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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Austin Riley is heating up, Hayden Deal with another gem

Austin Riley had one of his better games and Hayden Deal just keeps putting up performance after performance.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Atlanta Braves Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Gwinnett Stripers 5, Indianapolis Indians 2

Box Score

  • Austin Riley, 3B: 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI, .652 OPS
  • Rafael Ortega, RF: 2-4, SB, 1.069 OPS
  • Kyle Wright, SP: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 6.00 ERA

Kyle Wright had a decent start down in Triple-A and he was backed from a well-rounded offensive effort led by Austin Riley to help secure a 5-2 win over Indianapolis. The good news here is that Wright limited hard contact well and seemed pitch well beyond the first time through the order which has been an issue for him in the past. He did walk three batters which is less than ideal, but they were spread out over the course of his start and he did well to keep the ball on the ground for the most part. Ben Rowen and Jose Rafael De Paula combined for three scoreless innings of relief while Grant Dayton pitched the final inning with a pair of strikeouts and a solo homer being the only blemish. Of note, the relief corps did not allow a single walk.

On offense, Austin Riley looks like he is slowly working out of his early season funk. He has six in his past seven games and had a pair of doubles in the game while driving in a pair of runs and scoring a pair as well. Pedro Florimon and Ryan LaMarre drove in runs for Gwinnett as well as the Stripers went 3-9 with runners in scoring position. Riley’s two doubles were the only extra-base hits in the game for Gwinnett, but the Stripers were able to string together enough singles in timely situations to get runs across and get the win.

Mississippi Braves 3, Montgomery Biscuits 7

Box Score

  • Cristian Pache, RF: 0-4, .919 OPS
  • Jonathan Morales, C: 2-4, run, .854 OPS
  • Connor Lien, CF: 1-4, HR, 3 RBI, .983 OPS
  • Ian Anderson, SP: 4 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 4.76 ERA

This was not Ian Anderson’s finest effort as Montgomery was all over him as Mississippi fell by the final score of 7-3. Ian’s really began in the third inning where he walked the bases loaded and then gave up a double that would have scored three runs except that Cristian Pache is really good at baseball and threw the third runner out at home to limit the damage. He had two more walks the next inning and Philip Pfeifer, who has struggled, allowed an inherited runner to score after Ian was taken out after an RBI double. Huascar Ynoa came on in relief after that and threw two scoreless innings while giving up three hits and striking out one. Jason Hurst closed things out for Mississippi with a scoreless inning to bring his season ERA to 1.86.

Offensively, the usual suspects were quiet as Drew Waters had the day off and Cristian Pache went 0-4. Jonathan Morales had a pair of hits and is off to a strong start to the season with an .854 OPS and Connor Lien, who just a few years ago was one of our bigger prospect crushes after he went on a tear in high-A, continued his good work with another home run (his fourth of the season). Issues with his hit tool and a horrific strikeout rate have stalled Lien’s development, but he is a terrific defensive player with real raw power and speed, so it is nice to see him off to a strong start to the season.

Florida Fire Frogs 0, Clearwater Threshers 1

Box Score

  • Riley Unroe, SS: 2-3, 2B, .818 OPS
  • William Contreras, C: 1-4, .679 OPS
  • Hayden Deal, SP: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1.50 ERA

Hayden Deal was excellent yet again, but the Florida offense went completely quiet as they went down to the Threshers by the score of 1-0. It took six innings, but the Threshers managed to squeeze a walk and two hits off of Deal to get a run across. Other than that inning, Deal was untouchable and has been one of the better stories for the Braves in the minor leagues this season. Deal was an undrafted minor league free agent as is quietly making a case to be considered among the better pitching prospects for the Braves especially in the lower minors.

Not much to share on offense as the Fire Frogs managed just five hits and only one of them going for extra bases (a double off the bat of Riley Unroe). Unroe had a pair of hits out of the leadoff spot, but the rest of the offensive output came from singles from William Contreras, Drew Lugbauer, and Jefrey Ramos. The Fire Frogs struck out 16 times on Tuesday evening which tells you a lot about how the game went.

Rome Braves 2, Lakewood BlueClaws 3

Box Score

  • Trey Harris, RF: 2-4, SB .985 OPS
  • Greg Cullen, 2B: 1-3, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, .665 OPS
  • Jose Olague, SP: 3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 0 K, 4.58 ERA
  • Jose Montilla, RP: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0.00 ERA

Tough game for Rome as a rough start from Jose Olague and offensive struggles later in the game led to the Braves falling by the score of 3-2. We were on hand for this game and Olague sat 89-90 for most of the start with middling at best stuff. Given the number of baserunners he saw in his time on the mound, the Braves were fortunate to only give up three runs but saw some strong defensive plays from Trey Harris, who made a tremendous diving catch as well as a terrific throw from right to gun down a runner at third, and Carlos Paraguate who turned some nifty plays at short. Jake Higginbotham and Jose Montilla were both excellent in their relief stints yet again. Both could be interesting candidates to be converted back to starters with Jake having starting experience at Clemson and Montilla having been a starter the last couple of years in rookie ball.

On offense, Trey Harris had his usual multi-hit game (he has five of them in his past 10 games) and Justin Dean reached base twice out of the leadoff spot. Rome yet again simply struggled with runners in scoring position as they went just 1-9 there and the bottom four batters in the order combined for just a single hit and three walks in the game.

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