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Braves Minor League Recap: Drew Lugbauer slugs 13th homer, Jared Shuster struggles

It was a tough night down in the Braves’ farm system on Saturday.

Mesa Solar Sox v Peoria Javelinas Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Saturday night was a night to forget in a lot of ways for the Braves’ farm affiliates as they went a combined 1-3 with Augusta being the only team to emerge victorious. Drew Lugbauer connected for another home run, the GreenJackets went on a power binge, and Jared Shuster had an uncharacteristically bad start. Lets get into the games.

Gwinnett Stripers 3, Louisville Bats 11

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, CF: 1-4, BB, .715 OPS
  • Phil Gosselin, RF: 2-4, SB, RBI, .877 OPS
  • Nolan Kingham, SP: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.00 ERA

Gwinnett jumped out to an early lead, but a handful of relief appearances that can best be described as horror shows ultimately doomed the Stripers as they fell by the final score of 11-3. Nolan Kingham got the start for Gwinnett as the Stripers went with a bullpen game on Saturday. Kingham was perfectly reasonably in his almost three innings of work and things were honestly fine until the sixth inning when Nick Vincent took the mound. After the leadoff hitter reached on an error and Vincent got two easy outs, he gave up a single, a three-run homer, a triple, a two-run homer, and a pair of singles before getting that elusive third out. RJ Alaniz and Victor Vodnik would follow with rough relief appearances of their own and just like that, the game was out of reach.

Things were not much better on offense as out of the Stripers’ eight hits, only Pat Valaika went for extra bases went for extra bases with a double. Phil Gosselin continued his run of strong play with his fifth multi-hit game in his last nine games. Joe Dunand along with Valaika and Gosselin drove in runs for Gwinnett, but most of the night consisted of very scattered and ultimately unproductive offense.

Mississippi Braves 3, Montgomery Biscuits 6

Box Score

  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 1-4, HR, RBI, .877 OPS
  • Riley Delgado, 2B: 1-3, 3B, RBI, BB, .782 OPS
  • Jared Shuster, SP: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 3.02 ERA

Jared Shuster got rocked by Montgomery as Mississippi went down by the score of 6-3. Shuster has been so good this season, so we suppose he was due for a rough one as Saturday was his second bad start of the season. He just had zero command and when he made mistakes, he got thoroughly punished for them. That said, of the eight outs he recorded, six of them were via strikeout so at least he had that going for him. The Mississippi bullpen quartet of Coleman Huntley, Odalvi Javier, Jake Higginbotham, and Justin Maese combined for 6.1 scoreless innings of relief, but the damage was done.

Mississippi showed a bit of power on Saturday with four extra base hits, but they just couldn’t seem to do it with a lot of runners on base. Drew Lugbauer, after a decidedly meh month of May where he posted a .751 OPS as he struggled to make contact, hit his 13th homer of the season and now has homers in two of his four games in June. Yariel Gonzalez had a multi-hit game and Logan Brown, CJ Alexander, and Riley Delgado each had extra-base hits in the game along with Lugbauer. Unfortunately, Mississippi just couldn’t string together enough offense to catch back up.

Rome Braves 3, Bowling Green Hot Rods 10

Box Score

  • Cody Milligan, CF: 3-5, R, .860 OPS
  • Bryson Horne, 1B: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, .633 OPS
  • Luis De Avila, SP: 4.2 IP, 10 H, 7 R (5 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 3.88 ERA

Bowling Green jumped all over Luis De Avila early as Rome got throttled by the final score of 11-3. De Avila had been on a really nice run through his previous four starts, but Bowling Green was not fooled by him this time as he left with Rome trailing by four. A pair of costly errors by Beau Philip in the first inning didn’t help the cause as it made him throw a bunch of extra pitches and put him in a hole early. Isrrael de la Cruz had a nice relief appearance before a rough one from Trey Riley, who cannot seem to get much going as a professional despite a ton of arm talent, turned this one into a rout.

There were some positives on the offensive side of the ball as Bryson Horne connected for his third homer of the season and joined Cody Milligan and Tyler Tolve with multi-hit games. Milligan in particular is making a strong case for a promotion as he now sports an OPS of .860 primarily out of the leadoff spot this season. He doesn’t have much in the way of power, but he can hit and gets on base at a high clip. Don’t be surprised if we seem him at least in Mississippi this season. Vaughn Grissom hasn’t put together a great game lately, but he has quietly hit safely in seven straight games.

Augusta GreenJackets 7, Kannapolis Cannon Ballers 6

Box Score

  • Stephen Paolini, LF: 2-4, 2B, 3B, RBI, .590 OPS
  • Mahki Backstrom, 1B: 1-4, HR, RBI, .702 OPS
  • Cal Conley, SS: 1-4, HR, RBI, .675 OPS
  • Jordano Perez, SP: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 4.40 ERA

Augusta used three homers and a huge third inning to take down Kannapolis by the final score of 7-6. Jordano Perez got the start for Augusta and while the results were fairly medium, it was nice to see him missing bats as he struck out nine in less than five innings of work. Unfortunately, converted reliever Darling Florentino was not good as he gave up three runs to make this game more interesting than it needed to be. Fortunately, Estarlin Rodriguez pitched two scoreless innings at the end of the game to close out the win.

While Stephen Paolini didn’t join the homer barrage, he did have a pair of extra base hits with a double and a triple in the game as he tries to find his way at the plate as a pro. Adam Zebrowski, Cal Conley, and Mahki Backstrom all connected for solo homers in the game for Augusta. Both Zebrowski and Backstrom hit theirs during a five-run third inning that proved to be the difference in the game.