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Braves Minor League Recap: Franklin homers in return; Ritchie leaves with injury

It’s been 377 days since Jesse Franklin V last suited up, and in his first game back he made a bang with a long home run

Peoria Javelinas v Salt River Rafters Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

It was a busy day on the farm for the Atlanta Braves, with a few injury-related items headlining the action. Travis d’Arnaud made his second appearance in his rehab stint with Gwinnett, and down in Mississippi Jesse Franklin V made his long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery. Unfortunately not all of the news was positive, as down in Single-A Augusta J.R. Ritchie left the game with an apparent injury.

(12-19) Gwinnett Stripers 9, (15-17) Charlotte Knights 12

Box Score

  • Luke Waddell, SS: 2-4, 3B, BB, .221/.356/.294
  • Travis d’Arnaud, DH: 0-3, BB
  • Joe Dunand, 1B: 3-5, 3 RBI, .313/.389/.521
  • Michael Soroka, SP: 4 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 5.23 ERA
  • Roddery Munoz, RP: 2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 8.03 ERA

It was a busy day on the basepaths for both sides as they went back-and-forth in a game that ultimately ended with Charlotte getting the last punch. Gwinnett’s offense was a non-factor through the first three innings but in the fourth they woke up trailing 3-0. Joe Hudson broke shutout when he knocked in Nick Solak and he came in to score on the next play. Luke Waddell was the one to drive him home as he burned one into the gap and raced in for an RBI triple. He would score on a Joe Dunand single which tied the game at three. Dunand drove in the next two as well as his single in the fourth inning scored two runs and gave Gwinnett a 5-3. Charlie Culberson followed him with another two runs single and Gwinnett looked to have a comfortable lead. That clearly was not the case as Charlotte got back into the game by the seventh inning and trailed by just one run. Here Gwinnett mounted their final attack, with Waddell drawing a walk and Joe Dunand getting his third hit of the game. This set the stage for Magneuris Sierra, who tripled to score them both and extend Gwinnett’s lead to 9-6.

Michael Soroka has seen a lot of traffic on the basepaths this season and this was yet another game where he couldn’t seem to buy a clean inning. Right away Soroka allowed a double and a single, and although he pulled it together to dominate the rest of the inning he still put Gwinnett in a 1-0 hole. Soroka set down the Knights in order in the second inning but the second time through the order Charlotte got to him again. A leadoff single and stolen base turned into a run as Yoan Moncada would single with one out to put Charlotte up 2-0. Soroka got two quick outs in the fourth inning but ended up allowing three straight hits to bring home the third run before he got a ground out back to the mound to end his start. The Gwinnett bullpen was an absolute trainwreck in this one, starting with Matt Swarmer. Swarmer got the chance to pitch with a 7-3 lead but in the sixth inning allowed two runs to let Charlotte claw back into it. Then Danny Young allowed a solo home run in the seventh inning and it was on to Roddery Munoz. Munoz has just not been good with Gwinnett, as although he got away with poor location his first few outings it all came crashing down in this one. Munoz allowed a run in the eighth inning but still had a chance to close out the game in the ninth inning. That did not happen as a three run home run would put Charlotte up by two runs and an error and double would end Munoz’s day with one out in the inning. Kyle Wilcox got the next two batters out but it brought in a fifth run in the inning on a sacrifice and Gwinnett would fall by that 12-9 score.

(9-17) Mississippi Braves 2, (14-11) Pensacola Blue Wahoos 3

Box Score

  • Jesse Franklin, LF: 1-4, HR, .250/.250/1.000
  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 2-4, HR, .197/.312/.485
  • Alan Rangel, SP: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 5.25 ERA
  • Victor Vodnik, RP: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 6.92 ERA

Mississippi’s offense had a rough night, but it really doesn’t matter because the most important thing is that Jesse Franklin returned to the lineup for the first time since April 24th last season. Franklin injured his arm in warmups last year and would end up undergoing Tommy John surgery which ended his season. He then battled a hamstring injury that further delayed the start to his year, but he was ready and in the sixth inning put Mississippi on the board with a home run. The next inning Drew Lugbauer hit his fifth home run to give Mississippi another run, but those were two of Mississippi’s only three hits in the game and they couldn’t cash in anything elsewhere.

Alan Rangel really put forth a great effort early and held a shutout with only two hits allowed in his first four innings. Unfortunately the Blue Wahoos got a man on in the fifth inning and Rangel’s fantastic start got marred when he allowed a two run home run to Griffin Conine. Rangel then allowed two walks in the sixth inning and was pulled from the game for Victor Vodnik. Vodnik needed only one out to get out of the inning with the game still at 2-1, but he allowed hits to the first two batters he faced which scored an important third run in the game. He did get out of the inning and pitch a scoreless seventh, but it wasn’t meant to be given the offense’s struggles.

