The Braves played two split-squad games on Wednesday against the Tigers and Marlins. Facing Detroit was Touki Toussaint, perhaps the favorite among the young arms to own a rotation spot on Opening Day. His first two starts of spring training left a lot to be desired, but his third one looked much like the guy who pitched well enough to earn a place on the playoff roster last season.
In three innings of work, Toussaint did not allow a single hit while striking out four. He did walk one and was relieved by Arodys Vizcaino in the fourth. It was easily the smoothest outing we have seen from him this spring, adding more fuel to the fire in the race for the final spots in the rotation.
It’s beginning to look more likely that two of the Braves young guns could occupy rotation spots, and maybe even three, depending on the health of Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman. Kyle Wright has excited all of Braves Country with his spring thus far. Max Fried was fantastic for Atlanta last year and became a go-to option out of the pen during the Braves playoff run. After Toussaint’s outing tonight, it’s going to be tough for Brian Snitker to send any of them to AAA.
The Braves would beat the Tigers 8-2 behind a grand slam from Freddie Freeman. It won’t count in his career statistics, but it had to be a unique feeling for Freeman, who has yet to hit a grand slam in his big league career.
In the other game, an outside candidate for the Opening Day rotation – Bryse Wilson was on the hump. The 20-year old made his debut in the majors last year after skyrocketing through levels of the minors. In that outing, he was imposing, going five shutout innings and earning the win. Wilson’s two other relief appearances were not as pleasant.
He looked like the man who made his debut today, allowing one hit in three shutout innings. Following him in the game was Kyle Muller, another Braves prospect who has dazzled this spring. He’s currently not on the MLB’s Top 100 prospects list, but he’s a good bet to be a riser on that list by this time next year, and it is not out of the question that he reaches the majors this season.
The 6’6″, 240-pound southpaw also allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out two in two innings. That gives Muller seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings this spring. Wilson and Muller’s five innings of combined work led to a shutout of the Marlins and a 4-0 win.
Other notable performers in that game were Austin Riley and Drew Waters, who both went 1-2 with a single; Christian Pache went 2-3 with a single and a double, and Charlie Culberson had two hits in two tries.