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Braves Minor League Recap: Prospect arms make strong impressions

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Some big name prospect pitching took the mound last night, let's see how they, and the other prospects, fared. Hint: they pitched pretty well, which is only good news.

Aaron Blair led a trio of pretty good outings from the Braves' highly-touted prospect arms in yesterday's minor league action.
Aaron Blair led a trio of pretty good outings from the Braves' highly-touted prospect arms in yesterday's minor league action.
Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

(3-0) Gwinnett Braves 11 at (0-3) Norfolk Tides 5

In a reversal of the fortunes of the big league club, Gwinnett has now won three straight to start their season. This time, it came at the hands of a seven-run first inning against former Brave Todd Remond. That first inning proceeded as follows: Mallex Smith single, steal of second, Daniel Castro infield single, Reid Brignac single, Tyler Moore single, Matt Tuiasisopo three-run homer, Blake Lalli single, Brandon Snyder single, Rio Ruiz strikeout, Sean Kazmar three-run homer, Mallex Smith groundout. Yowch.

The G-Braves did not stop there, adding a bunch of singles and sacrifice flies to keep piling on runs. For example, Mallex Smith scored on a Reid Brignac single after his leadoff double in the fourth. Overall, they pounded out 19 hits (16 of which were singles) and added three sacrifice flies.

Meanwhile, Aaron Blair largely cruised in his first Gwinnett outing: his only walk came to old friend Joey Terdoslavich in the bottom of the first with two outs, and aside from that, he faced the minimum over his first four innings, with three punchouts. In the fifth, Blair allowed back-to-back triples to start the inning, but then showed some awesomeness as he got the next two hitters to whiff swinging before eliciting a groundout for the last out, keeping the damage at just one run. Unfortunately, his line was marred a bit in the sixth, as he allowed a leadoff single to L.J. Hoes and the was beat on a 3-1 pitch to Christian Walker, who hit a line drive into left center for a two-run homer. Blair recovered to strike out the last batter he faced, bringing his overall line to: 6 IP, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 5 H, 1 HR.

The Tides scored their last runs of the game off Joel de la Cruz in his second inning of relief; David Peterson pitched a scoreless inning in relief to close out the game.

  • Mallex Smith - 4-5, 2B, 3 R, SB
  • Aaron Blair - 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR
  • Reid Brignac - 2-5, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 K
  • Matt Tuiasisopo - 2-5, HR, 1 R, 4 RBI, 1 K
  • Sean Kazmar - 2-5, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 K

(1-2) Mississippi Braves 4 vs. (2-1) Pensacola Blue Wahoos 5 (F/13)

The M-Braves dropped their second game of the year, but it took extra innings for it to happen. This was a crazy, back-and-forth affair, where the M-Braves got 18 hits but managed to score just four runs, while the Blue Wahoos were more efficient with 11 hits (and 5 walks) to get their five tallies.

Sean Newcomb started in this one and picked off a batter to end the top of the first. Ozzie Albies, batting leadoff for the M-Braves, quickly went about manufacturing his own lead by singling, moving to third on Matt Lipka's soft roller single that found a hole, and then scoring on a Jordy Lara sacrifice fly. In the third, Matt Lipka would score after a leadoff double and a fielder's choice from Levi Hyams.

Newcomb, meanwhile, just kept dealing. He did walk the bases loaded in the third, but that came off two weakly-hit singles (one a pop-up in no-mans land that Albies was able to get a glove on but not catch), one a soft wounded duck to left, but got a groundout to prevent any damage. He faced the minimum in his other innings of work until the fifth, where a leadoff walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a hard-hit single gave Pensacola its first run.

Andrew Thurman relieved Newcomb with the slim one-run lead and let Pensacola tie the game with a one-out ground-rule double and two-out grounder up the middle. He then threw two wild pitches in the same at-bat, but stranded the runner at third and then added two more scoreless frames. The game was knotted at two runs apiece until the 12th, when Jason Hursh allowed a two-out, two-run double to Tony Renda. The M-Braves, however, would storm right back: singles from Lipka and Dustin Peterson, followed by a sacrifice bunt, a fielding error by Renda (gets the lead, helps give it back...), and an Emerson Landoni single tied it up. The M-Braves actually were in a position for a sacrifice fly to walk it off for them, but Johan Camargo struck out and pinch-hitter Carlos Franco grounded out to end the threat and continue the game.

In the 13th, Steve Janas was pressed into relief duty and didn't fare well: he allowed a leadoff single, garnered a strikeout, but then wild-pitched the runner to second and allowed a fly ball that Dustin Peterson muffed, scoring the go-ahead run. Ozzie Albies tried his best to rectify the score in the bottom of the frame, leading off with a single and advancing to second on a bunt, but a Dustin Peterson pop-out and Jordy Lara groundout ended the game.

  • Ozzie Albies - 3-7, 1 R
  • Matt Lipka - 3-6, 2B, 2 R, 1 K, CS
  • Dustin Peterson - 3-6, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, E
  • Sean Newcomb - 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 5 K

(2-1) Rome Braves 3 vs. (2-1) August GreenJackets 4

It was the debut for Max Fried but led to the R-Braves' first loss of the year.

Rome got the scoring started early, with a one-out single from Jonathan Morales (DHing in this game) and a groundball double from Austin Riley, followed by a two-run double from first baseman Wigberto Nevarez. Max Fried would give those runs back in the third on a two-run homer to Batman's trusted friend, Lucius Fox, and create a bit more of a mess for himself with a throwing error on a pickoff attempt in the fourth, allowing the runner to score all the way from first.

Aside from the error and the homer, Fried locked down Augusta for those five innings, giving the R-Braves a chance to tie in the in the bottom of the fourth inning, as an Alejandro Salazar (SS) groundout scored Ray-Patrick Didder (RF), who had doubled with one out.

Chad Sobotka and Grayson Jones were victimized by Fox again in the sixth for the go-ahead and game-winning run: Fox singled on a bunt grounder, stole second, was wild-pitched to third by Sobotka, and then wild-pitched home by Grayson Jones in his first batter faced of the game. The R-Braves managed just a few singles in the late innings and could not string anything together, going down quietly by a 4-3 margin. But the most important part was Fried throwing five pretty good innings.

  • Max Fried - 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR
  • Austin Riley - 1-3, 2B, R, BB, K
  • Ronald Acuna (CF) - 0-3
  • Lucas Herbert (C) - 0-4
  • Wigberto Nevarez (1B) - 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI