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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap 4/29: Wentz struggles, Cruz has a big game

The Braves’ affiliates went 2-2 on Sunday with several strong offensive performances in the lower minors

Derian Cruz connected for a home run as Rome saw several long balls in their latest victory
Jeff Morris

Gwinnett Stripers 4, Durham Bulls 5

Box Score

  • Jose Bautista, 3B: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, run, .200/.310/.240
  • Rio Ruiz, DH: 2-4, 2B, RBI, .238/.299/.350
  • Dustin Peterson, LF: 1-3, 2B, BB, RBI, .276/.337/.447
  • Andres Santiago, SP: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 3.63 ERA

Andres Santiago pitched well until his last inning as Durham rallied to defeated the Stripers by the score of 5-4. Santiago pitched five strong innings for Gwinnett until the wheels came off in the sixth where he gave up two hits and two walks. Predictably, Jason Hursh came on in relief and gave up a three-run double and all of those runs were charged to Santiago’s ledger. The bigger story on the pitching side from this game was who DIDN’T pitch as Mike Soroka was a late scratch from his start. This was due to a potential call-up to the major leagues in the event that Julio Teheran’s shoulder/trapezius muscle was still bothering him in yesterday’s bullpen session. Fortunately for Julio, he felt better and is on track, along with Anibal Sanchez, to make their starts this week. However, this highlights exactly how close Soroka is to joining the Braves’ rotation and he should get called up this season and I would wager sooner rather than later.

On the offensive side, Gwinnett outhit Durham 11-7 thanks to multi-hit games from Jose Bautista, Rio Ruiz, Sean Kazmar, and Ezequiel Carrera. Unfortunately, the team wasn’t able to capitalize as much on scoring opportunities as they would like as they went 3 for 10 with runner’s in scoring position. This game was Jose Bautista’s best game since he joined the Braves as he looks to try and force his way to the major leagues. After a very slow start to the season, Dustin Peterson is really heating up as he is hitting .341 over his last 10 games after a double and a walk in yesterday’s game.

Mississippi Braves 1, Jackson Generals 8

Box Score

  • Jonathan Morales, 3B: 1-3, BB, RBI, .244/.340/.268
  • Travis Demeritte, LF: 2-4, .215/.311/.369
  • Alex Jackson, C: 1-4, .208/.339/.313
  • Wes Parsons, SP: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 2.20 ERA

This was a tough game for Mississippi as the offense sputtered, the bullpen struggled, and the defense faltered in an 8-1 loss to Jackson. Wes Parsons did his best to keep Mississippi in the game in going five innings and giving up three runs (two earned) while striking out four batters. The bullpen tandem of Connor Johnstone and Adam McCreery would go on to give up five runs that put the game out of reach, although just two of them were earned runs as the Mississippi defense made four errors on the evening.

On offense, Mississippi managed just five singles on the evening. Before anyone gets too concerned, Austin Riley had the evening off which is well-deserved given his hot start to the season. Travis Demeritte had the only multi-hit game for the Braves and has been hitting much better since his slow start to the season. He is hitting .324 over his last 10 games with three walks and nine strikeouts. As it turns out, Tyler Neslony is actually capable of have a dud of a game here and there as he was held hitless in this one. That said, he has been arguably the most consistent hitter in the Braves’ farm system through the first month of the season.

Florida Fire Frogs 4, Lakeland Flying Tigers 3

Box Score

  • Cristian Pache, CF: 0-4, 2 RBI, BB, run, .289/.303/.402
  • Brett Cumberland, DH: 0-3, RBI, 2 BB, .260/.360/.468
  • Joey Wentz, SP: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 0 K, 3.00 ERA

This was a bit of a weird game as Joey Wentz uncharacteristically struggled, but the Fire Frogs found a way to win by the score of 4-3. Wentz just didn’t have it on this night as he failed to escape the third inning and gave up three earned runs on four hits and FIVE walks. After 76 pitches and struggling, Wentz’s night was done, but the bullpen crew of Troy Bacon, Thomas Burrows, and Chad Sobotka came up big with 6.1 innings of scoreless relief to keep Florida in the game. Burrows, in particular, was impressive with five strikeouts in two innings of relief with just one walk as the only blemish on his line.

On offense, Cristian Pache and Brett Cumberland combined for three RBIs in the game, which is impressive when you consider that neither one of them recorded a hit. Pache walked for the second time this season and scored on an RBI triple from Braxton Davidson. He then had an RBI ground out in the third and Cumberland promptly followed with another. Pache would then drive in what would turn out to be the game-winning run in the top of the 9th with another RBI ground out.

Rome Braves 6, Hagerstown Suns 3

Box Score

  • Derian Cruz, 2B: 3-5, HR, 3 RBI, 2 runs, .241/
  • Jefrey Ramos, LF: 1-5, HR, 2 RBI, .253/
  • Isranel Wilson, CF: 2-4, HR, RBI, 2 runs, .164/
  • Alan Rangel, SP: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 5.40 ERA

Rome connected for three home runs as they took down Hagerstown by the score of 6-3. Alan Rangel pitched well for the Braves as he gave up three earned runs in six innings of work. Rangel’s start to the season would look much better on paper if not for a particularly poor start on 4/9 that saw him give up six runs in two innings, but beyond that he has been excellent. Walter Borkovich, Kelvin Rodriguez, and Brandon White each threw scoreless innings of relief to lock down the win.

Derian Cruz had himself a game as he had three hits including his second home run of the season while driving in three runs. The fun didn’t stop there as both Jefrey Ramos and Izzy Wilson connected for home runs of their own to help build Rome’s lead. In what feels like a scheduled sentence in these recaps, Riley Delgado had two more hits to add on to his impressive first month of the season. Given his age and performance, he could get promoted to at least high-A as the minor league roster shuffle begins in late spring and early summer. Jean Carlos Encarnacion had a hit in the game, but had to leave the game early after fouling a ball off his foot. However, all indications are that he is fine...the weather is quite cold up there and that made things sting even more so he was taken out as a precautionary measure.

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