The Atlanta Braves are on a five game winning streak, and while reading this upcoming minor league recap I encourage you to hold that close and cherish it because it’s about to get weird. The minor league side of things took the bad end of a sweep, though the starting pitchers across the system actually had very good days. The third basemen of the system drove the only offensive interest, with CJ Alexander and Justyn-Henry Malloy hitting home runs.
(27-27) Gwinnett Stripers 0, (20-33) Louisville Bats 6
- Braden Shewmake, SS: 0-4, .258/.316/.377
- Drew Waters, CF: 0-4 .253/.295/.386
- Alex Dickerson, RF: 1-3, .224/.245/.418
- Bryce Elder, SP: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 5.40 ERA
- Michael Tonkin, RP: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.38 ERA
First up on our journey of misery is the Gwinnett Stripers, who of the games we’re going to cover played the absolute worst one. There were few positives on either side of the ball, with only three hits being recorded in the game. Ryan Goins’s third inning double was the only runner to get past first base until the bottom of the ninth, when Phil Gosselin was able to single and advance on defensive indifference. It was a rough one with every single batter in the lineup striking out at least once. The biggest contribution from the position player group came not from the bat of Drew Waters, who struck out twice on an 0-4 day, but from his arm. In the third inning of this then scoreless game he threw out a runner trying to go first to the third, ending the inning to help keep the game tied.
Bryce Elder was certainly more effective than his line would show, as nearly all of the damage against him came late. Elder didn’t have his best command working which also impacted his ability to miss bats, but he kept the ball mostly on the ground and had 13 ground ball outs over his 6 2⁄3 innings. Through the first six innings Louisville had done little to solve him with the only run coming on a home run in the fourth inning, but that would quickly change as he was brought out to try to give Gwinnett another frame. After two quick outs Elder just could not get out of the inning as he allowed three hits and hit a batter to score two runs and lead runners on second and third. He was promptly pulled favor of Brandon Brennan, who allowed the first batter he faced to drive both of those runs in and blow the game completely open. Brennan was not particularly good in the eighth inning either, and has some fortunate sequencing to thank for only allowing one run as he allowed two hits and two walks while stranding the bases loaded. Michael Tonkin has been one of the more reliable Gwinnett arms this season, and he was able to close out the game with a strong 1 1⁄3 perfect innings and two strikeouts.
Next Game: 6/7 @ (28-26) Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp @ 7:00 PM ET
(24-27) Mississippi Braves 1, (20-24) Montgomery Biscuits 8
- Justin Dean, CF: 2-3, BB, 2 SB, .257/.325/.371
- Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 1-4, .249/.346/.524
- CJ Alexander, 3B: 1-4, HR, .266/.317/.506
- Alan Rangel, SP: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 4.32 ERA
- Indigo Diaz, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3.66 ERA
Mississippi had quite a bit of hope on their side early, but as the game progressed they quickly saw it slip out of their hands. Offensively the Braves were mostly a one man show, with Justin Dean reaching base three times and being the only person to reach more than once. He was not responsible for the only run, however, as that came in the second inning on CJ Alexander’s tenth home run of the season. Alexander has quietly become a key contributor to Mississippi’s offense, perhaps turning over a new leaf starting with this past May. Last month he clubbed ten home runs and ran an .836 OPS, and so far early in the month of June he already has two home runs and a 1.017 OPS. Regardless, he is far from a one man wrecking crew and the lone solo home run was not going to do it against Montgomery’s bats.
Alan Rangel’s line in this outing was fine, but his lack of command of the zone was a problem that led to inefficiency and a shortened outing. Rangel’s first inning was superb as he struck out the side, but those efficiency problems crept in during the second inning as he walked two batters and took four of the five hitters to three ball counts. The strikeouts did continue to come, in fact outside of the second inning all of his outs were recorded via strikeout, but that also involved a lot of deep counts that ultimately led him to departing after allowing a run on a single and triple in the fourth inning. The bullpen was not particularly helpful in backing Rangel’s outing, as although they continued to rack up gaudy strikeout numbers they could not get actual good innings together. AJ Puckett contributed five strikeouts over two innings (we’re up to 14 now), but allowed run to bleed through in both to give Montgomery a 3-1 lead. The seventh inning was the killer for Mississippi. Justin Yeager got two quick outs but then his command went haywire and after two walks and an error to extend the inning he allowed a grand slam that put the game away for good. Not for nothing the Mississippi relievers continued to strikeout batters. Tyler Ferguson struck out three batters, though he allowed a run, to bring up the strikeout total to 18 through 8 innings. Indigo Diaz then had the ball for the ninth and he was perfect with three more strikeouts to bring the total to 21 strikeouts in the game. At the very least, the sheer absurdity of allowing eight runs in a game in which you struck the other team out 21 times is something begging to be appreciated.
