Rome Braves Playoff Preview: First Round vs. Asheville Tourists

William Beckwtih led Rome in doubles, homers, RBI, and total bases.

The Rome Braves were pitiful in the first half, finishing with a professional baseball worst record of 18-52, but a roster overhaul that led to them finishing the season with 6 players from this season's draft, and 1 who was signed as an undrafted free agent, saw them make a complete turnaround, winning the South Atlantic League Southern Division second half with a 44-24 record. Game 1 is tonight in Rome, followed by Game 2 Friday in Asheville and, if necessary, Game 3 Saturday in Asheville. Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons will make a rehab appearance with Rome tonight.

Projected Lineup

  1. CF Tony Mueller
  2. 2B Ross Heffley
  3. 1B William Beckwith
  4. LF Robby Hefflinger
  5. 3B Kyle Kubitza
  6. RF Chase Anselment
  7. DH Brandon Drury
  8. C Cory Brownsten
  9. SS Elmer Reyes

William Beckwith was the team's most consistent performer, leading the team in doubles, homers, RBI, and total bases while hitting .291 with a .838 OPS. Robby Hefflinger finished on a tear, hitting .323 with a 1.060 OPS, 10 doubles, 7 homers, and 29 RBI in 96 at bats after the start of August. Ross Heffley had a strong debut after getting drafted in the 18th round this year, hitting .296 with a .757 OPS, 13 doubles, 4 homers, 24 RBI, and 10 steals in 233 at bats. Tony Mueller led the team with 29 stolen bases. After hitting .248 with a .817 OPS in the first half, Kyle Kubitza struggled in the second half, hitting .229 with a .662 OPS.

We'll look at the rotation and bullpen after the break.

Projected Rotation

  1. RHP Navery Moore
  2. RHP Greg Ross
  3. RHP AJ Holland

Game 1 starter Navery Moore led the team with 8 wins, and while he had a 3.86 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP in 102.2 innings overall, he had a 3.44 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP in 65.1 innings over 13 starts. Greg Ross led the team with 131 innings and had a 7-9 record, a 4.60 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. He struggled in his final start, allowing 5 earned runs in 4 innings, but had a 1.77 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP in 20.1 innings over the 3 starts before that. AJ Holland was 5-9 with a 4.04 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP in 84.2 innings, but he was great in the second half, with a 2.31 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in 39 innings. The R-Braves will be without 2nd round draft pick Alex Wood, who was shut down after reaching his innings limit for the season, throwing 102.1 innings for UGA and 52.2 innings for Rome. He was the team's ace in the second half, with a 2.22 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, and 52 strikeouts in 13 starts.

David Peterson excelled as the team's closer after he was picked in the 8th round this year, picking up 8 saves while posting a 1.93 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 28 innings. Ronan Pacheco had a 2.65 ERA, a 1.32 ERA, and 32 strikeouts in 34 innings. Wilson Rivera was a strikeout machine, fanning 70 in 56.1 innings while posting a 2.88 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. Undrafted free agent Patrick Scoggin struck out 16 in 14.1 scoreless innings between Rome, Danville, and the GCL.

Asheville Tourists

The Low A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies won the first half division title with a league best 47-23 record and came in second in the second half with a 41-29 record, finishing with a league best 88-52 record overall. First baseman Harol Riggins was one of the best players in the league, hitting .302 with a .934 OPS, 23 doubles, 19 homers, and 76 RBI. Second baseman Taylor Featherston his .299 with a .887 OPS, 30 doubles, 12 homers, 53 RBI, and 12 steals. Shortstop Trevor Story led the league with 43 doubles and hit .277 with a .872 OPS, 18 homers, 63 RBI, and 15 stolen bases. Game 1 starter Ben Alsup led the league with 14 wins, posting a 3.63 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in a league high 156 innings. Tyler Anderson led the league with a 2.47 ERA, going 12-3 with a 1.08 WHIP. Jefri Hernandez led the league with 21 saves, posting a 4.42 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.

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