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Braves Minor League Recap: Smith-Shawver fans seven over five scoreless innings.

The system’s top prospect once again proved why he’s the quickest rising star on the minor league side.

AJ Smith-Shawver delivers a pitch for the Rome Braves Photo credit: Mills Fitzner

It was a nice day on the farm for most of the teams, with the pitching doing a lot of the work. The Atlanta Braves top prospect was in action in Mississippi, and AJ Smith-Shawver’s first home start since his promotion from Rome went as well as anyone could have hoped.

(15-22) Gwinnett Stripers 4, (19-18) Nashville Sounds 3

Box Score

  • Chadwick Tromp, C: 2-4, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, .207/.340/.268
  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 1-3, 2B, BB, HBP, .386/.462/.632
  • Tanner Gordon, SP: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 16.50 ERA
  • Roddery Munoz, RP: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 6.32 ERA

Gwinnett kicks off a good night of baseball in the system with a win, but it was a anxious affair as they were out-hit 14-6. Both teams went scoreless through the first three innings, but Gwinnett got on the board first in the fourth despite still not having a hit. Vaughn Grissom and Nick Solak both drew walks and pulled off a double steal which set up a Yolmer Sanchez sacrifice fly for the lead. Gwinnett broke their hitless streak with a double from Hoy Park in the fifth inning, but did not score any runs.

Tanner Gordon had a messy outing, and it was really surprising he got out of it as clean as he did. Gordon through four scoreless innings to let Gwinnett take that lead until Nashville finally broke through for something other than a single in the fifth inning. Gordon allowed a single, the seventh hit against him, with two outs then got behind 2-0 to Jon Singleton and floated a changeup in the zone which was crushed for a two run home run. In total the Sounds registered eleven hard-hit balls (95+ mph exit velocity) including five hit 100+ mph in 4 23 innings against Gordon. Gwinnett was quick to respond to get Gordon off of the hook, as Grissom and Chadwick Tromp doubled back-to-back to lead off the sixth inning. In the seventh the Stripers extended their lead with a hit from Tromp bringing in Park and a hit from Solak bringing in Grissom to put them up 4-2.

Roddery Munoz came into the fifth inning after the Singleton home run, walked the first man he faced on four pitches, then allowed a hit to the next. This brought up our old pal Alex Jackson, and fortunately Munoz struck him out to escape further damage. Munoz allowed a leadoff hit in the sixth inning, but a double play erased the threat and he was able to finish 1 13 innings scoreless. Grant Holmes pitched the next two innings, and in both put two runners on board. He would get out of a jam in the seventh inning, but in the eighth a pickoff throw got past first baseman Daniel Robertson. The throw caromed off of the umpire and back to Robertson, which allowed a play at the plate, but the throw was still well late as the runner would score from third base. What that umpire might have done however is prevent the runner from getting to second base, where the base hit the next batter snuck through could have scored the tying run. Fortunately, Holmes escaped, and Kyle Wilcox shut down the game in the ninth inning to preserve a Gwinnett win.

(12-18) Mississippi Braves 2, (14-16) Chattanooga Lookouts 0

Box Score

  • Jesse Franklin, RF: 0-3, .182/.182/.545
  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 1-2, 3B, .190/.304/.468
  • AJ Smith-Shawver, SP: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA
  • Alec Barger, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0.00 ERA

(13-18) Mississippi Braves 2, (14-17) Chattanooga Lookouts 1

Box Score

  • Cal Conley, SS: 0-3, BB, SB, .204/.297/.283
  • Domingo Robles, SP: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 1.33 ERA
  • Jake McSteen, RP: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2.77 ERA

Mississippi has had trouble getting any games in this week, but we finally get some action and it gave us our first good look at AJ Smith-Shawver in an MBraves uniform. Smith-Shawver was outstanding in the first game of the double-header, and for the first three innings looked like he was going to put up an all-timer. Smith-Shawver did allow three doubles in the game, but in the first three innings struck out seven Lookouts batters and didn’t allow a run. The strikeouts slowed and he didn’t have any more as he complete five scoreless innings, but overall his first Double-A outing in his home park was an overwhelming success. He is the only pitcher in minor league baseball with 20 or more innings pitched and no earned runs allowed, as well as holding the third-lowest FIP (1.69) in that group (sample: 565 pitchers). Among pitchers 20 or younger he has the second highest strikeout rate in minor league baseball and second-best strikeout-to-walk differential. Domingo Gonzalez and Alec Barger each recorded two strikeouts in a scoreless inning of relief, and it’s a good thing they did as the offense didn’t have much going for them.

Cal Conley led off the bottom of the first inning in game one with a double and Tyler Tolve followed with a walk. Jesse Franklin got a fat fastball that he flew to left field, but it came up just short and served to advance the two runners into scoring position. A wild pitch would then put Mississippi on top and Drew Lugbauer drove in Tyler Tolve on his first triple since 2019. The wet field conditions certainly helped Lugbauer here, as the sinking line drive would skip past the sliding right fielder and roll all the way to the wall to allow this rare feat. That triple was Mississippi’s last hit in the game, and the second of the day wasn’t all that much more eventful. Mississippi found themselves trailing in part due to an error in the top of the second inning, but benefitted from one on Chattanooga’s side. Landon Stephens led off the inning with a single, then an error on a pickoff allowed Stephens to get to second base. Lugbauer’s grounder back to the mound advanced Stephens to third where a Cade Bunnell base hit would tie the game. Neither side made a move over the remainder of regulation baseball, and much of that was due to the brilliance of Domingo Robles.

