Braves 2021 Farm Report: Orlando Arcia leads Gwinnett to victory while Victor Vodnik racks up the strikeouts for Rome

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Friday featured another doubleheader down on the farm, this time for Mississippi at the Double-A level.

Down in High-A, Rome couldn’t come through with the win, but we certainly got a good look at one of the system’s most explosive pitching prospects. In fact, there were several strong pitching performances yesterday for the Braves minor league system.

 

AAA – Gwinnett Stripers (7-3)

W, 2-1 vs. Louisville 

  • SP, J. De La Cruz – 3 IP, H, 3 K
  • SS, O. Arcia – 2 for 4, HR, 2B, RBI, SB
  • RP, J. Rodriguez – 4 IP, H, ER, BB, 3 K

BOX SCORE

With outfielder Guillermo Heredia making his first rehab appearance in Gwinnett (playing center field and batting second in the lineup), the Stripers sneaked by Louisville with a clutch home run late in the game on Friday.

Heading into Gwinnett’s half of the 8th tied at one apiece, with the Stripers getting a run in the 4th from a sac-fly by Sean Kazmar and the Bats getting theirs from a 5th-inning solo-homer, both Drew Waters and Phillip Ervin struck out to put Orlando Arcia at the plate with two outs. The slugging shortstop did what he’s been doing all season long and belted a 3-2 fastball over the wall to give Gwinnett a 2-1 lead…

 

Arcia’s six home runs in 2021 leads Triple-A’s East division. 

In the final inning, Louisville led off with a single, but Kazmar and Arcia hooked up for a clutch 3-6-3 double-play to remove the threat and any comeback attempt by the Bats.

With his first two games this season featuring him as a reliever, it was good to see righty Jasseel De La Cruz get the start on Friday. Not surprisingly, De La Cruz was on a pretty short leash pitch-count wise as his day was over after just 35 pitches, though he was super efficient, only throwing 10 balls during his outing. A single in the 2nd was all the Bats could manage versus De La Cruz.

Jose Rodriguez replaced De La Cruz for the 4th and he wound up tallying four innings and striking out three. The aforementioned solo-homer was Rodriguez’s only mistake. Mitch Horacek and Victor Arano worked the 8th and 9th, with the former earning the win and the latter the save. 

 


AA – Mississippi Braves (4-6)

GM 1: L, 3-2 vs. Biloxi 

GM 2: W, 2-0 vs. Biloxi 

 

GAME 1 / BOX SCORE 

  • SP, V. Vodnik – (L), 3 ⅓ IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
  • C, S. Langeliers – 1 for 3, HR, RBI
  • CF, J. Dean – 2 for 2, 2B, R, SB

The first three innings were quiet in Game 1 of Mississippi’s double-header versus Biloxi, although catcher Shea Langeliers opened up the scoring in the 4th when he blasted his third home run of the season…

 

But the M-Braves lead didn’t last long as the Shuckers answered with three runs of their own in the bottom-half of the 4th to take a 3-1 lead. After nothing for either team in the 5th, Justin Dean led off the 6th inning with a double to left, and following a flyout by Braden Shewmake, Trey Harris put Mississippi within one run with an RBI single to right…

 

Neither Greyson Jenista nor Langeliers could keep the rally going, though, and the bottom or the M-Braves lineup went down quietly in the 7th. 

One of my favorite pitching prospects in the Braves system, righty Victor Vodnik started Friday’s first game and boy did he impress right out of the gate as he notched a pair of strikeouts in the 1st…

 

The Shuckers just simply couldn’t catch up with Vodnik’s high heat, and the M-Braves 21-year-old began racking up the punch outs early, with two strikeouts in the 1st, two in the 2nd and three in the 3rd.

 

But Vodnik’s 4th went bad as two singles, two walks and a double spoiled his impressive start. Relievers Troy Bacon and Kurt Hoekstra finished up the final 2 ⅔ innings. 

