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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Albies, Demeritte, and Waters Homer

The Braves had good power production throughout the system, getting six home runs. Drew Waters hit his first professional home run, and Alex Jackson had an extra inning double to lead Florida

Ozzie Albies

(39-38) Gwinnett Braves 4, (34-42) Toledo Mud Hens 5

Box Score

Rio Ruiz, 3B: 2-4, HR, RBI, .274/.322/.451

Ozzie Albies, SS: 1-5, HR, .271/.321/.433

Dustin Peterson, LF,: 1-4, .252/.323/.322

Aaron Blair, SP: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 5.22 ERA

Gwinnett started their scoring early, when Ozzie Albies hit a home run to the deepest part of Toledo’s park on the second pitch of the game. The home run was Ozzie’s sixth of the season, tying his career high mark he set last year in exactly half the number of games (69). Albies is tied for second on the time and is only one behind Matt Tuiasosopo for the team lead. Gwinnett added a run on Rio Ruiz’s fifth home run to open the fourth inning, then scored twice more in the inning of three more hits. Despite putting a runner on base in each of the next five innings Gwinnett was unable to push across another run and take the lead. Rio Ruiz had two hits in the game, both coming off of a left handed pitcher, and he is now hitting .250/.302/.396 against left handers this season.

Aaron Blair got the start for Gwinnett, and early on it seemed he had his stuff working well. Blair walked the first batter he faced but set down the next seven in a row before another walk in the third. Following the walk he gave up a double that scored the first Mud Hens run of the game and tied it up 1-1. Blair was given the lead right back with Gwinnett’s three-run fourth inning, but had struggles of his own and gave up the lead once more. Blair allowed three singles. a double, and a walk before he could record the second out, and a sacrifice fly for the second out scored the third run of the inning tying the ballgame once again. Blair settled down for the fifth and got two of his four strikeouts on the game, but gave up a double and a single with one out in the sixth and was pulled in favor of Akeel Morris. Morris forced a pop up and a line out to escape the inning, then pitched a perfect seventh and a scoreless eighth (allowing only a walk). Evan Phillips got two quick ground ball outs in the ninth inning, but Ozzie Albies made a critical throwing error on the third that allowed JaCoby Jones to reach. A wild pitch moved Jones to third base, and a single from Michael Almanzar gave the Mud Hens a walk off victory over the Gwinnett Braves.

Next Game: 6/29 vs (34-42) Toledo Mud Hens @ 7:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

GWN: Andrew Albers (6-2, 3.45 ERA)

TOL: Buck Farmer (2-3, 3.59 ERA)

(37-39) Mississippi Braves 1, (47-29) Chattanooga Lookouts 5

Box Score

Travis Demeritte, 3B: 1-4, HR, RBI, .232/.314/.426

Ronald Acuna, CF: 0-4, .316/.370/.471

Connor Lien, RF: 2-2, 2B, BB, .213/.294/.355

Tyler Pike, SP: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 8 BB, 5 K, 6.17 ERA

Travis Demeritte hit an eighth inning home run for the MBraves, scoring the only run of the game in a rough 5-1 loss. That was the 11th home run of the season for Demeritte, which ties him with Carlos Franco for the team lead and pushed him to third in the Southern League in that category. He also added a run scored and is only three behind the league leader with 46 runs on the season. Connor Lien provided the only other real offensive output with two hits on the game, including his 10th double of the season. Lien has been slightly better in June with a .717 OPS, but his 94 strikeouts on the season lead the Southern League by a solid margin. Ronald Acuna’s 0-4 game snapped his five-game hitting streak.

Tyler Pike allowed two runs over 2 13 innings of work, which was actually amazing given the amount of batters he allowed to reach base. The game started out normally as Pike allowed a single and a walk in the first but managed to wiggle out of trouble with two strikeouts. The third inning was quite a disaster though, as after getting two quick outs Pike walked four straight batters on 17 pitches to score Chattanooga’s first run of the game. Pike escaped with only the one run after striking out his fourth of the game, but trouble returned in the third inning. Pike allowed a home run to lead off the inning, which was easily the most fortuitous time as any other would have scored a handful of runs. Pike walked the next batter, got a strikeout, and then walked the next two batters before being pulled with the bases loaded and one out. Pike had thrown 78 pitches and only 31 went for strikes. Michael Mader came on in relief and escaped the inning with two straight strikeouts, but got into trouble of his own in the fourth and allowed a three-run home run after two singles opened the inning. The remainder of the bullpen went into shutdown mode, with Danny Reynolds starting it with four shutout innings. AJ Minter was brought on, and though he allowed a walk and a hit he was able to escape with two strikeouts and pitch a scoreless frame. Devan Watts finished the game with two perfect innings and four strikeouts. In total, the Mississippi pitching staff struck out 18 batters and only allowed six hits, but gave up 11 walks and two home runs to seal their fate.

