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Braves Minor League Recap: Brooks Wilson makes his return

Wilson hadn’t pitched since 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring

Atlanta Braves Photo Day Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Despite some not-so-exciting final scores, it was a night to rejoice on the Atlanta Braves farm system as we had two big injury returns. Brooks Wilson made his first rehab appearance for the Rome Braves while down in the Florida Complex League Roddery Munoz pitched a perfect inning. Luke Waddell was the offensive star of a suspended Mississippi game and Nacho Alvarez had a big day for Rome.

(29-37) Gwinnett Stripers 3, (34-31) Nashville Sounds 5

Box Score

  • Vaughn Grissom, 2B: 0-2, BB, .318/.390/.474
  • Braden Shewmake, SS: 1-4, RBI, .209/.266/.377
  • Dereck Rodriguez, SP: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 3.14 ERA

Gwinnett’s offense was certifiably unclutch, going 0-9 with runners in scoring position and having to manufacture runs off of Nashville’s mistakes. This strategy wasn’t very successful as they lost 5-3. After five innings of not much at all it was, of course, Forrest Wall who finally got Gwinnett in the scoring column. He led off the sixth inning with a triple and scored on Vaughn Grissom’s sacrifice fly to bring the game to 3-1. A Matt Bush throwing error would score Hoy Park in the seventh inning, so when Grissom and Chadwick Tromp drew walks in the eighth Gwinnett had a huge chance to tie or take the lead. Grissom swiped third base, his sixth stolen base of the season, and that was a huge play as he was able to score on a fielder’s choice error to tie the game. Unfortunately Gwinnett couldn’t further capitalize on that error, striking out twice to end the inning before giving the lead back to Nashville in the bottom of the eighth.

Gwinnett scraped together a fine bullpen game all things considered, but it fell apart late at the hands of an unlikely victim. Dereck Rodriguez was tremendous in his start, going once through the order without allowing a hit and only allowing a baserunner via error. Then Rodriguez was pushed to try to take the fourth and the game away from him as he allowed a two run home run then walked two batters before being pulled with one out. Lucas Luetge managed to put out that fourth inning fire, but then allowed a solo home run in the fifth inning to extend the lead. Grant Holmes kept the innings churning as he went two scoreless with two strikeouts to then hand the ball to Yacksel Rios after Gwinnett tied the game up. Rios has been by far the best Gwinnett reliever this season, but that didn’t matter much to Nashville, who hit a two-run home run off of him to take the lead and ultimately the win.

(27-31) Mississippi Braves 3, (37-22) Pensacola Blue Wahoos 3


Box Score

  • Luke Waddell, SS: 3-3, 2 2B, RBI, .308/.443/.429
  • Scott Blewett, SP: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 4.44 ERA

Rain would be the end of this game for now, but Mississippi had a chance to escape this with a rain-shortened win until the Blue Wahoos made a last second comeback. Both sides saw their first inning ended by double play balls, but when Cade Bunnell led off the second inning with a base hit Mississippi felt they had a chance for an early lead. Well, Bunnell was picked off, but Wahoos starter Patrick Monteverde gave the Braves that runner back by making an error to allow Landon Stephens safe passage. Drew Campbell made that mistake matter, hitting a two run home run on the next pitch to give Mississippi the lead. Meanwhile Mississippi’s starter Scott Blewett was cruising, and save for a hiccup on a solo home run in the third inning he completely controlled the game across the first five innings. The second of Luke Waddell’s two doubles plated an insurance run in the top of the fifth inning which ended up being critical as storms approached. Waddell had three hits in his three trips to the plate and his numbers have skyrocketed thanks to three straight multi-hit games this week. Blewett went into the sixth hoping for one more clean inning before he hit the showers, but it was not meant to be. He walked the first batter he faced then gave up a game-tying two run shot to the next hitter. Mississippi got a chance to bat in the top of the seventh inning but didn’t finish the inning as the game was delayed and then eventually called off with two outs and a runner on second base.

