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Braves Minor League Recap: Jared Shuster and Royber Salinas dominate on the mound

We nearly had an organizational sweep last night for the Braves.

Atlanta Braves prospect Jared Shuster delivers a pitch
Atlanta Braves 2020 first round pick and top pitching prospect Jared Shuster delivers a pitch for the Rome Braves
Image Credits: Mills Fitzner

With the Braves winning over the Mets thanks to Orlando Arcia’s heroics, we almost had a complete organizational sweep yesterday. Unfortunately, an extra-innings disaster down in Mississippi meant that the Braves’ minor league affiliates went 3-1 instead. Jared Shuster and Royber Salinas were absolutely dominant, Chadwick Tromp continued his Babe Ruth impression, and Michael Harris’ on-base streak continues on. Lets get into the games.

Gwinnett Stripers 8, Durham Bulls 4

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, CF: 1-5, HR, RBI, 3 K, .916 OPS
  • Chadwick Tromp, C: 2-5, HR, RBI, 1.169 OPS
  • Pat Valaika, 3B: 3-5, HR, 2 RBI, .873 OPS
  • Braden Shewmake, SS: 2-5, 2B, RBI, .845 OPS
  • Tucker Davidson, SP: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 4.44 ERA

Gwinnett jumped all over Durham early in this one and never relented on their way to an 8-4 victory. Tucker Davidson got the start and was completely fine in going five innings while giving up just one earned run and striking out six batters. The zero walks last night was the first time this season that he had made a start without giving up a free pass, so kudos to him as he remains an option for the Braves as a starter this season if needed. Brandyn Sittinger and Brad Brach each had uneven relief appearances that resulted in runs scoring, but Gwinnett’s offensive pressure combined with strong outing from Seth Elledge and Dylan Lee were enough to secure the win.

On offense, Gwinnett connected for four home runs in the game including a lead-off homer from Drew Waters who continues to perform well in his return from injury. Chadwick Tromp has been absolutely on fire as he hit his seventh home run of the season, six of which have come in the month of May. With Manny Pina being out for the season, the Braves remain fortunate to have catcher depth like Tromp in the organization. Alex Dickerson and Pat Valaika joined in on the fun with homers of their own and Braden Shewmake, who has a very respectable .845 OPS in Triple-A this season and has hit safely in five straight games, had a couple of hits including a double.

Mississippi Braves 4, Chattanooga Lookouts 5 - F/10

Box Score

  • Michael Harris II, CF: 0-4, BB, .872 OPS
  • Hendrik Clementina, C: 2- 5, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, .693 OPS
  • Jared Shuster, SP: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1.53 ERA

It was a weird night for Mississippi as Hendrink Clementina backed up a strong start from Jared Shuster single-handedly, but a bullpen collapse in the bottom of the 10th inning resulted in a 5-4 loss. Shuster was dominant for Mississippi once again as his improved command of his fastball continues to pay big dividends for him, especially given the quality of his changeup. He has given up a total of six earned runs in his six starts this season which seems pretty good. Unfortunately, Odalvi Javier gave up a couple of runs to let Chattanooga back in the game and later on, the bad version of Indigo Diaz resurfaced after it had looked like he had finally gotten back on track. In the bottom of the 10th inning, he allowed four straight runners to reach base including a two-run, walk-off single with the bases loaded that cost Mississippi a win.

On offense, it was mostly a tough night with the notable exception of Hendrik Clementina who drove in all four of Mississippi’s runs on the evening which included hitting his second home run of the season. Michael Harris’ latest hitting streak did come to an end, but he has still reached base in every single one of Mississippi’s games this season as he drew a walk in this one. Clementina had a big two-run double in the top of the 10th that looked like it was going to be the decider, but sadly Diaz’s collapse in the bottom half of the frame ended any hope of that. Drew Lugbauer is amidst a rough stretch as he has just one hit in his last five games.

Rome Braves 3, Winston-Salem Dash 0

Box Score

  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 3-4, RBI, .787 OPS
  • Drew Campbell, LF: 2-4, R, 2 SB, .714 OPS
  • Royber Salinas, SP: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K

Royber Salinas reminded us why he was promoted to high-A in the first place as he struck out batters left and right to help Rome secure a 3-0 win over the Dash. After thoroughly dominating for Augusta in low-A, Salinas had a pretty bad high-A debut last week. Fortunately, he got right back out there and struck out 10 on Wednesday evening. He is a big-bodied pitcher and we worry a bit about the effort in his delivery, but the fastball is a live one in the mid-90’s and his breaking ball dives out of the zone and gets plenty of whiffs. A hat tip to Jake McSteen, Justin Yeager, Ben Dum, and Austin Smith for combining to throw four innings of scoreless relief.

Rome had to score via small ball last night, but it was enough to secure a win. Beau Philip had a pair of sacrifice flies in the game and Vaughn Grissom had a three hit night (all singles) to account for all of the runs driven in. Grissom is having a decent start to the season, although we would really like to see him start turning on some pitches as the power just isn’t there at the moment. Drew Campbell had Rome’s sole extra base hit in the game with a double and stole a pair of bases as well.

Augusta GreenJackets 9, Columbia Fireflies 8 - F/10

Box Score

  • Cal Conley, SS: 2-3, HR, RBI, BB, 3 R, .688 OPS
  • Adam Zebrowski, C: 1-3, HR, RBI, 2 BB, 2 R, .906 OPS
  • Tyler Owens, SP: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 7 K, 4.50 ERA

In typical low-A fashion, Augusta beat the Fireflies by the score of 9-8 in extras in a game that featured eight combined errors and 12 combined walks. Welcome to low-A in 2022. Tyler Owens got the start which was a mild surprise as he had been pitching out of the bullpen and we had assumed that change was going to stick given his struggles in the rotation, but he pitched well in striking out seven in four innings of work. Estarlin Rodriguez, however, was not good as he gave up four runs in two innings and thus began the wild back and forth that was this game. The Fireflies would take the lead in the top of the 10th off of Juan Mateo thanks to a wild pitch followed by a sac fly, but fortunately the Augusta offense (and Columbia defense) bailed them out.

Augusta scored nine times in this game, but there were only three RBI for the team if you want any indication of the quality of play from Columbia on this evening. Cal Conley and Adam Zebrowski both hit homers and Conley along with Geraldo Quintero had multi-hit games. This game ended in pretty much in peak low-A fashion. With Augusta down a run in the bottom of the 10th, Zebrowski walked and a Stephen Paolini force out put runners on the corners. Then, with Kadon Morton at the plate, Columbia balked to score a run and advance Paolini. Morton would then hit a grounder to short which was promptly bungled and resulted in Paolini scoring the winning run on the error.