There was plenty of action to digest Friday evening as every single game in the system was decided by a one run margin. Ian Anderson’s return to Gwinnett has not gone swimmingly so far and he struggled today despite not having major control problems. 2021 first round pick Owen Murphy made his full season debut, showcasing a lively fastball and a strong breaking ball.
(59-62) Gwinnett Stripers 13, (67-54) Lehigh Valley IronPigs 14
- Delino DeShields Jr., CF: 2-2, 4 BB, 1 RBI, .236/.385/.280
- Hernan Perez, SS: 1-3, 3 BB, RBI, .275/.321/.393
- Rylan Bannon, DH: 4-5, 2B, HR, 8 RBI, .238/.361/.419
- Ian Anderson, SP: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 5.91 ERA
- Tyler Ferguson, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4.63 ERA
Gwinnett and Lehigh Valley kept sending punches at each other, but Gwinnett couldn’t produce a final volley and lost in a close contest. The game started in relatively normal fashion with Rylan Bannon putting Gwinnett on top with a sacrifice fly in the second inning but it quickly devolved to chaos in the middle innings. When Hernan Perez drove in a run in the third inning and Bannon followed with a two-run ground-rule double it seemed Gwinnett may be able cruise to a win until Lehigh Valley dropped a four piece to tie the game. The Stripers quickly retook that lead on a Taylor Motter RBI double in the fourth inning and Rylan Bannon made it four RBI on the day when he drove in Motter with a single. Another Bannon RBI single in the sixth inning and a two-run single from Yariel Gonzalez put Gwinnett even more in front of the IronPigs until a bottom of the sixth inning that sent the game spiraling. Lehigh Valley dropped six runs on Gwinnett’s head in the inning to take an 11-9 lead and knock Ian Anderson out of the game. The game was not over, however, and the star of the day Rylan Bannon came through with a three run home run in the seventh inning to take the lead right back and give him 8 RBI for the evening. Now holding a one run lead Gwinnett coughed it right back up, allowing three runs in the bottom of the seventh to fall behind two runs. Delino DeShields Jr. had an RBI single to cut the lead in half in the eighth inning but was cut down trying to steal second base for the third out. For the first time in the entire game the Stripers went down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning and walked away with a loss.
We’ll start with positive vibes from Ian Anderson for this start. He struck out six batters and had zero walks through five innings, and overall was able to land far more strikes than in his previous outing. He also pitched into the sixth inning and had a chance to complete it before he ran into some trouble there. He worked ahead far more often in this game, but now to the negatives gave up far too many hard hit balls. While he wasn’t missed the strike zone he also wasn’t missing the heart of the plate and allowed ten hits including four extra base hits. It was a tough outing for Anderson, but not a complete bummer as despite that horrible third inning he did not shy away from the zone and kept getting ahead of guys throughout with far fewer hard hit balls in his final 2 1⁄3 innings. In general Lehigh Valley was also locked in at the plate, with the final two on Anderson’s line and four on Seth Elledge’s coming in that sixth inning after Ian had been pulled from the game. Danny Young allowed a run in the seventh inning and only recorded one out, and Roel Ramirez allowed both of Elledge’s inherited runners to score to round out a three run inning. Tyler Ferguson was the only fireman on the day, striking out two batters in a perfect eighth inning.
Next Game: 8/27 @ (67-54) Lehigh Valley IronPIgs @ 6:35 PM ET
Note: This is scheduled to be Mike Soroka’s third rehab start.
