It was like deja vu all over again for the Atlanta Braves minor-league teams. Gwinnett, Mississippi and Rome all suffered losing weeks, each one finishing 2-4 in their respective six-game series. Augusta remains hot, at least, taking down the Fayetteville Woodpeckers 4-2.
Here’s who we hope stays hot in the week ahead for the Braves farm system.
Gwinnett Stripers (35-37)
Last week: 2-4
This week: at Norfolk, June 28-July 3
The Stripers dropped a series against the red-hot Nashville Sound and need to get back on track against Norfolk. The Tides (Baltimore Orioles) are on a two-game losing streak.
Tucker Davidson was solid in a victory this past week and his ERA is down to an acceptable 3.76. He went 6.2 innings allowing no runs or walks and striking out nine. The other victory was a six-pitcher dandy, started by Nolan Kingham who looked very strong yet again. There has been some buzz among the intraweb sites that Kingham could be a help to the Braves big-league rotation at some point this season. We shall see if that comes to fruition with several other experienced arms ahead of him.
Postseason hero Eddie Rosario began his rehab last week. He hit in back-to-back games and drove in two runs. Hopefully, he is back in the swing of things (pun intended) quickly and back in Atlanta soon. Drew Waters has been looking better at the plate of late. Waters has had a rollercoaster of a two seasons, especially in the eyes of prospect lists. However, until a three-strikeout day on Sunday (yes, that is not good), he had struck out one time or less in 13 of his previous 15 games. That’s the Waters we are hoping to see come around, but it is going to have to be consistently before he starts jumping back up any top 10s.
Mississippi Braves (29-40)
Last week: 2-4
This week: at Biloxi, June 28-July 3
Things started well last week as the M-Braves were 2-1 entering Thursday. They now head to Biloxi (Milwaukee Brewers) on a three-game skid. Mississippi took the last series in mid-May 4-2.
Tanner Gordon was effective in pitching the M-Braves to a series-opening win. Alan Rangel, who has struggled this year, pitched the M-Braves to its second win. Freddy Tarnok pitched another five strong innings, like last time, allowing just one run, like last time, yet could get on the winning side of the box score.
Justin Dean is revitalized since returning to Double-A. He hit in five of six games last week and is hitting .301 in June with a .804 OPS. He’s also walking nearly as much as he strikes out, so hopefully is adjusting at the plate.
Rome Braves (37-32; 1-2 in 2nd half)
Last week: 2-4
This week: at Greenville, June 28-July 3
Rome is looking to rebound in a big way. Not only was it the rare losing week, but it was to a Hickory team ahead of them in the standings. They head to Greenville (Boston Red Sox) looking to get back on the winning track. The Drive are a mere 27-42 this season.
Naturally, even in a bad week, Andrew Hoffmann found a way to shine on the bump. He had a spectacular outing pitching six innings in a combined 3-0 shutout. He struck out seven and walked two and has allowed just four earned runs in June. In fact, he hasn’t allowed more than two runs since May 21 and has only allowed three earned runs twice the entire season. Roddery Munoz closed out the week getting Rome the win, so hopefully the R-Braves are gaining momentum.
Vaughn Grissom has a seven-game hitting streak and has hit in 13 of his last 14. He had eight more hits last week and is slashing an incredible .362/.417/.564 in June. Justyn-Henry Malloy had only six hits this week, but they came in back-to-back games. He too has been red-hot this June and seems like his High-A days may be nearing a close. Bryson Horne hit his fifth home run of June and has a sneaky good .902 OPS for the month.
Augusta GreenJackets (38-31, 2-1 in second half)
Last week: 4-2
This week: vs. Columbia, June 28-July 3
Augusta got off to a solid start in its quest for the second-half title and remain third overall in the South Division. This week, the 20-49 Columbia Fireflies (Kansas City Royals) come to town. The GreenJackets have fared well against the Fireflies thus far, going 11-4 in their three meetings this season. Tyler Matzek is expected to begin his rehab in Augusta this week.
On the bump, JJ Niekro continues to shine. He joined us at Battery Power this past weekend to discuss his impressive 22.2 scoreless-inning streak, as he now sits at 7-0 and is expected to get the ball to start the series Tuesday night. Samuel Strickland closed the week with a nice five innings, allowing no runs or walks and striking out six.
Mahki Backstrom closed out the week strong, blasting home runs in both Saturday and Sunday’s games. He now has a .908 OPS in June. Geraldo Quintero extended his hitting streak to 10 games, going 10-for-22 in his six games last week. He’s having a tremendous June, slashing .333/.414/.512. Brandol Mezquita left Saturday’s game with an apparent injury and didn’t play Sunday, so all eyes will be on his return.