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Braves Minor League Recap: Drew Lugbauer hits 100th career home run

The system favorite continues to lead the charge for Mississippi

Mesa Solar Sox v Peoria Javelinas Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Drew Lugbauer hit a game-tying solo home run to reach a career milestone, and that’s about all the good there was to talk about on the Atlanta Braves farm system Thursday night. The system was swept through six games.

(33-44) Gwinnett Stripers 7, (45-31) St. Paul Saints 13

Box Score

  • Vaughn Grissom, 2B: 1-3, 2 BB, RBI, .314/.377/.459
  • Braden Shewmake, SS: 2-5, 2B, RBI, .235/.312/.422
  • Jesus Aguilar, 1B: 2-4, HR, 5 RBI, .222/.318/.389
  • Dereck Rodriguez, SP: 3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 5.22 ERA

It was a tough show for Gwinnett, who didn’t have any single pitcher not give up a run to St. Paul. On the other end the offense was inept through the first six innings before they finally broke through with a big seventh inning in a game they already trailed 9-0. Control for St. Paul’s Andrew Bechtold was not in his favor as he walked two batters to load up the bases before walking Vaughn Grissom to force home the Stripers first run. Jesus Aguilar then hit up Bechtold’s replacement for a grand slam that made the game a bit respectable. Gwinnett once again loaded the bases for Aguilar in the ninth inning, with Aguilar this time only getting a sacrifice fly. Braden Shewmake singled home the game’s final run before a Luke Williams double play ended the game.

The day after being optioned back to Gwinnett Dereck Rodriguez found himself on the mount in St. Paul, and it was not a performance he will want to remember. A combination of bad luck and bad pitching led to him allowing five runs on four hits and two walks in the second inning alone before he finally got two strikeouts to strand a runner at second base. The bullpen was no relief, starting with Lucas Luetge who allowed two solo home runs - one each in the fourth and fifth innings. After Gwinnett inched their way into having a chance after that five run seventh inning Danny Young made that hope go away as he allowed three runs and recorded only one out in the bottom of the inning.

(33-37) Mississippi Braves 6, (36-35) Biloxi Shuckers 7

Box Score

  • Luke Waddell, 2B, 1-4, HR, 2 RBI: 1-4, .290/.408/.442
  • Drew Lugbauer, DH: 1-4, HR, BB, .270/.386/.610
  • Scott Blewett, SP: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 4.32 ERA

Mississippi actually held a lead in this game, which is more than most of the other teams can say about their Thursdays, and we had a cool milestone that I kind of spoiled in the headline but that’s whatever. Biloxi held onto a 4-0 lead after the early stages of the game but Luke Waddell’s fifth home run of the season would get Mississippi on the board in the fourth inning. A dropped third strike would lead to another run as Jesse Franklin would reach on the play and then come around to score on singles from Javier Valdes and Cade Bunnell. As Mississippi’s bullpen continued to hold strong the offense put up their fight, Waddell making the game a run closer with a sacrifice fly to score Justin Dean in the next inning. Mississippi finally tied the game in the sixth inning when Drew Lugbauer hit a solo home run. For Lugbauer that was his 100th career home run in professional baseball, and 59 of those have come over his past three seasons with the Mississippi Braves. The inning was far from over after that as Biloxi brought in Zach Vennaro in relief who all but threw away the game. Vennaro hit the first batter he faced before walking two more to load the bases. He then hit Hudson Potts to force in the go ahead run and a passed ball would score the third of the inning before Vennaro finally retired the side in the seventh.

It was not a hot day out there for Scott Blewett, whose struggles to keep runners off of the bases had the Braves dipping into the bullpen early. Blewett put the Braves behind by four runs after a three-run third inning and didn’t make it through the fourth inning before being pulled for Trey Riley. Riley did his part in relief by keeping the Shuckers at four runs through the end of the fifth inning and Ty Tice pitched a scoreless sixth inning to line himself up for the win in the game. Tice then didn’t get an out in the seventh inning, allowing three straight hits to open the frame including a game-tying triple. Kyle Wilcox couldn’t keep the game tied and a wild pitch scored the go ahead run that would go on to become the winning run. Justin Dean led off the eighth inning by drawing a walk and he stole second base to give Mississippi a chance to tie it up, but Waddell, Lugbauer, and Franklin struck out in order to end the threat. Mississippi went down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning to put a wrap on this game.

