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Braves Minor League Recap: Drue Hackenberg makes his debut

Virginia Tech v Clemson Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves minor league system had one of its stronger days in recent memory as they won four of the five games they played in and scored 28 runs across their four wins. There were some strong performances by the likes of Vaughn Grissom and Drew Campbell, But the most impactful appearance came from Drue Hackenberg who made his organizational debut on Tuesday.

(58-67) Gwinnett Stripers 8, (62-65) Memphis Redbirds 3

  • Vaughn Grissom 2-3, 2 R, 5 RBI, 1 HR, 2 BB
  • Jesus Aguilar 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB
  • Jackson Stephens, SP, 3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K

The Stripers offense had a massive day against the Redbirds as not only did they scratch across eight runs but they also picked up nine hits and eight walks. Despite that offensive explosion though it could’ve been much more as they left nine batters on base and just went 3 for 14 with runners in scoring position. Vaughn Grissom had another strong showing with last night’s multi hit game being the seventh such game of the month. The majority of their damage was done off of former top prospect Matthew Liberatore who gave up five earned runs and walked five batters across 3 ⅔ innings.

Outside of a fourth inning where they gave up three earned runs and three hits, Stripers pitchers were fantastic. Outside of the fourth they allowed just two hits in the other eight innings. Starting pitcher Jackson Stephens turned in his third consecutive scoreless outing having now allowed three earned across his last 12 ⅓ innings.

(49-58) Mississippi Braves 0, (50-58) Rocket City Trash Pandas 3 (completion of August 13th game)

  • Jesse Franklin V 0-4, 2 K
  • Joshua Fuentes 2-3
  • Domingo Robles, SP, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K

The Braves 1 through 4 hitters were terrible as they combined to go 0 for 14 with four strikeouts and two walks, which were the only two walks the Braves drew. Fuentes was able to grab two of the Braves three hits with Javier Valdes picking up the only other base knock.

Braves pitching more than held their own, but the three runs were three too many. After a shaky few months, Robles is finally righting the ship having now allowed just two earned runs over his last 12 innings with 11 strikeouts. After Robles came Nolan Kingham who pitched well allowing two earned across six innings. A lack of strikeouts has been a noticeable concern of late for Kingham as he has just five across his last 16 frames.

(52-68) Mississippi Braves 6, (55-66) Rocket City Trash Pandas 5

  • Cal Conley 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 2B
  • Drew Campbell 3-4, 1 RBI, 1 R
  • Jose Montilla, SP, 5 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

Like the Stripers, the Braves left a lot on the plate as against the Trash Pandas as they left nine runners on base and went 4 for 13 with men in scoring position. Drew Campbell and Cal Conley each had strong days, but everyone in the lineup contributed as each starter reached base at least once with four of them reaching base two or more times. Jesse Franklin V, who scored the winning run, started the bottom of the eighth inning as the ghost runner before stealing third base and coming around to score on a Drew Campbell single.

Montilla had a quiet 1,2,3 first inning before things unraveled quickly in the second. He allowed five of the first six batters he faced to reach on single in what was a 28 pitch frame. After Montilla, Braves pitchers were able to settle down allowing just one run over the final seven innings. Brooks Wilson who pitched a scoreless top of the eighth inning was credited with his first win of the season. Peyton Williams on the other hand was charged with his second blown save on the year allowing one run to come across in the sixth inning.

(59-62) Rome Braves 3, (57-59) Winston Salem Dash 2

  • David McCabe 0-4, 1 K
  • Ignacio Alvarez 1-3, 1 RBI, 3 K
  • Jorge Bautista, SP, 4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K

On August 12th, McCabe had a .318 batting average on the season, now after yesterday’s 0-4 it has dropped down to .279. Over that stretch he has just six hits compared to 11 strikeouts across 50 at bats. Slumps are of course a part of baseball but it is notable to see a hitter as good as McCabe go into this ugly of a stretch that has included just two extra base hits. Ignacio Alvarez and Geraldo Quintero each registered an RBI with the Braves’ other run coming on a throwing error by Brooks Baldwin.

Bautista’s run of up and down pitching continued as this was his fourth start out of his last six where he went four or fewer innings. In three of those short lived appearances he gave up two or more earned runs. Additionally after three consecutive starts with six or more strikeouts, Bautista now has just six across his last two games combined. The Braves bullpen though was lights out as J.J. Niekro, Miguel Pena and Ronaldo Alesanrdo combined to throw five shutout frames to close the door.

(55-65) Augusta GreenJackets 11, (53-65) Salem Red Sox 9

  • Ambioris Tavarez 1-4, 3 R, 1 SB, 1 BB
  • Sabin Cabellos 4-4. 2 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB
  • Drue Hackenberg, 2 ⅔ IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

In just his sixth game as a member of the Braves organization and first above rookie ball, Cabellos had a massive showing as he accounted for six of the GreenJackets 11 runs. After being selected in the third round of the 2023 MLB Draft, Cabellos missed over a month with this being his first game back in action. After striking out in every game for nearly a month and a half, tonight was the second time in his last five games in which Tavarez avoided being punched out. It is very marginal progress of course but after being stuck in such a bad stretch for so long it is encouraging to see him breaking out of it.

The Braves 2023 second round pick dominated in his first career professional game. Not only did he strike out five batters but he was also able to force nine swinging strikes in less than three frames. After Hackenberg though it went south very quickly as Luis Vargas allowed seven runs, four of which were earned across 4 ⅓ innings with two walks and two homers against.

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