Braves 2021 Farm Report: CJ Alexander leads the scorching-hot Mississippi Braves to victory

Vaughn Grissom

Thursday featured yet another offensive party for the M-Braves, though a different top-30 prospect orchestrated it. If you ever want a little break from the immense frustration of watching Atlanta this season, spend an evening checking out the organization’s Double-A club. Following last night’s win, Mississippi has now won six of its last seven games. 

To Thursday’s recap…

 

Gwinnett Stripers (15-12)

L, 6-2 vs. Jacksonville 

  • SP, B. Wilson – (L), 5 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 6 K
  • PH, R. Casteel – 1 for 1, HR, 2 RBI
  • CF, C. Pache – 1 for 5, 2B

BOX SCORE

Entering last night, righty Bryse Wilson owned a solid 3.18 ERA in his first three starts this season, but it had come while allowing too much contact so far (19 hits allowed in 17 innings), which suggested that perhaps he had been benefiting from some good luck on batted balls. Well, all of that good fortune came back to bite him in the opening inning of Thursday’s start as Jacksonville sent six batters to the plate and strung together three singles to go up 1-0. But Wilson was nearly perfect following that 1st frame. In fact, from the 2nd inning on, the righty didn’t allow a hit while striking out five and walking three.

The Jumbo Shrimp put the game out of reach in the 6th when they scored four runs, but the Stripers mounted a respectable comeback the very next inning, thanks to a lead-off single by Travis Snider, a two-run home run by Ryan Casteel, and a double by Cristian Pache. However, Orlando Arcia and Johan Camargo both flew out to end the surge, still down 5-2. 

Three Atlanta relievers made appearances last night. Jesse Biddle worked the 7th and was filthy with a 14-pitch, one-two-three inning that featured three strikeouts. Shane Green pitched the 8th and allowed one run from two hits. And Jacob Webb handled the 9th, striking out two to go with one hit allowed. 

Prospect outfielder Drew Waters continued his hot hitting as he finished 1 for 4 with three walks. Veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy also added a base hit and a walk.

 


 

Mississippi Braves (14-13)

W, 5-2 vs. Pensacola 

  • SP, O. Javier – (W), 5 ⅓ IP, H, 4 BB, 4 K
  • 3B, C. Alexander – 2 for 5, 2 2B, 2 RBI
  • 2B, W. Rijo – 2 for 4, HR, 2 RBI

BOX SCORE 

There’s not a more exciting team to watch in the organization right now than the Mississippi Braves, who received contributions up and down the lineup on Thursday night.

Once again, it was catcher Shea Langeliers that kick-started this M-Braves offense as he drove a two-out single to right. But it was third baseman CJ Alexander — another hot-hitter of late — that drove Langeliers in with a line-drive double to left to put Mississippi up 1-0 in the 1st. 

 

In the 3rd, with the M-Braves still up by one, Alexander struck again with his second double of the evening when he stayed back beautifully on a 2-2 breaking ball. Justin Dean, who led off the frame with a walk and wound up at third following a groundout and stolen base, scored off Alexander’s two-bagger.

 

Mississippi added its third run of the game in the 4th. Following a walk by Greyson Jenista and a force-out by Wendell Rijo, the M-Braves put runners on the corners when Jacob Pearson singled to right. With two outs, Dean came to the plate and went oppo on a tough pitch, driving a line drive to right and scoring Rijo and nearly Pearson. But the latter was thrown out when Pensacola’s shortstop cut off the throw from the outfield.

 

After another free pass for Jenista, Rijo provided the dagger in the 6th, jumping all over a first-pitch, get-me-over strike for a long home run.

https://twitter.com/mbraves/status/1400625863222255620?s=19

 

The Blue Wahoos JJ Bleday gave Pensacola two runs in the final inning when he slugged a two-run homer off Mississippi’s Daysbel Hernandez, but the prospect reliever bounced back and put down the next two batters to preserve the win.

 

There’s a lot to take in from this game, and I could probably write another 500 words on a few lesser-known M-Braves hitters that are performing well so far this season (like Wendell Rijo), plus details regarding last night’s starter Odalvi Javier. But I’ll cap this one off here with an update on prospect Braden Shewmake’s continued misery. After appearing to be turning things around possibly, Shewmake turned in another 0 for 5 performance on Thursday, his 15th (!) hitless finish in just 22 games so far in 2021. I truly feel terrible for this kid. 

 


 

Rome Braves (15-12)

L, 3-1 vs. Bowling Green 

  • SP, B. Elder – 6 IP, 5 H, R, 10 K
  • CF, M. Harris – 2 for 4, SB
  • 3B, K. Josephina – 2 for 4, 2B, R, SB 

BOX SCORE 

Rome scratched across a run in the opening inning Thursday, thanks to a double by Kevin Josephina and a single by Michael Harris. The base hit by Harris pushed Josephina to third, and during Bryce Ball’s at-bat, the speedy duo pulled off a rare double-steal resulting in Josephina crossing the plate. Unfortunately, that was all the offense the R-Braves could muster as the lineup really spoiled a gem pitched by starter Bryce Elder.

The 22-year-old Elder has been a helluva success during his short pro career, which continued last night. The former 5th round pick flew through the first two frames of his start before giving up his first hit in the 3rd. Elder worked around back-to-back singles in the 4th and a base-hit in the 5th but still managed to punch out four batters combined in those two frames, remaining unscathed. However, a one-out double and an error by Rome’s infield ruined Elder’s shutout, and in turn, his shot at a win. Still, the righty finished with a career-high 10 strikeouts and needed just 85 pitches to finish six innings. See ya in Mississippi soon, Bryce.

Following a hitless 7th from reliever Gabriel Noguera, and with the game still tied at one apiece, Kasey Kalich surrendered the go-ahead runs in the 8th that gave Bowling Green the win. 

Roster note: prior to last night’s game, Rome infielder Riley Delgado was activated from the IL, and righty Luis Mora was placed on the Temporarily Inactive List. 

 


 

Augusta GreenJackets (12-15)

L, 7-0 vs. Charleston 

  • SP, R. Munoz – (L), 1 ⅔ IP, 4 H, 4 ER, BB, 3 K
  • RF, W. Carter – 1 for 3, BB, SB
  • RP, B. Thompson – 2 IP, BB, 4 K

BOX SCORE 

The GreenJackets winning streak was snapped at three last night as starter Roddery Munoz got chased in the 2nd from a four-run explosion by the RiverDogs. 

 

After working around just a single in the opening inning, Munoz allowed two straight singles to start the 2nd, which following a walk, quickly loaded up the bases. A mound visit seemed to have helped the young righty collect himself as he proceeded to strikeout the next two batters, but following a second mound visit, Charleston’s Abiezel Ramirez slapped a two-out, line-drive triple to right to empty the bases and put Augusta down 3-0. Reliever Zach Seipel then relieved Munoz and immediately allowed an RBI double, and from then on, the GreenJackets went down without much of a fight.

It was tough sledding versus Charleston’s starter on Thursday as 21-year-old righty Cole Wilcox — the Rays no. 21 prospect, per FanGraphs — tossed five innings of one-hit ball, including six strikeouts and two walks. The RiverDogs bullpen was impressive as well. Following Wilcox’s gem, three relievers held Augusta to just two hits to go with seven more punch outs. 

 

The weekend begins today, and already three pitchers have been announced for Friday’s action down on the farm. Mississippi’s A.J. Puckett (3.24 ERA) will try to keep the momentum going for the M-Braves; Rome will go with Tanner Gordon (3.79 ERA), and Augusta will shoot for a bounce-back performance out of Tyler Owens (9.28 ERA). 

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