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Braves Minor League Recap: Didier Fuentes, Adam Shoemaker make solid starts for Augusta

The headliners in the Braves system on Sunday were a pair of starters for Low-A Augusta, who bookended a doubleheader.

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves system had a good day on Sunday, going 4-1. However the biggest story in the Braves system came off the field on this day, as Michael Soroka was scratched from his scheduled start in Gwinnett in order to return to the Atlanta rotation today for the first time since 2020.

On the field we saw strong outings from Adam Shoemaker and Didier Fuentes in the two games for Augusta, and a shutout in the bullpen game that took over Soroka’s spot for Gwinnett.

Gwinnett Stripers 2, Durham Bulls 0

Box Score

  • Nick Solak, LF: 1-3, HR, R, RBI, .278/.364/.444
  • Vaughn Grissom, 2B: 1-4, RBI, .309/.397/.482
  • Nolan Kingham, SP: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 4.88 ERA
  • Ty Tice, RP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, 7.91 ERA

Gwinnett had a late scratch, as Michael Soroka was pulled from making this start. This is actually positive news as after a long road for Soroka, he is finally back in the big leagues for the first time since 2020. Not having Soroka didn’t end up mattering for Gwinnett, as five different pitchers combined to shut out Durham during what became a bullpen game. Nolan Kingham got the start and went three, allowing just two hits while striking out five. Ty Tice followed with two innings of his own, and he also picked up five strikeouts. Matt Swarmer would strike out three over two innings, and Brian Moran and Grant Holmes each got an inning out of the pen. Combined the five guys allowed four hits and two walks, striking out 15 hitters in the process.

There wasn’t much offense in this one, but when the pitching staff turns in a game like this it doesn’t matter to the outcome. The Stripers put together just a total of three hits, but a Nick Solak solo homer and a Vaughn Grissom RBI single were all that was needed. The third hit of the day was an Eli White single, and he also drew a walk. Also of note was Daniel Robertson, who didn’t record an official at bat but did draw three walks.

Mississippi Braves 6, Pensacola Blue Wahoos 5

Box Score

  • Jesse Franklin, RF: 2-4, 2B, R, .205/.222/.386
  • Cade Bunnell, DH: 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, .222/.321/.363
  • Luis De Avila, SP: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 3.89 ERA
  • Victor Vodnik, RP: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 4.91 ERA

Luis De Avila got the start and turned in five solid, but unspectacular innings on Sunday. De Avila allowed three runs on five hits and three walks, striking out two. Domingo Gonzalez followed with a scoreless inning where he struck out the side, then Victor Vodnik pitched a scoreless inning and a third with three strikeouts included. Alec Barger allowed the final two Pensacola runs to score over his inning and a third, but Trey Riley was able to come in and pick up a save by recording one out with runners on the corners.

The offense was led by a balanced attack as the Braves picked up 10 base hits, with every hitter in the top seven slots of the lineup having at least one hit and eight players reached base. Cade Bunnell’s two-run homer was the big one, though Javier Valdes and Jesse Franklin each doubled. Franklin also had a single in this one, and was joined by Luke Waddell and Beau Philip as players with a multi-hit game.

Rome Braves 5, Greenville Drive 3

Box Score

  • Drake Baldwin, C: 1-3, BB, .231/.373/.455
  • Adam Zebrowski, DH: 1-4, HR, R, RBI, .259/.363/.526
  • Bryson Horne, 1B: 3-4, 2B, RBI, .188/.238/.290

Rome went with a bullpen game in this one. Hunter Riggins got the start and allowed two runs over three innings of work. Riggins was followed by Ryder Jones, who allowed a run in his inning. After that, the next three pitchers didn’t allow a run to cross. An inning and two thirds by Ben Dum, an inning and a third by Nick Howard, and the final two innings from Hayden Harris were all scoreless, allowing the Braves to come from behind and pick up the win.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that once again Adam Zebrowski led the Rome offense, as the slugger hit his 7th homer of the season and brought his OPS up to .889. Bryson Horne picked up three hits, including a double in four at bats and Drake Baldwin added a single and a walk in the win. Geraldo Quintero and Brandon Parker each had a double, and Parker picked up two batted in. Nacho Alvarez was hitless in four at bats, though he did pick up an RBI.

Kannapolis Cannon Ballers 3, Augusta GreenJackets 1

Box Score

  • Ethan Workinger, LF: 1-3, R
  • Didier Fuentes, SP: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 6.95 ERA
  • Darling Florentino, RP: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2.08 ERA

Didier Fuentes turned in another solid start in this losing effort. The 17-year-old went four innings and allowed two runs on four hits and two walks, striking out six. Fuentes has now turned in three solid outings in a row, allowing five runs in 11.2 innings with 12 hits, three walks, and 13 strikeouts. For a player so young seeing these results as well as seeing him go deeper into games - the last three games were all at least 3.2 IP, while he only went as many as three innings once in his first five starts of the season - are exactly what you hope for when you push someone so aggressively. Darling Florentino followed and allowed an unearned run to score over two innings, and Jason Franks threw a scoreless inning to complete this half of the double header.

The offense was just non-existent in this one, as Augusta scored their lone run of the game in the bottom of the seventh and totaled just two hits and three walks as a team. Ethan Workinger had one of the two singles and scored the only Augusta run, while a Dawson Dimon single was the lone other hit.

Augusta GreenJackets 4, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers 2

Box Score

  • Jair Casanova, LF: 1-3, RBI, .228/.336/.402
  • EJ Exposito, SS: 2-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, .233/.352/.408
  • Adam Shoemaker, SP: 4 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 6 K, 4.32 ERA

The second game of Augusta’s doubleheader went better than the first, and also saw a strong outing from a young starter. Adam Shoemaker allowed a run on one hit and three walks over four innings, striking out six. Shoemaker had some ups and downs last year, getting demoted from Augusta to the FCL - not surprising considering he was still growing into his body at the time, but in an outing like this showed just why he was so intriguing to the club. Estarlin Rodriguez, Landon Harper, and Elison Joseph pitched an inning apiece to close this one out.

The Augusta offense was slightly better than we saw in Game 1, where they managed a run on two hits, as this time they scored four runs on five hits. EJ Exposito was the star, going 2-3 with a homer and scoring twice. The homer was his fourth on the season, and gave him both a homer and a stolen base on the day. Jair Casanova went 1-3 and picked up an RBI, while Nick Clarno and Justin Janas had the rest of the Augusta hits.

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