(28-32) Rome Braves 4, (35-25) Hudson Valley Renegades 5

Box Score

  • Kevin Kilpatrick Jr., CF: 3-4, 2B, .229/.365/.367
  • Ignacio Alvarez, SS: 3-5, 2B, RBI, .277/.410/.348
  • David McCabe, DH: 0-3, 2 BB, RBI, .310/.420/.476
  • Luis Vargas, SP: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 4.89 ERA

Some games go down as losses, and this was certainly an extra-inning heartbreaker, but there are often more important storylines and such was the case in this game. Reliever Brooks Wilson had a breakout campaign across Double and Triple-A in 2021, posting a 2.34 ERA and earning a spot on the Braves 40 man roster. He went into spring training in 2022 with the hope of getting to the big league bullpen that season, but went down early and missed the entire season due to Tommy John surgery. Finally, he returned to the mound in a competitive game, pitching his first official inning of baseball since October 3, 2021 in tonight’s loss. Now 27 and without that coveted 40 man spot he will have to do a lot to prove he still has major league potential, but he now finally has that chance to prove he belongs. Wilson pitched a scoreless seventh inning for Rome, striking out the final batter he faced.

As for the rest of the game, Rome certainly had their chances to make this more than a bittersweet loss, as they stranded a runner in scoring position six times in an extra inning loss. They did so in the first five innings of this game, finally breaking through in the seventh inning when Nacho Alvarez smacked a double with two outs to score Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. Rome needed a big ninth inning rally to even send this game to extra innings, as they went in trailing 4-1. Eliezel Stevens led off with a single, same as he did in that seventh inning scoring rally, and Kilpatrick’s hit by pitch opened the flood gates. Alvarez followed with a single to load the bases, and a ground ball in between the pitcher and first baseman allowed every runner to advanced a base on the second out. Still it took some fortune and hustle to tie the game. Keshawn Ogans grounded a ball deep into the 5-6 hole, and though the shortstop was able to range over and back hand the ball his throw had little chance to get the out at first. Kilpatrick scored easily from first base, but Alvarez would provide the play of the game for Rome as he never stopped running and when the ball skipped just in front of the first baseman after the scoop attempt he was able to easily score and tie the game.

Luis Vargas didn’t have his best command in this game, but did basically everything you could ask of him otherwise which allowed him to skate around some sticky situations. Vargas gave up a hit and walk in the first inning, but recorded a huge strikeout on a 3-2 count for the second out which then allowed him to escape unscathed on a ground out. Vargas found himself with a runner on third base and one out in the second inning, but again got a key strikeout and escaped when a hot line drive found the glove of Ogans at third base. The third and fourth were a cake walk for Vargas, but a leadoff walk in the fifth inning finally broke his shutout. The next batter singled off of Vargas to push that lead runner to third base and a sacrifice fly gave Hudson Valley a 1-0 lead. Ryder Jones had a poor sixth inning, but it could have ended with much less damage done. After allowing a two out RBI single Jones forced a fly ball out to right field, but Brandol Mezquita never saw it in the lights and the ball landed safely allowing the batter to streak around for an inside-the-park home run. Jonathan Hughes was fantastic in relief for Rome, pitching two scoreless innings to send the game to extra innings. In extra innings the game was in the hands of Ben Dum, who did not have his best day. After allowing a single the Braves chose to intentionally walk the next hitter to load the bases which worked on the first play when they managed a force out at home. It didn’t work when Dum hit a batter, forcing the winning run home from third base.

(29-31) Augusta GreenJackets 2, (31-27) Carolina Mudcats 7

Box Score

  • Ambioris Tavarez, SS: 0-3, .194/.292/.284
  • Jeremy Celedonio, RF: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, .176/.325/.409
  • Jhancarlos Lara, RP: 4 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 5.61 ERA