 

GAME 2 / BOX SCORE

  • SP, O. Javier – 3 ⅓ IP, 3 H, BB, 7 K
  • LF, T. Neslony – 2 for 3, HR, RBI 
  • CF, J. Dean – 1 for 4, 2B

Following a pair of walks in the 2nd inning, Mississippi got on the board in Friday’s Game 2 with a sac-fly by Jalen Miller, taking an early 1-0 lead. Fast-forward to the 6th, still leading 1-0, and Tyler Neslony led off the frame with a big fly to right for his first homer of the 2021 campaign, giving the M-Braves a 2-0 lead and eventually the shutout win…

 

Like Vodnik in Game 1, Odalvi Javier had Biloxi batters off balance as he struck out four Shuckers through just the first two frames. Back-to-back singles to lead off the 4th, followed by a strikeout, ended Javier’s day, but his 68-pitch outing was a strong one and allowed Mississippi’s bats time to get going. 

 

Sean McLaughlin earned the win with his 1 ⅔ innings of hitless ball, and Josh Graham converted the six-out save. 

 


A+ – Rome Braves (6-4)

L, 5-3 vs. Greensboro 

  • SP, A. Rangel – (L), 4 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, HR
  • C, L. Brown – 2 for 3, RBI, BB
  • RP, L. Santos – 2 IP, 3 K

BOX SCORE

Friday’s game was a rough one for Rome’s bats as Greensboro’s starter Michael Burrows — the Pirates 28th ranked prospect, per FanGraphs — tossed four innings of one-hit ball, including seven strikeouts.

The R-Braves found themselves down 5-0 after four, thanks to a sac-fly, a home run, a single and an RBI groundout by Greensboro.

 

However, in the 5th, following a walk by Beau Philip and a single by Shean Michel, Rome finally got on the board as Cody Milligan hit a grounder in the infield that scored Philip. And two batters later, Michel stole home to make it a three-run game. But Rome just never got enough hits to do much else during the latter-half of the game. An RBI single by Logan Brown in the 8th cut the Grasshoppers lead to three, but in the final frame (save for a walk by Garrison Schwartz), the R-Braves offense went down quietly. 

Rome’s starter, Alan Rangel, dealt with base runners seemingly throughout his entire outing on Friday as his only three-up-three-down inning was the 3rd. The 23-year-old righty will carry a 6.00 ERA into his third start next week. 

Luis Santos and Kasey Kalich pitched well out of Rome’s bullpen, combining for just one hit allowed and four strikeouts in the game’s final four innings. 

 


 

A – Augusta GreenJackets (4-5)

W, 10-2 vs. Myrtle Beach 

  • SP, S. Strider – 3 IP, 7 K
  • SS, C. Shepherd – 2 for 4, 2 2B, 4 RBI, SB
  • LF, B. Parker – 3 for 4, RBI, 2 R

BOX SCORE

The first two innings featured zeroes for both Augusta and Myrtle Beach, but the GreenJackets opened up the scoring in the 3rd when Cade Bunnell led off with a walk and Cam Shepherd knocked him in with an RBI double.

Augusta then sent nine batters to the plate in the 4th inning, which ended with five more runs for the GreenJackets as this time Shepherd slapped a three-run double, followed by an RBI single from Brandon Parker and an RBI double by Landon Stephens.

Two runs by the Pelicans in the 7th made it a 6-2 game, but Augusta added on in the 9th with four more runs thanks to four walks and another RBI by Bunnell. 

Spencer Strider, last year’s 4th round pick, made his pro debut on Friday and pitched about as good as you could ask for given it was his first start, working three hitless innings and walking none to go with seven strikeouts. I don’t have any video from yesterday, but Braves prospect guru David Lee got a good look at Strider and liked what he saw with the kid’s fastball…

 

At just 22-years-old, Strider could be a big time prospect and a much-needed one at the lower levels of Atlanta’s minor league system. 

Reliever Ben Thompson picked up the win for the GreenJackets, pitching three innings of two-hit ball after replacing Strider. Gabriel Rodriguez, Zach Seipel and Carter Linton covered the final three frames, combining for two earned runs from three hits, including four strikeouts.

 

Saturday’s MiLB slate (May 15)

Louisville @ Gwinnett – 6:05 PM / TBD

Mississippi @ Biloxi – 7:35 PM / SP, Matt Withrow 

Rome @ Greensboro – 6:30 PM / SP, Bryce Elder

GM 1: Augusta @ Myrtle Beach – 4:00 PM / SP, Chad Bryant

GM 2: Augusta @ Myrtle Beach – after GM 1 / SP, Darius Vines 

 

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