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Braves Minor League Recap: Vaughn Grissom homers, Michael Harris extends streak to 31

It was an exciting day on the farm system as the Braves two top offensive prospects helped their teams to wins

Michael Harris, Atlanta Braves prospect, takes a swing in a game for the Rome Braves
Michael Harris, Atlanta Braves prospect, takes a swing in a game for the Rome Braves
Image Credit: Mills Fitzner

It was a riveting night on the system for the Atlanta Braves affiliate, with some big performances from the top offensive prospects in the system. The slate of games featured the even more Michael Harris, a walk off win, and two winning streaks extended.

(17-17) Gwinnett Stripers 3, (14-20) Durham Bulls 6

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, CF: 1-4, .321/.321/.536
  • Braden Shewmake, DH: 2-4, .320/.374/.454
  • Greyson Jenista, RF: 1-3, 2B, BB, RBI, .275/.372/.475
  • Huascar Ynoa, SP: 3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 6.41 ERA
  • Jasseel De La Cruz, RP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 8.03 ERA

Gwinnett had the honor of being the sole team to mess up a perfect night, as they fell behind early and were never able to catch back up. A home run in the first inning from Pat Valaika had the Stripers briefly on top, but Durham put up five runs in the first four innings as Gwinnett’s offense struggled. Finally in the seventh inning there was a burst of life as a leadoff double from Hernan Perez led to a huge opportunity. After a one out walk Greyson Jenista doubled in Gwinnett’s first run since the first inning and another walk had the bases loaded with one out. A base hit from Delino DeShields pulled the Stripers to within two runs with the bases still loaded, but a back-breaking double play from Drew Waters snuffed out any remaining scoring chance. Braden Shewmake had his second hit of the game to lead off the eighth inning, but a double play followed that as well and Hernan Perez’s second double was then of no consequence to the game.

Huascar Ynoa has been brutal since his demotion to Triple-A, with his consistent inability to command the ball being the most glaring issue. Tonight’s outing featured three walks as well as misses over the plate which led to hard contact like a third inning two run home run. The positive news for Ynoa is that when he was pitching towards the edges he was able to miss some bats, and that seven strikeouts in three innings certainly stands as the point to try to take into the next outing. The bullpen for Gwinnett was fine in this one, though they didn’t shut down the Bulls and it led to Durham being able to slowly push this game away a bit. After Ynoa’s departure Brandon Brennan allowed a fourth inning run to extend the Bulls lead to 5-1 but that was all they got for awhile. Brennan pitched a scoreless fifth inning and turned the ball to Jasseel De La Cruz who went two scoreless innings to give Gwinnett a run of success. That ended in the eighth inning when Michael Tonkin gave up a run in his lone inning of work.

Next Game: 5/14 @ (14-20) Durham Bulls @ 6:35 PM ET

(14-17) Mississippi Braves 9, (15-16) Pensacola Blue Wahoos 2

Box Score

  • Michael Harris II, CF: 1-2, 2 BB, RBI, .307/.362/.512
  • CJ Alexander, 3B: 3-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .274/.329/.479
  • Luke Waddell, SS: 2-4, BB, .314/.408/.451
  • Freddy Tarnok, SP: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 3.55 ERA
  • Victor Vodnik, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0.00 ERA

Mississippi is becoming a fun team to watch as they’ve settled in after a rough start, and they were clicking on all cylinders last night thanks in large part to CJ Alexander. Both teams were quiet for a few innings to start this game but in the fourth inning Mississippi had a surge and took the lead for good. Luke Waddell led off with a single and with one out in the inning four consecutive Braves had base hits to score three runs. Michael Harris II drew his second walk of the game to load the bases, but a strikeout from Justin Dean ended the rally. That didn’t matter much as Waddell once again got on base to lead off the inning in the fifth and the Braves decided to get three runs the easy way with CJ Alexander hitting a missile for a home run. A sacrifice fly from Harris brought in the seventh run of the game and Alexander tacked on a two run home run in the ninth inning to seal a dominant win. Justin Dean left with an injury in the seventh inning after having his wrist hit on a minor collision between him and Michael Harris, but nothing is known of Dean’s status at this time.

Freddy Tarnok didn’t have his dominant strikeout pitching in the bag in this game, but he was able to get through five scoreless innings as Chattanooga couldn’t put together any solid contact against him. Tarnok was absolutely dominant through the first three innings, with the first ten batters getting a total of one ball (a line out to center field) out of the infield. A two out walk ended a perfect game bid in the third inning, but he came back and struck out the next batter on a perfect changeup to erase the runner. After that long fourth inning he wasn’t quite as lucky and the first two batters got hits on softly hit balls. Tarnok had no problem ending that inning as an infield pop out, lazy fly ball, and ground out ended the inning. His command began to slip a bit in the fifth inning and a walk and base hit with two outs had runners on, but he kept it together long enough to get a ground out to end the inning. Coleman Huntley has been fantastic for Mississippi this season, but didn’t have his best outing in this game as he allowed a two run home run in the seventh inning gave Chattanooga the tiniest spark of hope. That was quickly extinguished as Odalvi Javier and Victor Vodnik each pitched scoreless innings to close out a win,

Next Game: 5/14 @ (15-16) Chattanooga Lookouts @ 7:15 PM ET

(18-13) Rome Braves 5, (15-15) Winston-Salem Dash 4

Box Score

  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 3-4, 3B, HR, BB, 2 RBI, .303/.406/.440
  • Christian Robinson, RF: 3-4, .345/.406/.483
  • Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B: 2-5, 2 RBI, .292/.404/.448
  • Roddery Munoz, SP: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 5.19 ERA
  • Ben Dum, RP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2.00 ERA

Rome came into this game having won all three games so far in the series and they got off to a quick start in their bid for four straight. Beau Philip walked to lead off the game and Vaughn Grissom took the second pitch he saw way out of the park to left center field to give Rome a 2-0 lead. Rome drew 12 walks and had seven hits in this game, but managed to only score five runs as the middle innings saw them consistently get in their own way. Five double plays contributed to these struggles as well as 10 runners left on base.

