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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Rome explodes for 17 runs

Vaughn Grissom, Justyn-Henry Malloy, and the rest of the Rome Braves continued to drop haymakers in Asheville

Vaughn Grissom follows through on a swing for the Rome Braves Photo Credit: Mills Fitzner

The Rome Braves continue to be the shining star in the Atlanta Braves system, as their offensive dominance led to the lone win on Sunday afternoon. This was not for lack of pitching, as Kyle Muller and Darius Vines each delivered strong starts for their respective clubs.

(33-33) Gwinnett Stripers 3, (32-32) Indianapolis Indians 5

Box Score

  • Greyson Jenista, 1B: 2-3, 2B, BB, .236/.333/.426
  • Drew Waters, CF: 3-5, 3B, RBI, .258/.299/.381
  • Preston Tucker, DH: 1-5, 2 RBI, .266/.350/.418
  • Kyle Muller, SP: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 3.00 ERA
  • Jacob Webb, RP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0.00 ERA

We kick off our Sunday recaps with a Gwinnett team that fought back from an early deficit but could not get on top in their final game against Indianapolis. The Stripers found themselves in a 3-0 hole before taking a swing in the game, but in the third inning came up with their first answer in the form of a two run rally. Greyson Jenista kicked off his big day at the plate with a leadoff double and after a Delino DeShields single advanced Jenista to third the lineup flipped over. Drew Waters came through at the top of the lineup with his second of three hits on the day, ripping a single through the middle of the infield to put Gwinnett on the board. Preston Tucker followed with a sacrifice to score DeShields and the Stripers were quickly within a run. The Stripers were not quiet over the middle of the game, but despite this they did not come through with much in the way of a clutch hit. Waters tripled with one out in the fifth inning, but a big strikeout from Tucker ensured he would be stranded when Travis Demeritte struck out to end the inning. Finally in the seventh inning they were able to tie the game with Tucker bringing in DeShields on an RBI single. Gwinnett’s bullpen immediately gave up two runs in the next inning and the Stripers failed to score the remainder of the game and took a loss.

Kyle Muller may have given up three runs in the game, but that does not reflect how dominant he was for most of it and how good he has been this season. Among the first four batters Muller allowed two singles and a three run home run, and then was absolutely untouchable for the remainder of the game. After that home run to put Indianapolis on top Muller retired the final 19 batters he faced in a row, and totaled eight strikeouts on the day. He has somewhat quietly put up arguably the strongest season among any Braves pitching prospect, improving his efficiency with pitches, strikeout rate, walk rate, home run rate, and batting average against this season. Upon handing the ball to the bullpen the Stripers were met with a two run home run off of Brad Brach, the deciding play in the outcome of the game. Jacob Webb made his Stripers return with a scoreless inning and two strikeouts.

Next Game: 6/21 @ (39-26) Nashville Sounds @ 8:05 PM ET

(27-36) Mississippi Braves 0, (27-36) Birmingham Barons 2

Box Score

  • Justin Dean, CF: 0-4, .263/.374/.355
  • Trey Harris, RF: 1-3, .224/.327/.291
  • Andrew Moritz, LF: 1-3, .237/.333/.288
  • Darius Vines, SP: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 5.37 ERA
  • Justin Maese, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2.70 ERA

We’re going to make this one quick, because the Mississippi offense certainly did a good job of that themselves. The good news is that they didn’t get no-hit, but unfortunately they came quite close and didn’t record one until there was two outs in the sixth inning. That batter, Andrew Moritz, got on the bases with a single and then immediately got thrown out trying to steal second base. Trey Harris had a single in the eighth inning, which went nowhere on the scoreboard but did at least secure the Braves sending more than the minimum to the plate in the game.

Okay so now let’s talk about the player we actually want to talk about, who got quite the short end of the stick with that paltry offensive support. Darius Vines was spectacular for Mississippi, putting together one of the few starts this season where he’s been able to avoid that big home run that hurts him. Through five innings Vines had himself faced the minimum 15 batters, with the lone single that came in the third being erased on a caught stealing. Vines recorded six strikeouts in his first three innings and had eight of them through the first five. Vines’s biggest troubles came on a leadoff single in the sixth, but even that was a minor sweat and he picked off the runner two batters later for the second out of the inning. He finally allowed a runner to stay on base in the seventh due to a two out single, but had no issues closing out the inning with the score still at 0-0. Vines needed just 79 pitches to get through seven innings, and maybe they should have taken the risk on him continuing through the third turn of the order because Troy Bacon immediately gave up the lead in relief. Bacon allowed the first three batters of the inning to reach base and load them up, and may have been fortunate the Barons only came away with two runs that ultimately won them the game. Justin Maese was fantastic with a scoreless ninth, but it wasn’t going to matter as the Braves offense was not engaged with this game.

