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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Zimmermann Dazzles Again, AJax Homers

Bruce Zimmermann struck out 9 more batters to extend his league over all of minor league baseball, and Alex Jackson hit his third home run of the year. Drew Waters also had two hits

MLB: Atlanta Braves-Media Day Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

(24-29) Gwinnett Stripers 1, (19-33) Louisville Bats 3

Box Score

Austin Riley, 3B: 0-3, BB, .305/.356/.451

Dustin Peterson, RF: 1-4, RBI,

Max Fried, SP: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 3.42 ERA

Max Fried was strong in his start but a lack of run support and a poor outing by the bullpen resulted in a Gwinnett loss. Gwinnett got a lead off single in the game from Danny Santana, but Santana was subsequently caught stealing and the Stripers couldn’t manage another hit until the 6th inning. That hit came from Sal Giardina and was followed by another from Rob Brantly, before a sacrifice bunt and a ground out brought Giardina home to score the first run of the game for Gwinnett and tie the game. That was the last breath the Stripers offense would take in the game, though they had a lead off single in the ninth from Dustin Peterson that was erased by Austin Riley grounding into a double play.

The good news from this game was the good, albeit inefficient work from Max Fried. Fried was brilliant early in the game and didn’t allow a hit through 3 innings, and when he did allow his first hit with one out in the fourth inning he struck out two batters to end the inning without allowing a run. Fried started to wear down in the 5th inning and it became apparent quickly, when he allowed a single and a walk to begin the inning. Another walked followed after a strike out of the pitcher, and Fried allowed the first run of the game on an RBI groundout. The inning and Fried’s outing came to an end on a bizarre play, when Fried’s pickoff attempt towards first got past Carlos Franco. The runner at third broke home on the poor throw, but the ball bounced off of the umpire and Franco was able to throw the runner out at home plate. Jason Hursh got knocked around in the 6th inning and gave up the go ahead second run of the game, and Philip Pfeifer followed him by allowing a run over an inning and two-thirds.

Next Game: 6/3 vs (19-33) Louisville Bats @ 2:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

GWN: Matt Wisler (1-2, 3.90 ERA)

LOU: Brandon Finnegan (0-4, 5.14 ERA)

(25-30) Mississippi Braves 6, (33-22) Biloxi Shuckers 1

Box Score

Tyler Neslony, RF: 1-5, 2B, RBI, .259/.397/.325

Alex Jackson, C: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, .185/.270/.311

Enderson Franco, SP: 5 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 4.30 ERA

Alex Jackson’s second inning home run was the first run of the game and was key in this Mississippi victory. The home run for Jackson was his second in his last three games and his fourth extra base hit in his last 5 games. The third inning for the Braves was their biggest, with 4 hits and two walks in the inning leading to 4 runs and a 5-0 lead. 3 of those hits were doubles, including back-to-back run scoring doubles by Tyler Marlette and Tyler Neslony. Marlette has been a surprising force in the Braves offense, and since the start of May is hitting .360/.436/.573. A fourth inning double from Luis Valenzuela and a single by Marlette scored the sixth and final run of the game for Mississippi and gave them a lead the Shuckers could not answer to.

Enderson Franco came out firing for Mississippi and left no doubt they were going to hold onto their early lead, as he completed 5 innings without allowing a run. Franco was brought out for the sixth inning but was pulled after a hit, a wild pitch, and a walk and he was replaced by Corbin Clouse. Clouse immediately forced a double play for the second out of the inning, but allowed a hit and walk before getting an inning ending strikeout and the shutout was ended. Clouse allowed a one out walk in the seventh inning but forced another double play, this time from Keston Hiura which is impressive given what Hiura has been doing to baseballs lately. Chad Sobotka finished off the game with 2 perfect innings.

