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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Starting Pitching Dominates

Bryse Wilson, Jasseel De La Cruz, and Tucker Davidson all starred for their teams on the mound. Cristian Pache led the way on offense with two extra base hits.

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

(7-5) Gwinnett Stripers 6, (8-5) Charlotte Knights 10 F/11

Box Score

  • Austin Riley, 3B: 1-6, 2 RBI, .180/.255/.320
  • Travis Demeritte, RF: 1-5, .333/.415/.500
  • Bryse Wilson, SP: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 5.40 ERA

Despite a good pitching performance from Bryse Wilson the Stripers could not hold on to a late lead, then fell in extra innings after allowing a big inning. Gwinnett got out to an early lead in the second inning when Adam Duvall drew a leadoff walk, advanced on Pedro Florimon’s single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. A Ryan LaMarre double and Sean Kazmar single added another tick in the 4th inning, but Charlotte came right back and held a one run lead after the sixth inning. A leadoff double in the 8th inning gave Gwinnett a chance to pull even in the 8th inning, and they did not waste any time as Austin Riley smashed a single up the middle to score Andres Blanco for the tying run. LaMarre gave Gwinnett the lead once again later in the inning, knocking in Riley with his second hit of the game to make it 4-3 in favor of the Stripers. After Charlotte added two in the ninth the Stripers once again found themselves fighting back in the bottom of the inning, this time with only 3 outs to do it. Gwinnett loaded the bases with one out, and Riley once again tied the game this time by grounding into an RBI force out to make it 5-5. Neither team scored in the 10th inning, but in the top of the 11th the Knights went for 5 runs and Gwinnett could only return one, falling by a score of 10-6.

Bryse Wilson got off to a quick start in the game, retiring the first 6 batters he faced and striking out 3 of those. Wilson got into a bit of a pickle in the third inning when he allowed two hits, but he was able to work around the trouble and not allow a run to score. Wilson added two more strikeouts in the 4th inning, and in the 5th allowed his first run on a leadoff double to Preston Tucker and then a two out single that cut the Stripers lead down to 2-1. Wilson was brought out for the sixth inning and retired two batters quickly, but then he loaded the bases on two hits and a walk before Austin Riley’s first error of the season allowed two runs to score and gave Charlotte the lead. Ben Rowen was fantastic in relief and retired all 7 of the batters he faced—striking out 4 of them. Thomas Burrows was brought in to close out the game in the 9th inning, but struggled allowing a single, a walk, and the a 2 run double that gave the lead right back to Charlotte. Walter Borkovich made his Triple-A debut and for the moment gave the Stripers something to hope for, retiring all three batters he faced and stranding the runner at second base. The Stripers offense could not come through despite a wild pitch putting their gifted runner at third base with nobody out, and Borkovich was forced to come in or a second inning. Borkovich allowed 3 runs on two walks and a two hits before he recorded his first out, then two sacrifice hits brought in another two runs and put the Stripers in a deep hole they could not climb out of.

Next Game: 4/11 vs (8-5) Charlotte Knights @ 7:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

GWN: Mike Soroka (1-0, 3.86 ERA)

CHA: Jordan Stephens (0-2, 10.61 ERA)

(5-5) Mississippi Braves 5, (4-6) Chattanooga Lookouts 3

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, CF: 2-5, 2B, .333/.388/.422
  • Cristian Pache, RF: 2-5, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, .341/.364/.610
  • Jonathan Morales, C: 1-4, 2B, .333/.387/.481
  • Tucker Davidson, SP: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1.00 ERA

Big innings and another strong performance from the top of the lineup gave Mississippi a 5-3 win over Chattanooga. The Mississippi offense was held in check in the early frames of the ballgame, but in the 5th inning Jonathan Morales led off with a double that put the Braves in prime position. A single by Connor Lien set up Daniel Lockhart’s 2-run double that tied the game up with still nobody out. Cristian Pache’s double delivered the third run of the inning, giving Mississippi their first lead of the game. Chattanooga came back to tie things up in the 6th inning, but Mississippi was right there to grab the lead back in the next half inning. Lockhart led off the inning with a double, then Cristian Pache drove him in with a triple to give the Braves a 4-3 lead. Luis Valenzuela then followed with a double to put the Braves lead at 5-3, which they held for the remainder of the game. Pache is currently 6th in the Southern League batting race despite his early struggles with strikeouts (2 in this game, 13 in 44 plate appearances this season) and is the only player in the league with 3 triples and one of only three players that have 8 extra base hits.