Next Game: 6/21 @ (24-32) Montgomery Biscuits @ 7:35 PM ET

(35-28) Rome Braves 17, (24-38) Asheville Tourists 5

Box Score

  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 2-6, 2B, SB, 3 RBI .296/.384/.461
  • Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B: 3-4, 2B, 2 BB, 4 RBI, .305/.407/.512
  • Landon Stephens, 1B: 1-6, HR, 4 RBI, .245/.377/.540
  • Lisandro Santos, SP: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 3.29 ERA
  • RJ Freure, RP: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 3.44 ERA

Well guys, I found where the offense was hiding. Rome’s bats have been hanging low this entire series and over the final three innings they once again went off with 15 runs. It was a tightly contested battle for most of the game, with Rome delivering the first blow on an RBI single from Drew Campbell. The Braves had loaded the bases with no outs in the inning, but this was the only run they came away with as Tyler Tolve followed with an inning ending double play. Rome loaded the bases with no outs again in the fifth inning, but while a Vaughn Grissom double play brought home a run it also effectively got Asheville out of a big jam and allowed the Tourists to hold on to a 3-2 lead. Rome loaded the bases again in the seventh inning, but this time it was not going to be just a one run affair. Grissom reached on an error to score a run then Justyn-Henry Malloy delivered the go ahead hit on a two-RBI single. A few batters later Tyler Tolve and Bryson Horne went back-to-back on home runs and suddenly Rome had broken out for an eight run inning and a 10-4 lead. Grissom manufactured just a single run in the eight inning on a double, steal of third base, and RBI force out from Landon Stephens, but there was one more inning to go and a lot of shots left in the Rome bats. The familiar sight of Rome with the bases loaded once again came into view, and with two outs Grissom had a single, Malloy had a double, and Stephens had a home run to put six quick runs on the board and really sink the nail in the coffin. Rome scored 75 runs in six games this series and never scored fewer than seven in a game.

I would not call Lisandro Santos dominant, but he held it down in his start to keep the game close. Santos has had to dial the stuff back a bit as a starter which has limited his electric strikeout numbers from early in the season, but overall today he was fine though with some good fortunes in the first inning. He allowed all three of his walks in the game during the first inning, but came out of the inning fortunate to only allow one run and escape with a double play. Santos allowed two more runs over the next three innings before finally completing a clean inning with two strikeouts and a ground out in the fourth. The bullpen for Rome had a solid day, though they relied on the defense a lot for that as they struck out only two batters over the final five innings. Asheville was able to break through for their fourth run in sixth inning, cracking two doubles off of Trey Riley to extend their lead to 4-2. Jake McSteen gave them two innings of scoreless relief work after they took their lead, and by the time RJ Freure allowed a run in the ninth inning the game was already well in hand.

Next Game: 6/21 vs (36-27) Hickory Crawdads @ 7:00 PM ET

(34-29) Augusta GreenJackets 6, (43-20) Charleston RiverDogs 8

Box Score

  • Mahki Backstrom, 1B: 2-3, BB, RBI, .207/.331/.414
  • Brandol Mezquita, DH: 0-4, RBI, .319/.384/.446
  • Geraldo Quintero, 2B: 1-4, BB, .254/.331/.408
  • Samuel Strickland, SP: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1.29 ERA
  • Rob Griswold, RP: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2.96 ERA

This was a pretty entertaining game in a lot of ways, as it went back and forth a couple of times although it did not come out in favor of Augusta. An error put the GreenJackets in a 1-0 hole early in this game, but the offense made moves in the game despite only recording five hits. In the third inning they just sat back and let Charleston do the work for them, drawing two walks and two wild pitches to score a run and tie the game. They also scored the go ahead run on a wild pitch, although Adam Zebrowski got to third base by way of a triple which is a bit of an improvement over the first run. Charleston came back and put up three runs to take a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning where the offense started to string together a bit. Geraldo Quintero led off with a triple before scoring on Brandol Mezquita’s sacrifice fly, then Augusta loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter. Mahki Backstrom, who has had a fantastic last month, came through with a single to tie the game up. After a pitching change it was right back to drawing walk, with Kadon Morton giving Augusta the lead on a bases loaded free pass. Augusta capped off a four run inning on a Caleb Durbin sacrifice fly out, then immediately have Charleston four runs in the top of the seventh to render all of those past few sentences moot. Backstrom was pretty much the only hitter on this team consistently putting together good at bats this game, and they did not have the ability to string together anything over the final three innings in a comeback effort.

This was one of those games where Augusta just had to string together bullpen arms and hope they could get through nine innings, which kind of worked because they did only use four pitchers. Samuel Strickland got the opener gig and was the only one who had any fortune on his side, as he struck out five batters over 2 23 innings with the only run coming on an error. He also allowed four hits and a walk so he may have been a bit lucky to get out with only that run. It was a rough day for Luis Vargas as he allowed three runs over 2 23 innings, but he started his outing strong before fading and allowed three runs over his final 1 13 innings. Tyler Owens on the other hand never really had the feel in this game, and he was the victim of that four run seventh inning that was headlines by a three run home run. Rob Griswold did give Augusta every chance to come back in this game, throwing two hitless innings, but it was not meant to be as that four run inning was too much for them to recover from.

Next Game: 6/21 vs (30-32) Fayetteville Woodpeckers @ 7:05 PM ET