The pitching performances at Double-A and High-A were the headlines of the day in the Atlanta Braves farm system. Tyler Owens and Rolddy Munoz each have ERAs in the low twos, and showed that off with a dominant performance in a narrow win.
(29-39) Gwinnett Stripers 4, (36-31) Nashville Sounds 7
- Vaughn Grissom, SS: 2-4, 2B, .313/.382/.467
- Braden Shewmake, 2B: 0-3, BB, .213/.274/.381
- Justus Sheffield, SP: 3 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 14.85 ERA
Justus Sheffield’s struggles this season continued in this game and the late hole he dug for the Stripers couldn’t be overcome. Forrest Wall continued to be a spark for the offense when he led off the game with a double and then stole third base, but the Stripers couldn’t score him from third base with no outs. Gwinnett ultimately did take the first lead on a double from Hoy Park in the second inning but the lead did not last long as Nashville put together a four run second inning. Vaughn Grissom had the first of his two hits in the sixth inning and the Stripers put together a fight with Joe Dunand taking the next pitch deep to make it 7-3. Grissom then led off the eighth inning with a double and Dunand followed with a single to threaten late. Ultimately the Stripers only came away with one run on a sacrifice fly from Joe Hudson and wouldn’t have another baserunner in the game. Gwinnett’s six game losing streak has pushed them into last place in the International League’s West division, 16.5 games out of first place.
Justus Sheffield was not fooling anyone on the mound, and he allowed four batted balls over 100 mph and a total of eight hits to go along with three walks. A pickoff in the first inning allowed him to escape unharmed, but the Sounds got four runs on four hits in the second inning. Sheffield couldn’t salvage the start from there and allowed two more runs in the third inning on consecutive RBI doubles before leaving after just three innings. Nolan Kingham needed to give Gwinnett some bulk out of the bullpen, and it started off poorly as the first batter he faced went deep. Kingham then walked the next batter but turned his outing around and ending up giving the Stripers three innings of relief with no more runs allowed.
(30-31) Mississippi Braves 6, (37-25) Pensacola Blue Wahoos 3
- Cal Conley, 2B: 2-5, .216/.294/.278
- Landon Stephens, RF: 1-3, HR, BB, .223/.341/.469
- Domingo Robles, SP: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 3.45 ERA
Mississippi has put together a strong run against the first place Blue Wahoos, as they have rattled off three straight wins as they try to climb out of last place in the division. The Braves wanted to put this game away early, and Cal Conley got them off to a good start with a single to lead off the game. A hit batter and walk would load the bases with two outs, where the Braves came up with clutch hits to blow the game open. Drew Campbell cleared the bases with a three RBI double on the first pitch he saw, and Beau Philip cleaned up the inning by smacking a two-run home run to make it 5-0. Mississippi rode this early outburst to a win, as they didn’t really threaten to do much else in the game offensively. Landon Stephens added on a run with a leadoff home run in the sixth inning to extend the lead to 6-0.
Domingo Robles has been a solid contributor to Mississippi’s rotation, and for much of his start was in control of the game. It helps to not have to throw a pitch until you already have a five run lead, and across his first five innings he blanked the Blue Wahoos including nine straight retired entering the sixth inning. The sixth inning was not kind to Robles, and was led off by Luke Waddell booting a grounder right at him to lead off the inning. The next hitter rolled a bunt straight down the line and over the third base bag, and without a ball leaving the infield Robles found himself in some trouble. Pensacola finally broke through with a two run single off of Robles, and a throwing error from Jesse Franklin allowed the runner to advance to third where he would score the third run of the inning on a ground out. This was a sour ending to a very good start from Robles, but Mississippi still held the lead pretty comfortably and the bullpen ensured they kept it. Ty Tice, Jake McSteen, and Daysbel Hernandez each faced three hitters and each retired all three to swiftly put out any hopes of a comeback.
(29-32) Rome Braves 1, (36-26) Hudson Valley Renegades 0
- Drake Baldwin, C: 1-4, .215/.349/.401
- Ignacio Alvarez, SS: 0-3, BB, .274/.409/.342
- David McCabe, 3B: 1-4, .286/.397/.429
- Tyler Owens, SP: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2.25 ERA
- Rolddy Munoz, RP: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2.12 ERA
Both sides in this game displayed phenomenal pitching, allowing only three hits each and neither side getting an RBI. Rome didn’t have a single hit until the seventh inning, with three early walks being the only actin they got on the basepaths. Finally with two outs in the sixth the Braves broke a stretch of 14 straight retired, ending the no hitter on Geraldo Quintero’s double which he blooped just inside the left field line. Rome came away with nothing on the inning, but Hudson Valley decided to give them a run in the eighth to win the game. Bryson Horne struck out swinging to lead off the eighth, but he swung at such an awful pitch that the catcher couldn’t even handle it and he reached on a wild pitch. The team apparently forgot about Horne as Brandon Parker tried to lay a bunt down, and he stole second base standing up to get into scoring position. Parker advanced Horne to third with a deep fly out to right field, but Horne couldn’t advance on a weird ground out to second base and Hudson Valley had a chance to escape. That effort was for naught, as the very next pitch snuck through the legs of the catcher to score Horne on what was ruled a wild pitch. Rome’s best effort came when Drake Baldwin and David McCabe led off the ninth inning with base hits, but with Baldwin on third base and no outs they failed to add to their lead.
