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Braves Minor League Recap: The bats struggle on the day whilst Jared Shuster gets roughed up

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Cincinnati Reds Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves really struggled going 2-4 which included three games in which they scored three or fewer runs with one of those games going 11 innings. One of the team’s former top prospects, a recent graduate, struggled mightily allowing five earned runs.

(49-53) Indianapolis Indians 7, (45-57) Gwinnett Stripers 5

  • Vaughn Grissom 1-4, 1 2B, 1 BB, 2 K
  • Jesus Aguilar 2-5, 2 RBI, 1 K
  • Jared Shuster, SP, 6 IP, 11 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

The Braves were relatively quiet over the first four frames getting three batters on compared to five strikeouts. They woke up in the fifth inning though as they scratched across their first run of the game and had four of their first five batters reach safely. They looked like they were going to have a massive inning but Sam Hilliard struck out with the bases loaded which was followed by a Jesus Aguilar fly out. They had similar production in the seventh as four of their first six batters reached, but thanks to a Vaughn Grissom RBI double and two run Jesus Aguilar double three were able to score three this time. After a mini three game hitting streak Braden Shewmake’s poor play continued as he went 0-3 with three punchouts. Hoy Park did continue his strong play on the season going 1-1 with two walks and two runs.

Shuster was terrible and honestly was lucky to “escape” with just allowing five earned runs as he allowed 13 base runners. At least one base runner reached in every frame against him with the majority of the damage coming in the fifth. Five of the first six batters got on safely in the inning and he was only able to get out of the jam due to a Chris Owings line out double play. After Shuster, Mike Morin, Kodi Whitley and Lucas Luetge pitched the final three innings combining to allow two earned runs, all of which came off of Whitley.

(50-46) Montgomery Biscuits 3, (43-52) Mississippi Braves 2

  • Drew Lugbauer 1-4, 1 BB, 2 K
  • Jesse Franklin V 1-5, 1 RBI
  • Tyler Owens, SP, 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 K

The Braves decided to wait until the ninth inning to score where they made things very interesting as Luke Waddell and Jesse Franklin V each had RBI singles. The winning run was on first base with just one out but a Cade Bunnell strikeout and Cal Conley ground out ended the game. Mississippi spread out their eight hits as six batters had one base knock with Drew Campbell being the only Brave to register two hits.

Owens was solid if unspectacular pitching to a 2.25 ERA which saw his on the season Double-A ERA drop down to a 4.35. It would be nice to see Owens work deeper into games as he has just one appearance being longer than four innings this season. His three walks were the most he’s had in a game in 2023 and only the second time he’s walked multiple batters on the year. After Owens came on Scott Blewett who pitched three scoreless innings where he struck out four batters. Ty Tice pitched the final two innings which included a shaky eighth where he allowed two earned runs with the second run being the difference in the game.

(44-53) Rome Braves 2, (50-47) Greenville Drive 1

  • Ignacio Alvarez 1-4, 2B, 2 K
  • David McCabe 1-4, 1 K
  • Ian Mejia, SP, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 8 K

The Braves were productive enough at the dish to get the win. They picked up seven hits, just one of which was an extra base hit, walked twice and struck out nine times. All of their runs came in a second inning where seven batters came to the dish with five of the first six batters reaching safely. The inning would’ve likely been bigger had Justin Janas not been thrown out at home for the second out of the frame. Besides that frame though, the Braves were rather ineffective. They had five innings where just three batters came to the plate. On a positive note though, McCabe continued his hot hitting picking up a single in four at bats meaning he is now 10 for his last 26.

Rome needed two pitchers to cover nine innings last night and they were brilliant. Mejia, who had given up five or more runs in four consecutive starts, had his second start of the season where he pitched seven or more innings and gave up one or fewer runs. Through the first six innings he allowed just one batter to reach safely with the only blemish being Roman Anthony who hit a leadoff home run in the fourth inning. He was pulled after the seventh inning with just 79 pitches meaning if he was allowed to go to 100 he had a shot at a complete game. The eight strikeouts that he was able to register were the most he’s had in a game in his short professional career. Tyree Thompson came in, in relief and pitched the final two innings picking up his first save of the season. He did walk two batters but he also struck out to enroute to the save.

(45-51) Augusta GreenJackets 2, (50-46) Columbia Fireflies 3 F/11

  • Ambioris Tavarez 0-5, 1 R, 4 K
  • Cory Acton 3-5, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • Luis Vargas, SP, 6 ⅓ IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K

Even though this game went 11 innings, the GreenJacket bats were nonexistent. If you remove Acton’s production, GreenJacket hitters went just 3-33 with 15 strikeouts and last I checked, those aren’t good numbers. To make matters worse, they went just 2-15 with runners in scoring position and left nine batters on. Tavarez’s strikeout problem continued to rear its ugly head as he struck out four more times bringing his season total up to 153 in 303 at bats. Besides Alvarez, Jeremy Celedonio, Nick Clarno and Jair Casanova also struck out three strikeouts.

Luis Vargas threw another gem. In his last eight outings he has allowed two or fewer runs in four or more innings seven times. His only poor outing over that span was his last start where he allowed five earned over five and ⅔ innings so to see him rebound in this manner is extremely encouraging. He generated a strong 13 swinging strikes and threw 62 strikes compared to 29 balls. Estarlin Rodriguez came in to relieve Vargas and continued the shutout throwing 1 ⅔ scoreless innings. Jason Franks came in to pitch the ninth and tenth with the only run he allowed being the ghost runner. After that came Chad Bryant who allowed two runs, one of which was earned and was saddled with the loss.

(26-5) DSL LAD Bautista 9, (9-20) DSL Braves 5 F/7

Mario Baez continued his strong season going 1-3 with a strikeout which raised his batting average to .306. Junior Garcia had the best game amongst Braves hitters going 2-3 with two runs, an RBI and a walk. Starting pitcher Cristobal Abreu was roughed up allowing four earned runs before getting pulled two outs into his outing.

(22-16) FCL Red Sox 5, (20-20) FCL Braves 10

The Braves once again almost treated this as a Spring Training game. They used 14 position players and five different pitchers. Diego Benitez was solid going 2-4 with two RBI’s, a walk and a strikeout. Top prospect Douglas Glod saw his slump continue going 1-4 with a strikeout. Over his last 30 at bats he has just four hits compared to nine strikeouts.

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