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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Austin Riley hits two home runs, Mike Soroka dominant in return

Gwinnett had some fun performances as both Mike Soroka and Austin Riley did WORK on Saturday evening.

Atlanta Braves v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Gwinnett Stripers 7, Norfolk Tides 0

Box Score

  • Austin Riley, 3B: 3-5, 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI
  • Travis Demeritte, RF: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI
  • Mike Soroka, SP: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

Mike Soroka was dominant in his return to the mound and Austin Riley went wild as Gwinnett routed Norfolk 7-0. Many Braves fans have been anxious to see Mike Soroka back on the mound after shoulder injuries cost him both most of his 2018 season as well as all of spring training. They had to be feeling pretty good after this start as he threw five perfect innings with seven strikeouts. He did not allow the ball to leave the infield against him and he was getting strikeouts both swinging and looking. In short, he is still really good. Andres Santiago, Grant Dayton, and Dan Winkler pitched the final four innings and gave up a total of one hit and one walk while striking out five batters.

On offense, the star of the show without question was Austin Riley who went wild. Austin connected for his first two home runs of the season in addition to a double while driving in three runs. Travis Demeritte, after a bit of a surprise Triple-A assignment, had himself a good game at the plate with a pair of hits including a double and drove in a pair of runs of his own. One can hope that his bat will flourish away from Mississippi’s pitcher friendly home park. Raffy Lopez had a pair of hits himself and Ryan LaMarre drove in a pair of runs for Gwinnett to round out the scoring in the game.

4/7 Probable Starter: Touki Toussaint

Mississippi Braves 3, Tennessee Smokies 4

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, RF: 2-5, R, 3 K
  • Ray-Patrick Didder, SS: 1-2, BB, 3B, 2 RBI, CS
  • Joey Wentz, SP: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K

Mississippi’s offense was held in check for the majority of the game and the Braves’ comeback fell just short as they fell to the Smokies 4-3. Joey Wentz got his first start of the season and his command was certainly off, but he generally found ways to work his way out of it. Wentz’s changeup and breaking ball both looked good, but he was having significant trouble locating his fastball and was missing up for the most part. That said, such rust is expected during the first start of a season and he still only gave up one earned run on the day while getting some ugly swings from some good hitters. Philip Pfeifer came on in relief and gave up a pair of runs and after a pair of scoreless innings of relief from Jonathan Aro, an unearned run scored off Jason Hursh proved to be the decisive run in the game.

If one factor needed to be identified as to why Mississippi lost this game, it would be defense as the Braves made five errors on the day with a pair of errors from CJ Alexander at first base plus miscues from Drew Waters, Jason Hursh, and Ray-Patrick Didder. However, Didder can be excused a bit as he had the biggest hit of the game for Mississippi with a two-run triple. Drew Waters had a ton start to the game, but came back late with a pair of hits to continue his strong start to the season. After a good first couple of games at the plate for Cristian Pache, this game was far less kind as he went 0-5 with four strikeouts.

4/7 Probable Starter: Patrick Weigel

Florida Fire Frogs 4, Daytona Tortugas 5

Box Score

  • William Contreras, C: 2-4, R
  • Jefrey Ramos, LF: 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI
  • Riley Delgado, 3B: 2-5, 3B, R
  • Greyson Jenista, RF: 1-3
  • Freddy Tarnok, SP: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
  • Troy Bacon, RP: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

Despite a 5-0 deficit, the Fire Frogs battled back in this game but fell just short as well as they lost to the Tortugas by the score of 5-4. After an aggressive assignment to high-A, Freddy Tarnok struggled in his first start of the season as he gave up five runs with all of the damage coming in the 4th and 5th innings. However, relievers Justin Kelly and Troy Bacon stopped the bleeding and kept Florida in the game with 4.2 scoreless innings of reliever with a total of eight strikeouts. Kelly is more of a journeyman type, but Bacon is interesting relief prospect that the Braves drafted in the 4th round of the 2017 draft. He could move to Double-A quickly given his previous experience in high-A.

The Fire Frogs put together a strong, well-rounded offensive performance with William Contreras and Riley Delgado both recording multi-hit games. Brett Langhorne and Jefrey Ramos each drove in a pair of runs to account for all of the scoring for Florida and Greyson Jenista continued his strong start to the season with another hit. This Florida squad has a good amount of talent on it and several of these guys could move up in short order with a strong month or two down in high-A.

4/7 Probable Starter: Hayden Deal

Rome Braves 4, Kannapolis Intimidators 6

Box Score

  • Griffin Benson, 1B: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI
  • Logan Brown, C: 1-4, HR, RBI
  • Greg Cullen, 2B: 2-4, R
  • Jose Olague, SP: 4.2 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
  • Jake Higginbotham, SP: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

Rome found themselves in a back and forth battle against Kannapolis in this one that they ultimately lost by the final score of 6-4. Jose Olague got the start for Rome and he struggled with five runs on 10 hits as he battled into the 5th inning. Olague isn’t a guy we know a ton about yet with all of his previous experience in pro ball coming in the Dominican Summer League. Jake Higginbotham came on in relief and was excellent with four strikeouts in 2.1 innings of work out of the bullpen. It is unclear at this moment in time if Higginbotham will remain in the bullpen for an extended period of time or get a chance to start, but his appearance was encouraging nonetheless.

On offense, the big knock for the Rome offense came off the bat of Griffin Benson who connected for a two-run home run in the third inning. That was not the only home run for Rome, though, as Logan Brown connected for a solo shot in the 4th inning. The son of former big leaguer Kevin Brown, Logan is a catching prospect to keep your eyes on as he posted a .741 OPS and has showed a bit of pop. Greg Cullen had a multi-hit game for Rome and Justin Dean has now hit safely in every game so far this season down in low-A.

4/7 Probable Starter: Trey Riley

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