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Braves Minor League Recap: Jesse Franklin goes deep; Luis Guanipa homers again

Franklin unloaded on a ball in a Mississippi win, while Guanipa continued a good start to his professional career

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

The Atlanta Braves system had a nice evening, taking three wins from the full season affiliates with some solid nights from the team’s best prospects. Augusta had a thrilling comeback win after a shaky Owen Murphy start, and down in the Dominican Summer League Luis Guanipa is living up to the early hype.

(28-33) Gwinnett Stripers 9, (28-33) Charlotte Knights 2

Box Score

  • Vaughn Grissom, 2B: 1-4, 2B, BB, .321/.398/.481
  • Braden Shewmake, SS: 1-4, 2 RBI, .211/.269/.392
  • Dylan Dodd, SP: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 7.07 ERA
  • Yacksel Rios, RP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0.83 ERA

Gwinnett pounced on Charlotte starter John Parke and opened up a huge early lead that they cruised to a win with. Vaughn Grissom really got the rally started in the first inning when he lasered one down the right field line that would end up rolling and getting stuck in the wall padding for a ground rule double. This allowed Braden Shewmake to open the scoring with a two-run, two out single and Yolmer Sanchez extended the lead on a two-run home run. Grissom has not had a home run since his first game back in Gwinnett on May 9th, but has been heating up lately with six doubles in his past nine games. Forrest Wall reached base on an error in the second inning, a mistake that would bite the Knights as Wall would steal his 36th base this season and score on a Luke Williams single. Gwinnett finally pulled away in the third inning as an RBI double from Joe Hudson and two run home run from Joshua Fuentes extended their lead out to 8-0. The bats did not do much against the rest of the bullpen, only adding a run in the sixth inning when Wall would leg out a triple and then score on a wild pitch. For Braden Shewmake his overall line wasn’t that great, but it was good to see him hit the ball hard given his recent struggles. His first inning single had an exit velocity of 103.4 mph and he had outs of 101.2 mph and 99.8 mph.

Dylan Dodd leaned on his slider in this game for the majority of his key outs, forcing 10 whiffs on 22 swings at the pitch in comparison to just two on the other 28 swings from the Knights. Dodd struggled to keep runners off of the basepaths in the early innings of the game, but managed to dance around trouble through five innings and hold the Knight scoreless to that point. The struggles began in the fifth inning when he allowed two hits to open the inning, and though he got just one out away from ending the inning his day was ended when he allowed two hard-hit singles that scored two runs. The Gwinnett bullpen kept the Knights on their heels for the rest of the game and didn’t allow a hard-hit ball over the final 3 13 innings to seal an easy win. Lucas Luetge made his first Triple-A appearance and in it cleaned up that sixth inning and then pitched a scoreless seventh with one hit allowed. Ben Heller dominated the eighth inning by recording a strikeout and two weakly hit outs and Yacksel Rios returned from the injured list to record a scoreless ninth inning.

(26-28) Mississippi Braves 4, (28-27) Biloxi Shuckers 0

Box Score

  • Jesse Franklin V, LF: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, .237/.298/.434
  • Cal Conley, 2B: 2-4, 2 2B, .229/.307/.294
  • Luis De Avila, SP: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 3.06 ERA
  • Jose Montilla, RP: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 6.41 ERA

Jesse Franklin’s early power put Mississippi on top and the pitching staff kept them there behind Luis De Avila. The Braves jumped out quickly with leadoff hitter Cal Conley one-hopping a ball into the opposing bullpen for a double. Luke Waddell followed with a single to score Conley and then Jesse Franklin broke the game open. Franklin turned on the first pitch he saw and hit a moonshot out to right field that carried over the wall for a two-run home run. Tyler Tolve also had a double - one of his three hits in the game - but Mississippi couldn’t add on more in the first. The next run was sparked by the legs of Drew Lugbauer if you would believe it. Lugbauer drew a one out walk in the third inning then on the second pitch to Tolve got a huge jump and swiped second base without a throw. Later in the at bat Tolve lined one through the right side of the infield and Lugbauer chugged home from second base to score the game’s final run. The Shuckers bullpen would end up shutting down Mississippi, allowing two hits in the fifth inning to Lugbauer and Tolve but nothing else as the late innings of this game went quiet.

