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Braves Minor League Recap: Ambioris Tavarez has a big day

Credit: Garrett Spain - Battery Power

The Atlanta Braves minor league system was consistently inconsistent. They had three games in which three scored one or fewer runs and three where they scored five or more. A former top prospect twirled a gem for the Braves, but one of the organizations best prospects continued some concerning trends.

(58-31) Norfolk Tides 12, (39-51) Gwinnett Stripers 1

  • Vaughn Grissom 2-4, 1 K
  • Jesus Aguilar 1-4, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • Justus Sheffield, SP, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

Outside of the six walks they were able to draw as a team, there’s next to zero positives to take away from the Stripers offensive performance. They struck out 12 times and had just three batters pick up hits, all of whom in Aguilar, Grissom and Hoy Park have MLB experience. Braden Shewmake struggled going 0-3 with three strikeouts ending a short two game hot streak where he went 4-9 with a home run.

Former top prospect Justus Sheffield had his second outing for the Braves where he threw six or more innings and allowed two or fewer runs. Outside of those two starts he’s been very shaky allowing 21 earned runs in 16 ⅓ innings pitched. His six strikeouts were the second most he’s had in a start this season. He did dance around some trouble in the fifth as he gave up a solo homer which was immeasurably followed by a two out single and a walk, but a ground out got him out of the frame. After Sheffield though it was ugly as the Braves ‘pen gave up 10 runs and allowed 11 base runners in two innings.

(40-43) Mississippi Braves 5, (47-37) Tennessee Smokies 7

  • Tyler Tolve 1-4, 1 HR, 2 K
  • Cal Conley 1-5, 2 K
  • Domingo Robles, SP, 5 ⅔ IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K

The Braves lineup was uneven against the Smokies. They had five different batters' strikeout two or more times, but all but one hitter didn’t pick up a hit, with four different hitters picking up at least one RBI. Tyler Tolve had his second consecutive game with a home run and third straight with a strikeout. Cal Conley’s bad July continued as the former Texas Tech Red Raider as he is now just 9 for 49 this month.

After back-to-back starts where he allowed four earned runs Robles righted the ship against the Smokies. He started on a high note with just a four pitch first inning, but he immediately struggled in the second where he allowed two runs and four hits. Besides that frame though, he was sharp as he faced just 17 batters in his other 4 ⅔ innings pitched. He departed the game with a three-run lead, but a terrible bullpen performance saddled the Braves with a loss. Jake Mcsteen’s rough run continued as it was his third consecutive appearance where he allowed two or more earned runs in two or fewer innings. Alec Barger blew the game allowing two earned runs in the eighth inning.

(41-38) Hickory Crawdads 6, (40-45) Rome Braves 8

  • Ignacio Alvarez 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 BB
  • Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. 0-3, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 SB
  • Jorge Bautista, SP, 4 ⅔ IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 6 K

Despite picking up just seven hits the Braves were able to score eight runs, in large part due to the ten walks that they were able to force, seven of which came in their three run producing innings. Additionally, six of the nine Braves batters reached base or more times. Alvarez, Brandon Parker and David McCabe combined for all seven of the Braves RBIs with Parker hitting a homer.

Bautista’s Rome debut was solid. Sure, the runs and hits allowed aren’t exactly pretty, but he did strike out six batters, force ten whiffs and didn’t walk a batter. It was his fifth start of the season where he struck out six or more batters and just his second where he had allowed more than five hits. Bautista was followed by J.J. Niekro who relieved Bautista after he allowed a two-run homer on his 80th and final pitch. Niekro allowed one run which was unearned, due to a throwing error on a pickoff by himself. Jackson Stephens and Rob Griswold covered the final two innings allowing one combined run.

(37-44) Fredericksburg Nationals 2, (40-44) Augusta GreenJackets 6

  • Ambioris Tavarez 2-5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 K
  • Bryson Worrell 2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI
  • Luis Vargas, SP, 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 K

The GreenJackets were able to scratch six runs across largely on the backs of Tavarez and Worrell. Prior to today, in his last seven games Tavarez went 2 for his last 32 with 19 strikeouts. Whilst his performance today did offer some encouragement in his production, it continues his concern as he’s now struck out 22 times in his last 35 at bats. I do understand that he’s just 19 years old and there’s time for him to continue to develop but a rate of that nature is highly concerning. Worrell who’s 24 years old had a solid game but overall is hitting just .188 the season. Besides that duo, Andrew Keck and Jose Dilone each picked up two hits and a double against the Nationals.

Luis Vargas made his GreenJackets debut and continued his run of successful outings. He hasn’t been working deep into his starts with this being his ninth consecutive start of five innings or fewer. However, this was also his sixth straight start where he allowed two or fewer earned runs. After Vargas, Ronaldo Alesandro, Estarlin Rodriguez and Jason Franks threw four combined shutout innings where they struck out six batters to close the game.

(22-8) FCL Pirates 5, (13-17) FCL Braves 0

Diego Benitez was one of four Braves hitters to pick up a hit going 1-4 with a punch out which was his seventh consecutive came where he struck out. Center fielder Douglas Glod went 0-4 with a strikeout as well. Starting pitcher Davis Polo was okay allowing two earned runs across four innings.

(10-20) DSL Guardians Blue 9, (9-20) DSL Braves 1

17-year-old Luis Guanipa had a slow day going 0-3 with a walk and a strikeout. The Braves racked up just four hits with their only run coming via a passed ball. Starting pitcher Luis Arestigueta struggled mightily allowing five earned runs and eight base runners in his two innings of work.

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