While the major league club continues to tear through its schedule, things aren’t going so swimmingly for the rest of Atlanta’s affiliates. After all teams from Gwinnett to Augusta were swept on Friday, Braves minor league teams stand at a combined record of 8-22 to start the season. As those numbers aren’t exactly inspiring, there were some significant individual performances to point out from yesterday’s slate so let’s get into it.
(2-10) Gwinnett Stripers 4, (8-5) Memphis Redbirds 9
- Forrest Wall, LF: 2-5, 2B, RBI
- Justin Dean, CF: 1-2, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB
- Jared Shuster, SP: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
- Braden Shewmake, 2B: 1-4, 2B
The trend for the Gwinnett Stipers continued to head in the wrong direction on Friday as they dropped their 8th game in a row. Jared Shuster put in a solid performance on the mound as he got the start for the Stripers and at least provided an opportunity for Gwinnett to . Shuster spun 6 innings of 1-run ball while whiffing 8 Redbirds on the night.
However, much like the day before and many games thus far in the young season, the bullpen would falter, giving Memphis opportunity after opportunity to mount a comeback in the late going.
Before we get to the bullpen meltdown, let’s quickly recap how the Stripers jumped out to an early lead.
Trailing 1-0 headed into the home half of the second inning, Gwinnett would notch 3 runs in the inning, taking a 3-1 lead — which would last until the 7th frame. Joe Hudson singled home Charlie Culberson to get the scoring started while Justin Dean would triple bringing in Hudson and Jacob Pearson.
As mentioned, the relief corps would squander the lead, giving up 7 runs in the final 3 innings, giving Memphis a 9-3 lead. While the Stripers would get one of those runs back in the final half of the 9th inning thanks to a Forrest Wall double that deflected off the glove of Memphis centerfielder Oscar Mercado, it would be too little too late.
Braden Shewmake would go 1-4 with a double as his numbers continue to trend upwards, but was removed late in the game after taking a one-hopper off his throwing hand so that bears watching moving forward.
(3-4) Mississippi Braves 6, (4-3) Chattanooga Lookouts 8
- Cody Milligan, 2B: 2-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
- Cal Conley, SS: 2-3, RBI, BB
- Tanner Gordon, SP: 4IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Out of all the Braves minor league affiliates on Friday, Mississippi arguably had the most positive outlook, at least for a brief while.
Mississippi jumped out to an early, commanding lead as the plated 6 runs in the first 3 innings of the game while starter Tanner Gordon kept the Lookouts scoreless for the duration.
Cody Milligan launched a leadoff homer to kick things off for Mississippi in the first inning. The Braves would follow that up with 4 innings in the 2nd inning as Arden Pabst would launch a home run of his own and Milligan would later single home Hudson Potts. Andrew Moritz would steal home, causing Milligan to advance to 3rd on a throwing error as he would be brought in 4 pitches later on a Cal Conley fielder’s choice.
Things appeared to be breaking in Mississippi’s favor, but Chattanooga’s bats would come alive in the 4th inning, with a little bit of help from some Mississippi defensive miscues as the Lookouts would score 3 runs in the frame, cutting the Braves lead in half.
While they only managed 3 hits in the fifth inning, the Lookouts were able to take the lead after scoring 5 runs after the Braves committed 2 errors in the inning, on throwing errors by starting pitcher Tanner Gordon and shortstop Cal Conley. Trailing 8-6, the Braves bats would become nonexistent for the rest of the game as they were only able to scratch out 2 hits, leading Chattanooga to close the door and send Mississippi to one game under .500.
(2-4) Rome Braves 0, (5-0) Bowling Green Hot Rods 5
- Kadon Morton, LF: 1-3, SB
- JJ Niekro, SP: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
- Miguel Pena, RP: 1 IP, 1 H, 3 K
While it was a rough day throughout the farm system, it was especially tough in Rome as the Braves were only able to tally 4 hits on the day en route to being shutout.
