Braves 2021 Farm Report: Victor Vodnik continues to overpower in Mississippi

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Friday night was a fun night for sure. The Braves unleashed an offensive furry on the Pirates, beating them 20-1 with seven homers, and despite losing three of four, there were some strong performances down on the farm.

Here’s a look at Braves minor league action from Friday…

 

AAA – Gwinnett Stripers (9-7)

L, 3-2 vs. Nashville

  • SP, K. Muller – 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, HR
  • SS, O. Arcia – 1 for 5, SB
  • J. Camargo – 1 for 3, BB

BOX SCORE

This one had the early looks of a shootout. Following two-straight strikeouts to begin the game, Gwinnett’s starter Kyle Muller found himself in a bit of trouble in the 1st when he walked a batter and allowed a single to the Sounds’ Keston Hiura. With runners on first and second, Nashville’s Hernan Perez got to Muller for the team’s first run of the game…

That’s alright because we know how quick Gwinnett can counter… and they did. Following a groundout by Travis Demeritte to lead off the Stripers’ half of the 1st, Abraham Almonte drew a walk and then wound up reaching second because of an errant pick-off throw soon after. This little advancement proved valuable as it allowed the next batter, Sean Kazmar Jr., to knock in Almonte with a single to left, tying the game. But the Stripers weren’t done. Two batters later, Muller decided to help himself. With Kazmar still on second, Gwinnett’s starting pitcher shot a bullet just over the shortstop to score the veteran Kazmar and make it a 2-1 ball game.

However, home runs are better, and the Stripers actually hit none on Friday. In the 4th, Nashville’s Hiura (who’s really supposed to be in the majors somewhere at this point) homered to tie things back up at two on what looked like a ball Muller just lobbed in there at 80 MPH…

https://twitter.com/nashvillesounds/status/1395905412529016832?s=20

Muller really started to fall apart in the 5th. After walking Dee Strange-Gordon (another big leaguer), Gwinnett’s southpaw proceeded to toss back-to-back wild pitches, allowing Gordon to advance each time. If you weren’t keeping up, that puts the speedy Gordon at third base by the time Muller finally throws another competitive pitch. And of course, Gordon scores as the Sounds’ Tim Lopes lifts a sac-fly to score the game’s final run.

Daysbel Hernandez, Jay Flaa, and Jesse Chavez all worked the final 3.2 innings, combining to allow just one hit and strike out five.

 


 

AA – Mississippi Braves (6-10)

L, 4-1 vs. Chattanooga

  • SP, V. Vodnik – 6.2 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 6 K
  • 3B, W. Rijo – 2 for 4, 2B, RBI
  • SS, R. Unroe – 3 for 4

BOX SCORE

The first six innings of this one were quick and to the point as Mississippi’s righty Victor Vodnik and Chattanooga’s lefty Reiver Sanmartin battled it out on the mound. Through four frames, both starters had combined for eight strikeouts while pitching around just five hits and a walk.

https://twitter.com/mbraves/status/1395900979380428800?s=20

And the dominance didn’t just stop there for Vodnik as he wrapped up his outing with two hitless frames in the 4th and 5th to give him his best start of the 2021 season and by far his longest innings-wise. The former 14th-round pick needed just 81 pitches to get through 23 batters, inducing nine groundouts compared to just three flyouts. That’s now back-to-back outings with six or more strikeouts as Vodnik will enter his next start with 19 punch outs over his first 14 innings, including a solid 2.57 ERA.

Vodnik started to tire in the 7th, and after getting the first two batters to fly out and groundout, he allowed the next two to reach base, including an RBI single that put the Lookouts up 1-0. Reliever Chris Nunn came in for the M-Braves’ starter with two outs in the 7th and a runner on second and got the team out of the jam by striking out the first batter he faced. Chattanooga’s lead wouldn’t last long. In Mississippi’s half of the 7th, with two outs and following back-to-back walks by Shea Langeliers and Drew Lugbauer, Wendell Rijo came up clutch with a double to left, scoring Langeliers — tying the game at one apiece.

