We’ve entered the first weekend of the 2021 Minor League Baseball season, and thanks to Gwinnett, the Braves avoided an organizational shut-out on Friday as the Stripers were the only team to win their game… and when I say win… I mean, they won BIG.
Here are the recaps from Friday…
AAA – Gwinnett Stripers (3-1)
W, 19-1 vs. Charlotte Knights
- SP, T. Davidson – 7 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 6 K, HR
- RF, A. Almonte – 3 for 5, HR (GS), 6 RBI
- C, J. Morales – 2 for 6, HR, 5 RBI
Ok, so check out how Friday’s game between Gwinnett and Charlotte began. Here’s the Stripers batting the top of 1st inning…
- Ender Inciarte – groundout
- Ryan Goins – single to CF
- Orlando Arcia – single to CF (Goins to 2B)
- Johan Camargo – single to CF (Goins to 3B / Arcia to 2B)
- Abraham Almonte – grand slam
- Travis Snider – home run
- Mound visit
- Phillip Ervin – walk
- Yolmer Sanchez – triple to RF (Ervin scores)
- Mound visit
- Jonathan Morales – single to LF (Sanchez scores)
- Ender Inciarte – strikeout
- Mound visit
- Pitching change
- Ryan Goins – strikeout
As you can see, 11 Stripers came to the plate in the opening frame, scoring seven runs from seven hits, including this absolute bomb of a grand slam by Almonte…
Every marriage counselor will say the same thing: COMMUNICATION IS KEY. Abraham Almonte was forced to step out of the box twice before this pitch because the catcher and pitcher weren't on the same page then he hit this four-run tater.
Moral of the story: talk to your partner. pic.twitter.com/xXAmMESk1l
— Gwinnett Stripers (@GoStripers) May 7, 2021
Almonte is scorching right now, hitting .385 with a 1.222 OPS through his first four games this season, including nine RBI. This was definitely a good pickup by the Braves, who signed Almonte to a non-guaranteed MLB deal back in October of last year.
Gwinnett’s seven-run 1st inning would obviously be enough for the win on Friday night, but the Stripers added one more in the 3rd when Inciarte doubled home Sanchez. In the 4th, following another single by Camargo, Almonte slapped an RBI single of his own to give Gwinnett nine unanswered runs. The 8th inning featured two more runs as Camargo scored from a fielding error and Morales hit an RBI groundout in the infield. And even with a 13-1 lead going into the 9th, the Stripers still weren’t done, scoring six more in the final frame to break the team record for largest margin of victory… at 18 runs. Gwinnett’s 19 runs overall tied the team record for most runs scored in a single game.
So obviously, lefty starter Tucker Davidson had it made, for when he finally entered the bottom of the 1st inning, he already had a seven-run lead to work with. But it really wouldn’t have mattered either way because Davidson dominated. The prospect pitcher faced the minimum in three of his seven innings last night and never faced more than five batters in a single frame.
Tucker Davidson is mowing down batters through five thanks in part to defensive plays like this by Orlando Arcia. pic.twitter.com/80Igi2z7bF
— Gwinnett Stripers (@GoStripers) May 8, 2021
It was efficient pitching, and Davidson kept opposing batters at bay with plenty of swings and misses, not to mention nine groundouts on the night. Reliever Chasen Bradford took care of both the 8th and 9th innings, striking out two and allowing no runs and no hits.
AA – Mississippi Braves (0-3
L, 3-2 vs. Pensacola Blue Wahoos
- SP, O. Javier – 3 IP, H, ER, 5 BB, 4 K
- C, S. Langeliers – 1 for 4, 2B, 2 K
- RP, S. White – 2 IP, BB, 3 K
Mississippi got on the board Friday when, in the 2nd inning with the bases loaded, second baseman Wendell Rijo popped a sac-fly out to left to score Greyson Jenista. The next batter, shortstop Braden Shewmake, came to the plate and drew a walk, pushing across a second run, giving the M-Braves a 2-1 advantage through two innings. However, Mississippi couldn’t hold onto the lead as Pensacola put up a pair of runs in the 6th to eventually win the game.
Catcher Shea Langeliers wound up having himself a solid game last night, slapping his first double of the season…
— Mississippi Braves (@mbraves) May 8, 2021
Langeliers also threw out a would-be base stealer trying to take third in the 7th inning…
Another @Langeliers23 caught stealing! This time on a strike him out, throw him out to end the inning.