Things got off to an ugly start for Rome. An error by Geraldo Quintero allowed the first Hot Rod to reach, followed by a walk. Then, despite getting a forceout, KeShawn Ogans throw on the play would run wild for another error on the Braves in the inning, allowing the first run to score. A wild pitch by JJ Niekro — who started on the mound for the Braves — allowed the runners to move up a base before a single brought home two more runs for Bowling Green, making it 3-0 in the early going.
Despite all of the miscues, JJ Niekro was able to settle things down and would provide some length and would go 4.1 innings without allowing an earned run. Bowling Green would add 1 run in both the 6th and 7th innings, extending their lead to 5-0.
Offensively, as mentioned above, there wasn’t much of anything going for Rome as they only managed 2 runners in scoring position the entire night and went 0-5 in at-bats with RISP.
(1-3) Augusta GreenJackets 3, (4-1) Down East Wood Ducks 5 — Game 1
- Jeremy Celedonio, RF: 2-3, HR, 3 RBI, 1 R
- David McCabe: 2-3, 1 R
- Ambioris Tavarez, DH: 1-3, 2B, 1 R
- Spencer Schwellenbach, SP: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 K
While his younger teammate and fellow pitcher will deservedly get most of the recognition for their performance on the day, Spencer Schwellenbach showed promising signs in his second start of the season.
The priority this season is to allow for Schwellenbach to get back to his old self, the self that gave Atlanta enough reasons to take him in the 2nd round of the 2021 draft despite having Tommy John. And while the Braves would certainly be happy with him working on building up his stamina and simply accumulating innings as he get back into form — and granted it’s still very early — the results have been encouraging.
Going only 1.2 innings in his first start, Schwellenbach needed 46 pitches. On Friday’s first game of a doubleheader making up Thursday’s rainout, he was able to improve on those numbers, going 2 innings allowing just 1 unearned run on 25 pitches.
On the offensive side of things, Augusta would score all 3 of their runs in the first inning. After Tyler Collins struck out to start things off, Ambioris Tavarez would double and David McCabe would single before Jeremy Celedonio homered over the centerfield fence, bringing everyone home.
Augusta’s lead would hold until the 6th inning where Down East would plate 2 runs of their own. The Wood Ducks would tack on 2 more runs in the 7th inning, taking the lead which they would hold for the rest of the contest.
(1-4) Augusta Green Jackets 1, (5-1) Down East Wood Ducks 3 — Game 2
- Owen Murphy, SP: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 6 K
- Jeremy Celedonio, DH: 1-3, 2B
- David McCabe, 3B: 1-2, RBI
While it was an overall disappointing day throughout the Braves minor league system in terms of results, Owen Murphy provided a much-needed bright spot in game 2 of Augusta’s doubleheader. The 2022 first-rounder got his first start on the bump for the season and showed flashes of his potential as a frontline starter.
Going 4 innings, Murphy tossed 56 pitches, 40 of which were for strikes. He also showed excellent command of his fastball which possesses good movement, as he scattered just 2 hits and allowed only 1 walk to the Wood Ducks. Obviously it’s only his first appearance, but if Murphy is able to build off the strong performance, it’s not unreasonable to think the Braves could be aggressive with him and send him to Rome if he continues to overpower and baffle hitters at Low-A.
As for the game itself, much like their Triple-A counterparts, the bullpen would blow a lead — albeit a small one — giving Augusta their second loss of the day.
The GreenJackets would get their first and only run of the day on a David McCabe single which scored Francisco Floyd. Offensively, that would essentially be all Augusta could manage as they were only able to string together 4 hits to go along with the lone run.
Carrying a 1-0 lead into the final frame (the 7th inning), Hayden Harris surrendered 3 consecutive singles to start the inning, allowing Down East to tie things up. Harris would go on to allow another single, this time as 2 more runs would score, giving the Wood Ducks a 3-1 lead they would go on to win by.