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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: The pitching depth is real as Blair, Newcomb, and Fried all excel

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The pitching depth in the Braves minor league system was on full display last night while a couple of prospects got their first home runs of the season.

(2-5) Norfolk Tides 0 @ (6-2) Gwinnett Braves 5

Box Score

  • Rio Ruiz, 3B: 2-4, HR(1), 3 RBI, .346/.433/.538
  • Emilio Bonifacio, CF: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, .385/.429/.538
  • Aaron Blair, SP: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 2.25 ERA
  • Brandon Cunniff, RP: 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 K

Gwinnett continues to be on a roll despite the absence of Mallex Smith as they beat the Tides 5-0. The main story of the night is the performance of Aaron Blair who shut Norfolk down for 6 innings. Reports are his slider was working very well for the majority of the evening and despite having to work out of a jam late in the outing, he was impressive throughout the game. The bullpen came in (including Rob Wooten who had some filthy breaking stuff on this day), and got 3 scoreless innings of relief to secure the win.

On offense, the day belonged to Rio Ruiz which is certainly welcome news to followers of the Braves farm system. Rio drove in 3 of the 5 runs Gwinnett scored with one swing of his bat as he hit his first home run of the year. He did not hit his first home run last year until July 3rd...we like this method better. Rio has not looked overmatched at AAA at all and has seemingly risen to the challenges that the Brave organization this past offseason. Emilio Bonifacio continued his good work at AAA and continues to taunt our own Ivan the Terrible with his continued presence.

(1-7) Mississippi Braves 3 @ (4-3) Montgomery Biscuits 6

Box Score

  • Ozzie Albies, SS: 0-4, 1 BB, 1 K, .294/.351/.324
  • Sean Newcomb, SP: 5 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1.80 ERA
  • Dian Toscano, RF: 0-4, 2 K
  • Kyle Kinman, RP: 1 IP, 2 H, 4 R(3 ER), 1 BB, 3 K

Mississippi fell again as they were defeated by the Biscuits 6-3. On the pitching side, Sean Newcomb continued to do Sean Newcomb things. Overall, it was a good start for Sean as he gave up just one hit and one run on 5 innings pitched. The four walks were definitely less than ideal and directly contributed to his sole run allowed when he walked two batters and then gave up a single. The normally very reliable Kyle Kinman got knocked around in his inning of work as he gave up 4 runs (3 earned) including a home run. For reference, Kinman did not give up a homer at all in 2015.

On offense, it was a bit disappointing to see Ozzie Albies fail to get a hit, but he did at least get on base with a walk. On the plus, Dian Toscano does exist! Downside, he went 0-4 with 2 Ks and made an error in the field, although he did have an outfield assist as well. Willians Astudillo continues to single fairly frequently and never strike out (seriously, its comical how not often he strikes out). However, he made a throwing error in this game and given his issues with passed balls this is concerning to think of him at catcher the entire season.

(3-5) Myrtle Beach Pelicans 2 vs. (5-3) Carolina Mudcats 3

Box Score

  • Keith Curcio, CF: 2-3, 1 run, 2 RBI, 1 BB, .438/.486/.625
  • Dansby Swanson, SS: 0-4, .333/.405/.485
  • Matt Withrow, SP: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
  • Carlos Salazar, RP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

The Mudcats continued their good start to the season as they took down the Pelicans 3-2. It was a team effort from the pitching staff as Matt Withrow got his first start and went 3 scoreless, if a bit wild, innings. Wes Parsons came in and took his turn and gave up two runs, but Carlos Salazar came in and locked the Pelicans down and Evan Phillips came in and got the save. While certainly not Parsons' finest outing, Salazar and Phillips were quite good out of the bullpen.

On offense, it was another really good day for Keith Curcio who is repeating the level this year after spending most of last year at Carolina as well. He is making a strong case to get moved up as he does not appear to be challenged much in high-A right now. Dansby Swanson did go without a hit, but these things are bound to happen. Braxton Davidson continued his struggles to start the year, going 0-4 with a strikeout.

(2-6) Rome Braves 4 @ (2-6) Asheville Tourists 5 - F/10

Box Score

  • Justin Ellison, LF: 2-5, HR(1), 2 RBI, .280/.308/.440
  • Ronald Acuna, CF: 3-5, 2 runs, SB(3), .300/.344/.333
  • Austin Riley, 3B: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 BB, .300/.344/.567
  • Jonathan Morales, C: 3-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI, .407/.407/.444
  • Max Fried, SP: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 1.64 ERA

Rome was the victim of another bullpen collapse as they fell to Asheville 5-4 in extra innings. Matt Custred and Taylor Lewis have really struggled early this season, with Lewis already having 2 blown saves on the young season. Max Fried certainly did his part as he was excellent during his 6 innings of scoreless baseball. He will need to keep his walks down going forward, but the type of stuff he has is extraordinarily difficult to make meaningful contact with so he should still be able to be successful at least in the near-term while he shakes the rust off.

On offense, there is plenty of good to build on. Justin Ellison seems to be finding his way in the early going as he hit his first home run of the season. Ronald Acuna, the victim of some awful BABIP luck to start the year, had 3 hits and stole his 3rd base of the year as well. Austin Riley seems good for at least one XBH in every game he plays as he reached base twice in this game. As for Jonathan Morales, all the guy does is continue to hit and impress behind the plate as well.