(32-39) Rome Braves 3, (34-32) Bowling Green Hot Rods 7

Box Score

  • David McCabe, 3B: 1-4, .310/.417/.423
  • Ignacio Alvarez, SS: 4-5, 2 RBI, .286/.415/.348
  • Daniel Martinez, SP: 4 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 2.79 ERA

Ignacio Alvarez put together a four hit performance but he was the only one in the lineup really doing much as Rome failed to match Bowling Green’s offense. Alvarez put the first run up on the board for Rome, bringing home Bryson Horne on a third inning single to tie the game up at 1-1. The Braves simply struggled to get runners in the innings Alvarez was not active as he accounted for all three of the runs they put on the board. The best rally came in the sixth when Alvarez led off with a single and David McCabe had a one out double to put both in scoring position, but Rome would only score on run in the inning. Alvarez had a two out single in the seventh inning to score Geraldo Quintero for the final run for Rome. Alvarez has had his share of troubles in the month of June, but having his first four hit game of the season here to extend his hitting streak to five games gives him a nice head of steam as we jump into the second half of the year.

Daniel Martinez came into this game with an ERA below two, but that didn’t mean much as Bowling Green laid the wood on him. Martinez allowed a first inning home run but kept it at one run for awhile, holding off Bowling Green despite allowing a few baserunners in each inning. The dam broke in the fourth inning as the Hot Rods came up with their clutch hit and scored two runs on a single to take the lead and three runs in the inning as a whole. They continued to push Martinez for his innings in this game and it didn’t work out as the third three batters of the fifth inning reached base to score two runs and chase Martinez from the game. The bullpen did a fine job in relief of Martinez, starting with JJ Niekro allowing one run over 1 13 innings of relief. Ben Dum and Miguel Pena finished the rest of the game without allowing a run.

(33-37) Augusta GreenJackets 3, (39-31) Columbia Fireflies 4

Box Score

  • Ambioris Tavarez, SS: 0-4, .196/.305/.302
  • EJ Exposito, 2B: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, .226/.323/.374
  • Jhancarlos Lara, SP: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 4.68 ERA

EJ Exposito got the GreenJackets off to a hot start in this game, clubbing a first inning home run to give them a two-run lead over the Fireflies. Columbia answered in the bottom of the first with a run on a passed ball off of starter Jhancarlos Lara, but Lara pitched well again to keep the GreenJackets in the lead. Coming off of the most dominant start of his career last week Lara was looking to finish off his June strong and he did a solid job as he held the Fireflies scoreless over his final three innings. Elison Joseph seems to have been moved out of his late inning role, and in this game he was the first arm out of the bullpen in relief of Lara. Joseph pitched two scoreless innings and sent the game into the seventh inning with Augusta still clinging to that one run lead.

Francisco Floyd took the first pitch of the seventh inning deep for his fourth home run of the year, and in a blink Augusta doubled their lead for the back half of the bullpen to work with. Nolan Martinez was the man called to help finish the job and quickly got two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Then a hit snuck through on the left side, Martinez hit a batter, then he walked another and suddenly the bases were loaded with the go-ahead run on base. Columbia would not waste this opportunity as a two-out, bases-clearing double gave them the lead. Facing their first deficit of the game Jeremy Celedonio drew a two out walk in the eighth inning to give Augusta a little life and Bryson Worrell followed with a base hit but Celedonio was thrown out trying to go first-to-third on the play to end the inning.

(8-10) FCL Braves 8, (7-10) FCL Orioles 13

Box Score

  • Douglas Glod, CF: 0-4, BB. 234/.351/.469
  • Diego Benitez, SS: 2-5, .269/.319/.403

There was some good news in the lower levels at least, as despite the losses Diego Benitez has gotten it rolling more consistently. Benitez had two hits in this game, both singles, and has had three straight multi-hit games. He also broke a streak of four straight games with a strikeout and will hopefully get back to where he was a couple of weeks ago in terms of making contact.

(6-12) DSL Braves 10, (18-0) DSL Dodgers Bautista 14

Box Score

  • Luis Guanipa, CF: 1-4, 2 BB, 2 SB, .328/.408/.552
  • Carlos Monteverde, RF: 0-3, 2 BB, .212/.338/.303

When all else fails we can at least count on Luis Guanipa, who with his hit and two walks today is the proud owner of a six game hitting streak and eleven game on base streak. Guanipa has been the most productive player in the system since the DSL season opened, and in the past week has also cut back on his strikeout rate with three strikeouts and five walks over his past seven games. Guanipa hasn’t had a home run since June 13th, but has had a few doubles in the past couple of games and has yet to be caught stealing (12/12). DSL statistics are essentially meaningless outside of not wanting to see a guy strike out too much, but for what we have gotten of Guanipa he’s done everything that can be asked of him.

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