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Braves Minor League Recap: Mike Soroka makes third rehab start, Augusta rallies late

Soroka had one rough inning but was otherwise fine in his third rehab start while Augusta had a wild ninth inning.

MLB: JUL 29 Rays at Braves Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It was a tough night for the Atlanta Braves organization as not only did the big league squad blow a lead in the bottom of the ninth against the Cardinals, but their minor league affiliates went a combined 1-3. Mike Soroka had an uneven rehab appearance while Augusta had one of the better innings you will see against Myrtle Beach. Lets get into the games.

Gwinnett Stripers 2, Lehigh Valley IronPigs 4

Box Score

  • Orlando Arcia, DH: 2-4, BB, R
  • Joe Dunand, 1B: 1-4, HR, RBI, .711 OPS
  • Mike Soroka, SP: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K

Mike Soroka had one rough inning in his third rehab start and the Gwinnett offense struggled to do much of anything as the Stripers fell by the final score of 4-2. 3.2 of the the 4.2 innings that Mike Soroka threw on Saturday evening were very solid. However, the second inning saw a lot of ground balls get through and, uncharacteristically, walks that let Lehigh Valley put up a four spot on Mike. He was able to bounce back and go scoreless the rest of the way until he hit his 75 pitch limit, but this is yet another reminder that he hasn’t pitched much in two years and any expectation that he was going to be able to jump right back into the Braves’ rotation after just a few rehab starts may have been wishful thinking. Progress was made, though, so we will see if we end up seeing him in the big leagues in 2022. Of note, Bryce Elder threw three innings of scoreless relief in this game which was probably to keep him on a regular throwing schedule, but worth keeping an eye on nonetheless.

The Gwinnett offense didn’t do that much coming off a night where it seemed like every did something on Friday. Joe Dunand connected for his sixth home run of the season to help the Stripers’ cause. Orlando Arcia was also rehabbing in Gwinnett on Saturday and he did good work with a pair of hits and a walk. Unfortunately, the rest of the Gwinnett offense was just a scattering of singles over the course of the game.

Mississippi Braves 0, Birmingham Barons 5

Box Score

  • Javier Valdes, C: 2-4, .860 OPS
  • Landon Stephens, 1B: 1-2, 2 BB, .583 OPS
  • Nolan Kingham, SP: 5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 4.09 ERA

Not much to talk about here as Mississippi got dominated by Birmingham on both sides of the ball on their way to a 5-0 loss. Nolan Kingham got the start for Mississippi and battled to get through five innings despite a load of baserunners. Since seeing play as a starter again this season, it has highlighted that as a starter, Kingham does not miss enough bats with his starter stuff to profile there. The three walks were uncharacteristic as that isn’t usually his problem, but we still like him better as a reliever where his stuff can play up a bit.

On offense, least they tried. The only extra-base hit came off the bat of Jordan Cowan in the form of a double. Two of Mississippi’s four hits in the game came courtesy of Javier Valdes. He has cooled down a good bit since his hot start to his time in Double-A, but he remains one of the more fun stories to come out of the Braves’ minor league system this season and is legit catching prospect. Justyn-Henry Malloy had been on a warpath of late, but Birmingham was able to slow him down as he went 0-3 with a walk.

Rome Braves 2, Bowling Green Hot Rods 3

Box Score

  • Caleb Durbin, 2B: 1-2, HR, 2 RBI, BB, .635 OPS
  • Brandon Mezquita, CF: 1-4
  • Dylan Spain, SP: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 5.54 ERA

Rome had been no hit through the first five innings of this game, found a way to take the lead in the sixth, only for the bullpen to give up a couple runs and lose by the score of 3-2. Dylan Spain got the start for Rome and given the fact that he has been primarily a bullpen arm by trade, he did well for himself as he went four innings while giving up just one run and zero walks with four strikeouts. After two scoreless innings of relief from Miguel Pena, Rome was in business until Davis Schwab and Isrrael De La Cruz each gave up runs late in the game that ended up costing Rome the game.

As for the offense, well...the only swing of note was a two-run homer off the bat of Caleb Durbin that gave Rome the lead in the sixth. Durbin has struggled in high-A, there is no question about that, but he has turned things around a good bit of late as he now has hits in nine of his last 10 games. Unfortunately, that was one of two hits that Rome mustered in the game which is less than great especially when the other one was a single from Brandol Mezquita where he ended up getting thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double.

Augusta GreenJackets 10, Myrtle Beach Pelicans 2

Box Score

  • Kevin Kilpatrick Jr., CF: 2-5, HR, 4 RBI, 1.008 OPS
  • Stephen Paolini, LF: 2-3, RBI, BB, 2 R, .648 OPS
  • J.R. Ritchie, SP: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

Augusta was the lone bright spot in the system as they scored nine runs in the top of the ninth inning to rally and beat the Pelicans by the score of 10-2. J.R. Ritchie, the Braves’ 35th overall pick in the 2022 draft, got the start for Augusta as he was really good with four scoreless innings. Most of the contact was weak groundballs despite the lack of strikeouts in this start and Ritchie has yet to give up an earned run as a professional so far. Rainiery Rodriguez pitched the final five innings and couldn’t miss bats and gave up seven hits, but only allowed two runs the rest of the way which set the stage for Augusta’s comeback.

Before we get into how a team can score 10 runs on five hits in a game, just a quick hat tip to Stephen Paolini who has looked much better of late. After a rough 2021 season and a better, but still pretty rough, most of his 2022 season, something seems to have clicked for him as the quality of his at-bats has been much better in August as has the quality of contact even with a bit of a dip in his production in the middle of August. Now, Augusta was down 2-1 in the top of the ninth inning before the following sequence with zero outs: walk, walk, single, HBP, walk, walk, walk, single, and then a grand slam off the bat of Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. before the first out was recorded. Yep, that will do it.

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