out. Akeel Morris went on to get out of the inning with a fly out and a ground out, and then struck out the side in the 8th. After Gwinnett fought all the way back and tied it at 4, the wheels completely fell off, rolled down the side of a mountain, took out a fruit stand in Hong Kong, and cause a 12-car pile up for Mauricio Cabrera as he only recorded one out in giving the game up in the 9th inning. Cabrera only threw 4 strikes in his 12 pitches, with 2 of those strikes turning into base hits and the other turning into a ground ball out.

Next Game: 5/4 vs (24-14) Durham Bulls @ 7:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

GWN: Patrick Weigel (0-0, 3.86 ERA)

DUR: Yonny Chirinos (3-0, 2,45 ERA)

(21-19) Mississippi Braves 1 (21-19) Biloxi Shuckers 4

Box Score

Travis Demeritte, 2B: 0-4, .279/.357/.471

Carlos Franco, 3B: 1-3, HR, RBI, .281/.348/.534

Ronald Acuna, CF: 0-3, BB, SB, .329/.388/.544

Max Fried, SP: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 5.67 ERA

It was a difficult day for the MBraves offense, as they were no hit for 6.2 innings before Carlos Franco’s 7th inning home run provided the only run of the game for Mississippi. Until that at bat, the only baserunner the Braves had gotten was on the second batter of the game when Ronald Acuna walked, stole second base and then advanced to third on a throwing error before being stranded there by 2 consecutive strikeouts. Acuna went hitless for the second straight game, but reached base for the 6th consecutive game and stole his 10th base in his last 11 games. He also has a 7 BB to 6 K ratio in his last 10 games. Luis Valenzuela had the other hit in the game for Mississippi and he has now hit safely in 9 of his last 10 and in 12 of 14 games in May. While the 25-year-old Franco’s prospect status is in the rearview, he has incredible raw power and the development of that tool this season cannot be understated. While much of his power has been confined to high double numbers, he hit his 10th home run and is now just one home run short of his career high after just 40 games.

Max Fried’s season has gotten off to a very slow start, especially with his back injury taking a bite out of his first start. While not a spectacular start for Fried, he was able to keep his pitch count low and produce a quality start with fairly good peripheral numbers. Keep in mind Fried got off to a similar start last season, and after his 8th start had a 5.06 ERA, had allowed 4 home runs and 20 BB to 31 Ks in 37.1 IP. Compare that to this season at a 5.67 ERA, 4 HR and 17 BB to 39 K in 39.2 IP. The big issue for Fried is still his inability to get right handed hitters out this season, as they are hitting .300 against him with all 4 of his home runs allowed. Wes Parsons was the only player to get relief action in this one, recording 4 outs and allowing 1 walk with a strikeout. Parsons has a 3.65 ERA in 24.2 IP as a long reliever for Mississippi and has done well to keep his walk rate down and get a lot of ground balls. The key for Parsons is staying healthy, something he has struggled to do in the past.

Next Game: 5/18 @ (15-25) Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp @ 8:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

MIS: Mike Soroka (3-3, 2.84 ERA)

BIR: TBD

(18-22) Florida Fire Frogs 1, (19-21) Tampa Yankees 4

Box Score

Braxton Davidson, LF: 1-3, .227/.370/.336

Austin Riley, 3B: 0-4, .265/.324/.426

Alex Jackson, DH: 1-3, BB .305/.364/.583

Ricardo Sanchez, SP: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 3.92 ERA

It was a poor offensive showing for the Fire Frogs once again in this one, and over the last 5 games they have only managed 3 total runs while losing all 5 games. The lone run in the game came from the bat of Omar Obregon, who knocked in Alay Lago in the 3rd inning. Austin Riley has struggled for the last week and a half, recording only 1 extra base hit and 7 hits since May 8th, but in positive news Riley has only struck out 15.9% of the time in May while maintaining a 10.1% walk rate. Alex Jackson has also seen an uptick in walks this month with a 10.8% rate and an even better OPS (1.006) than his stellar opening month (.904) despite a drop off in home runs. Despite his .227 batting average, Braxton Davidson’s .370 OBP ranks among the best in the Florida State League.

Today was a rough outing for Ricardo Sanchez, who has arguably been the most improved pitcher outside of Lucas Sims in the system. While Sanchez has been torched by home runs this season (5 on just 27 fly balls), he has also experienced by his standards unprecedented runs of consistency over his past few starts. The only major blow to him today was a home run, one of the three run variety, but outside of that one swing he had a solid outing. His 8.7% walk rate is by far the best of his career (besting his 10.5% number last season) and his 21% K rate is bested only by his rookie ball season with the Angels. His struggles have, as expected, come primarily against right handed hitters (hitting .279 w/ 5 HR), but he’s actually striking out righties at a higher rate than left handed pitchers. Given his struggles with the long ball, it may come as a surprise that Sanchez is actually getting the ball on the ground at the highest rate of his career and has kept his line drive at the same place it was in Rome. as well, All of this is impressive considering Sanchez is just 20 years old, and his improvement is not particularly shocking given his arsenal and the ease with which he delivers the ball.

Next Game: 5/18 @ (19-21) Tampa Yankees 7:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

FLO: Touki Toussaint (1-4, 7.68 ERA)

TAM: Zack Littell (3-1, 2.78 ERA)

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