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Braves Minor League Recap: Grissom has three hit night, Niekro impresses again

Braves affiliate performed well last night on both sides of the ball.

Photo Credit: Mills Fitzner

Despite some hiccups along the way. the Braves’ farm affiliates got in on Atlanta’s winning ways with a 3-1 record on Wednesday evening. Gwinnett rallied late, JJ Niekro helped Augusta with a shutout win, and Vaughn Grissom helped key a explosive offense for Rome. Lets get into the games.

Gwinnett Stripers 5, Indianapolis Indians 4

Box Score

  • Joe Dunand, 3B: 1-3, 2 RBI, R, .738 OPS
  • Chadwick Tromp, C: 1-3, 2B, RBI, R, .788 OPS
  • Nolan Kingham, SP: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2.92 ERA

Gwinnett went with a bullpen game on Wednesday evening and it paid off as the Stripers rallied late to win by the score of 5-4. Nolan Kingham got the ball first and while he, as well as his immediate successor Connor Johnstone, got tagged for a couple runs, the rest of the bullpen held up. Brandon Brennan, Thomas Burrows, and RJ Alaniz combined to close the game out with three scoreless innings despite combining to get just one strikeout in those three innings.

On offense, Gwinnett managed to score five runs last night despite having just one extra-base hit on the evening (a RBI double from Chadwick Tromp). Joe Dunand got the Stripers off to a good start with a two-run single in the bottom of the first inning, but the bulk of the damage came in the bottom of the seventh inning when they were down. There is no substitute for an opposing reliever having a full-fledged meltdown as Tromp’s run scoring double was followed by a bases-loaded walk to score a run and then a Drew Waters’ sac fly that ultimately proved to be the game winner.

Mississippi Braves 2, Birmingham Barons 11

Box Score

  • Yadiel Gonzalez, SS: 2-4, RBI, .669 OPS
  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 2-4, .851 OPS
  • Tanner Gordon, SP: 1.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 7.01 ERA

Tough night again down in Mississippi as Tanner Gordon got thumped and the Mississippi offense had no real shot in route to an 11-2 loss to Birmingham. After dominating early in the season for Rome, Tanner Gordon has had a few trials and tribulations in Double-A. His previous three starts for Mississippi had actually been quite good as he had given up one earned run or less in each of them, so we will call this start a hiccup off which he has a handful. The Mississippi bullpen combined for 7.2 innings of relief (including a six strikeout performance from AJ Puckett in just 2.2 innings of work) where they gave up a total of just two earned runs, but the damage had been done.

On offense, well...there was very little despite having 10 hits in the game although all of them were singles. Drew Lugbauer, Jalen Miller, and Yadiel Gonzalez all had multi-hit games for the Braves. Lugbauer had actually been absent the last couple of games, so it was nice to see him on the field and performing well. Mississippi is going to need him because without Michael Harris (promoted), Jesse Franklin (out for season with TJS), and Luke Waddell (out for the last few weeks with possibly, and this is a best guess, a back injury), this Double-A offense is decidedly not great.

Rome Braves 10, Asheville Tourists 4

Box Score

  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 3-5, RBI, SB, 2 R, .785 OPS
  • Landon Stephens, LF: 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB, 2 R, .905 OPS
  • Beau Philip, 3B: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, BB, .625 OPS
  • Dylan Dodd, SP: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4.06 ERA

Rome fell behind early but thanks to eight runs in the middle three innings, Rome emerged triumphant by the final score of 10-4. Wednesday was not the cleanest we have seen Dylan Dodd as a pair of two-run doubles early in the game hurt him, but he still battled and managed to get through five mostly effective innings. The Rome bullpen picked him up with four scoreless innings of relief and considering how well he had been pitching and the fact that he managed to pitch well his final two innings, we didn’t see much cause for concern.

It certainly helps when Rome’s offense decided to go off once the fourth inning got started as the Braves’ offense got eight unanswered runs in the middle three frames. Vaughn Grissom had a nice night at the plate with his second three-hit game in a row along with his 12th stolen base of the season. Landon Stephens joined in on the fun with a pair of doubles to raise his season OPS up to .905. Even Beau Philip, who has struggled again this season at the plate, got in on the action with his fourth home run of the season that drove in a pair. The entire Rome offense performed well with only Christian Robinson going hitless amongst lineup regulars.

Augusta GreenJackets 4, Charleston RiverDogs 0

Box Score

  • Caleb Durbin, SS: 1-4, HR, RBI, .827 OPS
  • Braulio Vazquez, 1B: 2-4, RBI, R, .675 OPS
  • Kadon Morton, CF: 1-2, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, .588 OPS
  • JJ Niekro, SP: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1.91 ERA

Another day, another solid performance from the GreenJackets as they shut out Charleston by the final score of 4-0. JJ Niekro is making a strong case for top 30 consideration with his performance this season as last night was his fifth straight start giving up two earned runs or less. One mark against him, he is old for the level at 24, so its probably wise to pump the brakes on his prospect-dom until he does it against more advanced hitters. Hat tip to Tyler Owens for closing the game out with three scoreless innings of relief.

After what was a terrible first two months of the season, Kadon Morton is having a really nice month of June as he is slashing .281/.425/.500 this month after a double and a walk last night. Caleb Durbin gave us a treat with his third home run of the season. While he doesn’t have much in the way of power in that bat of his, he has shown the ability to drive the ball on occasion. Braulio Vazquez had the only multi-hit game on the evening for Augusta and Brandol Mezquita had the night off.