(12-13) Rome Braves 6, (10-14) Bowling Green Hot Rods

Box Score

  • Ignacio Alvarez, SS: 2-5, 2B, BB, RBI, .317/.496/.378
  • Kevin Kilpatrick Jr., CF: 0-4, 2 BB, .205/.366/.364
  • Drake Baldwin, C: 0-4, 2 BB, RBI, .219/.383/.406
  • Ian Mejia, SP: 4. IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 5.26 ERA

Rome and Bowling Green battled into extra innings, but in the end Rome couldn’t deliver and fell back below .500. Rome utilized the long ball to take the lead in this game, as Brandon Parker and Cory Acton both hit two run shots in the second inning to make it 4-1. Both teams would have their big inning, however, and in the fifth Bowling Green got five and took a 6-4 lead. The Hot Rods shot themselves in the foot with an error to lead off the fifth inning and after a wild pitch pushed Cory Acton to third base a ground out would be able to get a run back. In the seventh inning the first two batters of the inning drew walks, but what could have been a huge inning was blunted when Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. was picked off. Fortunately Rome still got one, as Ignacio Alvarez got a fastball with two strikes and turned on it banging it off of the left center field wall for an RBI double. In extra innings the Braves were a mess, and in both of them struck out for the first two outs which ensured they couldn’t advance the runner from second base in to score.

Ian Mejia allowed a home run to the second batter he faced in the game, but this wasn’t a huge problem early because he settled into this game to put up a good performance. Mejia struck out the next two batters to end the inning and would continue this success as he struck out seven total over four innings of work. Then Mejia came out for the fifth inning and all of his good work came crashing down. Mejia wouldn’t record an out, allowing six hits including two home runs to give up five earned runs. Ronaldo Alesandro had to try to keep Rome in the game, and while he did load the bases he was able to escape with no further damage. Alesandro also pitched a scoreless sixth inning and turned the ball over to Daysbel Hernandez. Hernandez finally gave us the performance we’ve been waiting on from him as he struck out the side in the seventh inning and needed only 11 pitches to do so. Estarlin Rodriguez pitched two scoreless innings next to send the game to Rob Griswold in extra innings. Griswold got into huge trouble in the tenth inning after a leadoff bunt single put the go-ahead run at third base, but danced out of it with three straight strikeouts to give the Braves a chance to win. He made it four straight to lead off the eleventh inning before getting a solid play from Alvarez for the second out of the inning. Griswold unfortunately couldn’t get through it, and after a single from Carson Williams the Hot Rods would go on to win the game.

Alvarez was hit on the knee with a ground ball that took an odd hop in the 11th inning. Alvarez was down on the field for awhile and was attended to by trainers, but seemed to be able to shake it off and stay in the game to field and take an 11th inning at bat.

(11-14) Augusta GreenJackets 4, (13-11) Kannapolis Cannon Ballers 7

Box Score

  • Ambioris Tavarez, SS: 1-3, BB, RBI, .214/.340/.333
  • David McCabe, DH: 1-4, 2 RBI, .190/.320/.304
  • Tyler Collins, CF: 1-2, 2 BB, SB, .203/.278/.266
  • JR Ritchie, SP: 3.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 5.40 ERA
  • Adam Shoemaker, RP: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2.77 ERA

Unfortunately no team was able to sneak away with a win on Saturday, and we’re ending this recap with the game that featured the worst news from the weekend so far. First though let’s build up at least a little bit of good energy. Tyler Collins led off this game by slapping a double the opposite way then came in to score the first run on a hard hit single to left center field from Ambioris Tavarez. That was the whole of the scoring until the fourth inning when Ethan Workinger tripled with one out and extended the lead to 2-0 when he scored on Justin Janas’s base hit. Kannapolis got those runs back and tied it in the bottom of the fourth but Augusta had one more answer in them to kick off the fifth inning. Francisco Floyd singled and Tyler Collins drew a walk, and those two ran wild on the bases with Floyd stealing two bases and Collins one to put them both in scoring position. Then David McCabe broke the tie with a base hit into center field. Augusta unfortunately only had one hit the rest of the game, and it was immediately erased on a double play.

JR Ritchie looked very good early in this game. Ritchie faced the minimum through his first three innings, dominating with six strikeouts, no walks, and only one hit allowed. He did so with efficiency as well, as he only had thrown 33 pitches through three innings and given his previous pitch limits could have been looking at his first chance to pitch deep into a game. Ritchie’s curveball was taking souls and his fastball location was on point, but things went wrong in the fourth inning. After a fly out and his first strikeout on his changeup Ritchie fell behind 2-0 on the next batter after missing badly on both pitches. He immediately called for the catcher to come visit. Manager Cody Gabella and the trainer came out to visit as well and Ritchie ended up leaving the game with an apparent. I’m not going to speculate on the nature of the injury, but it appears the injury may have actually occurred on the strikeout the batter before. If there are any significant updates on Ritchie we will make sure to mention them. Elison Joseph had the task of replacing Ritchie and he finished off the walk and then allowed a game-tying two run home run. Joseph allowed a walk and a double in the next inning and then chucked two wild pitches that scored both runners to tie the game back up now 4-4. Adam Shoemaker pitched two scoreless innings of relief to keep the game tied, but ultimately the GreenJackets couldn’t come out on top. Jason Franks allowed three runs in the eighth inning, one earned, to take the loss.

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