Tucker Davidson put a solid start out on his resume in this game, striking out 7 batters over 5 innings. Davidson set the side down in order with two strikeouts in the first inning, but the second was a bit of a struggle when he allowed hits to the first two batters. A double play bailed him out of that, before a walk and another ground out capped off a scoreless inning. Two hits in the third inning (one to pitcher Rob Wooten) gave Chattanooga their first and only earned run of the day off of Davidson, but Drew Waters was able to prevent further damage by throwing out Taylor Trammell trying to stretch his two out double into a triple. A fielding error in the fourth inning cost Davidson another run, and he struck out his fourth batter of the game. Tucker finished his outing with his strongest frame, striking out the side in order. Jonathan Aro came in and allowed a solo home run that tied the game back up in the sixth inning, then Josh Graham continued his good early work with 2 scoreless innings of relief. Dylan Creasy closed out the game with a scoreless 9th to earn the save and give the Braves a 5-3 win.

Next Game: 4/17 vs (4-6) Chattanooga Lookouts @ 7:15 PM ET

Probable Starters

MIS: Ian Anderson (0-0, 3.24 ERA)

CHA: TBD

(5-8) Florida Fire Frogs 3, (4-9) Clearwater Threshers 4

Box Score

  • Jefrey Ramos, LF: 1-3, RBI, .260/.255/.420
  • Greyson Jenista, 2B: 1-4, 2B, .225/.304/.300
  • William Contreras, C: 2-4, 2B, RBI, .268/.333/.415
  • Freddy Tarnok, SP: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 4.73 ERA

Florida dropped this game late in the contest, falling in a close one for their 4th straight loss. The Fire Frogs jumped out early in the contest to grab the lead, with Riley Unroe walking and then being scored on William Contreras’s RBI double. A double from Greyson Jenista got Contreras to third (someone who could watch the game please explain in the comments) and Jefrey Ramos lifted a sacrifice fly(more on that to come) to score Contreras and give Florida a 2-0 lead after the first inning. Florida slowly leaked away that lead and finished the fifth tied at two, before finally having another break through in the sixth inning. Ramos doubled to lead off the inning, then advanced on a ground ball and scored on a sacrifice fly to give Florida the lead once again at 3-2. The Fire Frogs then struck out 6 times over the final three innings, managed only one hit (thank you Kevin Josephina for attempting to be the hero with two outs in the ninth inning), and gave away the lead to lose the game. You will notice in the stat line above that Jefrey Ramos has a lower on base percentage than a batting average. This was the case a few weeks ago for Cristian Pache and happens somewhat frequently early in the season especially with prospects who walk as infrequently as many Braves prospects do. Ramos, notorious for not drawing many walks, has not drawn a walk or been hit by a pitch this season, so when he lifted that sacrifice fly in the first inning he officially had one plate appearance that did not count as an at bat, and since that plate appearance resulted in an out it lowered his on base percentage but not his batting average. We get asked about this a lot every season early on, and that is the full explanation. Sacrifice flies probably should count as at bats but the old baseball heads liked rewarding small ball and people intentionally making outs so bunts don’t count either. Still an out and another reason why on base percentage is significantly more important than batting average.

