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Braves Minor League Recap: Bryce Elder strikes out eight

Some of the more unsung names in the Braves’ minor leagues got the job done on Saturday.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to some clutch swings, the Atlanta Braves’ minor league affiliates were able to stitch together a nice 3-1 slate on Saturday. Bryce Elder had a good start for Gwinnett backed up by the long ball for the offense, Rome was able to rally to win in extras, and Mississippi faltered late in the lone loss of the evening. Let’s get into the games.

Gwinnett Stripers 6, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 3

Box Score

  • Taylor Motter, 2B: 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB, .825 OPS
  • Ryan Casteel, DH: 1-3, HR, 3 RBI, BB, .917 OPS
  • Bryce Elder, SP: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 4.65 ERA

Bryce Elder was quite good in his start for Gwinnett and three homers propelled the Stripers to a 6-3 win. While he did give up another homer (a solo shot) on Saturday, Elder was able to go six innings while walking two or less for the fourth consecutive start which was quite encouraging especially since this one also came with eight strikeouts. We still want him to get more whiffs particularly on his slider, but overall he has made a lot of progress of late. Kirby Yates had another rehab appearance although this one was not quite as breezy as he gave up a run on a hit and a walk although he did strike out a pair of batters.

All six of Gwinnett’s runs came courtesy of the long ball on Saturday. Taylor Motter, who the Braves just signed as a minor league free agent very recently, got the Stripers on the board with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning and Chadwick Tromp followed shortly thereafter with a solo shot of his own. Jacksonville would get within a run before Ryan Casteel gave Gwinnett some breathing room in the sixth inning with his 11th homer of the season that drove in three runs and proved to be the game-winner. Notably, Braden Shewmake missed his second straight game which is now one of several instances where he has missed some time this season. Hopefully he can get back on the field soon because he most assuredly needs some at-bats to try and turn his season around.

Mississippi Braves 4, Pensacola Blue Wahoos 6

Box Score

  • Justin Dean, CF: 3-5, 2 2B, RBI, SB, .746 OPS
  • Riley Delgado, 3B: 3-4, .701 OPS
  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 0-3, 2 BB, SB, 1.022 OPS
  • Alan Rangel, SP: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 5.33 ERA

Mississippi did manage to do some damage early against a tough starter in Eury Perez, but both AJ Puckett and Justin Maese faltered out of the bullpen as the Braves lost to Pensacola by the score of 6-4. A hat tip to Alan Rangel who has had a tough season in 2022 but absolutely outpitched Perez with five strong innings while striking out seven batters. Unfortunately, Puckett and Maese combined to give up five runs in less than two innings of work and, well, that was that.

Vaughn Grissom wasn’t the star of the show on this evening, but he did manage to draw a couple of walks early in the game and stole a base to make his presence felt. At this point, the stats about how many games he has reached base are just silly. Mississippi got a pair of three hit games from Justin Dean (who had a pair of doubles) and Riley Delgado. They also got a solo home run from Jalen Miller in the second inning to help stake the Braves to an early lead. Sadly, the bullpen’s struggles combined with going 1-for-12 with RISP proved to be too much to overcome.

Rome Braves 5, Hickory Crawdads 4 - F/11

Box Score

  • Bryson Horne, 1B: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, .800 OPS
  • Tyler Tolve, C: 2-4, 2B, RBI, BB, .767 OPS
  • Royber Salinas, SP: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 4.50 ERA

Rome had to rally from an early deficit, but they managed to chip away and tie the game in the ninth inning and emerge victorious in extra innings by the final score of 5-4. It certainly wasn’t the cleanest of starts from Royber Salinas as Rome was in a 2-0 hole after the first three hitters he faced. That said, Salinas did settle in after that and gave Rome five decent innings although he struggled to find the strike zone. Some big time innings from the bullpen helped the cause with run in extra innings being their only blemish.

On offense, Rome scratched together a couple of runs to make it close late and then Bryson Horne connected for a solo shot in the top of the ninth to tie the game. A clutch Tyler Tolve RBI double gave Rome the lead in extra innings after a baserunning snafu cost Rome a run earlier in the inning. Hickory was able to answer with a run in the bottom of the 10th, but a Bryson Horne sac fly in the top of the 11th proved decisive. Tolve, Horne, and Cal Conley (who has been on fire since he got promoted) each had multi-hit games for Rome.

Augusta GreenJackets 6, Myrtle Beach Pelicans 4

Box Score

  • Geraldo Quintero, 3B: 2-4, 3B, 2 RBI, R, .783 OPS
  • Brandol Mezquita, CF: 1-3, RBI, BB, R, .764 OPS
  • AJ Smith-Shawver, SP: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 5.05 ERA

AJ Smith-Shawver was a bit uneven on the mound, but the offense picked him up with some clutch hitting and Augusta was able to hang on by the score of 6-4. The upside here is that AJSS was throwing a lot of strikes and still got his fair share of strikeouts based on the quality of his stuff. The downside is that he was missing his spots down in the zone which allowed him to get squared up a few times. Very much a work in progress, but the arm talent is legitimately insane. The bullpen tossed four scoreless to hold down the fort.

The biggest swing of the game came off the bat of Geraldo Quintero whose two-run triple in the fourth inning broke the game open and gave Augusta a three-run lead to work with. We are a bit more skeptical of Quintero than some sites given that he doesn’t hit the ball very hard, but the hit tool is real despite the sub-par July he has had for the most part. That would also prove to be the only extra-base hit of the evening for the GreenJackets as they did the bulk of their damage with RBI singles and groundouts and a special thanks to an unfortunate Pelicans’ error that plated a run as well.

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