(55-62) Mississippi Braves 6, (52-66) Birmingham Barons 5
- Cody Milligan, CF: 1-6, .284/.347/.326
- Jalen Miller, 2B: 2-4, 3 RBI, .238/.337/.394
- Justyn-Henry Malloy, LF: 2-4, 2 2B, RBI, .294/.401/.484
- Alan Rangel, SP: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 4.92 ERA
- Lisandro Santos, RP: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 6.75 ERA
Mississippi and Birmingham also traded blows, but they couldn’t decide things in nine innings and had to take it to extras to determine a winner. Birmingham jumped out to the early two run lead when they netted two off of Alan Rangel in the first inning, but when the lineup flipped over for the second time through the Braves had a little bit of spark to them. Cody Milligan led off the third inning with a single and Justyn-Henry Malloy stayed hot and put both of them in scoring position with his eighth double with Mississippi. Jalen Miller then delivered the big two-out hit. Miller drove in Milligan and Malloy for Mississippi to tie up the score 2-2. This tie did not last long for Mississippi with the Barons putting up a run in each of the next two innings while Mississippi did not have a hit again until the eighth inning. The Braves got back on the board in the seventh inning when Jordan Cowan reached to lead off the inning on a two base error, advanced on a ground out, then scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-3. Malloy’s second double of the game kicked off the eighth inning and broke up the hitless streak, and Miller tied the game once again by driving in Malloy with another RBI single. On to extra innings Mississippi had the first crack at scoring, and immediately got a gift when a passed ball allowed Milligan to advance to third base. Malloy drove him in on a sacrifice fly to take the lead but Birmingham matched that in the bottom of the tenth to tie it up. The Braves had runners on second and third with one out in the 11th inning until Drew Lugbauer was cut down trying to score on a ground out by Andrew Moritz. Still the Braves were able to take the lead as consecutive walks forced home a run.
Alan Rangel struggled at the offset for Mississippi with each of the first three batters of the games getting hits on each of the first three pitches of the game to score two runs, but settled into the game to only allow one more earned run while completing six innings. Rangel struck out the side in a dominant second inning before running into trouble and allowing runs in each the third and fourth innings. Rangel struck out four batters over his final two scoreless innings to cross the 100 inning threshold on the season. The Mississippi bullpen was magnificent, starting with AJ Puckett and Jake Higginbotham each throwing scoreless innings during the comeback effort of the late innings. They then turned to Lisandro Santos who has seen his share of struggles lately, but he looked sharp with three strikeouts over two innings and the only run allowed coming due to the extra runner in the tenth inning. Indigo Diaz came in to close out the ninth and things didn’t look like they would go so hot when the first pitch of the inning was driven for a single, but defense saved the day for Diaz. The second pitch of the inning was popped to Andrew Moritz at medium depth in left field and the runner made an attempt to tag and tie the game on the play. Moritz calmly delivered a perfect throw on a hop to home plate, preventing the run from scoring and saving the game. The next batter popped out and Mississippi got out with a win.
Next Game: 8/27 @ (52-66) Birmingham Barons @ 7:30 PM ET
(69-47) Rome Braves 6, (70-46) Bowling Green Hot Rods 5
- Tyler Tolve, DH: 2-5, .260/.334/.462
- Cal Conley, SS: 1-3, 2 BB, .275/.357/.449
- Drew Campbell, LF: 2-3, HR, BB, 2 RBI, .275/.343/.377
- JJ Niekro, SP: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 5.31 ERA
- Alex Segal, RP: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1.08 ERA
Big innings were the story of this game in a potential postseason preview, with Rome coming out on top in the end. The Braves took an early lead thanks to Drew Campbell, who slugged a two run home run in the second inning that put Rome up for most of the game. JJ Niekro was having his best start in a Rome uniform, matching zeroes with Bowling Green starter Logan Workman to take it into the bottom of the sixth still 2-0. There the Hot Rods dropped three runs on Niekro to take the lead and ruin what could have been a huge start in building back Niekro’s resume. The Rome offense was not ready to walk away with the loss however and in the next half inning took the lead right back on Jacob Pearson’s two-run home run. Cal Conley then took over the game with his legs by drawing a walk, stealing two bases, and then scoring on a double steal attempt with double-play mate Geraldo Quintero. When Quintero took off for second the catcher decided to back pick Conley at third, who was looking to take home on a potential throw, but the third baseman couldn’t handle the throw and it skipped into left field allowing Conley to trot home. As the ball trickled into shallow left field Quintero never slowed down and came around to score on the error as well.