However, in the 8th, Nunn would eventually walk a batter with bases loaded, and then in the 9th, Chattanooga would push two runs across to put the game out of reach. It wasn’t a great day for the M-Braves bullpen as Nunn and Josh Graham combined to allow three runs (one earned) from three hits in the final 2.1 innings, with Nunn earning the loss. But it still shouldn’t take away how great Vodnik was.

 


 

A+ – Rome Braves (10-6)

W, 6-1 vs. Bowling Green

  • SP, B. Elder – (W) 6.1 IP, 5 H, ER, 7 K
  • CF, M. Harris – 1 for 4, 2B, RBI
  • SS, B. Philip – 1 for 4, 2B, R, SB

BOX SCORE

Rome’s starter on Friday, Bryce Elder, flew through the opening frame. Then the R-Braves offense came out swinging in the bottom half of the 1st as Garrison Schwartz and Riley Delgado singled before star prospect Michael Harris turned on a 2-2 fastball for an RBI double to put Rome up 1-0 early. Elder settled into a groove for the rest of his outing, pitching around a hit-by-pitch and a single in the 2nd before setting Bowling Green down in order in the 3rd and 4th. The R-Braves added a second run in the 5th. Beau Philip led off the frame with a double, stole third base, and then scored from an errant throw by the Hot Rods’ catcher.

After Elder worked around a lead-off single in the top of the 6th, Rome’s offense turned three singles and a fielding error into three runs in the bottom half of the inning, making it 5-0. Elder got a little wild in the 7th, surrendering a lead-off double and then throwing a wild pitch to allow the runner to advance to third. Still, the righty bounced back with one more strikeout before getting the hook and being replaced by reliever Davis Schwab, who allowed the base runner at third to score when Bowling Green hit a ground out in the infield. Garrison Schwartz scored the sixth and final run for Rome in the 7th when he crossed home plate on a wild pitch. Marrick Crouse pitched the final frame for the R-Braves, striking out two.

For the 22-year-old Elder, Friday’s excellence gives him 26 strikeouts through his first 19.2 innings this season, including a solid 3.66 ERA.

 


 

A – Augusta GreenJackets (7-9)

L, 11-10 vs. Fayetteville

  • SP, R. Munoz – 4 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, BB, 7 K, HR
  • 2B/1B, B. Vasquez – 1 for 4, HR, 2 RBI
  • SS, C. Bunnell – 1 for 2, R, SB, 3 RBI

BOX SCORE 

This game got crazy as Fayetteville wound up with 14 hits on Friday. Augusta’s starter Roddery Munoz made quick work of the Woodpeckers in the 1st, striking out the side, but he ran into trouble in the 2nd when he allowed a lead-off single, made a bad pick-off throw then surrendered an RBI single. Although the GreenJackets answered quickly in their half of the 2nd as Stephen Paolini led off with a walk, Braulio Vasquez put two runs on the board with a two-run home run. Later in the inning, Cade Bunnell scored from a wild pitch, and Augusta was up 3-1 through two.

But over the next three innings, Fayetteville scored three unanswered runs (plus two more in the 5th) as Munoz allowed a homer, two singles, and a walk over the final 10 batters he faced. The 21-year-old righty was done after just four frames, now giving him back-to-back poor outings this season after impressing everyone in his first start of 2021.

The GreenJackets would send out five relievers following Munoz. They all combined to allow seven runs (two earned) from nine hits, including four walks and six strikeouts, as both Augusta and Fayetteville wound up engaging in a shootout.

Entering the 8th, down 11-7, the GreenJackets almost mounted an impressive comeback when they sent eight batters to the plate. The game was almost handed to them as Paolini, Vasquez, Cody Birdsong and Bryson Horne were all walked consecutively, scoring Paolini in the process. Later in the inning, Augusta added two more runs when Willie Carter put a ground ball in play with runners on second and third, and both scored from an error by the Woodpeckers. However, the GreenJackets couldn’t muster just one more run to push the game into extras.

 

 

As of Saturday morning, Braves minor league probable pitchers for today appear to be Odalvi Javier (1.42 ERA) for Mississippi and Tanner Gordon (2.79 ERA) for Rome. Gwinnett and Augusta’s scheduled starters will be announced as we get closer to this evening’s games.

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