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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Austin Riley and Greyson Jenista homer in back to back games

A pair of the Braves’ better power hitting prospects are warming up as we had an interesting slate of games on Friday.

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

Gwinnett Braves 8, Toledo Mud Hens 4

Box Score

  • Austin Riley, 3B: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, .750 OPS
  • Travis Demeritte, RF: 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 2 R, .816 OPS
  • Adam Duvall, LF: 2-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, .985 OPS
  • Touki Toussaint, SP: 5 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 5.63 ERA

While Touki Toussaint struggled during his start, the Stripers’ offense backed him up in a big way with five home runs on their way to an 8-4 victory. Touki had trouble missing bats on Friday as he not only struck out just three batters in five innings, but also gave up 11 hits on the evening. Fortunately, he did keep the walks down and was able to limit the damage done for the most part with the notable exception of the three-run home run he gave up in the first inning. Corbin Clouse came on in relief and had arguably his best outing of the season with a pair of scoreless innings with four strikeouts while giving up just a hit and a walk. Jose Rafael de Paula closed the game out for Gwinnett with another strong outing with five strikeouts in two innings of work. de Paula had previously seen time with the Yankees and Padres organizations and has been really good for Gwinnett with a 1.69 ERA in 7 appearances in 2019 with 14 strikeouts in 10.2 innings of work.

There was plenty of power on display from the offense as they had five home runs on the day. Adam Duvall hit a pair of dingers to bring his total to five on the year with homers from Austin Riley, Travis Demeritte, and Andres Blanco as well. Riley has been a notoriously slow starter in previous years, so it is heartening to see him heat up. Not only has he homered in back to back games, but he is batting .316 in his last ten games with four multi-hit games along the way.

Mississippi Braves 3, Mobile BayBears 5

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, CF: 0-4, BB, SB, .827 OPS
  • Cristian Pache, RF: 0-3, .885 OPS
  • Connor Lien, LF: 1-1, 3 BB, .958 OPS
  • Patrick Weigel, SP: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 2.84 ERA

Patrick Weigel had a rough outing and the offense could not really get going as Mississippi fell to Mobile by the score of 5-3. It is to be expected that Weigel, fresh off of a lengthy absence after Tommy John surgery, was going to have command issues coming back and this was just one of those nights. After this three walk outing, Weigel has now issued eight free passes in 6.1 innings of work this season. On the plus side, it is still very early in the season and it is still a really small sample, opposing batters are hitting just .167 so far, and his previous two appearances were quite good. Jeremy Walker, who has been piggybacking Weigel’s appearances this season, performed ably in his 6.1 innings of work as he gave up three runs (only one of which was earned) on five hits while striking out five batters.

The hyper-talented top of the order for Mississippi struggled in this one as Drew Waters and Cristian Pache combined to go 0-7 with a walk and a stolen base (both for Waters). One thing worth noting, Drew Waters does have five errors in the outfield through his first 18 games this season to go along with three assists. Alejandro Salazar had a multi-hit game for Mississippi and Connor Lien, who is off to his best start in a long time, reached base four times. Just 25 years old, Lien is a guy with real tools and talent to go along with a history of swing and miss issues. He is worth keeping an eye on. One last note, CJ Alexander remains out with an elbow injury...he has not played in a game since 4/17.

Florida Fire Frogs 3, St. Lucie Mets 7

Box Score

  • William Contreras, C: 0-3, BB, .717 OPS
  • Greyson Jenista, RF: 1-4, HR, RBI, .657 OPS
  • Tristan Beck, SP: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 7.71 ERA
  • Justin Kelly, RP: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 5.93 ERA

Tristan Beck had to leave his start early and the bullpen struggled in his absence as the Fire Frogs fell by the score of 7-3. Beck was forced to leave the game in the second inning with a groin injury which is the exclamation point on what has been a rough start to the 2019 season for him. While it isn’t known exactly what happened since the Florida State League has some sort of aversion to streaming its games, Beck did have to make a play on a ground ball in that same inning. Brooks Wilson came on in relief and gave up five hits in 2.2 innings of work. After that, Justin Kelly came in and had a rough night as he gave up five runs on three hits and three walks in 1.1 innings which ultimately decided the game.

On offense, it is nice to see Greyson Jenista coming around as he has homered in back to back games. The hit tool still has a ways to go in terms of actually showing up in games, but seeing some of that raw power has been a nice development. Shean Michel reached base three times for Florida and both of the Rileys (Unroe and Delgado) drove in runs for the Fire Frogs. Jordan Rodgers also made his season debut for Florida and went 1-3.

Rome Braves 6, Kannapolis Intimidators 4

Box Score

  • Justin Dean, CF: 2-5, CS, .719 OPS
  • Logan Brown, DH: 3-4, 2 R, .905 OPS
  • Griffin Benson, 1B: 2-3, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, 2 R, .634 OPS
  • Alan Rangel, SP: 4 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 6.35 ERA
  • Victor Vodnik, SP: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2.13 ERA

Rome used a balanced offensive attack and strong work from the bullpen to secure a 6-4 win on Friday evening. Alan Rangel was fairly meh in his four innings of work. One doesn’t ever want to give up four runs in the same number of innings, but he did strike out six batters so not all was bad. Fortunately, the bullpen was excellent as Luis Mora, Victor Vodnik, and Kurt Hoekstra combined for five scoreless innings with three walks and six strikeouts. We have talked about Vodnik’s high octane fastball and early season success a bunch, but hats off to Hoekstra for making the transition from position player to pitcher and doing well so far with a 0.96 ERA in 8 appearances with 18 strikeouts in 9.1 innings of work against just three walks.

Justin Dean, Logan Brown, and Griffin Benson all had multi-hit games for Rome as each of the 1-7 hitters recorded hits for the Braves. Rome may want to find some more ways to get Logan Brown’s bat in the lineup more as he has four multi-hit games through his first 11 games. While he only has three extra-base hits so far, he really seems to have things going at the plate in 2019. Trey Harris was his usual excellent self as he reached base twice with a hit and a walk.

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