The 2023 Atlanta Braves first round pick had his best game as a professional, striking out ten batters in a Rome Braves win. They also got key contributions in the game from Drake Baldwin and Ignacio Alvarez. Down in the Florida Complex League the FCL Braves closed out the championship series with a 9-1 win over the FCL Yankees.
(56-67) Gwinnett Stripers 4, (68-55) Nashville Sounds 1
- Forrest Wall, LF: 3-4, 2B, HR, .275/.368/.424
- Jesus Aguilar, DH: 2-3, BB, RBI, .291/.400/.439
- Allan Winans, SP: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2.75 ERA
Allan Winans continues to be the leader of the Gwinnett pitching staff and his five innings of one run ball were enough to lift the team to victory. Winans and Sounds starter Eric Lauer were locked in a duel early, as neither faltered through the first three innings. In the fourth the scoring finally started rolling and it was Winans who first stumbled, allowing a two-out RBI double in the top of the fourth inning to give Nashville a lead. That would not last as Gwinnett put up two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth inning and Winans worked around an error from Braden Shewmake in the fifth inning to put out a shutdown inning. Winans left the game after just five innings and 63 pitches, but the bullpen did their job behind him.
Forrest Wall had a huge day at the plate, and he got a rally started in the fourth inning as he led off with a double. This was followed by consecutive hits, with Jesus Aguilar getting the game-tying single. After a Drew Lugbauer walk to load the bases the Gwinnett had further chance to open the game up, but only got one more run as a sacrifice fly from Chadwick Tromp scored the second run of the inning. Wall again led a rally the next inning, getting a two out single before Lauer allowed three consecutive walks which ended his day. Finally in the seventh inning Wall finished out his day with a leadoff home run, extended the lead to 4-1 and putting himself a triple away from the cycle. Wall did not bat again in the game.
Gwinnett’s bullpen pitched four scoreless innings, though it wasn’t an easy road for the first couple of pitchers. Kodi Whitley allowed the first two batters he faced in the sixth inning to reach, but he closed down the inning with no further advance to finish his one inning of work. Brian Moran loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh inning before getting a strikeout to end that inning. Seth Elledge and Grant Holmes then combined to retire the last six batters in a row, with Holmes getting his 11th save of the season.
(51-66) Mississippi Braves 2, (64-55) Montgomery Biscuits 3
- Cal Conley, 2B: 2-4, .228/.310/.296
- Luke Waddell, SS: 1-4, .296/.395/.427
- Domingo Robles, SP: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 3.69 ERA
- Hayden Harris, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2.22 ERA
Mississippi took an early lead in this game, but also missed some opportunities which would come back to hurt them. Cal Conley led off the game by knocking a base hit through the middle, then stole second base to set the offense up in a good position early. Luke Waddell then flared a single into left field which moved Conley to third base, however Waddell made an attempt to advance to second base. The pitcher then faked a throw to second and when Conley broke for home he was easily thrown out for the first out of the inning. Mississippi came up empty in the first inning, but Drew Campbell put them on the board in the second inning with a solo home run. Landon Stephens made it 2-0 in the third inning as he led off with a home run, his 20th of the season as he becomes the second player in the system to reach 20 home runs this year. Hudson Potts gave the Braves further chance of a rally in the fifth inning, but a double play erased him. Stephens followed with a double and Conley an infield single to give the Braves a two-out scoring opportunity, but Waddell struck out to end the inning.
Domingo Robles had a strong start for the Braves, and for much of the game seemed to be getting stronger as he went on. Robles allowed a double and then infield single in the first inning, but he kept the Biscuits off of the board and mostly stayed out of the woods. Robles allowed a two out single in the second inning, but after getting a strikeout to end things did not allow another hit in the third through fifth innings. Robles then got a chance to face the lineup a third time in the sixth inning and the results did not favor him. Leadoff hitter Tristan Peters bounced a ball to first that Javier Valdes misplayed, then Robles could not beat Peters to first as it went down as a base hit. Robles issued his only walk of the game to the next batter, then had to face Tanner Murray. Murray lifted a sinking line drive into left field which Brandon Parker dove at and failed to corral, allowing the ball to roll past him to the wall and score both runs. This tied the game at two runs for each side, but Robles was able to retire the next three batters and keep the game tied. Hayden Harris struck out two batters in a scoreless seventh inning, and Trey Riley quickly got two outs in the eighth. Then the control problems for Riley started to set in as he walked two straight batters. Kenny Piper then snuck a ground ball through the middle, scoring the go ahead run in the game. Riley walked one more batter before he finally got out of the inning.
