After two straight days of crazy high-scoring affairs down on the farm, the Braves minor league bats cooled a bit on Thursday, making room for some much-needed quality starting pitching.
We had a pair of doubleheaders yesterday, giving us six games total, so let’s get to the recaps…
AAA — Gwinnett Stripers (2-1)
W, 4-0 vs. Charlotte Knights
- SP, B. Wilson: (W) 5 IP, 4 H, BB, 5 K
- 2B, R. Goins: 2 for 3, RBI, BB
- CF, E. Inciarte: 1 for 5, 2B, R
Both Gwinnett and Charlotte opened up rather quietly in the game’s first two innings. Other than a double in the 2nd by the Knights Seby Zavala, neither team mustered a hit. It was the 3rd that the Stripers got a rally going. Catcher Carlos Martinez led off the frame with a single and a passed ball, enabling him to move to second base before the trio of Ender Inciarte (double), Drew Waters (groundout), and Orlando Arcia (single) all put the ball in play. Waters’ fielder’s choice scored Hernandez, and Arcia’s base knock pushed Inciarte across the plate.
Both teams traded zeros for the next four frames, but Johan Camargo started the next offensive surge in the 8th, singling to center field. Following Camargo’s hit, Abraham Almonte walked, and with runners on first and second, Ryan Goins slapped a line-drive single to center to score Johan. Charlotte’s manager came out for a mound visit, but immediately after, Phillip Ervin tacked on Gwinnett’s fourth run of the evening when he put a ball in play in the infield to score Almonte.
Stripers plate a few more in the top of the 8th!! We've been killing it tonight in Charlotte on both sides of the ball!
Ryan Goins and Philip Ervin both drive in a run!
Stripers: 4 Knights: 0
— Gwinnett Stripers (@GoStripers) May 7, 2021
A pair of doubles was the only blunder by Stripers starter Bryse Wilson on Thursday as the righty did a good job of keeping the Knights off the base paths. Wilson kept the ball in the infield for much of the outing, inducing six groundouts as he worked his first Triple-A start of 2021 with a decent amount of efficiency, throwing 81 pitches on the night — 58 strikes. It was a strong showing for the 23-year-old, especially given Gwinnett’s bats were much quieter in this one.
A couple of MLB relievers got in some work for the Stripers Thursday as both Nate Jones and Sean Newcomb worked a hitless inning and struck out two apiece. Overall, Gwinnett’s bullpen combined for four hitless innings for another strong performance.
AA — Mississippi Braves (0-3)
GM 1: L, 5-1 vs. Pensacola
GM 2: L, 6-0 vs. Pensacola
GAME 1 / BOX SCORE
- SP, N. Kingham: (L), 4 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, HR
- 1B, G. Jenista: 1 for 3, HR
- RP, J. Higginbotham: 2 IP, 3 K
For the second-straight night, Mississippi ran into a dominant pitching performance, this time in the first game of its doubleheader on Thursday as Pensacola’s starter Jake Eder — an unranked prospect in Miami’s system — maintained a one-hitter through five innings, including 12 strikeouts.
Both teams could not push a run across until the 5th when the Blue Wahoos put four on the board with a single, a walk, a double, and a homer. Pensacola added another run in the 7th from a wild pitch. However, in the M-Braves half of the frame, first baseman Greyson Jenista did his best to mount a comeback, crushing a 400-foot home run to lead off the inning, although Mississippi’s next three batters would go down to end the game.
The M-Braves didn't go down quietly in the 7th though. @greysonjenista hit a 417-foot blast to right-center, over the Hank Aaron sign, for his first homer of 2021. pic.twitter.com/a5iGdm3tjH
— Mississippi Braves (@mbraves) May 7, 2021
Braves starter Nolan Kingham impressively limited the damage throughout his outing on Thursday, given he allowed a total of nine base runners through four innings before everything essentially unraveled in the 5th, and he was unable to record an out.
We remain scoreless in the 4th at Trustmark Park. @nolankingham is through 4.0 shutout innings and the M-Braves continue to play stellar defense. More @bradenshewmake. pic.twitter.com/CTTCLlePv2
— Mississippi Braves (@mbraves) May 6, 2021
In that 5th frame alone, four Blue Wahoo batters came to the plate, and the fourth and final batter resulted in the hook for Kingham as Pensacola’s Peyton Burdick slugged a two-run homer to put Mississippi down by four runs.
Relievers Jake Higginbotham and Luis Mora took care of the final three innings. The duo’s only blemish was an unearned run from an error in the 7th when second baseman Wendell Rijo couldn’t corral a pick-off move attempt by Mora, allowing a run to score later on.
GAME 2 / BOXSCORE
- SP, M. Stallings: (L), 3 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
- RF, T. Harris: 1 for 3, RBI
- 1B, G. Jenista: 1 for 2, BB, K
The second game for Mississippi on Thursday was mostly the same, though this time Pensacola’s starter pitched around some soft contact by the Braves. Blue Wahoos righty Jose Mesa Jr. — an unranked prospect — worked three scoreless innings in this one, finishing his 40-pitch outing with four strikeouts. Mississippi’s lone run came in the 6th when Jalen Miller scored from third base on a groundout by Trey Harris.
