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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: There’s Nothing Spooky About Opening Day

Braves leadoff hitters combined to go 9-17 with 2 BBs. All starters shined on Day 1 too.

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

Just a quick reference for where players are starting the season.

Gwinnett Stripers 3, Norfolk Tides (Orioles) 1

Box Score

  • Rafael Ortega, CF: 3-4, 2B, HR, RBI, 2 R, K
  • Adam Duvall, LF: 1-4, 2B, RBI, E
  • Austin Riley, 3B: 0-3, BB, 2 K
  • Alex Jackson, C: 1-4
  • Mike Foltynewicz, SP: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
  • Corbin Clouse, RP: 1.2 IN, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

Braves ace pitcher Mike Foltynewicz pitched splendidly in his rehab start. He didn’t give up a hit all night and pretty much cruised through his 5 innings. This is exactly what you’d want in what should be his only rehab start. Once Folty left and Clouse came in, he got into a bit of trouble right away, but pitched his way out of it. Elian Leyva was great, striking out 2 in his 1.1 innings of relief. Thomas Burrows came on in a save situation, and wasn’t sharp. He did give up the run, but managed to close the game out notching a save on his belt.

Duvall did hit a double in the 1st to score the first run of the season. The offensive player of the game was Ortega. He got on base 3 times, which included a home run and a double. Austin Riley was working some counts, so even though he struck out twice today, the long term outlook could be more walks in his future. He also didn’t get credit for an RBI when he grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the 3rd.

Mississippi Braves 5, Tennessee Smokies (Cubs) 7

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, RF: 3-4, 2B, R, BB, K
  • Cristian Pache, CF: 1-5, 3B, RBI, R, K, 2SB
  • CJ Alexander, 1B: 1-4, RBI, R, BB, 2K
  • Ray Patrick Didder, SS: 0-5, 3K (5 LOB)
  • Ian Anderson, SP: 4IP, 3H, 1ER, 3BB, 7K

There’s so many things to talk about this game, but let’s start with Ian Anderson. He was effectively wild. He bounced about 10 curve balls (1 wild pitch), and really made Jonathan Morales work behind the plate. However, when Anderson was on, he was painting corners and dropping some sick 12/6 curves in the bottom of the zone. He threw some nice changeups in the first 2 innings, but went away from the pitch from some reason or if he did throw them later they didn’t fade. Let’s get back to painting corners. If not for Morales doing his best Flowers impersonation, this game could have gotten out of hand. Morales consistently got Ian those borderline pitches and did some good work blocking at the plate because again, Ian threw a lot of pitches in the dirt. The bullpen wasn’t as bad as the numbers look. All of them allowed at least 1 run, ultimately blowing the game in the 8th inning, but the main reason was the defense.

The Braves defense made the pitching look worse than it was. Lien in particular, and his calling card is supposed to be defense. There was a play in the first where he just barely got to the ball and he didn’t even have far to run. Another where the ball just plopped down in front of him and someone like Waters would have gotten to that ball. Lien also kicked a ball that allowed the runner to get all the way to 3rd base, and eventually score. The Braves had 4 errors in total, so yeah, it was just sloppy out there.

Drew Waters is good at baseball. He only had 1 AB where he took some bad swings, but other than that he was making good hard contact. He was a little sloppy when on first base. He tried to steal 2nd multiple times, almost getting picked off twice, but a dropped ball and a misthrow by the catcher allowed him to get back safely. The aggressiveness is nice to see. Cristian Pache looked bad today. He was swinging at balls out of the zone. His one hit was pretty nice as he hit it to the opposite field gap. He was getting fooled by the opposing pitcher’s off speed pitches all night and swinging at high fastball out of the zone. These things are worth noting and it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts throughout the year. Pache was aggressive stealing 2nd and 3rd after he got on via an infield error. However, taking a closer look, the catcher made the worst throw possible to 2nd base and even then, the play was close. A decent throw likely gets Pache. His steal of 3rd base was the complete opposite, he was practically to 3rd base before the pitcher threw the ball home. If the pitcher was paying attention, again, he could have stepped off the rubber and got him in a rundown. I’m not trying to be harsh on Pache, but he really had some luck going this game. While Pache has speed, he still needs has a lot to learn about the art of the steal.

CJ Alexander got a timely hit in the 6th to score a run, but outside of that, he didn’t look particularly great at the plate either. It’s also the first game of the season, so guys are amped up and likely to chase pitches they otherwise wouldn’t if they were thinking more clearly. RPD was just bad at the plate all game. He struck out three times and when the game was on the line in the 9th with 2 runners on, he hit a weak infield pop up.

Florida Fire Frogs 2, Daytona Tortugas (Reds) 1

Box Score

  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 1-3, 2B, RBI, R, BB, K
  • Shean Michel, RF: 1-4, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 K
  • William Contreras, C: 0-3, BB, K
  • Greyson Jenista, CF: 0-3, BB, 3 K
  • Jefrey Ramos, LF: 1-4, K
  • Rusber Estrada, DH: 2-4, R, K
  • Huascar Ynoa, SP: 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K

Shean Michel may have struck out twice, but he got the big hit when it counted to help Florida Firefrogs win the game. His big triple came in the top of the 9th and helped the game keep from going into extra innings. Drew Slugbauer did hit an RBI double, and fortunately that was all that was needed.

Ynoa got the start giving up just 3 walks while striking out 6 batters. Now that Ynoa is on the 40 man, the pressure to improve his control and secondaries will be under a microscope this season. Keith Weisenberg came in after and struck out 2 batters in his inning of work. The 2017 draftee hasn’t had much success so far in his career, so this was a nice start for a guy that has good stuff but has suffered from command issues in the past. Sean McLaughlin and Walter Borkovich each threw 2 innings, however, Borkovich ended up with the win despite blowing a save opportunity.

Rome Braves 9, Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox) 1

Box Score

  • Brendan Venter, 3B: 4-5, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, R, K
  • Trey Harris, RF: 3-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2R, K
  • Justin Dean, CF: 2-4, HR, RBI, R, BB
  • Andrew Moritz, LF: 2-5, 2B, 2 R
  • Greg Cullen, 2B: 1-3, 2 BB, K
  • Nolan Kingham, SP: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • Alan Rangel, RP: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER (1 R), 1 BB, 4 K
  • Kurt Hoekstra, RP: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

Brendan Venter was drafted in the 13th round in 2018. He spent 2 years at a JUCO school before transferring to Clemson, in which he had a pretty successful year. He really struggled with contact after getting drafted, but today he’s putting all that in the past. Venter was huge today hitting a double and a home run while driving in 5 runs. And he wasn’t the only one a big day at the plate. Justin Dean led off the game with an inside the park home run. That has got to be extremely rare to do in the first game of the season by a leadoff hitter. Trey Harris got into the mix too, hitting a solo shot in the 5th inning. The only players that struggled were the bottom 3 hitters in Darling Florentino, Carlos Paraguate and Ricardo Rodriguez. The 3 combined to go 1-15 with 5 Ks. The Braves must be high on Florentino and Paraguate cause they are just 17 and 18 years old, but it’s probably best to remain patient with them.

Rome Braves pitching was fantastic today. Kingham isn’t a big strikeout guy, so no surprise he had just the 1 strikeout, but he’s effective with his stuff that kept hitters off base. Alan Rangel has mostly been a starter, but might be coming out of the pen for now. He was able to collect 4 strikeouts in less than 3 innings of work. Kurt Hoekstra is listed as a 1B, but came in to pitch admirably for the final 1.1 innings; he allowed just 2 runners to get on base while striking out 4.

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