We are firmly in the home stretch of the 2022 minor league season and this week, the biggest thing to watch for is a whole slew of members of the Braves’ 2022 draft class making their way to full season ball as Monday saw a bunch of roster transactions happen officially and more on the way to make room. The biggest recipient of these changes is, without question, the Augusta GreenJackets as they have a heavily retooled roster now.
Of note is that almost all of these full season debuts are on the position player side as it appears that the bulk of the “top” prospects from the draft class are on the pitching side and they have not been added to a roster. Based on what we are hearing, it doesn’t seem likely that we will be seeing many of those guys in games much, if at all, this season.
Gwinnett Stripers (50-55)
Last week: 2-4
This week: at Nashville, August 9-14
Gwinnett had a rough week last week as they went 2-4 and are now up against one of the best teams in the International League in Nashville this week. Bryce Elder returned to the Stripers after a brief cameo appearance in the big leagues and is eventually going to be joined by Ian Anderson (he is on taxi squad duty for now) as he was optioned back down to the minors. One scary scene from last week is that Braden Shewmake was injured on an outfield collision in left field with Travis Demeritte and had to be carted off the field. Our initial look was that he had some sort of left leg injury, but watching replays has us wondering if at least some sort of concussion is in play...still no official word on him, though. Through the grape vine, it does sound like Darius Vines is moving up to Gwinnett from Mississippi where he has been dominant for the last month and a half or so. Kyle Muller had a rough start to his return to the mound after breaking a bone in his non-throwing hand, but he settled in reasonably well after the beginning of the game and our guess is that he should be just fine.
Mississippi Braves (47-55)
Last week: 1-5
This week: at Tennessee, August 9-14
Mississippi got beat up by Biloxi last week where they were only able to get a single win and now find themselves against a Tennessee Smokies team that has played pretty well in the second half of the season. With Jared Shuster, Freddy Tarnok, and (at least so we have heard) Darius Vines now in Gwinnett, the Mississippi Braves find their once impressive rotation very depleted with Dylan Dodd leading the way. Its probably safe to assume that we will see some roster movement to help with that very soon. Mississippi does still have Vaughn Grissom on the roster which helps the cause as he has hit safely in five straight games. He is going to have to draw some more walks, though, as he only drew four walks in the month of July and has yet to get a free pass in August. Cody Milligan has been doing really good work for Mississippi as well and the Braves are going to need him to produce even more as Justin Dean just hit the injured list last week.
Rome Braves (61-41)
Last week: 6-0
This week: at Asheville, August 9-14
Rome is coming off a great week last week where they went 6-0 and are up against an Asheville team that has improved a good bit after a pretty rough first half of the season. Rome is going to need Royber Salinas and JJ Niekro to get back on track as they both had stellar starts to the season, but have seen some struggles in recent starts. One guy that has not struggled of late is Roddery Munoz whose high octane fastball and improving secondaries have seen him take a big step forward over the last month or so. It will be interesting to see who ends up at Rome after so many guys got added to the Augusta roster, but one recent promotion, Cal Conley, has been a big part of Rome’s recent hot streak as he is playing some of his best baseball (at least at the plate) of the season right now. Bryson Horne continues to be a consistent source of power for the Rome lineup which has sorely needed him. Caleb Durbin has struggled since his promotion from Augusta, so hopefully he is going to be able to get that hit tool of his going to keep Rome rolling.
Augusta GreenJackets (52-48)
Last week: 6-0
This week: at Fredericksburg, August 9-14
Finally, we arrive at our delightfully weird Augusta GreenJackets who also went 6-0 last week against a woeful Delmarva team. Their opponent this week is Fredericksburg who has been the best team in the Carolina League North division this season, so the GreenJackets will have their hands full. Augusta is going into this week with a remade roster as a ton of members of the 2022 draft class for the Braves are being added including Drake Baldwin, David McCabe, Justin Janas, Andrew Keck and others. Connor Blair and Brian Klein were released from Augusta to help make room for the new additions, which is a bit of a bummer as Blair had been on a hot streak of late although his overall line this season still was not great. AJ Smith-Shawver had to leave his last start early, so we are going to be monitoring as to whether or not he makes his next start as it was not apparent as to what caused his early exit. Keep an eye on Sam Strickland who had a stellar outing last week and has been sneaky good this season. He is oldish for the level and is more of a pitchability guy, but its hard to ignore his results this season.