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Braves Minor League Recap: Kyle Muller throws six strong innings

Saturday featured a couple strong pitching performances and a familiar name keeping his streak alive.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Texas Rangers Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of strong starting pitching performances highlighted the action in the Braves’ minor league system where their affiliates went a combined 2-2. Kyle Muller and Freddy Tarnok did good work, Michael Harris still has yet to fail to reach base this season, and Royber Salinas struggled mightily in his high-A debut. Lets get into the games.

Gwinnett Stripers 6, Charlotte Knights 1

Box Score

  • Braden Shewmake, SS: 1-3, BB, R, .715 OPS
  • Ryan Casteel, C: 2-4, HR, RBI, 2 R, .898 OPS
  • Kyle Muller, SP: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 3.16 ERA

Kyle Muller had to work around some baserunners and Gwinnett had to get the job done without some key players, but the Stripers still managed to win convincingly on Saturday by the final score of 6-1. Four of the seven hits that Muller gave up over six innings were for extra bases, but he scattered them well enough and he got key outs when he needed them (with a little help from his defense behind him). He is still having some trouble putting batters away late in counts, but overall this start was absolutely a step in the right direction. The Gwinnett bullpen trio of RJ Alaniz, Seth Elledge, and Jesus Cruz combined for three scoreless innings of relief with four strikeouts and allowed just one baserunner which seems good.

On offense, Drew Waters missed yet another game which doesn’t exactly bode well for the health of his hamstring. Gwinnett would have to finish this game even more short-handed than that as Phil Gosselin (who has been playing pretty well) and manager Matt Tuiasosopo were ejected in the third inning after a spirited discussion with the home plate umpire. Fortunately, home runs runs from Ryan Casteel, Hernan Perez, and Pat Valaika got the Gwinnett offense going. Old friend Alex Dickerson had a multi-hit game to help the cause and Braden Shewmake, who hasn’t quite broken out just yet at Triple-A, reached base a pair of times as well.

Mississippi Braves 1, Pensacola Blue Wahoos 3

Box Score

  • Michael Harris II, CF: 1-4, 2B, R, .905 OPS
  • Luke Waddell, SS: 1-4, 2B, RBI, .768 OPS
  • Freddy Tarnok, SP: 4.2, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 4.43 ERA

Michael Harris just keeps hitting and Freddy Tarnok got back on track, but Mississippi couldn’t muster much in the way of offense as the Braves fell by the score of 3-1. Tarnok had struggled his last couple of starts with efficiency and with his command, so it was nice to see him missing bats and pitching into the fifth inning. He still has a bit before he is back to his level of performance from last year, but overall this was much better than what we had seen from his last couple of starts. Unfortunately, AJ Puckett had a bunch of baserunners in his 3.1 innings of work and with the Mississippi offense MIA, that was all she wrote.

I know this will come as a shock to all of you, but Michael Harris reached base again...this time on an opposite field double. He has now reached base in all 26 of Mississippi’s games this season and he currently owns a 13 game hitting streak. He hasn’t been QUITE as dominant this series as he was against Montgomery as he has struck out a good bit, but its hard to find too much to complain about with what he is doing this season. Unfortunately, other than Luke Waddell driving Harris in after his double, that was all she wrote for the Mississippi offense as they scattered just five hits in the game. Drew Lugbauer had a night to forget as he went 0-4 with four strikeouts.

Rome Braves 1, Greenville Drive 5

Box Score

  • Willie Carter, DH: 1-2, BB, .547 OPS
  • Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B: 1-2, 2 BB, .843 OPS
  • Royber Salinas, SP: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K

Royber Salinas had a VERY forgettable high-A debut as Rome wasn’t able to do much of anything in their 5-1 loss to Greenville. For a guy who was leading MiLB in strikeouts going into his debut, expectations were relatively high for Salinas and, well, that didn’t work out. He failed to escape the first inning and ended up giving up four earned runs...all of which came on a grand slam off the bat of Nicholas Northcut (who leads the South Atlantic League in homers by the healthy margin). We are just going to chalk this one up to nerves and just having an off night. Hat tip to the bullpen who combined to throw 7.1 inning of relief and gave up just one more earned run along the way.

Unfortunately, the damage done against Salinas in the first inning was more than enough as the Rome offense couldn’t get much of anything done. Vaughn Grissom was a late scratch from the lineup (no word as to exactly why) and those Braves that did play scattered just three singles over the course of the game. Justyn-Henry Malloy did reach base three times thanks to a pair of walks, but unfortunately that was pretty much it for Rome’s offense on Saturday.

Augusta GreenJackets 6, Carolina Mudcats 5 - F/10

Box Score

  • Geraldo Quintero, 3B: 2-4, 3B, 2 RBI, BB, 2 R, .690 OPS
  • Cal Conley, 2B: 2-4, RBI, R, .648 OPS
  • Kris Anglin, SP: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2.89 ERA

Augusta ended up winning a pretty fun, back-and-forth game in extra innings by the final score of 6-5. Kris Anglin got the start for Augusta and he pitched his standard two plus innings. Our inclination is that he is going to stay in the bullpen, but it did get our attention that he started the game as a guy that can go multiple innings, so we will see as he has missed a bunch of bats so far this season. JJ Niekro pitched the next four innings and he wasn’t particularly great in giving up five earned runs, although a couple of those were inherited runners that ended up scoring in the seventh.

Augusta had several strong offensive performances as Geraldo Quintero, Cal Conley, Rusber Estrada, and Kadon Morton all had multi-hit games. While Morton has had a terrible start of the season, he has been a bit better of late as he has hit safely in four of his past six maybe there is still some hope there. Rusber Estrada was the hero on this day as his three hit game was punctuated with an RBI single in the top of the 10th that scored Cal Conley and ultimately proved to be the game winner. Augusta almost had a big inning in the 10th as they were able to load the bases with two out, but unfortunately pinch-hitter Braulio Vasquez grounded out to end the game.

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