Next Game: 6/7 @ (30-21) Rocket City Trash Pandas @ 7:35 PM ET
(28-21) Rome Braves 5, (29-19) Bowling Green Hot Rods 6
- Vaughn Grissom, SS: 1-4, HBP, .264/.362/.396
- Christian Robinson, RF: 1-3, 2B, BB, RBI, .252/.327/.350
- Justyn-Henry Malloy, DH: 1-3, HR, BB, 2 RBI, .307/.404/.518
- Lisandro Santos, SP: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 2.97 ERA
- Austin Smith, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.26 ERA
While the first two games were bad this one felt more gut wrenching, as the Braves let a winnable game slip from their grasp against a very good team. Rome’s offense contributed far more than the previous two mentioned, and once again that performance revolved around the bat of Justyn-Henry Malloy. Malloy opened the scoring for both sides in this game in the third inning, when his eighth home run of the season gave Rome a 1-0 lead. Two innings later Malloy was involved in a pitcher-aided run as he was walked as part of a sequence that included two walks and two hit batters to score the second run. The game then flipped when Bowling Green put up a four run sixth inning and Rome spent the game trying to come back after their early lead evaporated. Their first comeback came in the seventh and started with a Cody Milligan walk. After Vaughn Grissom singled to advance Milligan to third base he took off on a stolen base attempt which became a huge play as the catcher attempted to pick off Milligan and threw the ball away to score a run. That set the stage for Malloy to tie it on a sacrifice fly later in the plate appearance. Following this Bowling Green scored another run to go on top, but Rome bounced back and Christian Robinson’s RBI double tied the game once again. Bowling Green was able to score their gift runner in the top of the tenth, but the Rome offense could not do the same and that ended this long-fought battle in a Braves loss.
Lisandro Santos made his first start in nearly three years, and you had to mostly like what you saw as he went five scoreless innings to put Rome in a great position to win. Now, this wasn’t a totally flawless outing which the most obvious problem being the three walks he allowed. Santos threw only 58% of his pitches for strikes, underlining the steps he needs to take to improve his command and get to the next level. Another issue was that his strikeout stuff wasn't working, and for Santos his fastball heavy approach and mediocre secondary offerings which will be tested as he takes on longer stints. After his five innings of work were up he handed the ball to Jake McSteen, who immediately undid all of Santos’s work by allowing four runs in the sixth inning and only recording two outs. Some of this (one unearned run to be exact) wasn’t his doing, as Cody Milligan wasn’t very helpful in making two errors at second base. The rest of the Rome bullpen was mostly fine, with Benjamin Dum stepping up to provide 1 1⁄3 scoreless after McSteen’s struggles. The only other earned run allowed by the bullpen was a solo home run off of Dylan Spain in the eighth inning, the sixth he has allowed in only 18 1⁄3 innings this season. Malcolm Van Buren had the ball in the eighth inning and he had an odd outing. He recorded weakly hit outs that would have actually stranded the free runner, but three walks in the inning forced home a run anyway and handed him the loss.
Next Game: 6/7 vs (25-23) Wilmington Blue Rocks @ 7:00 PM ET
(27-24) Augusta GreenJackets 3, (20-31) Kannapolis Cannon Ballers 5
- Caleb Durbin, SS: 2-4, BB, RBI, .291/.413/.419
- Braulio Vasquez, 1B: 1-1 3 BB, .255/.375/.362
- Brandon Parker, RF: 1-4, 2B, .247/.404/.400
- JJ Acuna, RP: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2.11 ERA
- Rolddy Munoz, RP: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 4.50 ERA
The Augusta GreenJackets were our last sliver of hope for a win on the farm, and they fell just a bit short in a 5-3 loss. Both pitching staffs had strong outings working in the early stages, with Augusta being the only team to break through after five innings. Braulio Vasquez led off the third inning with a base hit, then as he is known to do stole second base and scored on an infield single and throwing error. This slim lead held into the sixth inning, where a three run inning put Augusta in a hole. Trailing 4-1 Vasquez kicked off another rally of sorts in the seventh inning when his two out walk kicked off a string of three walks, a hit batter, and a wild pitch to score two runs and bring Augusta within a run. Augusta unfortunately could not do anything to help themselves in this game, and went into the ninth inning trailing 5-3. A leadoff double from Brandon Parker and another Vasquez walk had the tying run on base with no outs, but Augusta never managed the big hit in the game and stranded those runners exactly where they started. Augusta only struck out four times and had six walks in the game, but went just 5-26 on balls in play in this loss.
The easiest way to sum up this game as that Augusta allowed five runs on three hits. It was one of those kinds of days. Early on Augusta was in absolute control of the game, as despite allowing three walks James Acuna and Rolddy Munoz kicked off the day with five hitless innings to hold tight to a 1-0 lead. Ronaldo Alesandro kept the no hit bid going, but the rest of the outing is more disappointing to speak on. Alesandro recorded just one out and allowed three walks and a hit batter to tie the game up. His replacement Tyler Owens immediately hit another batter and allowed an RBI ground out before ending the inning. The Augusta GreenJackets had a no-hitter after six innings and trailed the game 3-1 because of course they did. The no-hitter ended on a bunt single to lead off the seventh inning, and this time the Cannon Ballers didn’t need Augusta to do the work as another hit and a sacrifice fly scored the fourth run of the game. A solo home run in the eighth inning brought in a second run off of Owens, with him going 2 1⁄3 innings and allowing three hits, striking out two batters, and walking none. Rob Griswold closed out the game with 1 1⁄3 perfect innings and two strikeouts.
Next Game: 6/7 @ (14-37) Columbia Fireflies @ 7:05 PM ET