Robles put together a dominant outing, striking out a career high without allowing an earned run. The only run scored against Mississippi during this double header came in the second inning when third baseman Hudson Potts booted what should have been an easy chopper for the second out of the inning. The runner then advanced on a ground out that Conley at shortstop inexplicably didn’t flip to second base for a force out. The next batter then jammed a pop up in between the right fielder and the second baseman who was covering the runner at second and Chattanooga lucked into a run and lead. Robles only ran into real trouble one more time when he loaded the bases on two walks and a hit, but the strikeouts helped him escape and keep the game tied. Jake McSteen cruised through the seventh inning, then with the extra runner in the eighth inning Chattanooga went with the sacrifice bunt strategy to advance that man to third base. After McSteen hit a batter, Hudson Potts made up for his earlier mistake by snagging a grounder down the line and making a nice running throw to cut down the runner trying to score. McSteen got a ground ball to end the game and Cal Conley was the Braves extra man in the eighth inning. This worked out well, as Conley stole third base with no throw on the first pitch of the inning. The Lookouts pitcher rolled the next one to the backstop and Conley was able to walk the game off on a wild pitch.

(15-16) Rome Braves 4, (11-19) Asheville Tourists 1

Box Score

  • Ehire Adrianza, SS: 2-3, 2B, BB
  • Nacho Alvarez, 3B: 0-3, BB, .221/.369/.385
  • Drake Baldwin, C: 1-3, BB, .215/.388/.380
  • Tyler Owens, SP: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 3.52 ERA

Late runs continued to be the theme of the evening, and once again it was a Braves affiliate who came out on top in this game. The Tourists gave Rome an early lead in the bottom of the first inning, as they walked the first two batters on the Braves side, threw a wild pitch, then threw another which scored Ehire Adrianza. Those first inning jitters were the main source of action for Rome for much of the game, though Adrianza had a double in the second inning for one of his two hits on the day. Adam Zebrowski and Eliezel Stevens had leadoff doubles in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, but Rome kept striking out and stranded both of those men as the game stayed tied 1-1. Geraldo Quintero singled in the seventh inning and stole second base, which finally set up some scoring as Adrianza got his second hit of the game to drive in Quintero and put Rome on top. Eliezel Stevens smacked a two run home run in the eighth inning to give the Braves some insurance, and the pitching staff had a wonderful day to ensure they held on. Of note for the offense, Nacho Alvarez has been slumping heavily over the past week. If you will remember, last Saturday Alvarez was hit on the knee by a weird hop in the field and while he stayed in the game he spent some time laying on the field and trying to work on the knee to get to where he felt good enough to continue. Since that incident Alvarez has gone just 2-14 at the plate, but the bigger red flag is the uncharacteristic six strikeouts in those 14 at bats. It’s possibly just a random slump, and if it is connected to his knee it’s obviously not something that the Braves feel he can make worse by continuing to play on it, but it is a bite out of the Rome offense.

Tyler Owens has come into his own this season, and since his move into the Rome starting rotation has really taken his game up a notch. Today was his best outing by far, as he faced ten batters and the only one that reached came on an Adrianza error. Owens struck out four batters as well and in his four starts this season has 12 strikeouts and only one walk allowed in 11 innings. Patrick Halligan, an offseason free agent signing, kept Owens’s good work going as he struck out six batters over 3 23 innings. The only Asheville run in the game came on a home run to the first batter Halligan faced, after which he shut down the Tourists completely. Ben Dum and Rob Griswold combined to throw 2 13 innings of scoreless relief, and in 14 13 combined innings neither have allowed a run this season.

(14-17) Augusta GreenJackets 4, (13-19) Charleston Riverdogs 8

Box Score

  • Ambioris Tavarez, SS: 2-5, .205/.315/.295
  • Jair Casanova, LF: 2-4, .250/.324/.438
  • David McCabe, 3B: 2-5, HR, 2 RBI, .240/.357/.423
  • Adam Shoemaker, SP: 4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 4.24 ERA

This game featured more late runs, but they weren’t for the Augusta side as bullpen got torched late. Augusta trailed 3-0 early in this game, but an error in the bottom of the second inning gifted them an opportunity which Francisco Floyd would turn into a run on a sacrifice fly. Charleston got that run back in the top of the third inning, but Augusta would make their big push thanks to David McCabe who hit an opposite field bomb for his fourth home run of the season. In the sixth inning Jair Casanova, continuing his strong work over the past few weeks, led off the inning with a single and then advanced to second base on a ground out. The next batter up was Dawson Dimon, who rolled one up the middle which the shortstop was able to snag. He made an effort for a wild throw moving to his left, which backfired as he skipped it past the first baseman allowing Casanova to cruise home from third and tie the game. Opportunities were limited over the next few innings, and when Augusta came to bat in the bottom of the ninth they found themselves facing a four-run deficit. They were able to make things interesting however, as Floyd, Ambioris Tavarez, and David McCabe all found holes and loaded the bases up with two outs. This brought up Jeremy Celedonio and he hit a ball hard up the middle. The ball unfortunately was slowed by the mound, as well as being shifted perfectly, and the rally fell short as Augusta dropped another to Charleston.

Adam Shoemaker has had his fair share of struggles this season, and this was a rough outing although one of the better ones for him in terms of finding the zone. Shoemaker only allowed one walk, but that walk hurt as the runner would end up scoring on a base hit in the second inning. The next batter went deep off of Shoemaker, putting Charleston up 3-0 early. Shoemaker allowed another run in the third inning, but bounced back from that to have his best inning in the fourth when he struck out two batters. Landon Harper came in next for long relief, and his strong work this season continued for three innings as he didn’t allow a hit or walk to the RiverDogs. Then Harper came out for the eighth and two singles and a three-run home run later and suddenly his day wasn’t looking so hot. The home runs continued to kill Augusta as Elison Joseph allowed the third of the game, a solo shot, in the ninth inning.

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