Ouch. The GreenJackets will want to forget this one, and especially the lineup who only recorded three hits in the game. One of those hits was a timely one, a home run from Jeremy Celedonio with a runner on base, but given they trailed 6-0 at the time it was ultimately meaningless. Now, in a Single-A game no run is every truly meaningless because it gets a little whacky sometimes. Most of the time it gets a little whacky, if we’re being honest, but this was a straight forward game and the GreenJackets didn’t have the fortune of waiting out a reliever who wanted to walk five of them in a row. Ambioris Tavarez started this game in the leadoff position, but put together unimpressive at bats. Tavarez made a half-hearted swing at a bad curveball in the sixth inning for his second strikeout. He was pulled from the game after this, and it’s safe to assume that him not running to first base as he watched the ball roll away from the catcher - instead choosing to turn and walk back to the dugout - was the reason. Tavarez, for all his struggles, shows clear talent on the field, but his lack of effort and poor body language is often far more apparent. He will need to show more maturity if he hopes to advance in the system but his temporary detour off of the roster - one that just ended three days ago - seems to have not done much to change his trajectory.

Jhancarlos Lara really struggled in this game, and although he held it together for a couple of innings his struggles with runners on became an issue in the third inning. Lara worked through a wild first inning, with the help of the defense behind him. Lara struck out the third batter but it came on a wild pitch which moved runners to first and third at the time. Carolina attempted a double steal, but Tavarez cut the throw short and was able to make a nice throw home to get the runner trying to score. Lara pitched around a two out walk in the second inning, but allowed a leadoff walk in the third which set his collapse in motion. Lara tends to rush his delivery with runners on base, and in this case it came into play once he loaded the bases then balked as he failed to pause as he came set. This scored a run then set up the others in scoring position where a base hit scored them both to make it 3-0 Carolina. Lara has had balk issues in past starts, so much so that even though I didn’t see this play before writing those past sentences I knew exactly what he did before reviewing the video. Lara tends to fidget with runners on causing these no pause balks, which is common with young players. It’s a primarily mental hurdle he’ll have to learn to overcome and probably will as the Braves staff works on his poise. Lara got into fourth inning trouble as well before a two run triple scored two runs against him. He then balked home another run on the same sort of balk. Estarlin Rodriguez pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Lara then turned it over to the always interesting Elison Joseph. Joseph threw nine strikes on 21 pitches, but somehow that worked out for him and he pitched a scoreless seventh inning.

(3-5) FCL Braves 2, (4-4) FCL Twins 7

Box Score

  • Roddery Munoz, SP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • Diego Benitez, SS: 1-4, 2B

We’ve got another loss in this game, but at the minimum it’s an interesting confluence of events for us to digest. Jesus Aguilar made his Braves debut with the FCL squad, and he stunk it up a bit with an 0-4 performance and two strikeouts. Also on the return to action is Roddery Munoz, who made the start and pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout. Offensively this team just isn’t doing much of tremendous interest, though Diego Benitez continues to plug away. His numbers aren’t great thanks to a high ground ball rate, low walk rate, and low BABIP, but he is putting the ball in play and has five doubles in 31 plate appearances. Strikeouts continue to mount for Douglas Glod, as he added another to give him 14 in just 34 plate appearances. 18 year old Leiker Figueroa has been a bright spot with the help of a high BABIP, but he also is putting up a good peripheral performance early with five strikeout and seven walks in 35 plate appearances. He went 1-4 in this one with the one hit being a single.

(1-7) DSL Braves 3, (4-4) DSL Guardians Blue 2

Box Score

  • Carlos Monteverde, RF: 1-4, RBI
  • Luis Guanipa, CF: 0-3, BB

Luis Guanipa is apparently human, a fact which both stuns and disappoints me. I can’t copy-paste our daily Guanipa extra base hit counter because he didn’t have any, though he did draw a third inning walk. He and John Estevez both had hitless days at the plate, and of all days that’s when the DSL squad gets their first win of the season to snap a seven game losing streak. Perhaps Luis Guanipa is simply not a winning baseball player, much to consider. 17 year old Carlos Cordero, also signed this offseason, was the star of the show as he drew two walks and had two hits, accounting for two of the Braves three runs. Rayven Antonio pitched three scoreless innings of relief and hasn’t allowed an earned run in six innings this season.

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