Rome threw their two best pitchers in this game, and they needed every bit of effort from both to escape with a win. After an injury-riddled start to his professional career Tyler Owens has exploded onto the scene with Rome this year. He dominated across the first three innings of this game, before running into trouble in his fourth and final inning. Horne committed an error to let the leadoff batter reach and Owens hit the next to put himself in a pickle. Owens responded, however, getting a force out at third base and then striking out the final two batters of the inning to complete his start. He then turned the ball over to Rolddy Munoz, who one-upped Owens by allowing only one hit over five innings. The one hit was a two out single in the bottom of the eighth inning, and he needed just one pitch to strand the runner before locking the game up with two strikeouts and a fly out in the ninth. Owens has seen a stunning drop off in his walk rate this season, going from 10% last season to 4.2% this season, and it’s allowed him to post a 2.25 ERA and 3.19 FIP. Munoz hasn’t had the peripherals to match his 2.12 ERA, with a 3.76 FIP and mediocre strikeout rates, but it’s the quality of contact against him that has made his season. No one has been able to square up Munoz this season, and partly that is evidenced by a 58.5% ground ball rate.
(30-32) Augusta GreenJackets 7, (32-28) Carolina Mudcats 6
- Ambioris Tavarez, SS: 0-4, BB, .186/.298/.273
- Francisco Floyd, 3B: 3-4, HR, BB, 2 RBI, .206/.344/.327
- Adam Shoemaker, SP: 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 2 K, 5.50 ERA
Augusta and Carolina played the most exciting game of the day, which ended in Augusta walking the game off in the tenth inning. Carolina jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but the GreenJackets clawed their way back with Ambioris Tavarez drawing a walk to lead off the bottom of the first. Tavarez then stole second base and scored on a double from Ethan Workinger. In the next inning Francisco Floyd wiped the slate clean, tying the game with a two out solo home run. Augusta immediately fell back behind thanks to a three run rally in the top of the third inning and it took a bit more time for the GreenJackets to answer back. Bottom five, and Justin Janas and Ethan Workinger once again led the offense this time with a single and a walk with one out. The GreenJackets didn’t do much with this, but an error and a wild pitch got them a run closer going into the latter half of the game. Nick Clarno and Francisco Floyd each reached base to lead off the sixth inning, but strikeouts from Tyler Collins and Tavarez put the GreenJackets in danger of wasting the opportunity. Janas grounded a routine ball over to first base, but the first baseman threw it a bit high and it bounced off of the glove to the first baseman trying to cover allowing a run to score. Workinger made the Mudcats pay, lining a game-tying single into left field to cap off the inning. Floyd put the GreenJackets ahead in the next inning, beating out a two-out grounder to third base which forced home a run. Carolina would come back to tie the next inning and in their final opportunities of regulation the GreenJackets came up empty-handed.
It has been a struggle for Adam Shoemaker this season, and this game was a case of him just not being able to find the zone with anything. Carolina jumped all over Shoemaker, netting five runs on seven hits and five walks across Shoemaker’s four innings. He was perhaps lucky it wasn’t worse as he stranded runners in every inning including leaving the bases loaded in Carolina’s three run third inning. Tyree Thompson calmed the game down out of the bullpen, giving Augusta three fantastic innings of relief to allow them to take the lead. He finally caved in the eighth inning and allowed a run on three hits, but his defense ultimately clutched up for him. On the final of those hits, a double down the left field line, the runner tried to score from first base but a good throw from Casanova in left field and a pin point relay from Tavarez cut the runner down for the second out. Jason Franks put up a scoreless ninth inning then came up huge for Augusta in extra innings. Franks struck out the first two batters he faced then forced a weak ground out to first base to strand that free runner. In the bottom of the tenth two GreenJackets popped out in foul territory to threaten to send this game to the eleventh inning, but Tyler Collins dropped a fly ball down the left field line for a walk off single.
(4-6) FCL Braves 8, (4-6) FCL Rays 14
- Douglas Glod, RF: 3-4, HR, BB, 3 RBI. 263/.364/.447
- Diego Benitez, SS: 1-4, BB, .219/.306/.375
Douglas Glod has a monster day at the plate for the FCL Braves, and it’s a good thing he did because that’s about all we’re going to want to talk about. Glod has put up some fantastic numbers, including hitting his second home run of the season in this game and running a .364 on base percentage. Glod also didn’t strike out in this game, which has been his major weakness this year with him having 15 in 44 plate appearances. Strikeout rates are unfortunately the only statistic at this level with any sort of significance to projection so it’s a red flag on his profile. On the other side Diego Benitez has been consistently putting the ball in play and is running a 16.7% strikeout rate along with five doubles. He had a hit in this game, but needs to get better contact quality as he has a 68% ground ball rate based on box scores. That said, those box scores especially at this level aren’t really reliable and for a good example in the previous game Tyler Collins’s walk off was listed as a “ground ball to left field” when it was in fact definitely a fly ball. That said it seems he is not really making a ton of hard contact right now and his low BABIP while in some ways bad luck is probably also warranted.
(1-9) DSL Braves 0, (6-4) DSL Brewers 15
- Carlos Monteverde, RF: 1-4
- John Estevez, CF: 0-3, BB
I’m not even sure what to say about this one. The DSL Braves had one hit, but the good news is that one came from the struggling Carlos Monteverde who was one of their big bonuses from this winter. Luis Guanipa did not play in this game. Starter Francisco Vicioso didn’t record a single out and may have the most DSL stat line ever. In two appearances Vicioso has recorded one out (via strikeout) and allowed nine earned runs without allowing a single hit. Vicioso has allowed eight walks and hit two batters in 1⁄3 innings of work. The Braves are in last place with a -43 run differential in just ten games, but to show you the competition we’re dealing with at this level that is only the fourth worst run differential in the league.