Freddy Tarnok did not hit a sacrifice fly in the game, though fortunately he did record some outs although this was not the brightest of Tarnok starts. Tarnok didn’t work a clean inning out of his four, and of his 73 pitches only 39 were strikes. He’s still raw, I’m not seeing any reason to panic, but he definitely struggled with command today and will continue to put up starts like this over the course of the season. All three of Tarnok’s walks came in the first inning, as did two of his three strikeouts, but loading the bases brought nothing to fruition as he worked out of the jam without allowing a run. A leadoff double in the second inning turned into the first run of the game, with a two out single bringing him in to score before a caught stealing ended the inning. Tarnok got two quick ground outs in the third inning, but a two out home run tied the game before Tarnok was able to strike out his third and final batter of the game to end the inning. Tarnok worked well in the 4th inning, with the only baserunner coming on a hit batter with two outs. He threw 10 total pitches that inning and in his last two only threw 22 after throwing 51 pitches over his first two innings. Two consecutive errors with one out in the 7th inning cost reliever Brooks Wilson, and though the Fire Frogs limited it to one run they were unable to hold their 3-2 lead. Daysbel Hernandez allowed a solo home run in the 8th inning that gave the Threshers the lead and eventually the win.

Next Game: 4/17 vs (4-9) Clearwater Threshers @ 6:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

FLO: Hayden Deal (1-0, 0.82 ERA)

CLR: Damon Jones (0-1, 1.13 ERA)

(5-7) Rome Braves 8, (5-7) Columbia Fireflies 1

Box Score

  • Andrew Moritz, LF: 1-4, BB, SB, .325/.357/.350
  • Griffin Benson, 1B: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, .195/.283/.463
  • Jasseel De La Cruz, SP: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 2.25 ERA
  • Jake Higginbotham, RP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 0,00 ERA

Rome played a tightly contested pitcher’s duel for seven and a half innings, before deciding in the eighth inning that one run just wasn’t enough and scoring * checks notes* SEVEN more. Rome jumped out early in the second inning with the help of a two out error. Carlos Paraguate doubled to score a run and give the Braves a lead but Darling Florentino was erased trying to score from first base and Rome had to settle for just the one run. They then took their customary afternoon nap for about 5 innings because, hey, it was a long night and we all get sleepy after lunch it’s normal. Sometime between the end of the 7th and the beginning of the 8th, after recording just one hit in the previous five innings, someone gave them a quick tap on the shoulder and the offense exploded. Paraguate led off with his second double of the game (and season) and was scored by an Andrew Moritz single. This would have been enough to win the game, but were they done? Nope.

Greg Cullen and Logan Brown singled consecutively with one out to make it 3-1 in favor of Rome, then Trey Harris walked to load the bases before Griffin Benson came through with a huge double to make the lead 5-1. Braulio Vasquez, Garrett’s personal cheeseball, singled in the 5th run of the inning. Columbia made their second pitching change of the inning but the Braves are cruel and unwavering and brought in two more runs although they didn’t have to do much. The new pitcher walked three batters and brought in a run on a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch, with Paraguate getting the 7th and final RBI of the inning. In total the Braves brought 13 batters to the plate, scored seven of them, and then stranded the bases loaded because they gotta learn how to do that early if they want to make it to Atlanta. Trey Harris remains the South Atlantic League leader in batting average. Harris has three more hits than any other player in the league, with teammate Justin Dean tying a handful (like if you have really big hands) of other guys for second place.

The pitching staff, well they didn’t allow seven runs in an inning so we can count that as a win. Jasseel De La Cruz was pre-injury JDLC in this start, dominating over 5 innings with 6 strikeouts and only one run allowed. De La Cruz struggled a bit in the fourth inning, hitting a batter and allowing his only two walks of the game, but he was able to keep the damage to a minimum and keep the game at 1-1 thanks to a critical double play with the bases loaded. Jose Montilla was phenomenal again in relief, firing his third straight scoreless outing over three innings. Montilla did not allow a walk, only threw 32 pitches (24 strikes) and struck out 2 batters. Montilla has only allowed 2 hits and hit one batter over 10 innings this season. Jake Higginbotham continued to strikeout everybody with two more in a scoreless inning. He has 11 strikeouts now in his 6 23 innings of work this season, putting him second on the team in strikeouts.

Next Game: 4/17 vs (5-7) Columbia Fireflies 1:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

ROM: Jose Olague (1-1, 4.66 ERA)

COL: TBD

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