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Braves Minor League Recap: Ronald Acuña Jr. reaches base five times, Jesse Franklin just misses a cycle

It was a wild night full of comebacks and collapses in the Braves’ farm system.

Peoria Javelinas v Salt River Rafters Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

There were some wild games down in the Braves’ farm system on Saturday as Gwinnett mounted a crazy comeback with Ronald Acuna Jr. playing a part while Mississippi almost did the same until a ninth inning collapse doomed them. Lets get into the games.

Gwinnett Stripers 10, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 8 - F/10

Box Score

  • Ronald Acuna Jr, DH: 2-3, 3 BB, RBI, R
  • William Contreras, C: 2-6, RBI, .550 OPS
  • Phil Gosselin, 3B: 1-4, HR, 3 RBI, BB, 2 R, .745 OPS
  • Kyle Muller, SP: 4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 3.66 ERA

A three run rally in the top of the ninth allowed the Gwinnett Stripers to force extra innings and steal a victory from Jacksonville by the score of 10-8. Kyle Muller got the start for the Stripers and he did not have his best command and had a lot of baserunners during his four innings of work. Fortunately, he was able to still miss some bats and make key pitches when he needed to in striking out eight guys as things looks, at points, like it was about to be a lot worse than it was. Brandyn Sittinger gave up three earned runs in an inning and a third of work which is obviously less than ideal, but it did set the stage for a pretty wild rally from the offense.

Before we go any further, we will do our obligatory Ronald Acuna Jr. rehab update: he reached base five times including a pair of hits, drove in a run and scored a run. He is still really good at baseball and our suspicion is that he will not be in Gwinnett much longer. On offense, we won’t linger too long on the details as six different Stripers drove in runs over the course of the game, so it is safe to say that this wasn’t exactly a pitchers’ duel. The Stripers were down three runs and down to their last three outs when, after Ronnie drew one of his three walks, Phil Gosselin connected for his first home run of the season to make it a one run deficit. A double and a sac fly later, the game was all tied up and the top of the 10th was pretty wild. Justin Dean struck out on a wild pitch and apparently Jacksonville didn’t get the memo that he is incredibly fast as a throwing error to first on the dropped third strike led to the ghost runner on second scoring and Dean ending up all the way at third and he considered going home. The above video is fun to watch. Dean would end up crossing home plate on a sac fly and that would prove to be the winning margin.

Mississippi Braves 11, Chattanooga Lookouts 18

Box Score

  • Michael Harris, CF: 2-5, 2B, RBI, BB, R, .832 OPS
  • Jesse Franklin V, RF: 3-4, 3B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, .775 OPS
  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 2-4, HR, RBI, BB, 2 R, .876 OPS
  • Luke Waddell, SS: 4-5, 2B, RBI, R, .523 OPS
  • Alan Rangel, SP: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 7 R (6 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 10.57 ERA

Alan Rangel had a rough start and while the Mississippi offense mounted a furious comeback to have the lead in the ninth inning, a disastrous final inning led to a 18-11 defeat. Rangel’s command was better-ish on Saturday than it had been, but the problem was that he wasn’t fooling anyone and he failed to escape the third inning. Troy Bacon gave up a pair of home runs along with Rangel and Mississippi was in big trouble by the end of the fourth inning. Fortunately, the bullpen threw four scoreless innings after that to keep Mississippi in it and ultimately take the lead. Unfortunately, Jake Higginbotham had...a particularly bad ninth inning as he gave up seven runs on seven hits with struggling after that as well.

There was plenty of offense from Mississippi as six different Mississippi hitters (Michael Harris, Jesse Franklin, Drew Lugbauer, CJ Alexander, Luke Waddell, and Jefrey Ramos) drove in runs in the game. Jesse Franklin’s three run homer in the seventh inning, his second of the season, gave Mississippi the lead until that fateful ninth inning collapse. Franklin also would end up just a double short of hitting for the cycle in the game. Michael Harris had a multi-hit game and he has still not appeared in a game this season and failed to reach base for Mississippi. He is good at baseball. Luke Waddell has struggled at the plate so far this season, so the four hit game including a double he put together was a welcome development. CJ Alexander had a couple of hits and he has shown a somewhat improved hit tool, but he also now has seven errors on the season which is pretty rough given that it is April 23rd.

Rome Braves 2, Bowling Green Hot Rods 6

Box Score

  • Willie Carter, RF: 3-4, .528 OPS
  • Tyler Tolve, C: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, .941 OPS
  • Luis De Avila, SP: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1.93 ERA

Rome’s offense was a bit sparse and the bullpen fell apart late as the Braves fell to the Hot Rods 6-2. Rome had the lead in the game for a long time thanks to a really strong start from Luis De Avila. He actually had a no hitter going for a while and overall pitched great while lowering his ERA on the season to 1.93 ERA. Unfortunately, the bullpen struggled which they definitely didn’t need in a close game as Davis Schwab gave up a run and had issues with baserunners and Malcolm Van Buren had an inning to forget that was most certainly not helped by a throwing error by Vaughn Grissom that allowed a run to score and gave the Hot Rods a free baserunner.

On offense, the only damage was done by the bat of Tyler Tolve who connected for his first home run of the season. Based on batting practice, it won’t be the last. Willie Carter did his best to keep the offense going as he had a trio of hits on the evening but unfortunately, even with nine hits and seven walks, Rome just had Tolve’s two-run shot on the scoreboard.

Augusta GreenJackets 2, Fayette Woodpeckers 6

Box Score

  • Mahki Backstrom, 1B: 1-4, 3B, BB, RBI
  • Brandol Mezquita, CF: 1-3, 2 BB, RBI
  • Landon Leach, SP: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER , 1 BB, 8 K, 2.57 ERA

Landon Leach put together a gem of a start for Augusta, but Estarlin Rodriguez struggled in relief and the Augusta offense never really got going as they fell to Fayetteville by the score of 6-2. Leach, who is a former second round pick by the Twins back in 2017, now has thrown five or more shutout innings while striking out better than a batter an inning in two of his first three starts this season. Unfortunately, Estarlin didn’t have it on Saturday as he gave up six earned runs in 2.1 innings of work with some big damage coming via the long ball.

As for the Augusta offense, despite getting five hits and seven walks in the game, they were only able to push across two runs. Mahki Backstrom had an RBI triple and has put together a fairly quiet, and pretty weird given his .190 batting average, .796 OPS so far this season. He is going to hit more to be sure, but he gets on base at a high clip and the raw power is very, very real. Brandol Mezquita and Caleb Durbin, who have been Augusta’s best hitters so far this season, each had hits in the game with Mezquita driving in Augusta’s other run with an RBI groundout.