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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Top pitching prospects end year on high note, AJax hits two homers

Kyle Wright Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Gwinnett Braves 2, Durham Bulls 5

Box Score

  • Ronald Acuna, RF: 0-3, BB, .338/.388/.536
  • Kade Scivicque, C: 1-2, BB, run, .293/.369/.400
  • Aaron Blair, SP: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 5.02 ERA

The bullpen faltered late in this game as Durham defeated the Braves by the score of 5-2. Aaron Blair made his final start of 2017 in the minors and was largely good with eight strikeouts in just under five innings. His 5.02 ERA in 2017 is not great, but his FIP was better than that at 4.33 and his numbers are inflated a bit by his last three starts where he gave up a total of 17 earned runs. Still a tough year overall, but there are reasons to think he could be in line for improvement in 2018.

The Gwinnett offense was relatively quiet as Ronald Acuna was held largely in check as he went 0-3 with a walk. Dustin Peterson struggled mightily in this game as he went 0-4 with three strikeouts. He is hitting .121 over his last ten games with 12 strikeouts and just one walk over that span. Don’t sleep on Kade Scivicque. After reaching base twice in this game, he extended his hitting streak to eight games and sports a .769 OPS in 22 games in Triple-A.

Mississippi Braves 3, Birmingham Barons 0 - Game One

Box Score

  • Joey Meneses, DH: 1-2, HR, BB, RBI, .287/.357/.394
  • Alex Jackson, C: 1-2, inside the park HR, RBI, .237/.308/.423
  • Kolby Allard, SP: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 3.18 ERA

Mississippi Braves 4, Birmingham Barons 3 - F/13 - Game Two

Box Score

  • Travis Demeritte, 2B: 2-6, run, .231/.308/.398
  • Alex Jackson, DH: 1-4, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 runs, .237/.308/.423
  • Mike Soroka, SP: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 2.75 ERA

Two of the Braves top pitching prospects, Mike Soroka and Kolby Allard, showed out in their final starts of the season as Mississippi swept their doubleheader with Birmingham by the scores of 3-0 and 4-3. Kolby Allard threw a complete game shutout in his half of the doubleheader while allowing just two baserunners. He has closed the year on a strong note in allowing just six earned runs in his final 32 23 innings while walking just three batters and striking out 37 batters. Mike Soroka was on point as well in going six innings while giving up just one run and striking out seven batters. In 19 of his 26 starts in Double-A this season, Soroka gave up two runs or less and in 16 of his starts he gave up one run or less.

On offense, Alex Jackson did some work as he had home runs in each half of the doubleheader. His second home run was the conventional over the fence variety, but his first one was an inside the parker. I haven’t looked too hard to confirm, but given he is a catcher who is not known for being fleet of foot...that is likely the first inside the park homer of his professional career. Connor Lien won the second game in extra innings for Mississippi with an RBI infield single in the bottom of the 13th inning.

Florida Fire Frogs 3, Daytona Tortugas 4

Box Score

  • Braxton Davidson, LF: 0-1, 3 BB, .213/.339/.312
  • Alejandro Salazar, 3B: 2-4, RBI, .247/.265/.307
  • Kyle Wright, SP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3.18 ERA

Kyle Wright made what was likely his final appearance of 2017 and pitched well as Florida fell to Daytona 4-3. Wright’s first stint in pro ball has been a nearly unqualified success. While the Braves have managed his innings carefully, Wright has proven to be a special talent who could move through the system very quickly once he has a full offseason to rest up and get stretched back out as a starter. Unfortunately, the bullpen allowed Daytona to get back into the game and the offense could not keep pace.

Braxton Davidson had was has turned into what is a close to peak outcome for him at this point as he drew a bunch of walks. Braxton hasn’t hit for power or much of anything for that matter this season. His level assignment next season will tell us more about exactly what the Braves think about his development, but to say that the results have been discouraging after repeating a level this season seems pretty fair.

Rome Braves 2, Columbia Fireflies 4

Box Score

  • Isranel Wilson, RF/CF: 1-4, RBI, BB, .248/.322/.312
  • Drew Lugbauer, 3B: 2-4, 2B, RBI, .279/.339/.459
  • Joey Wentz, SP: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 2.60 ERA

Joey Wentz also ended his season on a high note, but the offense struggled for Rome as it has for several stretches this season and the bullpen gave up four runs as the Braves lost by the score of 4-2. While it looks like the ERA title in the South Atlantic League will elude him, Wentz has had an unbelievable first season of full season ball as he posted a 2.60 ERA while striking out 152 batters in his 131 23 innings this season. Some scouts have stated that Wentz has among the highest ceilings in the Braves’ system which is frankly remarkable given the sheer amount of talent on the mound in the Braves’ minor leagues. Sadly, Walter Borkovich had a rough relief appearance as he gave up four runs (three earned) which proved to be the difference in the game.

On offense, Isranel Wilson and Drew Lugbauer each drove runs for Rome, but unfortunately there was little to get excited about beyond that. Cristian Pache recorded a hit, but was pulled from the game for a pinch runner as he tightened up while going first to third. There are no indications that the injury will be a lasting one, but it will be worth monitoring how Rome handles him for the last couple of games of the season.

GCL Braves 7, GCL Tigers East 0

Box Score

  • Livan Soto, SS: 1-3, HBP, 2 runs, .225/.332/.254
  • Jeremy Fernandez, LF: 1-3, HR, 5 RBI, .305/.330/.463
  • Deyvis Julian, RP: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 3.35 ERA

Jeremy Fernandez was a one-man wrecking crew as he hit a grand slam in the GCL Braves’ 7-0 win. Fernandez drove in five of the Braves’ seven runs and has quietly posted a .793 OPS in rookie ball this season. Yunior Severino did not play due to a rumored minor groin injury and Deyvis Julian did play and played well. Julian struck out six batters in four innings of relief work.

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