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Braves MiLB Preview: Vaughn Grissom, Rome bats look to stay scorching hot

The Rome Braves scored 75 runs in a series win last week and look to lead the way for the Atlanta Braves farm system again.

Atlanta Braves Photo Day Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves minor-league teams put together a 12-12 week last week. Both Rome and Gwinnett won their respective series, while Mississippi continues to struggle mightily, losing yet another series. Rome belted 14 home runs and 82 hits en route to scoring 75 runs in six games to highlight the week that was.

Here’s a quick look back and what is ahead for the young Atlanta Braves this week.

Gwinnett Stripers (33-33)

Last week: 4-2

This week: at Nashville, June 21-26

Kyle Muller had a strong week, leading the way for the Gwinnett rotation. He opened the week in utterly dominating fashion, striking out 11 in seven one-run innings, and closed the week tossing 6.2 innings of three-run ball while striking out eight. The grand total of walks over that span? Zero.

Bryce Elder and Tucker Davidson are expected to get the week started, slated for Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. They will have to be at their best as Nashville (Milwaukee Brewers) have the best record in the International League West.

Though he’s no prospect, Kramer Roberston has looked good since joining the Braves on June 5. Last week, he hit in every game, recording eight hits, including a home run. Drew Waters started slow but is hoping the last few games carry some momentum into this week’s games. He finished the week on a three-game hitting streak with three hits on Sunday.

Mississippi Braves (27-36)

Last week: 1-5

This week: at Montgomery, June 21-26

A simple look at last week’s record says it all. Luckily, the M-Braves have Montgomery (Tampa Bay Rays) this week who are struggling as well, coming in on the heels of a three-game losing streak.

Alan Rangel, Hayden Deal and Odalvi Javier combined to pitch the M-Braves to their lone victory of the week. Freddy Tarnok actually pitched very well, striking out eight over five one-run innings, touching as high as 97 with his fastball, but the bullpen let him down and couldn’t hold on for a win.

Justin Dean had a nice week at the plate as he continues to find his footing after struggling at Gwinnett to start the season. He had eight hits last week and walked eight times while striking out just four. The strikeouts had been the biggest issue for Dean, especially when you consider how dangerous he is when he reaches base, whether it’s a walk or a hit.

Rome Braves (35-28)

Last week: 4-2

This week: vs. Hickory, June 21-26

While the Rome offense was afire last week, the pitching did allow 50 runs for a whopping 125 combined runs last week. Pitching was pretty much non-existent in the shallow outfield of Asheville, but seemingly on cue, Andrew Hoffmann had the best start of the week. The breakout pitching prospect went seven strong, striking out five and walking none while allowing a mere run in Thursday’s 22-1 blowout.

That same game, Vaughn Grissom went 4-for-7 with five runs scored and eight RBI on the heels of not one, but two grand slams. He hit .516 on the week with 17 RBI to earn SAL player of the week honors. Justyn-Henry Malloy had another pretty stat line this past week, racking up 10 hits of his own, and is now slashing .352/.455/.667 in June. The two big bats will have to keep this offense going as Hickory (Texas Rangers) is just ahead of them in the standings.

Augusta GreenJackets (34-29)

Last week: 3-3

This week: at Fayetteville, June 21-26

Augusta split a big series against 43-win Charleston last week and now has 30-win Fayetteville (Houston Astros) on deck. JJ Niekro had another terrific start this past week, going five shutout innings and striking out seven. The former DII standout from Florida Southern who has Braves blood flowing in his veins has now allowed just two runs in three June starts.

Makhi Backstrom looks to be hitting his stride. He’s now hit in each of his last five games with the last three being two-hit performances. He’s having a very nice June, slashing .320/.452/.520 this month. Brandol Mezquita continues to enjoy his breakout campaign. Last week, he hit in five of his six games, including his third home run of the season. He’s now hitting a cool .319 with a .830 OPS.