(57-62) Rome Braves 4, (63-53) Greensboro Grasshoppers 2
- Drake Baldwin, C: 2-5, 2 2B, .256/.382/.455
- Ignacio Alvarez, SS: 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, .290/.400/.406
- Hurston Waldrep, SP: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, 0.75 ERA
Hurston Waldrep may have needed a couple of games to get fully settled in Rome, but today was his day as he ripped through the Grasshopper lineup with 10 strikeouts. Waldrep started off by striking out the first three batters of the game, all swinging, and retired the first eight batters of the game with six coming on strikeouts. In the fourth inning Greensboro started to have a bit more success, with a leadoff single and an error from David McCabe putting Waldrep in some trouble. Waldrep got a called strike three for the second out of the inning, but could not get out of the inning unscathed. Waldrep left a ball over the plate that got smacked, hopping off of the warning track for a two-run double that cut the Rome lead in half. Waldrep struck out another batter to end the fourth then struck out two more in the fifth inning to end his day. Tyree Thompson got the final out of the fifth inning and then blanked the Grasshoppers across 2 1⁄3 to send it to Shay Schanaman. Schanaman struck out four batters to complete a two inning save in his first High-A appearance. Schanaman has yet to allow a run in his professional career as he has gone 10 1⁄3 innings across six appearances and three levels.
It’s been a bit of a rough patch in August for Nacho Alvarez, but he broke out today as he led the offense with his performance. Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. led off the bottom of the first inning by drawing a walk and Alvarez was right there behind him as his double scored Kilpatrick to put Rome up very early. Alvarez advanced to third on a ground out from Drake Baldwin then came in to score the second run of the inning on Geraldo Quintero’s single. Alvarez added on more in the third inning as he led off with a solo home run to extend the lead out to 3-0. Baldwin followed with a double and ultimately scored on a single from Justin Janas. Stephen Paolini also had a hit in the inning to load the bases, but Rome didn’t come away with any more runs. Baldwin had another double in the fifth inning, but Rome’s offense couldn’t come away with any more runs following the third inning.
(54-64) Augusta GreenJackets 7, (61-58) Charleston RiverDogs 8
- Cam Magee, SS: 2-5, RBI .169/.247/.260
- Tyler Collins, CF: 2-4, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, .205/.294/.263
- Seth Keller, SP: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 6.26 ERA
Augusta nearly made a massive comeback in this game, but fell just short in the later innings. Seth Keller got the start for the GreenJackets, and once again he struggled mightily starting with him hitting the first batter of the game. Keller then threw a wild pitch and allowed a base hit which gave the RiverDogs an early lead. Keller’s first inning was shaky as he allowed another hit, a walk, and threw two wild pitches, but thanks to a caught stealing he was able to strand two runners in scoring position and keep the game manageable. Thanks to double plays Keller was able to work around a hit batter in the second inning and a walk in third, but Charleston would get their licks in during a poor fourth inning. Keller allowed a leadoff walk, then with one out allowed four straight singles before being pulled from the game for Nolan Martinez. Martinez got two outs to keep the game at 4-1, but struggled himself in the next inning. Martinez allowed four runs in the fifth inning on three walks and four hits, ultimately leaving the GreenJackets down 8-1 in the game. Zack Austin did a tremendous job in relief with three strikeouts over two innings and Landon Harper finished the day with two scoreless innings and four strikeouts.
Tyler Collins had a good day at the plate, and in the third inning his one out triple would lead to Augusta tying the game when Cam Magee followed with an RBI single. The offense struggled otherwise in the first half of the game, but finally got some runs back in the fifth inning. Jace Grady came through with a two-out, two run double to score Dawson Dimon and Cam Magee, and Drew Compton had another hit to score Grady and cut the deficit to 8-4. Will Verdung led off in the sixth inning with an infield single, but the offense behind him couldn’t get him in and the GreenJackets still trailed by four runs going into the eighth inning. Here, the offense finally got rolling again, as EJ Exposito drew a walk and hits from Kade Kern and Jose Dilone loaded the bases. Dimon struck out for the second out of the inning, but a passed ball scored a run. Tyler Collins, representing the tying run in the game, got himself down 0-2, but battled off a tough pitch. He then got a hanging breaking ball, and slapped it into right field to score both runners on a double. This flipped the lineup, but leadoff hitter Cam Magee failed to come through as he struck out to strand Collins at second. Augusta had the middle of the lineup ready to go in the ninth inning, but they went down in order to finish a close loss.
(2-0) FCL Braves 9, (0-2) FCL Yankees 1
- Isaiah Drake, CF: 1-3, 2 BB, 2 SB
- Diego Benitez, SS: 2-4, 3B, BB, RBI
- Douglas Glod: RF: 1-4, 2B, BB, 2 RBI
- Rolando Gutierrez, SP: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0.00 ERA
The FCL Braves were the hottest team in the league down the stretch, and finished off a two game sweep of the FCL Yankees on Saturday to win the league championship. Rolando Gutierrez had a tremendous game as he didn’t allow an earned run over six innings, and the offense kept pouring on runs. Isaiah Drake sparked the offense by reaching base three times in the leadoff spot, and Diego Benitez got the scoring started with an RBI triple in the first inning. Luis Sanchez extended the lead with a two run single in the second and the Braves piled on runs late. Douglas Glod had a two-run double in the ninth inning which effectively sealed the game. I did a full write up of their postseason run and the final game if you are interested in reading more here.