Next Game: 6/29 vs (47-29) Chattanooga Lookouts @ 8:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

MIS: Max Fried (2-10, 6.54 ERA)

CHA: Felix Jorge (8-1, 3.26 ERA)

(28-44) Florida Fire Frogs 2, (36-38) Jupiter Hammerheads 0

Box Score

Alex Jackson, C: 3-5, 2B, RBI, .283/.352/.522

Austin Riley, 3B: 1-5, .252/.312/.412

Brett Cumberland, DH: 0-4, .257/.424/.513

Enderson Franco, SP: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 6.05 ERA

A battle of the pitching staffs raged down in Jupiter, but in the end Florida came through with the big hit in the 10th inning to give them an extra-inning win. Florida’s first threat of the game came in the fifth, when Brett Cumberland led off with a hit by pitch (his 26th of the season for those counting). Two more quick outs came, but a wild pitch and an error had Cumberland at third with two outs. Anfernee Seymour couldn’t come through, grounding out to end the inning. With two outs in the tenth, Florida finally got going with Austin Riley getting his first base hit of the game. Alex Jackson came through with a go-ahead double to score Riley and give Jackson his 13th double, which is the second most on the team despite Jackson missing more than a month with injury. Jackson was alert on the basepaths as well and advanced to third on the throw trying to cut down Riley, and then scored in the next plate appearance on a wild pitch.

Enderson Franco got the start for Florida, and pitched his second straight strong game for the Fire Frogs. Franco went to work early in the first, throwing a perfect inning and striking out the final two batters. Franco had to work around a hit and a walk in the second, but escaped and bounced back in the 3rd by striking out the side. In the fifth Franco walked two of the batters he faced but struck out the other three to finish the start with a career-high nine strikeouts in his 117th career game. Corbin Clouse pitched the next two innings, and didn’t allow a baserunner while striking out five of the six batters he faced. Clouse struggled to open the season but over his past 16 appearances he hasn’t allowed a single earned run. That span of play is 23 innings, and he has struck out 33 batters and survived a .346 BABIP. Chad Sobotka pitched two scoreless innings, and although he struggled a bit and allowed baserunners into scoring position in both innings he was able to escape and pick up the win in the game. Josh Graham earned the save, allowing only a single in finishing off the game.

Next Game: 6/29 vs (36-38) Jupiter Hammerheads 12:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

FLO: Oriel Caicedo (0-0, 4.50 ERA)

JUP: Ben Meyer (1-0, 1.29 ERA)

(41-36) Rome Braves 1, (39-38) Charleston RiverDogs 14

Box Score

Randy Ventura, DH: 0-4, BB, .299/.342/.327

Cristian Pache, CF: 0-5, RBI, .287/.342/.346

Justin Ellison, RF: 1-4, .271/.322/.464

Jeremy Walker, SP: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 9 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 5.63 ERA

As badly as the offense struggled in this blowout loss, the Rome pitching staff and defense were even worse as the allowed 14 runs including nine unearned runs and five errors. In a bit of an interesting twist, all five errors came from the shortstop and second baseman combo of Marcus Mooney and Kevin Josephina, but those two also produced five of the hits on the game and Mooney scored the only run. Mooney has hit safely in seven of his past eight games and has scored seven runs in that time. The only run came off of a ground out from Cristian Pache that scored Mooney who had tripled with one out in the seventh inning. Carlos Martinez went 4-4 on the day, but with no one getting on base in front of or behind him he did not produce any runs.

Jeremy Walker struggled for Rome, though with little helping hand from the defense, and it got started early as three straight ground balls squeezed through to right field to lead off the game. That scored a run and after a hit by pitch loaded the bases with still none out, a ground out scored the second run. The fifth ground ball to the right side also found the glove of Kevin Josephina, scoring the third run of the inning. Walker allowed a double to lead off the second, but was able to get it to two outs before the first error of the game cost him two runs in the inning. Walker pitched a scoreless third, but fell apart in the fourth and was removed before finishing the inning. Walker allowed three hits before being yanked for Matt Custred, who promptly fell victim to an error that led to four unearned runs being scored. Custred pitched one more scoreless inning, bringing on Taylor Lewis in what was an 11-0 deficit. Lewis allowed only a walk in the sixth, but got into trouble with a leadoff single in the seventh. Lewis got a strikeout for the first out, but a potential double play ball turned into an error and from there the inning unraveled and three more unearned runs scored. Jon Kennedy pitched a scoreless eighth, and Kurt Hoekstra was brought on to prevent the bullpen from using another arm. Hoekstra ended up being the best of the pitchers on the night, firing a perfect inning and striking out two on 11 pitches.

