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Braves Minor League Recap: AJ Smith-Shawver, Vaughn Grissom lead Gwinnett to win

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves minor league system was strong offensively scoring 28 runs across five games, but their pitching let them down resulting in them going 2-3 on the day. They were led by a former top prospect and one of the hotter hitters in the organization.

(49-58) Gwinnett Stripers 7, (41-68) Charlotte Knights 3

  • Vaughn Grissom 2-3, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB
  • Braden Shewmake 1-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 K
  • AJ Smith-Shawver, SP, 6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 7 K

The Stripers offense came to play, getting 14 batters on base and scratching across seven runs. Dalton Guthrie and Yolmer Sanchez were the only two batters who didn’t pick up a hit or draw a walk. Four different Stripers batters reached base twice including Grissom and Luke Williams. Braden Shewmake was the most impactful Stripers hitter as he hit a three run homer in the first and picked up a sac fly in the fifth.

Smith-Shawver logged a quality start in his first appearance in August after a shaky July where he pitched to a 5.40 ERA. His seven strikeouts is the most that he’s had in a game this season since May 25th where he recorded eight against the Durham Bulls. Homers are becoming a problem for him as after allowing one through his first nine starts of the season he has now allowed ten in his last seven starts. After Smith Shawver, Dylan Lee, Ben Heller and Mike Morin combined to pitch three scoreless frames to close out the game.

(47-55) Mississippi Braves 6, (47-56) Rocket City Trash Pandas 1

  • Tyler Tolve 2-4, 4 RBI
  • Drew Lugbauer 2-3, 2 BB, 1 K
  • Alan Rangal, SP, 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 10 K

The Braves got pretty much all of their offensive production from four batters. Lugbauer, Tolve, Cody Milligan and Landon Stephens combined to reach 13 times and drive in five runs. The other five Braves batters reached just five times across 21 at bats. Lugbauer has been scalding of late as he is now 10 for his last 18 with four walks and five homers over his last five games.

Rangal threw a gem against the Trash Pandas. It was his second ten strikeout game of the season and just the third time he went six innings in 2023. He was very efficient as he faced four or fewer batters in five of the six innings he pitched with two of those frames being 1,2,3 innings. To further highlight how dominant he was he forced 15 swinging strikes. After Rangal, Hayden Deal, Hayden Harris and Ty Tice combined to pitch three scoreless frames.

(46-57) Rome Braves 4, (47-51) Winston-Salem Dash 5

  • Ignacio Alvarez 2-5, 1 RBI
  • David McCabe 1-4, 1 BB
  • Ian Mejia, SP, 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K

The Braves were able to make a strong comeback bid scoring four runs in the final two innings, including three in the ninth to tie the game, but unfortunately it was too little too late. Outside of those two frames they were largely limited, picking up just five hits across eight innings but impressively they struck out just six times on the night. After picking up two hits against the Dash, Ignacio Alavarez has now reached base safely in 11 of his last 12 games.

Mejia has really struggled of late. In his last six starts he has allowed three or more runs five times with three of those starts seeing him allow five or more runs. The only start over that span in which he has given up fewer than three was a seven inning gem in his last appearance prior to last night where he struck out eight batters. Walks haven’t been a significant problem for him this season as this is just his second start where he’s allowed three or more free passes. After four scoreless frames from three different relievers, Rob Griswold was handed the loss as he allowed two runs, one of which was earned in the tenth inning.

(47-55) Augusta GreenJackets 8, (47-53) Salem Red Sox 9

  • Ambioris Tavarez 1-5, 1 2B, 1 R, 2 K
  • Jace Grady 1-3, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB
  • Luis Vargas, SP, 5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

The GreenJackets offense did their part against Salem with all but one hitter, Kade Kern picking up a base knock. Oddly enough, they only had one hitter though who picked up multiple hits with that being Drew Compton. The strikeout concerns continued still for Tavarez who has now struck out at least once in 29 consecutive games with 18 of those games being multi strikeout games. The majority of the GreenJackets offensive production came in the sixth innings where they picked up six hits, seven base runners and scored six runs.

Luis Vargas continued his seesaw performances for the GreenJackets. Across four starts for them he has two in which he pitched five or more innings and allowed one or fewer earned runs. He also has two, which includes this one, starts where he has allowed three or more earned. After Vargas the bullpen was shaky. Estarlin Rodriguez allowed four runs, two of which were earned across an inning and two thirds. Cory Wall, who only recorded one out in the tenth inning was charged with a blown save and loss after allowing two runs, one of which was earned in the final frame.

(23-22) FCL Braves 3, (20-25) FCL Orioles 8

Diego Benintez continued his solid hitting of late going 1-4 with a strikeout. His base knock today means he now has hits in seven of his eight games with two of them being multi hit games. Alexander Martinez had the only multi hit day amongst Braves hitters going 2-4. Starting pitcher Adel Dilone pitched three innings where he allowed two hits and one earned run.

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