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Braves MILB Recap: AJ Smith-Shawver sharp again

The Braves seventh round pick last July, AJ Smith-Shawver continues his eye-opening season.

San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves Photo by Brett Davis/Getty Images

Thursday saw another eye-opening performance from AJ Smith-Shawver who is starting to position himself into the Top 10 prospects in the Braves organization. We also got to see a complete game from Tanner Gordon and another stat filling line from Brandol Mezquita during a 16-run massacre.

Gwinnett Stripers 5, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 1

Box Score

  • Preston Tucker, DH; 1-3, R, RBI, BB, HR, .792 OPS
  • Ryan Casteel, C: 2-4, R, 3 RBI, HR, 2B, .835 OPS
  • Nolan Kingham, SP: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 7 K, 2.65 ERA

Nolan Kingham got the start and allowed just one unearned run, four hits and no walks over four innings to go along with seven strikeouts. Connor Johnstone followed with three shutout innings of his own and struck out four. Victor Vodnik allowed a hit in the eighth before Michael Tonkin pitched a clean ninth inning to finish off this win. One unearned run on five hits, no walks and 12 strikeouts was quite the performance from the four Gwinnett arms.

You could say all the offense in this one came from three guys as eight of the 12 Gwinnett base runners came from just three players. Ryan Casteel led the way with a double, a homer, and three RBI. Preston Tucker homered as well while new farmhand Kramer Robertson went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks and an RBI. Drew Waters sadly did not get in on the fun as he ended the night going 0-for-5.

Rocket City Trash Pandas 7, Mississippi Braves 0

Box Score

  • Andrew Moritz, LF: 1-3, .633 OPS
  • CJ Alexander, 3B: 1-3, .813 OPS
  • Darius Vines, SP: 3 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 5.30 ERA

The first game of this doubleheader was not easy to watch. Darius Vines had one of the worst starts of his season while giving up seven runs in three innings. The biggest positive in this game might be the fact that the bullpen threw three scoreless frames after Vines departed with Coleman Huntley tossing two and Odalvi Javier picking up the other.

Things weren’t much better for the offense as they got shutout and managed just four hits - all of them singles. Andrew Moritz, CJ Alexander, Trey Harris, and Yariel Gonzalez picked up those hits.

Mississippi Braves 2, Rocket City Trash Pandas 1

Box Score

  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 1-3, R, 2 RBI, HR, .881 OPS
  • Tanner Gordon, SP: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 5.13 ERA

As bad as the first game was, things got much better in the second game for the Braves. Tanner Gordon shut down the Trash Pandas with a complete game (seven innings) where the only run he allowed was a solo homer. Gordon gave up just four hits and two walks while striking out seven.

The offense wasn’t much better in the second game, as the Braves managed just three hits. Drew Lugbauer connected on a two-run homer that ended up being all of the offense the Braves needed to pick up the win.

Rome Braves 5, Wilmington Blue Rocks 2

Box Score

  • Landon Stephens, 1B: 2-3, R, RBI, BB, .921 OPS
  • Christian Robinson, RF: 2-3, R, RBI, 3B, .702 OPS
  • Andrew Hoffmann, SP: 5 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 2.89 ERA

Andrew Hoffmann turned in a solid start on Thursday allowing seven hits and two runs over five innings. After Hoffman left, the bullpen took over as four guys each pitched a scoreless inning and picked up a pair of strikeouts apiece: Trey Riley, Isrrael De La Cruz, Jake McSteen, and Ben Dum. That quartet pitched to a line of 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, and 8 K - a big part of why the Braves were able to come away with the victory here.

Landon Stephens led the Rome offense yet again on Thursday night. The slugging first baseman went 2-for-3 with a walk, run scored, and run batted in. Christian Robinson also had two hits, including a triple. That triple was the only extra base hit by Rome outside of a two-run double by Beau Philip.

Augusta GreenJackets 16, Columbia Fireflies 3

Box Score

  • Brandol Mezquita, CF: 4-6, R, 4 RBI, 2B, SB, .815 OPS
  • Mahki Backstrom, 1B: 2-6, R, 3 RBI, 2B, .720 OPS
  • Cal Conley, SS: 1-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, .663 OPS
  • AJ Smith-Shawver, SP: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 4.66 ERA

AJ Smith-Shawver turned in another big start on Thursday, going five innings while allowing two hits and one run to go along with a walk and seven strikeouts. After being named by ESPN earlier this week as one of the fast rising prospects in the game, this start showed everyone why.

It’s hard to single out the top offensive contributors in a game where your team scores 16 runs and everyone in the lineup ends up producing in some way. The biggest performance had to be Brandol Mezquita, who finished with four hits including a double, and drove in four runs. Mahki Backstrom went 2-for-6 with a double. He and Cal Conley both finished with three RBI. There were also Geraldo Quintero, who went 2-4 with a double and two walks while scoring four runs, and a three-hit game from Connor Blair. All of that doesn’t even include the multi-hit games from Caleb Durbin and Brian Klein or the combined three walks and four runs scored by Stephen Paolini and Rusber Estrada. It’s safe to say this was one of those games that Augusta hitters weren’t happy to see come to an end.