Next Game: 6/29 vs (39-38) Charleston RiverDogs 7:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

ROM: Joey Wentz (3-3, 3.31 ERA)

CSC: Brian Keller (5-5, 3.52 ERA)

(4-3) Danville Braves 3, (2-4) Burlington Royals 2

Box Score

Isranel Wilson, CF: 0-4, .238/.385/.571

Derian Cruz, SS: 1-4, 3B, .208/.240/.333

Bradley Keller, DH: 1-3, HR, BB, 2 RBI, .316/.381/.737

Odalvi Javier, SP: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 4.00 ERA

The Danville Braves fought through a close one, but Bradley Keller’s early success continued with a big game that drove a win. He opened the scoring in the fourth inning with his second home run of the season, bringing in Derian Cruz. Danville tacked on another run in the fifth inning, as Luis Mejia doubled to score Garrison Schwartz. Bradley Keller has shown off some power potential in the past, though it has mostly manifested itself as doubles, but his strong swing-and-miss tendencies prevented him from showing off his ability with the bat. Keller struck out nearly 40 percent of the time last season, and though it is very early it is encouraging to see that number just below 25 percent as he has opened the season with a five-game hitting streak. Derian Cruz has hit safely in his last three games, and had his second extra base hit of the early season with his triple.

Odalvi Javier has been a fairly solid pitcher as a member of the Braves organization with a career 2.72 ERA, and this season he is getting his first taste of life outside of the GCL. Javier had a rough start in his first game, but was good in this one and did enough to get Danville the win. Javier retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced with only a lone single smudging his line, with only one strikeouts but six ground ball outs through three innings. Javier hit two batters with pitches in the fourth, but struck out two to work through it scoreless. Javier allowed two singles to open the fifth, and the first run scored on the second base hit after a passed ball allowed the first to move to second. Javier got two strikeouts and a caught stealing to end the threat in the inning. Javier allowed a couple of one out singles in the fifth inning and was pulled for Cutter Dyals. The second run scored when Dyals got the first man to ground out to Derian Cruz, and Dyals did his best work with the only baserunner reaching base off of him being via error. John Curtis and Kelvin Rodriguez each worked a scoreless inning with a strikeout to close out the game.

Next Game: 6/29 vs (2-4) Burlington Royals 7:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

DAN: Kyle Muller (0-0, 9.82 ERA)

BUR: Michael Messier (0-1, 135.00 ERA)

(1-2) GCL Braves 11, (1-2) GCL Pirates 3

Box Score

Drew Waters, DH: 2-5, 3B, HR, RBI, .250/.250/.875

Abraham Gutierrez, C: 4-5, 2B, 2 RBI, .444/.444/.556

Luis Ovando, 2B: 1-5, HR, 4 RBI, .143/.250/.571

Alger Hodgson, SP: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 4.15 ERA

The GCL Braves offense went on a tear to win their first game of the season, including a five run ninth that put the game well out of reach for the Pirates. Abraham Gutierrez opened the scoring in the first as his RBI double scored Shean Michel to give the Braves an early lead. They added two more runs in the third with the help of some poor defense (shocking stuff for the GCL) and some stolen bases. Drew Waters got his first hit of his career with a triple in the fifth, and he then scored an RBI single from Abraham that stretched the lead to 4-0. The Pirates pulled the game back within two, but the GCL Braves got those runs back with a two out rally in the seventh inning. Gutierrez was the catalyst in this chain reaction, singling to open the rally. Jean Carlos Encarnacion came through with the next hit, and then Yoeli Lopez drove in both runs to stretch the lead to 6-2. Drew Waters opened the ninth inning with a bang, slugging his first professional home run. Abraham Gutierrez followed him with his fourth hit of the day, and then two walks later Luis Ovando came to the plate with the bases loaded. Ovando put the game out of reach with his first swing, getting a grand slam that put the Braves up 11-3. It is certainly encouraging to see Drew Waters doing such strong work early in his career. Unfortunately, that 0 percent walk rate leaves much to be desired although if he can sustain his .625 ISO it might be possible to forgive some OBP shortcomings.

Alger Hodgson, an under-the-radar 18-year old sign out of Nicaragua, got the start for the GCL Braves in his first taste of action outside of the Dominican Summer League. Hodgson needed to work around trouble in the game, allowing six hits over his 4 13 innings, but did so fairly well limiting the Pirates to just two runs. Deyvis Julian pitched 3 23 innings of relief, allowing only one run on a home run. Julian struck out four batters and walked one. Bredio Vega closed the game out with a scoreless ninth inning, allowing two base hits but escaping unharmed.

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