At least one Braves runner reached in every inning this game including a double play ending a bases loaded threat in the fifth inning followed by the first two batters walking in the sixth only for the next three to strike out in order. A seventh inning triple also turned into dust and going into the ninth inning Rome trailed 4-2. Down to their final out they had the meat of the order coming up and Christian Robinson on first base, but Vaughn Grissom quickly fell down 0-2 to bring the game down to the final strike. Grissom fought back to run the count full and on the seventh pitch shot a ball the opposite way for his third hit of the game.

This brought in Justyn-Henry Malloy, who also went to a full count before popping a ball into center field. Somehow, despite all of the troubles for Rome’s offense on the day, this ball found grass and Grissom steamed around the bases to score from first and tie the game. After a walk to Landon Stephens the game came down to Drew Campbell and for the second night in a row Rome benefited from a walk off as Campbell crushed one into the gap that easily scored Malloy from second base.

For all of the opportunity Rome’s offense had the pitchers gave the same to Winston-Salem, who themselves left 12 runners on base. It started with Roddery Munoz, who was in trouble for almost every single pitch of the 4 23 innings he threw. Munoz allowed eight hits in the game, but it wasn’t until the fifth inning when three of them were strung together to score a run that Munoz finally cracked. After the last of those Munoz was pulled from the game and a passed ball tied the game at 2-2. After Davis Schwab finished out that fifth inning he came out for the sixth and immediately walked two batters. He was pulled with one out for Malcolm Van Buren, who also walked two batters to give the Dash a lead, then walked another with two outs to force a second run home. Finally after this Rome found a couple of relievers who remembered what a strike zone is, with Jake McSteen and Ben Dum combining for three scoreless innings and only one baserunner allowed to give Rome a chance to make a comeback.

Next Game: 5/14 vs (15-15) Winston-Salem Dash @ 6:00 PM ET

(19-12) Augusta GreenJackets 6, (10-21) Columbia Fireflies 3

Box Score

  • Caleb Durbin, 2B: 2-4, 2B, .286/.393/.449
  • Kadon Morton, DH: 1-3, .188/.296/.259
  • Mahki Backstrom, 1B: 2-4, RBI .180/.270/.416
  • Landon Leach, SP: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 5.16 ERA
  • JJ Niekro, RP: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 2.63 ERA

The Augusta GreenJackets are on a tear, and they came from behind in this one to win their sixth straight game. Augusta trailed 2-1 after two and a half innings, and when the their turn to bat came in the third it got interesting. A walk and a double led off the inning in normal fashion, but with Cal Conley at the plate a weird, and scary, play went down. Conley lined a ball right back at the pitcher, and while it fortunately didn't seem to hit square he blocked the ball with his pitching hand to knock it down. He threw out Conley at first, and Caleb Durbin was running on contact and the first baseman had him dead in the water when he threw back to second. Brian Klein attempted to score in the subsequent rundown, and the ball was thrown away allowing Klein to score and Conley to advance. Now, with the pitcher cradling his hand on the mound there was no one to back up the play and the first baseman didn’t come to cover home which allowed Conley to score from third base to give Augusta the lead. So yeah, weird stuff and we are hoping for the best for the Fireflies starter Ben Hernandez. Augusta got two runs in the sixth inning in relatively normal fashion, with a Mahki Backstrom RBI scoring the first and the second coming as Backstrom was picked off and stayed in a rundown long enough to make it 5-2. A ground out in the eighth inning brought in Augusta’s sixth run as they won this one with no serious drama late in the game.

Landon Leach did not last long in this start as he struggled early and allowed a two run triple in the second inning to give Columbia an early lead. After Leach labored through that 31 pitch second inning the GreenJackets were inclined to pull him and they gave the ball to JJ Niekro. Niekro was simply phenomenal. saving the Augusta bullpen and delivering a marvelous five innings. There was zero doubt in this one as the only runner who reached through four innings off of Niekro came on a hit batter, and he then picked off the runner to get through the minimum over four innings with seven strikeouts. Niekro got into the slightest bit of trouble with a hit and a walk allowed in the seventh inning, but two more strikeouts and an easy ground out ensured he would not allow a run in the game. Holding tight to a 5-2 lead it was Jorge Bautista who got the ball in the eighth inning, and things got a bit tighter as he allowed a run on two hits. No problems however, as Augusta answered that run and Rob Griswold closed out his fourth save of the season to give the GreenJackets their sixth straight win.

Next Game: 5/14 vs (10-21) Columbia Fireflies @ 6:05 PM ET