JJ Niekro got off to a phenomenal start in this game, allowing no hits until a two out single in the fourth inning. He struck out five batters in this time and easily escaped that fourth inning on a ground out. Niekro had more trouble after a leadoff single in the fifth inning due to an error from Quintero, but made a play to nab the runner trying to score on a bunt attempt as he made a fantastic scoop on the ball and flipped it while falling over to barely record the out. Unfortunately things went south in the sixth inning. Niekro allowed a leadoff infield single and then hit a batter, however seemed poised to escape as he struck out the next two to get within one out of six scoreless innings. He got to within one pitch, but in Nate Soria’s third look at Niekro he cranked a three-run home run to give Bowling Green the lead. Alex Segal has been fantastic in relief for Rome this season and did the same Friday with 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 1.08. Ronald Alesandro also pitched a scoreless inning and Rome held a 6-3 lead going into the ninth. Austin Smith made things tough when he hit two batters with pitches, allowed a run to score on a wild pitch, and then put the tying run on with a two-out double. Fortunately the next ground ball found the glove of Beau Philip for the final out to close the game.
Next Game: 8/27 @ (70-46) Bowling Green Hot Rods @ 7:35 PM ET
(61-56) Augusta GreenJackets 6, (71-47) Myrtle Beach Pelicans 5
- Kadon Morton, CF: 0-2, 2 BB, .228/.340/.374
- Kevin Kilpatrick Jr., LF: 1-2, 3B, 2 BB, RBI, .360/.448/.480
- Stephen Paolini, RF: 1-4, HR, .215/.316/.325
- Owen Murphy, SP: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 3.38 ERA
- Rolddy Munoz, RP: 4 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 5.84 ERA
Stephen Paolini kicked off the scoring for Augusta in the third inning of this win, cranking a no-doubter for a home run. Augusta strung together hits in the inning following Paolini, with Keshawn Ogans, Ignacio Alvarez, and Kevin Kilpatrick each recording one as part of the four run outburst that put the GreenJackets on top. After Myrtle Beach made the game close the GreenJackets sat back and let low-A baseball happen, drawing three walks in a row to kick off the eighth inning. Francisco Floyd drove in two runs on a single to give Augusta some much-needed insurance as Myrtle Beach would make a comeback attempt in the ninth inning. Kadon Morton drew two walks on the day and over his past 16 games is hitting .260/.406/.580 with four home runs, a 23.4% strikeout rate, and an 18.8% walk rate. Morton has made some important changes to his setup and swing and they seem to be paying dividends as his contact rates have steadily improved throughout the season and he’s showing signs of potentially living up to his enormous potential.
First round pick Owen Murphy gave us our first look at him in professional baseball, and rather than a straightforward recap I’m going to mix in my impressions of him overall. He looked solid overall though he was clearly control over command in this outing as he struggled to consistently land the fastball on the glove. He didn’t give up hard fly balls as though some hitters managed to get some good wood on the fastball in the game the launch angles stayed low. His fastball showed a lot of run while all of his strikeouts came on the fastball my impression is that it doesn’t have ideal shape due to it’s horizontal movement average approach angle. Despite its solid velocity it hasn’t yet shown to be a pitch I believe will produce a lot of whiffs, though it’s also very early in Murphy’s career and the pitch was a bit inconsistent. His curveball, however, showed fantastic shape, velocity, and movement and I noted that it has some similarities to the one that Kyle Wright is currently employing to great success in Atlanta. In my opinion the results here aren’t as good as the scouting as it seems the Braves are having Murphy focus heavily on his fastball and trying to locate it more consistently (a common tactic for them with young players). The curveball wasn’t utilized as often in put-away situations as it would be if he were going purely for the best possible results now. Rolddy Munoz was touching 99 with his fastball consistently in this outing, showing off a three-pitch mix that was sharper than I’ve seen in previous outings. Unfortunately the fastball was knocked around a few times and he allowed seven hits and two runs over four innings. Rob Griswold closed out the day with two runs allowed over 2 1⁄3 innings.
Next Game: 8/27 @ (70-44) Myrtle Beach Pelicans @ 6:05 PM ET
Note: This is scheduled to be 35th overall pick JR Ritchie’s first start in full season ball.