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Braves Minor League Recap: Dylan Dodd sharp, new draftees shine for Augusta

A strong slate of games on Saturday including an offensive explosion from Augusta and the 2022 draft class.

Photo Credit: Mills Fitzner

While things are going quite well in the big leagues for the Braves, they also went well in the minors as Atlanta’s farm affiliates went a combined 3-1 on Saturday. Gwinnett nearly had a win stolen from them late, Dylan Dodd pitched very well in a tough loss for Mississippi, Jacob Pearson went wild for Rome, and the 2022 Braves’ draftees in Augusta went wild at the plate. Let’s get into the games.

Gwinnett Stripers 7, Nashville Sounds 6 - F/10

Box Score

  • Pat Valaika, SS: 2-5, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, .718 OPS
  • Hendrik Clementina, C: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI
  • Nolan Kingham, SP: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 4.29 ERA

Gwinnett very nearly lost the game late as an error in the field allowed Nashville to force extras, but Gwinnett was able to score a couple runs in the 10th inning and emerge victorious by the score of 7-6. Nolan Kingham, who had bounced back to Double-A recently in what appears to be a move to manage the minor league rosters a bit, but he jumped right back into the fold to throw five innings. After transitioning to the bullpen while he was in Mississippi, Kingham has been used far more frequently this year as a starter although he generally has only gone three innings or so. The Braves got three scoreless innings from their bullpen including a strong appearance from William Woods in the eighth before things went sideway for Michael Tonkin in the ninth to allow for free baseball.

On offense, Pat Valaika was the player of the game for Gwinnett. He started his game out with a two-run homer that put Gwinnett ahead early, his RBI double in the 10th inning gave Gwinnett the lead again, and then he would also score on a wild pitch in the 10th to give the Stripers some insurance that they ended up needing. Hendrik Clementina has struggled a bit in the small sample of time he has been in Triple-A, so it was nice to see him connected for a two-run homer of his own in the fourth.

Mississippi Braves 0, Tennessee Smokies 1

Box Score

  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 1-3, 2B, BB, .791 OPS
  • Cody Milligan, CF: 1-4, 2B, .655 OPS
  • Dylan Dodd, SP: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 3.86 ERA

Dylan Dodd had his second straight strong start in Double-A after some earlier growing pains, but the Mississippi offense was completely shut down as they fell to the Smokies by the score of 1-0. After a pair of starts to end July that were not exactly up to snuff, Dodd has looked very strong so far in the month of Augusta. His walk rate has ticked up since he arrived in Double-A, but that has been trending in a positive direction of late as well. Kyle Wilcox and Jason Creasy were excellent with their three scoreless innings of relief to keep the game close.

As for the Mississippi offense...well, there wasn’t really any. Mississippi did get a pair of doubles off the bats of Cody Milligan and Drew Lugbauer. However, they only managed to get three hits TOTAL in the game and only drew a pair of walks. As it turns out, it is tough to consistently score runs when your best offensive players get hurt and/or promoted...although that certainly didn’t stop them when the offense went wild the other night.

Rome Braves 6, Asheville Tourists 5

Box Score

  • Jacob Pearson, CF: 4-5, HR, 2 RBI, .787 OPS
  • Caleb Durbin, 3B: 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI, .437 OPS
  • Dylan Spain, SP: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 5.96 ERA

Rome was leading 5-0 after the top half of the fourth inning and that early lead proved essential as Asheville rallied to keep it close. Fortunately, Rome was able to hang on and take down the Tourists by the score of 6-5. Dylan Spain got the start in this bullpen game of sorts for Rome and after a pair of strong outings to start the month of August, this one was decidedly less good as things went awry for him in the fourth inning including giving up a pair of home runs. Fortunately, the rest of the Rome bullpen only gave up one run during the remaining 5.2 innings of work and that was good enough to secure the win for Rome.

On offense, a big hat tip to Jacob Pearson who had himself a four hit night including a home run out of the leadoff spot. Very quietly, Pearson is having himself a stellar month of Augusta where he is slashing .415/.478/.634 with six doubles and a homer in 10 games. Caleb Durbin had a big hit as well with a two-run double that helped Rome build their early lead and Bryson Horne had a couple of hits and a RBI to help the cause as well.

Augusta GreenJackets 12, Fredericksburg Nationals 2

Box Score

  • Keshawn Ogans, 2B: 4-5, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
  • David McCabe, 3B: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, 2 R
  • Luis Vargas, SP: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 3.79 ERA

The GreenJackets continue to surprise and impress with their play as the offense went wild in route to a 12-2 rout of Fredericksburg. Luis Vargas was on the mound for Augusta and while he doesn’t eat the most innings for Augusta (he threw just 76 pitches in this game), he generally does a good job of giving the GreenJackets a chance to win when he is on the mound. His walk rate does leave something to be desired, though. Darling Florentino had a bit of an adventure with several baserunners in his 2.2 innings of work after that and then Ronald Alesandro had a big relief appearance to close the game out with five strikeouts while giving up just a solo homer.

On offense, well...there was quite a bit of it. Keshawn Ogans was the star of the show as the Braves’ 20th round pick in the 2022 draft went 4-5 with a homer and four RBI. The 2022 draft showed out in a big way altogether as Ogans, David McCabe, Drake Baldwin, Andrew Keck, and Justin Janas combined to go 10-22 with 8 RBI. Stephen Paolini continued his breakout month of August with another multi-hit game and stolen base. Paolini is slashing .326/375/.535 so far this month which, considering where he had been, is a significant improvement.

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