Next Game: 6/3 vs (26-29) Montgomery Biscuits @ 6:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

MIS: Kyle Wright (3-5, 4.27 ERA)

MTG: JD Martin (3-7, 4.65 ERA)

(22-28) Florida Fire Frogs 6, (22-30) Clearwater Threshers 10

Box Score

Cristian Pache, CF: 2-4, 2B, BB, RBI, .296/.320/.429

Lucas Herbert, C: 1-4, 2B, .207/.271/.353

Ian Anderson, SP: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 3.68 ERA

A late offensive surge couldn’t overcome a poor pitching performance after Ian Anderson left just 2 innings and 55 pitches into his start. After going down 5-0 the Fire Frogs finally got on the board in the 5th inning when Alejandro Salazar led off the inning with his first home run of the season. Clearwater answered back with 5 runs over the next two innings to put Florida under a nine run deficit. The offense finally woke up in the 8th with doubles from Lucas Herbert and Cristian Pache to lead off the inning and score the second run of the game. Marcus Mooney singled in Pache for the next run, and a bases loaded ground out from Salazar netted the third run of the inning. Pache found himself in the thick of things again in the ninth with a one out single, and he came around to score on Braxton’s Davidson’s two run double. This was the last Florida could must, and they came up short and lost 10-6.

Ian Anderson had a rough go in his time on the mound, with a run, 3 hits and two walks in just two innings of work. Anderson left early after just 55 pitches, with no word or indication of an sort of injury so the hope here is that he left because of throwing too many pitches in a short window. This is a common occurrence in the minor leagues and a 30 pitch inning like his first is often the trigger to this so I wouldn’t yet start to worry. Ian made was for a whole host of struggle out of the bullpen, with Troy Bacon leaving with egg on his face after allowing three runs over 1 13 innings. Jon Kennedy was impeached from his position on the mounf after allowing three runs in his two innings of work, and I don’t have a pun for Mauricio Cabrera but he was pretty bad too. In positive(?) news Mauricio didn’t allow any walks he just got hit really hard as he allowed 3 runs over 1 23 innings. Marcus Mooney, position player pitching extraordinaire, was the only player in the game for either side to not allow a run. Mooney has a 0.00 ERA in two innings of work this season, though there is cause for concern of regression given his peripherals of a 12.5% walk rate and a 0% K rate.

Next Game: 6/3 vs (22-30) Clearwater Threshers @ 1:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

FLO: Kyle Muller (0-1, 4.12 ERA)

CLR: Sixto Sanchez (3-3, 2.95 ERA)

(33-22) Rome Braves 3, (28-25) Columbia Fireflies 1

Box Score

Drew Waters, CF: 2-4, .291/.344/.553

Jean Carlos Encarnacion, 3B: 2-4, 3B, RBI, .299/.333/.428

William Contreras, DH: 1-3, BB, .284/.368/.403

Bruce Zimmermann, SP: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 2.12 ERA

Columbia somehow managed to score a run off of Bruce Zimmermann, but it didn’t matter as Rome countered with three and took a win to put themselves two back of the GreenJackets and first place. Rome trailed 1-0 after an inning, but got that run back in the second inning thanks to Jean Carlos Encarnacion tripling and scoring on a ground out. The Braves went quietly until the sixth inning when Riley Delgado led off with a single. William Contreras and Jean Carlos then singled consecutively to score Delgado and give Rome the first lead of the game. The Braves then tacked on some insurance in the 8th inning thanks to Drew Waters singling, moving to third on a single from Delgado and then scoring on a sacrifice fly. Waters has a 7 game hitting streak, a sustainable .345 BABIP, and the sixth best OPS in the league. Encarnacion extended his hitting streak to 9 games, and in that span has started to see his strikeout rate creep down towards the more sustainable levels he was at last season. William Contreras has a seven game hitting streak of his own and is hitting .361 over his past 10 games.

Bruce Zimmermann came into this game leading Minor League Baseball in strikeouts, and he did well to extend that lead with his fifth 9+ strikeout performance in his last 7 games. Zimmermann got off to an inauspicious start in the game with 3 hits, a walk, and a run allowed in the first inning, but from there he was lights out again and led the Braves to their win. Zimmermann allowed his 6th hit of the game to lead off the 5th inning, and that was the last time the Fireflies could make a dent off of him as he picked that guy off of first base and then struck out 5 of the final 8 batters he faced, leaving the game having thrown less than 100 pitches. Since the start of May Zimmermann has made seven starts and produced a 1.65 ERA, 1.63 FIP, and 62 strikeouts to 13 walks in 43 23 innings. His 62 strikeouts since just the start of May would still rank 6th in the SAL for this entire season, and his 84 strikeouts overall are 14 more than any other player in the league. Kelvin Rodriguez finished the game with 2 scoreless innings.

Next Game: 6/3 vs (28-25) Columbia Fireflies 2:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

ROM: Odalvi Javier (2-2, 4.28 ERA)

COL: Jake Simon (0-3, 3.71 ERA)

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