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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: New draftees star in full season debuts

Five 2022 draftees record hits in full season debut

Vaughn Grissom makes a throw for the Rome Braves Photo Credit: Mills Fitzner

Tuesday night provided a first look at the newest wave of Atlanta Braves talent on the farm as five 2022 MLB Draft picks made their full season ball debuts on Tuesday night with Augusta, and all five recorded hits in an offense-fueled victory. Meanwhile at Mississippi, Vaughn Grissom continued to rake with three hits, including a double, to raise his Double-A batting average over .360.

(50-55) Gwinnett Braves at (63-41) Nashville Sounds – Postponed

There is no such thing as a rain shower in Nashville in the Summer. It storms, often severely. That was the case over downtown Music City on Tuesday, postponing Tuesday’s Sounds vs. Stripers game. The teams will play a twin bill on Thursday to make up for the rainout.

(47-56, 18-16 second half) Mississippi Braves 1, (56-47, 19-15 second half) Tennessee Smokies 4

Box Score

  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 3-4, 2B, .363/.408/.516
  • Javier Valdes, DH: 2-4, HR, RBI, R, .500/.500/1.250
  • Allan Winans, SP: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 3.68 ERA
  • Indigo Diaz, RP: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 3.55 ERA

Does Vaughn Grissom have bad nights? Well…probably, but not tonight. He stayed hot to open Mississippi’s series against the Tennessee Smokies, going 3-for-4 with a double to drive his average up to .363 since getting promoted on July 11. He added a web gem as well, showing his range and arm with a diving stop on a grounder up the middle to end the eighth. Grissom popped up and unleashed a cannon to beat the runner by a half-step at first base.

Those exploits weren’t enough to overcome an early four-run deficit as the M-Braves lost 4-1 to the Smokies on Tuesday night in East Tennessee. A two-run second inning single and a two-run third inning homer by the Smokies off M-Braves starter Allan Winans did the damage. Mississippi did claw back a run on Javier Valdes’ sixth inning opposite-field solo shot in his Double-A debut. It was one of two hits on the night for Valdes, the 21st round selection of the Atlanta Braves in the 2019 MLB Draft, who has steadily worked his way up the Braves’ system.

While he took the loss, it was an encouraging outing for Winans, who got through six innings in his longest outing of an injury-plagued season. A Rule-5 pick by the Braves from the New York Mets in the offseason, Winans has made just eight appearances this season, none more than 4.2 innings until last night. Indigo Diaz continued to be a strike out machine by K-ing the side in relief of Winans, although he did walk a pair. In 38 innings pitched this season, Diaz now has 48 strikeouts, giving him 11.4 K/9.

(61-42, 25-12 second half) Rome Braves 2, (45-55, 19-16 second half) Asheville Tourists 6

Box Score

  • Tyler Tolve, C: 1-3, HR, RBI, R, BB, .255/.329/.445
  • Drew Campbell, LF: 1-3, HR, RBI, R, BB, .276/.340/.365
  • Cal Conley, SS: 0-4, .297/.350/.549
  • Luis De Avila, SP: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4.92 ERA

It was a tough night in Asheville for the Rome Braves, who lost 6-2 to the Tourists and managed just two hits through the first eight innings. Rome starter Luis De Avila was let down by his defense, as a first inning two-out error led to free swings for the Tourists who cashed in with a two-run homer. Another error in the fifth led to a third unearned run charged to De Avila who threw 4 1/3 innings in the loss.

Despite the disappointing outing offensively, Rome fought back in the ninth and actually managed to bring the tying run to the plate with two outs. A leadoff homer by Tyler Tolve and another round-tripper by Drew Campbell two batters later made it a four-run game. A two-out single and back-to-back walks loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth for Jacob Pearson, but the outfielder struck out swinging to end the rally.

Unfortunately, Cal Conley had an 0-for-4 night at the plate, breaking an 18-game hitting streak for the shortstop. It was just the second game without a hit for Conley since earning a promotion to Rome on July 11.

(53-48, 17-18) Augusta GreenJackets 13, (57-45, 24-12) Fredericksburg Nationals 11

Box Score

  • Stephen Paolini, RF: 2-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB, .226/.335/.331
  • Drake Baldwin, DH: 2-5, 2 R, .400/.400/.400
  • Brandol Mezquita, CF: 1-3, 3 R, BB, .287/.378/.384
  • David McCabe, 3B: 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R, .250/.200/.500
  • Adam Zebrowski, C: 2-5, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, .238/.373/.431
  • Justin Janas, 1B: 2-5, 2 RBI, R, .400/.400/.400
  • E.J. Exposito, SS: 3-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, R, .750/.800/1.750

Members of the Atlanta Braves’ 2022 MLB Draft class stole the show for the Augusta GreenJackets in their full season ball debuts as Augusta pounded 15 hits and scored 13 runs in a come-from-behind 13-11 win over the Fredericksburg Nationals. Augusta’s lineup featured 2022 third-rounder Drake Baldwin, David McCabe (fourth), Justin Janas (12th), E.J. Exposito (16th) and Keshawn Ogans (20th), and all five players recorded at least one hit. In addition to the new faces, leadoff man Stephen Paolini recorded the first multi-homer game of his professional career and Adam Zebrowski also tacked on what would be the decisive hit with a three-run bomb.

Paolini led off the game with the first of his two homers before Baldwin recorded a single in his first Augusta at bat. Janas followed Baldwin’s lead in picking up a single, knocking in Baldwin for the second run of the night. A two-out, two-run double for Exposito gave the GreenJackets four first inning runs.

More offense was needed as Fredericksburg stormed back for five runs of their own in the bottom half of the first and Paolini delivered again with his second home run in as many innings to tie things up at 5-5. After falling behind 8-5, it was time for the most recent draftees to step up again and Exposito recorded his second extra-base hit of the night with a two-run homer to left center field to pull Augusta within a run. McCabe erased that deficit with an RBI double in the seventh, which was promptly followed by a go-ahead single from Janas.

McCabe came through again in the eighth inning with a sacrifice fly after the Nationals tied the game at 9-9 in the bottom half of the seventh when his fly ball plated Kadon Morton. Zebowski then added a three-run homer to put Augusta up four. Fredericksburg added one final measure of drama in the bottom of the ninth, adding two more runs, before Tyler Owens closed the door with a strikeout to end the game.

It was not a night for pitchers as Augusta starter Rainiery Rodriguez allowed 10 hits in four innings, giving up eight runs, seven of them earned. Rob Griswold earned the victory in relief, pitching two hitless innings while allowing a single unearned run.

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