End 7 | PNS 3, M-Braves 2 pic.twitter.com/NL3jwdhqsh
— Mississippi Braves (@mbraves) May 8, 2021
Righty Odalvi Javier, 24-years-old, got the start for Mississippi on Friday, and despite some poor control evident in his four walks, he managed to toss a one-hitter through three innings. Javier only threw 28 strikes (of 61 pitches), but a 1st-inning sac-fly was really his only mistake of the outing. Matt Hartman and Brooks Wilson worked the 4th thru 7th innings, while Hartman was tagged with the loss as he allowed two runs and walked four. Brandon White tossed a near-perfect 8th and 9th, walking one and striking out three.
A+ – Rome Braves (3-1)
L, 8-3 vs. Winston-Salem Dash
- SP, J. Shuster – 3.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K, HR
- DH, S. Michel – 2 for 3, 2 2B, RBI, 2 R
- RP, G. Noguera – 1.1 IP, BB, 3 K
Rome’s offense was basically all about Shean Michel last night. In the 3rd, Michel doubled but advanced to third base because of a throwing error by Winston-Salem. Michel would score in the next at-bat when Cody Milligan popped up a sac-fly in the outfield. Then in the 5th inning, after a single to right field by Beau Philip (who stole second base), Michel drove another double to left to score Philip to tie the game at two. Later in the same inning, Michel would score from a wild pitch, giving Rome the lead. Although a three-run homer in Winston-Salem’s half of the 5th, followed by a three-run double in the 7th, allowed the Dash to pull away and give the R-Braves their first loss of the season.
One of the Braves 2020 draft picks, 22-year-old lefty Jared Shuster, started for Rome on Friday. Shuster allowed a home run in the 1st and ran into some trouble in the 2nd (pitching around a single, a double, an RBI groundout, and a walk), but bounced back in the 3rd by facing the minimum and striking out two. It wasn’t the cleanest outing, but Shuster was super efficient on Friday, throwing only 16 balls out of 56 total pitches. It was certainly a strong pro debut for Shuster.
Tanner Lawson, Davis Schwab, Corbin Clouse, and Gabriel Noguera all worked the final 4.2 innings and provided mixed results. Lawson was hit with the loss after allowing three runs (including a homer) from three hits in 1.1 innings, and Clouse couldn’t even manage to get an out as he allowed a run and walked two. However, Noguera got the last four outs for Rome and looked sharp, walking one and striking out three.
A – Augusta GreenJackets (2-2)
L, 12-2 vs. Columbia Fireflies
- SP, C. Bryant – 3.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
- DH, W. Carter – 1 for 2, RBI, 2 BB
- CF, S. Paolini – 0 for 3, RBI, BB
Despite managing a respectable total of seven hits on Friday, Augusta’s offense was quiet, scoring just two runs from two different bases-loaded walks in the 3rd inning. The offense being off is one thing, but the GreenJackets must do something about containing runners on the base paths. Basically running at will, Columbia stole nine (!) bases last night, which along with their 13 hits, of course, allowed the Fireflies to cruise to an easy win.
The 21-year-old righty, Chad Bryant, started for Augusta on Friday, and despite the blowout loss, there’s a lot to like about this kid. The two earned runs is a bit misleading as that second run came after Bryant had left the ballgame. Overall, though, Bryant showed some nice stuff and generated plenty of swings and misses, shown by his seven punch-outs in just 3.1 frames. Really, his worst inning was perhaps the 2nd when he faced five Columbia batters, but even then — having allowed a single and a double — Bryant bounced back and got to strikeouts. I’m interested to see him in his next outing for sure.
The GreenJackets bullpen was a disaster as four relievers combined to allow 10 runs (eight earned) from 10 hits to go with six walks and just five strikeouts. Gabriel Rodriguez, who relieved Bryant in the 4th inning, had perhaps the worst night. Rodriguez never got an out, but he had already allowed six runs (four earned) and walked three batters before he was replaced. James Acuna, Alger Hodgson, and Benjamin Dum worked the final 5.2 innings.
Saturday’s MiLB slate (May 8)
Gwinnett @ Charlotte – 7:04 PM – SP, Jasseel De La Cruz
Pensacola @ Mississippi – 7:05 PM – SP, Victor Vodnik
Rome @ Winston-Salem – 6:00 PM – SP, Alan Rangel
Columbia @ Augusta – 6:05 PM – TBA