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Braves Minor League Recap: Michael Harris extends streak, Smith-Shawver strikes out seven

Michael Harris seemingly can’t be stopped while Chadwick Tromp homered again and a young pitching prospect did well for Augusta.

Michael Harris takes a swing for the Rome Braves during a day game. Camera is looking down the third base line at the left handed swinging Harris. Harris’s foot is lifted in anticipation of the pitch and the catcher has his glove out to receive the ball. Image Credits: Mills Fitzner

It wasn’t the most successful day in terms of wins and losses for the Braves’ farm affiliates as they went a combined 1-3 on the evening, but there were some interesting storylines from those game nonetheless. Michael Harris still has yet to not reach base in a game this year, Chadwick Tromp is absolutely on a tear in Gwinnett, Rome won in extras, and one of the more interesting pitching prospects in the Braves’ system stitched together another good start. Lets get into the games.

Gwinnett Stripers 6, Charlotte Knights 9

Box Score

  • Chadwick Tromp, C: 2-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 1.042 OPS
  • Delino DeShields, CF: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, .744 OPS
  • Tucker Davidson, SP: 6 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 5.06 ERA

While Tucker Davidson was not sharp, the offense kept the game close until the seventh inning where Charlotte blew the game open and ultimately held off the Stripers by the score of 9-6. At a time where some strong performances in the minors could have really boost Tucker’s stock with the big league club and convinced them to give him another shot before too long, he instead put up an overall meh one with some good and bad. Striking out nine batters in six inning is quite nice, but the command continues to be spotty and he got beat up by a couple of big extra-base hits with two outs in the fourth inning that accounted for all four runs against him. Gwinnett still had this game tied in the seventh inning, but Thomas Burrows came in and essentially began imploding upon his entrance with some sloppy defense not helping the cause. The Stripers brought in Brendan Brennan to try to put out the fire, but instead he allowed all three inherited runners to score and that was pretty much the ballgame.

Offensively, Chadwick Tromp continued his hot hitting of late as he hit his third home run in four games. He is definitely taking advantage of the extra playing time with Contreras with the big league club filling in for Manny Pina. Notably absent for Gwinnett were Drew Waters, who was seemingly a late scratch as he was in the original lineup Gwinnett posted, and Braden Shewmake who was pulled after a couple of hitless plate appearances. No word yet as to what is going on with those two. Delino DeShields reached base three times out of the leadoff spot and the bottom of the order was getting on base seemingly at will, but missing Waters and Shewmake did seem to hurt quite a bit as they couldn’t quite score enough to rally and beat Charlotte.

Mississippi Braves 3, Pensacola Blue Wahoos 8

Box Score

  • Michael Harris II, CF: 1-4, SB, R, .943 OPS
  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 1-3, 2B, R, .981 OPS
  • Tanner Gordon, SP: 1.2 IP, 6 H, 8 ER, 5 BB, 0 K

Tanner Gordon’s Double-A debut did not go well at all, but at least Michael Harris’ on-base streak got stretched to 23 games as Mississippi fell to Pensacola 8-3. After absolutely dominating for high-A Rome this year, Gordon got the promotion to Mississippi and clearly was very off from the start. Pensacola hung eight runs on him in a hurry on six hits and five walks with no strikeouts. For a guy who did not walk a single batter in four starts for Rome while striking out a ton of guys, it safe to say he was probably dealing with a lot of nerves and we’ll chalk this one up as a fluke for now. Hat tip to Troy Bacon, Odalvi Javier, Tyler Ferguson, and Indigo Diaz for putting 7.1 scoreless innings of relief to stop the bleeding, but the damage had already been done.

On offense, it wasn’t a particularly exciting night as only Logan Brown had a multi-hit game and only Drew Lugbauer (who is on a tear to start this season) had an extra-base hit. However, it is not a Mississippi game without a Michael Harris highlight and he had a few in this game. He extended his on-base streak to 23 games with single and promptly stole second base (his 10th of the season) and took third on a throwing error. He also had a nifty over the shoulder catch out in center field. In short: he is really, really good. The struggles for Trey Harris have been mighty this season and while he did collect an RBI in this game, his OPS on the season is .466 which is a real shame.

Rome Braves 9, Greenville Drive 5 - F/10

Box Score

  • Cade Bunnell, SS: 2-5, HR, 3 RBI, .598 OPS
  • Cody Milligan, CF: 2-4, RBI, 2 BB, .861 OPS
  • Javier Valdes, C: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, BB, .956 OPS
  • Jake McSteen, SP: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 5.40 ERA

Rome almost had this one stolen away from them thanks to some late inning bullpen issues, but a big 10th inning sent Rome home with a win by the final score of 9-5. Jake McSteen got the start and was okay through three innings. He did give up a two-run homer, but other than that he performed well including striking out five batters. However, the last three relievers that Rome sent out there (Alec Barger, Trey Riley, and Austin Smith) each gave up an earned run which forced extra innings. Fortunately, Smith was able to lock things down in extras after Rome’s offense scored four in the top of the 10th.

Cade Bunnell got the start at shortstop as Vaughn Grissom had the day off after a truly bad baserunning plunder cost Rome a run yesterday. Bunnell took advantage of the opportunity as he connected for a three-run home run that proved to be the biggest swing of the game. Rome had built a healthy lead off of that homer, but once the bullpen surrendered three runs in the later innings of the game including one with two outs in the ninth, it was up to the offense to get things back on track and they did so with flying colors. A force out ended up scoring the ghost runner and then Javier Valdes (who is one half of a very talented Rome catching battery with Tyler Tolve) hit a two run homer to make it a three run lead. An RBI double from Cody Milligan scored the game’s final run and that was that.

Augusta GreenJackets 3, Carolina Mudcats 4

Box Score

  • Connor Blair, RF: 1-2, HR, 2 RBI, .740 OPS
  • Cal Conley, SS: 0-2, 2 BB, .576 OPS
  • AJ Smith-Shawver, SP: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 4.74 ERA

AJ Smith-Shawver continues to improve as he gets more innings under his belt, but Augusta’s late rally was not enough as the GreenJackets got walked off by the score of 4-3. AJSS had a lot of things going for him in this start as his fastball was sitting in the mid-90’s and touched 97 on the stadium gun and he was commanding his breaking ball mostly well as he was racking up whiffs. Things did get away from him in the fifth inning as he threw a pair of wild pitches and also had some hard hit balls that did some damage to his overall line, but it was still a good outing for him as he continues to refine his arsenal and get used to throwing deeper into games and pitching every fifth day or so. Tyler Owens had two scoreless innings of relief, but unfortunately the recently demoted Rolddy Munoz was unable to hold off Carolina in the bottom of the ninth despite looking good in the previous inning.

Again a rough night for the Augusta offense as they combined for four hits and 11 strikeouts. Kadon Morton was pulled from the game after a couple of plate appearances and replaced with Connor Blair who promptly hit a two run homer that tied the game in the eighth inning. Brandol Mezquita, who is definitely on our radar as a lower level bat with upside, got another hit and has now hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games which seems pretty good.

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