Luis De Avila went four scoreless innings in today’s game and so far in June has pitched ten innings with no runs and only three hits allowed. De Avila allowed two singles with two outs in the first inning, but struck the next man out to escape. The Shuckers had just one more hit for the remainder of the game, which didn’t come until the eighth inning. De Avila forced himself into trouble in the third inning by walking three straight batters with one out, but struck out the next two to escape his self-induced crisis and cruised through a 1-2-3 fourth inning. Jose Montilla also cruised, going three hitless innings in relief with the only blemish being a leadoff walk in the top of the seventh inning. The hitless streak was broken on a two-out double in the eighth inning but Jake McSteen had no issues working around that and Kyle Wilcox closed the game out with two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning. Wilcox has been lights out in his stint with Mississippi this season, totalling 11 13 scoreless innings with 20 strikeouts.

(26-29) Rome Braves 2, (20-31) Hickory Crawdads 4

Box Score

  • Kevin Kilpatrick Jr., CF: 2-5, 2B, SB, .225/.360/.366
  • Drake Baldwin, DH: 1-4, .221/.356/.422
  • Patrick Halligan, SP: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 3.00 ERA
  • Rolddy Munoz, RP: 4 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2.38 ERA

Rome took a close loss against a bad Hickory team, and one they probably feel they let slip away as they went 1-11 with runners in scoring position. Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. led off the Braves half of the first inning by beating out a ground ball for a hit, then he stole second base but was stranded there as Rome couldn’t tie the game. Kilpatrick had a two out double in the third inning which also went by the wayside and Geraldo Quintero led off the fourth inning with a single and stolen base but couldn’t score. Trailing 4-0 in the seventh inning Rome finally got a rally started as they loaded the bases on hits from Keshawn Ogans and Eliezel Stevens and a walk to Kadon Morton. Stephen Paolini would score one of those on a ground out, but Kilpatrick rolled one to the pitcher for the final out. Rome kept their energy in the eighth inning with Drake Baldwin leading off with a single and Quintero drawing a walk then caught a break when Adam Zebrowski muscled a broken bat single just past the first baseman. With the bases loaded in a three run game the Braves had a final chance to come through, but an infield fly out, sacrifice fly, and ground out left them with just one run from their best opportunity of the game.

Hickory probably felt they also could have had more runs as the Rome pitching staff combined to give up 12 hits and four walks in this game. Patrick Halligan struggled to find his rhythm in the first inning and ended up allowing a run on three hits but escaped by stranding two runners in scoring position. The rest of the outing mostly settled in nicely. Although Halligan never had a clean inning the only other run he had came due to a fielding error and a bunt single. Roel Ramirez cleaned up the fourth inning after Halligan left the game, but struggled in the fifth inning by giving up three hits and two runs to double the Hickory lead. Once again Rolddy Munoz was the pitcher who showed out for Rome, tossing four scoreless innings of relief to keep the game relatively close. Munoz wasn’t perfect, particularly when he loaded the bases in the ninth inning (with one being an intentional walk) but he kept the Crawdads off balance and got four strikeouts and seven ground outs.

(27-28) Augusta GreenJackets 11, (32-23) Myrtle Beach Pelicans 8

Box Score

  • EJ Exposito, SS: 1-4, HR, BB, .248/.364/.416
  • Justin Janas, 1B: 2-4, HR, BB, 3 RBI, .269/.364/.386
  • Owen Murphy, SP: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 5.10 ERA

