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Braves MiLB preview: Fireworks, firepower, and Braves baseball

Mississippi righted the ship last week as Rome put up a lot of runs per usual. Here’s what you missed and what to look forward to this week on the Atlanta Braves farm.

MLB: JUL 04 Phillies at Braves Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves minor-league week gets rolling on Monday, July 4 this week to hopefully bring fireworks and firepower to the Braves faithful.

While Rome and Mississippi got back on the right track, Augusta had its worst week of the season, dropping every game they played. Here’s a look back at what went right, whose hot and what to watch in the week ahead on the Atlanta Braves farm.

Gwinnett Stripers (37-41)

Last week: 2-4

This week: vs. Charlotte, July 4, 6-10

The Stripers had a rough go last week, dropping two of four to Norfolk. They hope to rebound quickly against the Charlotte Knights (Chicago White Sox), who have the worst record in the International League, but come rolling in on a two-game winning streak.

Touki Toussaint won’t be helping right the ship. The fan-favorite, but often struggling, reliever/starter was first designated and then dealt to the Los Angels Angels for cash considerations. Hopefully Bryce Elder can keep the momentum going off his strong start this past week, looking to put a forgettable June (6.67 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, .300 BAA) behind him. Perhaps most importantly, Tyler Matzek pitched two perfect innings, striking out five and looking primed to come help the Braves bullpen. Nolan Kingham got things started for the Stripers on Monday.

Drew Waters finished an otherwise quiet week strong, belting a home run on Saturday and then going 3-for-4 on Sunday. Eddie Rosario had a good week in his rehab stint, going 6-for-23 with a pair of doubles. His Triple-A days are likely numbered.

Mississippi Braves (33-42; 4-2 second half)

Last week: 4-2

This week: Pensacola, July 4, 6-10

The Mississippi Braves started the second half in lackluster fashion, but roll into July 4 week on a four-game winning streak. This week, they host first-place Pensacola (Miami Marlins), looking to make a run for that second-half crown.

Freddy Tarnok is back in form. He made his third-straight strong start, going five innings and striking out 12. He’s know gone 15 innings over his last three starts, allowing just four runs and three walks while striking out 25. Darius Vines looks to slowly be getting the motor revving into 2021 form as well, coming off his second seven-inning scoreless outing in his last three. If the M-Braves pitching comes around there is enough talent to make things interesting. Jared Shuster started the week on July 4.

They will need the offense that showed up in Saturday’s 18-run output to beat Pensacola. Justin Dean was a big part of that attack, piling up three hits and scoring five runs. It was one of three multi-hit games he had last week, while also swiping four bases. It looks like he’s getting back to what he does best. Drew Lugbauer bombed his 16th home run in that barrage, and finished the week with five hits in two games. Cody Milligan has handled the promotion to Double-A nicely and is becoming an under-the-radar guy to watch. He hit in four of five games last week, but drew a walk, scored and drove in a run while stealing a base in the lone game he was held hitless. He has always shown a propensity for reaching base and it is nice to see it translating at the next level.

Rome Braves (41-34; 5-4 second half)

Last week: 4-2

This week: vs. Asheville, July 4, 6-10

Rome looked much more Rome-like after a stinker of a week against Hickory. The R-Braves piled up runs while taking an important series, and now face Asheville (Houston Astros) which is half a game ahead in the standings.

There were quite a few impressive pitching performances last week. Luis De Avila was unhittable this week... quite literally. He threw a no-hitter in Saturday’s doubleheader, going seven innings and striking out nine. Dealin’ Dylan Dodd went at least six innings for the fourth time in his past five starts, allowing just one run and one walk. Roddery Munoz also had a much-needed strong start, tossing five innings, allowing just one unearned run to cross. And of course, there is Andrew Hoffmann. He finished June strong, looking to carry over those numbers (1.93 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 28:6 strikeout:walk ratio) into June.

At the plate, Vaughn Grissom continues to hit because he is focused on baseball. He closed the week on a five-game hitting streak with four of those games being multi-hit performances. He also homered twice over the weekend. Justyn-Henry Malloy also had a pair of multi-hit games, closing the week going 3-for-6. His bat has been terrific this season, if he can put it together consistently at third, he is going to be a nice prospect up the ladder.

Augusta GreenJackets (38-37; 2-7 second half)

Last week: 0-6

This week: at Charleston, July 4, 6-10

It was not pretty last week as the GreenJackets failed to put up a win against Columbia, which is the worst team in the division. Now, they must right the ship against a 49-win Charleston (Tampa Bay Rays), a team the GreenJackets split with roughly a month ago.

JJ Niekro suffered his first loss of the year, struggling with the long ball and allowing three home runs to start the week. When you calculate the Tuesday rain out, he was pitching on seven days rest, which often times gets a pitcher that was on a streak like Niekro out of rhythm. Let’s hope that was the case.

Geraldo Quintero recorded four hits last week, including closing the week with his sixth home run of the year. There has been a little bit of hype around Quintero of late, but there is still some work to do. In particular, his defense at second has been pretty good, but at the hot corner, where he’s played the bulk of his game, needs plenty of work, already with 15 errors this year. He is very good on the base paths, spraying the ball to the gaps, and it is refreshing to see his ability to take a walk, so if he isn’t on your radar yet, now is the time.

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