I caught the first few innings of this one and got to see Mitch Stallings in action… and boy, did he look good early on in his outing.
Scoreless after 3 innings in game two tonight.
Atlanta native @MitchStallings has 5 K's through 3.0 flawless innings in his M-Braves debut. pic.twitter.com/nUpyExNDzz
— Mississippi Braves (@mbraves) May 7, 2021
Stallings was sitting at 92 MPH with his fastball last night, and as the clip above shows, he did a nice job of elevating his heater for swings and misses. However, it’s as if suddenly his pitches became beach balls in the 4th inning. Stallings’ sequence in the 4th went like this…
- Single (two runs score)
- End of start
Stallings line shouldn’t have looked the way it did, but with bases loaded and reliever Kurt Hoekstra clearly not on his game Thursday night, Pensacola just poured it on by scoring three more runs in the inning — three of which were from runners left on base by Stallings — from a sac fly, two singles and two wild pitches by Hoekstra. So don’t let the five earned runs by Stalling mislead you because the kid had a nice outing.
A+ — Rome Braves (3-0)
W, 5-2 vs. Winston-Salem
- SP, R. DeVito: 5 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 6 K
- LF, A. Moritz: 2 for 5, 2 RBI
- 1B, B. Ball: 1 for 4, 2B, R
Even without perhaps the team’s hottest hitter so far this season — catcher Logan Brown — Rome’s offense found a way to deliver its third win in a row on Thursday.
It took a while, but Braves right fielder Shean Michel got the lineup rolling in the 6th inning when he led off with a double to center. Two batters later, Andrew Mortiz added on with a single, followed by another hot hitter, Riley Delgado, who knocked Michel in with an RBI single. The next frame featured another lead-off double as first baseman Bryce Ball kicked off the 7th with a double to center. A walk by Rusber Estrada — filling in for Brown at catcher — set up an RBI for Beau Philip, who also doubled. Three batters later, Rome would tack on two more runs, thanks to a two-run single by Moritz, who had himself a solid game with the bat.
Rickey DeVito has found himself on a few Braves prospect lists over the last couple of seasons, and he showed why on Thursday night when he struck out six and walked just one in his five-inning start for Rome. All five hits allowed by DeVito were singles, and the 22-year-old righty was super efficient, needing only 68 pitches to get through 21 Winston-Salem batters.
This Rome team has some real talent, and last night showed it can do more than just score a ton of runs. After DeVito departed, relievers Coleman Huntley and Trey Riley worked the final four frames, combining for one run allowed from three hits with three strikeouts as the former picked up the win and the latter the save.
A — Augusta GreenJackets (2-1)
GM 1: W, 1-0 vs. Columbia Fireflies
GM 2: L, 5-0 vs. Columbia Fireflies
GAME 1 / BOX SCORE
- SP, D. Vines: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 K
- RF, D. Campbell: 1 for 3, RBI
- RP, K. Wells: 2 ⅓ IP, 4 K
I hate I missed this one as Augusta walked it off in the first game of its doubleheader on Thursday, thanks to an RBI single by lead-off hitter Drew Campbell in the 7th, which came after back-to-back walks, a hit-by-pitch, and a double-play.
23-year-old righty Darius Vines was given the start in the first game, and three singles was all Columbia could muster against him as he avoided trouble in his 67-pitch outing; the Fireflies put six base runners on during Vines’ start but couldn’t capitalize.
GAME 2 / BOX SCORE
- SP, T. Owens: (L), 2 IP, 3 H, ER, 3 K
- DH, W. Carter: 1 for 2, 2B, BB
- C, J. Valdes: 1 for 2, 2B
Augusta’s bats didn’t have it in the second game, logging just two hits overall as Columbia’s starter A.J. Block — an unranked prospect in the Royals system — tossed a one-hitter through four innings, featuring eight strikeouts.
Many in Braves Country were looking forward to seeing the 20-year-old Tyler Owens make his GreenJackets debut, but the righty’s outing lasted just 43 pitches across two innings. Owens came out to work the 3rd and pitched pretty well up to that point, but a lead-off single by Columbia apparently was enough for Augusta’s manager as Owens got the hook.
GreenJackets reliever Peyton Williams quickly turned a tied ball game into a 2-0 game after entering and immediately hit a batter, balked, allowed a sac-fly, walked a batter, and then served up an RBI double… all in one inning.
Friday’s MiLB slate
Gwinnett @ Charlotte (7:04 PM) / SP, Tucker Davidson
Pensacola @ Mississippi (7:35 PM) / SP, Odalvi Javier
Rome @ Winston-Salem (7:00 PM) / SP, Jared Shuster
Columbia @ Augusta (7:05 PM) / TBA
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