Myrtle Beach and Augusta played a wild game which ended in the GreenJackets holding on for dear life in the ninth inning to snap a six game losing streak. The bats faced an uphill battle as they came up for the first time already trailing by four runs, but EJ Exposito got the comeback effort started with a bang. Exposito got ahead of the Myrtle Beach pitcher then demolished a middle-in fastball for a leadoff bomb. Myrtle Beach got that run back in the next inning but the GreenJackets offense kept chugging along. A hit batter and ground rule double led to a run on a Tyler Collins ground out in the second inning, but the real rally started with two two-out walks. Justin Janas capped off the inning with a two run single, but the GreenJackets may have left runs on the field as Exposito was thrown out trying to score from first base. That mattered not, and Tyler Collins had a two run single in the third inning to put Augusta on top for the first time in the game. Myrtle Beach quickly came back to tie the game but the runs kept on coming, and it was an error in the bottom of the fourth that contributed to the next run. Ethan Workinger followed with a triple to score Janas and give Augusta the lead once again. That was also a short-lived relief for the GreenJackets but the teams finally settled down and the game went into the bottom of the seventh inning still tied at 7-7. There, Janas led off the inning with a solo home run to put Augusta on top and it was a waterfall of runs from there. Workinger singled and Jeremy Celedonio walked, then Cory Acton scored both on a two-run single. Acton would steal second base and move up to third on a wild pitch that set up Dawson Dimon for an RBI hit to extend the lead to 11-7.

Owen Murphy had not been particularly good lately, and this game unraveled in a hurry for him. Two batters in he already trailed by two runs following his fifth home run allowed in his last four starts. Murphy was able to get two fly outs to get close to escaping the inning, but after a double, walk, and catcher’s interference he was pulled with the bases loaded after throwing too many pitches in the inning. Landon Harper unfortunately failed to help Murphy out and let two inherited runners score on wild pitches before escaping. Harper had a mediocre relief outing but was able to fill up 3 13 innings allowing two runs including a second inning home run. After taking a 7-6 lead the ball fell to Darling Florentino, who immediately got into trouble by allowing a first pitch double in the fifth inning. He followed by walking the next batter on four pitches but got two quick outs to give himself a chance to escape. He would not be able to do so, however, and a two out single tied the game back up. Florentino pitched a scoreless sixth inning before his day was over. Chad Bryant filled up two scoreless innings of relief as well, during which time the GreenJackets took the lead. The ball was given to Elison Joseph to close out a four run lead in the ninth inning, and it was an adventure. On the 20-80 scale Joseph had zero command, turning an easy win to a nail-biter in a hurry. Joseph allowed a leadoff single then with one out threw a wild pitch to move the runner into scoring position. A base hit scored him and while Joseph got to two outs via strikeout he allowed two walks to load the bases with the tying run on first base. Ready to just get home the GreenJackets turned to Ronaldo Alesandro who took five pitches to strike out Juan Mora and end the game.

(2-2) FCL Braves 5, (1-3) FCL Rays 3

Box Score

  • Douglas Glod, RF: 1-4, BB
  • Diego Benitez, SS: 0-5

Wilker Figueroa (SS, Signed 2022) was a beast in this game, accounting for four of the FCL squad’s runs in a 5-3 win. Figueroa had three hits, including two doubles, and two walks out of the leadoff spot. Harry Owen opened the scoring in the game in the fourth inning by driving in Figueroa and Elian Cortorreal to tie the game. Figueroa then had the next two run-scoring hits before coming in to score the game’s final run on a wild pitch. Diego Benitez struggled in the middle of the lineup, putting up an 0-5 performance with a strikeout. Jose Chavez made his season debut as the game’s starter and went three innings allowing two runs while striking out four batters. Davis Polo had the best outing of the pitchers with a team-leading five strikeouts across three innings of one run relief. Polo had solid numbers in the DSL last season with 26 strikeouts and a 2.90 FIP across 19 ⅔ innings.

(0-4) DSL Braves 12, (3-1) DSL CubsBlue 13

Box Score

  • John Estevez, CF: 2-3, HR, 2B, 2 BB, 3 RBI
  • Luis Guanipa, DH: 2-5, HR, 2 RBI

Luis Guanipa is back in the lineup and back on them taters, too, as he led off the DSL Braves game with a home run. Guanipa has played three professional games now and already has two home runs, a double, and two stolen bases. Guanipa and the DSL Braves went on a tear in the early innings with John Estevez also providing a punch. Estevez reached base four times in this game, including a second inning home run, and the 17 year old is now 6-13 with four walks and three extra base hits in four games. The DSL pitching staff was another story today as they allowed 12 walks and 13 runs in six innings of work. They were of course not helped by four errors.

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