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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Povse has stellar debut while Acuna and Albies continue hot starts

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The Braves minor league system is a lot busier these days as lots of prospects were in action on Sunday

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

(3-1) Gwinnett Braves 4 @ (1-3) Norfolk Tides 9

Box Score

  • Ryan Lavarnway, C: 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 run, .333/.385/.500
  • Sean Kazmar, 2B: 1-4, 2 RBI, .333/.333/.778
  • Rio Ruiz, 3B: 1-4, 2 K, .200/.294/.267
  • Tyrell Jenkins, SP: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 K

Gwinnett finally lost its first game on Sunday as they fell to the Tides 9-4. This game started off rough for Gwinnett as starter Tyrell Jenkins simply could not find his control. In the first inning, Jenkins walked 3 batters, but still managed to escape the first inning unscathed and gave up a lone double in the 2nd. However, a pair of walks in the 3rd in a addition to a couple unlucky singles meant that Jenkins left after 3 innings and 76 pitches. It didn't help matters that the next three relievers (Burawa, Krol, and Younginer) all gave up as least one earned run with Younginer getting tagged for a 4 spot in his inning of work in addition to letting two inherited runners to score...eww.

On offense, things definitely looked different once Mallex Smith was pulled from the lineup right before the game due to his expected call up to Atlanta. Ryan Lavarnway had a good day at the plate with a couple hits and RBI while Sean Kazmar added a couple RBIs of his own. Rio Ruiz added another hit (along with two strikeouts) to get his line thus far back to pretty much what it was all season last year. That said, Ruiz has made noticeable improvement on defense and has been driving the ball well in the early going of the season. It is a small sample size, but it wouldn't be surprising if his luck turned and we saw significant improvement statistically from Rio at Gwinnett.

(3-1) Pensacola Blue Wahoos 4 @ (1-3) Mississippi Braves 2

Box Score

  • Ozzie Albies, SS: 1-3, 1 BB, CS, E, .389/.421/.389
  • Matt Lipka, RF: 2-4, .412/.444/.588
  • Willlians Astudillo, C: 2-3, 2 RBI, 1 2B, .200/.200/.300
  • Rob Whalen, SP: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
  • Mauricio Cabrera, RP: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K

The offense for Mississippi scuffled a bit as the Blue Wahoos defeated the Braves 4-2. To the surprise of basically no one at this point, Ozzie Albies is pretty good at baseball. He is hitting close to .400 to start the year and reached base twice in this game. Unfortunately, he also made a throwing error and was caught stealing in this game. Matt Lipka is doing his best to remind all of us that he was among the more promising prospects in the system as he has been hitting the cover off the ball to start the year and at just 23 years old, if he can stay healthy and get back to form his re-emergence would certainly be welcome.

Rob Whalen, on the pitching side, had a decent start to his 2016 although he certainly had trouble with his control. He was leaving the ball up a bit and 3 walks through 4 innings is certainly less than ideal. Kyle Kinman, a player who was a candidate for the Braves bullpen until the very end of spring training, threw 2.2 innings of relief and gave up a run after a passed ball allowed a sac fly. Kinman did not have his best stuff in this game, but still limited the damage for the most part. Maurcio Cabrera and got 4 outs on 14 pitches without a baserunner and Matt Marksberry, eager to show he is ready to get back to Atlanta, came on and pitched an inning of relief and allowed another run to score on another sac fly.

(2-1) Carolina Mudcats 5 @ (1-2) Salem Red Sox 0 - Game One - F/11

Box Score

(2-2) Carolina Mudcats @ (2-2) Salem Red Sox - Game Two

Box Score

  • Dansby Swanson, SS: 3-9, 1 2B, 3 RBI, .294/.368/.412
  • Braxton Davidson, RF: 2-8, 2 BB, 1 RBI, .200/.333/.267
  • Ryan Clark, SP: 6 IP 10 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
  • Max Povse, SP: 6 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, 7 K

This was a doubleheader for the Mudcats after their game on Saturday was postponed and they split it with a loaded Salem Red Sox team. Each game was supposed to be just 7 innings (thats just how doubleheaders work in the minors) but game one stretched out to 11 innings and was won by the Mudcats with an offensive explosion in the top of the 11th. Max Povse was the star of the show here as he absolutely dominated Salem with just one hit and one walk over 6 innings while striking out 7. Povse has often been in discussions as a very intriguing pitching prospect and if he can just stay healthy, its clear he has the stuff to move up and contribute soon.

In the second game, Ryan Clark pitched the entire game despite not having his best stuff. After skipping Rome and starting the year in Carolina, Ryan had to pitch out of trouble for much of the night and allowed 10 hits and 5 earned runs. Some of this was clearly to preserve the bullpen after a long game one, but Ryan showed good control with zero walks but gave up a couple big flies to Salem who are not a team a pitcher can make mistakes to in the strike zone.

On offense, Dansby Swanson had a useful games with a double and 2 RBIs late in the first game and then a couple more hits, an RBI, and a stolen base in the second frame. Braxton Davidson started to get in on the fun as well, reaching base 4 times between the two games. He also made his second error of the year in the field which is less than ideal, but hopefully this weekend was the start of a turnaround at the plate for Braxton. Also, he immediately atoned for that error on the same play by gunning out the runner at second on a throw to Dansbae (not a typo).

(2-2) Augusta Greenjackets 9 @ (2-2) Rome Braves 2

Box Score

  • Ronald Acuna, CF: 2-4, 2 runs, 1 2B, .267/.353/.333
  • Austin Riley, DH: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI .313/.353/.500
  • Jonathan Morales, C: 2-4, .375/.375/.375
  • Ricardo Sanchez, SP: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
    Rough game for Rome as the Greenjackets used a couple of big innings to pull away and beat Rome 9-2. We were in attendance for this game and it was the story of two Ricardos. For the first three innings, Ricardo was getting bad swings at pitches, controlling the ball well, and not letting guys on base. However, that all changed in the 4th where, after a leadoff triple and couple seeing-eye singles, it was as if he could no longer throw strikes and after walking a batter in followed by a wild pitch scoring a run, his line went from great to not-so-great in a hurry. Things got out of hand from there as the next three relievers gave up a total of 5 runs with Taylor Lewis being the sole reliever to pitch a clean inning.
    Offensively, Rome is a joy to watch. Centerfielder Ronald Acuna had a couple of hits including a double, but it seems like every ball he hits is well hit as he uses his extremely quick hands to drive the ball to all fields. As for Austin Riley, he only had one hit on this day but if the wind hadn't been blowing in he would have likely had his first two home runs as a Rome Brave as he had about 800 feet of outs in his first two at-bats...both of which were to center and right-center. Jonathan Morales hasn't shown the power he had in rookie ball, but is off to a great start this year and added a couple of hits in this game as well.
    One last player to note is Ray-Patrick Didder. Far from a heralded prospect, Didder was impressive in both games we saw as he showed a short, quick swing and some surprising pop given his reputation and frame. He is also incredibly fast and every groundball he hit had a shot of being a hit. He had a well-struck double in this game, but nearly had at least one more hit on a bang-bang play at first. He is on fire to start the year at least and is definitely a player for fans to keep an eye on.