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Braves Minor League Recap: AJ Smith-Shawver debuts with Gwinnett, Jeremy Celedonio drives in four for Augusta

Three of Atlanta’s MiLB squads brought home wins on Friday thanks to great performances by multiple top prospects

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

Atlanta’s top prospect spun a solid performance for the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate, while other clubs had standout performances of their own.

(19-23) Gwinnett Stripers 5, (24-19) Memphis Redbirds 4

  • Chad Pinder, 1B: 4-5, HR, 2B, RBI
  • Forrest Wall, RF: 3-4, RBI
  • Braden Shewmake, SS: 1-4, 2B
  • AJ Smith-Shawver, SP: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

Box Score

AJ Smith-Shawver made his Triple-A debut at just 20-years-old in what was perhaps one of the most anticipated Gwinnett Stripers games in recent memory.

Atlanta’s number one prospect took another step closer to the big leagues on Friday as he tossed five innings of two-run ball in his first stop at the highest level in the minor leagues on Friday. Smith-Shawver sat consistently between 96 and 98 miles per hour in the early going. While he tailed off a bit, sitting at 94 and 95 miles per hour in the middle innings, the biggest blemish on his line was a homer to Jordan Walker, one of the game’s top overall prospects, in the bottom of the second inning.

All told on the day, Smith-Shawver only allowed two runs, while striking out five in what was a good performance for the young right hander.

Gwinnett jumped out to an early 1-0 lead as Forrest Wall singled home Yolmer Sanchez. While the Redbirds were able to tie it up at 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Gwinnett was able to retake the lead once again in the top of the third. Vaughn Grissom singled to kick off the inning and was followed up with a double from newcomer Chad Pinder — who tallied four hits on the night for the Stripers — to move Grissom to third. Chadwick Tromp would then groundout to bring Grissom home, making it 2-1.

The second run Smith-Shawver allowed would tie things up at 2-2 in the bottom of the third, but that would be all the scoring he would give up on the night.

Neither squad would score in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, leaving things knotted up at 2-2 headed into the top of the seventh, where the Stripers would soon change that.

To leadoff the inning, Pinder would homer, giving Gwinnett the 3-2 lead. Then, three straight singles by Nick Solak, Yolmer Sanchez and Hoy Park would extend the lead to 4-2.

Memphis would cut into the lead by tallying a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to make it 4-3 Stripers.

Gwinnett would add a much-needed insurance run in the top of the ninth inning. Braden Shewmake laced a one-out double into center field and Solak would bring him home one batter later on an RBI-single, extending the Striper lead to 5-3.

Memphis would attempt to mount a comeback in the bottom of the ninth and would manage to bring across one run, cutting into Gwinnett’s lead to make it 5-4. But the Stripers bullpen would limit the damage there, as they would hold on to clinch the one-run victory for Gwinnett.

(16-20) Mississippi Braves 2, (19-18) Montgomery Biscuits 3

  • Cade Bunnell, 3B: 1-4, RBI
  • Tyler Tolve, C: 1-4, 2B, R
  • Beau Philip, 2B: 0-3, RBI
  • Domingo Robles, SP: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

Box Score

Mississippi narrowly missed out on their third win of the series against Montgomery on Friday night.

Domingo Robles got the start on the bump for the Braves and despite giving up one run in the bottom of the first inning, managed to somewhat keep Mississippi in the game. After the first inning, Robles would settle down in the second, third and fourth innings, holding Montgomery scoreless.

Things would get out of hand in the bottom of the fifth inning for Robles, as he would allow a pair of runs, making it 3-0 Biscuits as his offense would struggle to provide any support through his 4.2 innings. Trailing 3-0, the bullpen would be called upon to cover the final 4.1 innings and would do so in grand fashion, holding Montgomery scoreless while striking out five batters.

While the offense would remain relatively quiet through the first six innings, the Braves would put together somewhat of a rally in the top of the seventh inning.

Tyler Tolve would lead things off with a double and Drew Lugbauer would walk to put runners at first and second. Cade Bunnell would then single to bring Tolve home, cutting the Montgomery lead to 3-1 and moving Lugbauer over to third base. In the next at-bat, Beau Philip would bring Lugbauer home on a sac fly, bringing the deficit to just one run for Mississippi.

The Braves would get another runner in scoring position in the inning after a Cal Conley single, but would fail to bring him home to tie the game at 3-3.

Conley’s single would be the last bit of offense Mississippi would manage in the game as they would be retired in order in each of the eighth and ninth innings, leaving Montgomery with the 3-2 lead which would hold after the final frame.

(19-17) Rome Braves 1, (12-23) Hickory Crawdads 0

  • Kesawn Ogans, 3B: 1-3, HR, RBI, R
  • Kevin Kilpatrick Jr., CF: 2-3, 2B, BB
  • Nacho Alvarez, SS: 1-3, BB
  • Ian Mejia, SP: 6.2 IP, 2 H, BB, 5 K

Box Score

If you were searching for a good ole fashioned pitcher’s duel, look no further than Rome on Friday night.

Rome notched their fourth consecutive win with a solid outing by three arms which held Hickory scoreless for the win.

Ian Mejia got the start on the mound for Rome and put up an incredible performance. Through 6.2 innings, the 23-year-old righty allowed just two hits through almost seven frames while striking out five batters before giving way to the bullpen. Ryder Jones and Jonathan Hughes would combine to allow just one additional hit over the final 2.1 innings on the night, while striking out five combined hitters. More importantly, the two arms continued Mejia’s work by keeping the Crawdads off the board to complete the shutout.

Rome managed just one hit more — four total on the night — than Hickory on the night, but the one additional hit was all it took to give Rome the win.

The first hit of the game came in the top of the fourth inning for the Braves, courtesy of a leadoff single by Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. Nacho Alvarez would also single later in the inning but would be thrown out at second trying to stretch it to a double.

Rome would get two baserunners on in the top of the sixth inning, but would fail to bring either of them home, keeping it a scoreless affair.

The first and only run of the night would come in the top of the seventh inning. With two oats in the inning, Keshawn Ogans would launch his first homer for Rome over the leftfield fence, making it 1-0 for the Braves. That final would hold as the aforementioned pitching staff would do its job and hold Hickory scoreless on the night.

(18-18) Augusta GreenJackets 8, (17-19) Myrtle Beach Pelicans 1

  • Jeremy Celedonio, DH: 3-5, HR, 4 RBI
  • Ethan Workinger, CF: 2-4, HR, 2B, 3 R, RBI
  • Tyler Collins, LF: 1-3, RBI, 2 BB, R
  • Owen Murphy, SP: 5 IP, 3 H, ER, 5 K

Box Score

Augusta dominated on all fronts to get back in the win column on Friday night, after dropping Thursday’s game to end their win streak at three games.

On the mound, 2022 first-rounder Owen Murphy worked around some early trouble to bounce back and toss five innings of one-run ball to get the win.

After giving up a leadoff home run, Murphy settled down and would prevent Myrtle Beach from scoring again in his five-inning stint. With the stellar start, Murphy lowered his ERA on the season to 2.82.

All three of the Pelicans hits would come with Murphy on the mound, as the bullpen — led by Jared Johnson and Elison Joseph — would hold Myrtle Beach at bay the rest of the way home. Both Johnson and Joseph would hold the Pelicans hitless in the final four frames while whiffing seven combined batters.

While the pitching staff was impressive in their own right, the offense showed up and showed out on Friday night, but things wouldn’t get going for a few innings.

In the first inning, Augusta got a two-out single from David McCabe but that’s all. In the second, E.J. Expositio and Dawson Dimon drew walks to put a runner in scoring position. But again, the GreenJackets would come up empty.

Trailing 1-0 headed into the top of the third, Jeremy Celedonio would tally the first of his four total RBI on the night as a single would bring home Ethan Workinger to tie things up at 1-1.

In the fourth inning, Augusta would take their first run of the night. Expositio and Tyler Collins would draw back-to-back walks to kick off the frame, and Dimon would single Exposito home, making it 2-0 GreenJackets. A throwing error later in the inning would allow for Collins to score, extending the Augusta lead to 3-1 in the early going.

The GreenJackets would tack on three insurance runs in the top of the fifth courtesy of one swing. Workinger doubled on a 1-0 pitch to leadoff the inning and David McCabe walked to put runners on first and second base. Celedonio would then bring both of them home on a three-run homer over the left field fence to make it 6-1 Augusta.

The following inning, Workinger would get in on the fun and launch a solo home run of his own, extending the lead to 7-1 for the GreenJackets.

Capping off the scoring for Augusta, Collins would single home McCabe in the top of the ninth, making it an 8-1 ballgame which would stand for the final to give the GreenJackets the victory.

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