Braves: Another try for Gwinnett’s Kyle Wright and a fresh start for Mississippi’s Braden Shewmake

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The four Braves minor league clubs had their weekly off day on Monday, and now it’s time to start Week 4 of the minor league season. With 18-19 games completed for most of the clubs down on the farm, we’re beginning to learn a bit more about the organization’s prospects, and admittedly, there’s a bit of concern regarding a few. 

Hopefully, those who are still slow to get going this season can get things turned around this week. Here’s a look at the upcoming slate of games for all four of the Braves’ full-season minor league teams…

*All times are ET

AAA – Gwinnett Stripers (9-9 / 4th)

vs. Memphis Redbirds

  • Tue, May 25 – 7:05 PM
  • Wed, May 26 – 7:05 PM 
  • Thu, May 27 – 7:05 PM
  • Fri, May 28 – 7:05 PM 
  • Sat, May 29 – 6:05 PM 
  • Sun, May 30 – 1:05 PM 

The Stripers are back home following a series to forget in Nashville against the Sounds last week in which Gwinnett was swept in its six-game series. An offense that had been one of the best to start 2021, the Stripers were held to two or fewer runs in four of its losses last week. Hopefully, that high-power lineup can get back going. 

Righty Kyle Wright is slated to start Gwinnett’s series opener Tuesday versus Memphis in what needs to be a good outing for the former 1st-round pick. Wright, who currently sports a 6.75 ERA in three minor league starts in 2021, has already allowed 21 hits in his 14 ⅔ innings so far. The Huntsville, Alabama native has actually pitched better at the MLB level this season, which I guess is all that matters.

Going in similar directions of late, both shortstop Orlando Arcia and outfielder Drew Waters need a productive week this week. Starting the year scorching at the plate, Arcia is just 2 for his last 16 (.125 AVG), resulting in a drop in his season OPS from 1.124 down to .975 in his last four games. Meanwhile, Waters, who kicked off 2021 hitting just .188 during his first seven games, enjoyed a four-game stretch to begin last week in which he hit a crazy .643 with five XBH. The prospect outfielder has cooled quite a bit recently and ended the recent series just 1 for 14 (.071 AVG) over his last four games. 

 


 

AA – Mississippi Braves (7-11 / Last)

vs. Montgomery Biscuits

  • Tue, May 25 – 7:35 PM 
  • Wed, May 26 – 7:35 PM
  • Thu, May 27 – 7:35 PM
  • Fri, May 28 – 7:35 PM
  • Sat, May 29 – 7:05 PM
  • Sun, May 30 – 7:05 PM

Mississippi split its six-game series last week versus Chattanooga. Although, like Gwinnett, the offense was incredibly quiet as it averaged just 2.6 runs per game against the Lookouts. The M-Braves will look to crawl out of last place in the South Division this week. 

As of Monday night, Mississippi hadn’t officially tabbed a starter for Tuesday’s series opener versus Montgomery, though over the last two weeks, that duty has gone to 24-year-old righty Nolan Kingham. A former 12th-round pick by the Braves back in 2018, Kingham enters his fourth start of 2021 with a 5.06 ERA in 16 innings and is coming off his longest outing of the year from last week, when he pitched seven frames against the Lookouts. 

The real takeaway here, though, is how poor Mississippi’s lineup has performed of late. Notable underperformers right now include shortstop Braden Shewmake (.402 OPS this season), outfielder Trey Harris (.505 OPS), and third baseman CJ Alexander (.635 OPS). Those three guys really need a strong week at the plate.

 


 

A+ – Rome Braves (10-8 / 2nd)

vs. Greenville Drive

  • Tue, May 25 – 7:00 PM
  • Wed, May 26 – 7:00 PM
  • Thu, May 27 – 7:00 PM
  • Fri, May 28 – 7:00 PM
  • Sat, May 29 – 6:00 PM
  • Sun, May 30 – 2:00 PM

Rome also split its series last week, winning three against the top-ranked Hot Rods of Bowling Green, and so far, this has been one of, if not the most, fun team to watch play this season. This club is filled with young and exciting players.

Speaking of exciting players, the righty out of the University of Texas the Braves picked in the 5th round last year appears to be headed in that direction. 22-year-old Bryce Elder is slated to start Rome’s series opener on Tuesday versus Greenville. He’ll look to build off his outing from last week when he picked up his first win as a pro pitcher after going a season-high 6 ⅓ innings and striking out seven against Bowling Green. The power-pitching Elder already has 26 strikeouts in 19 ⅔ frames this season, an above-average of 11.9 K/9.

Solid pitching is great, but just how great of a campaign can prospect outfielder Michael Harris put together? After starting the 2021 season with a .280 AVG and .653 OPS in Week 1, the 20-year-old Harris hasn’t stopped raking on his way to a .410 AVG and 1.081 OPS since then, including at least one hit in nine of his last 10 games. This kid will continue to be the top storyline down on the farm as he just won’t cool off. 

 


 

A – Augusta GreenJackets (8-10 / 3rd)

vs. Columbia Fireflies 

  • Tue, May 25 – 7:05 PM
  • Wed, May 26 – 7:05 PM
  • Thu, May 27 – 7:05 PM 
  • Fri, May 28 – 7:05 PM
  • Sat, May 29 – 6:35 PM
  • Sun, May 30 – 5:05 PM 

Like Mississippi and Rome, Augusta also finished last week 3-3, battling it out in a few high-scoring games with Fayetteville as the offense averaged just over five runs per game (5.1). This upcoming series versus Columbia will be the GreenJackets’ second time facing the Fireflies; a team Augusta split its season-opening six-game series with.

Augusta has leaned towards righty Alec Barger as the team’s Tuesday starter this season, but he made a five-inning start this past Sunday — perhaps opening up a start for Roddery Munoz today, who hasn’t pitched since last Friday. The 21-year-old Munoz has two starts and one relief appearance this season, with better results as a starter. In his two starts, the Dominican pitcher has combined to allow just three runs from six hits to go with 14 strikeouts in eight innings; although out of the bullpen, Munoz has surrendered five runs from seven hits in five innings. The hard-throwing righty currently sports a 5.54 ERA. 

Augusta is offensively operating as a one-man show as outfielder Willie Carter is the lone batter in the GreenJackets’ lineup with an OPS north of .815. Carter’s current .300/.453/.460 slash-line is good for a .913 OPS, and the 24-year-old — former 34th-round pick — already has four multi-hit games this season. Though he hasn’t been as hot as Carter, shortstop Vaughn Grissom seems to be heating up. It has featured a ton of singles and hardly any power, but Grissom is hitting .367 over his last eight games, and despite just a .692 OPS this season, the 20-year-old currently sports a .293 AVG. 

 

Check back here at SportsTalkATL each morning for all of your Braves minor league recaps.

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