(13-9) Gwinnett Braves 4 @ (7-11)Toledo Mud Hens 3
Lucas Sims, P: 7IP 5H 1ER 2BB 11K
Reid Brignac, 2B: 3-7, 1 run, .316/.3400/.329
Rio Ruiz, 3B: 0-4, 2 runs, 3BB (2 intentional), .329/.404/.481
In what can only be described as laughable Gwinnett overcame a terrible night offensively to defeat Toledo in 15 innings. Lucas Sims, at least to me, asserted himself as the #1 pitching prospect in the organization. Lucas was absolutely dominant yesterday morning striking out a career high 11 Ks and the way he did it was nothing short of beautiful. Lucas started off the game looking ugly missing with 5 of his first 6 pitches. And just as sudden as that first walk was, he turned things on and became a freak. Lucas was locating every single pitch in his arsenal. He kept batters off beat by locating his changeup away, and then would blow his fastball right by them. His curve was absolutely magnificent and I’ll have to re-watch the game but I think only 2 hitters actually made contact with it (both fouls). Is this the year that Lucas Sims shows his potential? It surely looks like it. Over his last 15 starts, including end of year play in the AFL, Lucas Sims has been dynamic. You would think a pitcher would fatigue over the course of the season but look at these numbers: 4-3, 1.83 ERA & 1.032 WHIP and an incredible 11.49 K/9. Lucas has 42 strikeouts in 26.2 innings pitched which is top in the minors. As a point of comparison Tyler Glasnow, the #8 prospect in baseball, has 30 Ks on the season. It’s not even the sheer volume of strikeouts he’s accumulating it’s how he’s doing it that is getting me excited about him. It’s that he’s pitching. He’s setting up hitters, he’s locating his pitches, and his arsenal is absolutely shining. The next step in his progression is limiting his walks (seriously he has more walks than hits allowed) which he seems to be doing this year. We may be seeing the best of Lucas Sims and folks - it’s good.
Now that I’m done praising Lucas it’s on to the rest of the game. Outside of David Peterson the pen was dynamic accumulating 7 shutout innings. Ian Krol hasn’t given up a run in 7 straight outings and has looked good doing so. Jose Ramirez managed to not walk anyone so Gwinnett was destined to win this game. Matt Marksberry contributed another spotless frame and continues to dominate inferior opponents. He will wind up back in Atlanta at some point this season and should be a mainstay - if used properly (.059/.105/.118 vs LHB). Brandon Cunniff picked up win #2 (2IP 1H 0ER 1BB 2K) but didn’t look dynamic and got a bit lucky. But sometimes luck is all you need.
Offensively this game was a train wreck. Rio Ruiz struggled going 0-4 but did pick up 3 walks, though two were intentional. It’s time to move him up higher in the lineup because he has little protection at the bottom and he’s now being worked around since he’s the biggest threat Gwinnett has and it is imperative he gets quality ABs to progress. The young 3B is in the midst of the slump, 2-for-16, but is still having a special season.
Quite honestly Gwinnett didn’t deserve to win this game because they went an insane 2-for-14 with RISP, but got extremely lucky against former Mets closer Bobby Parnell. To set it up Parnell was awful - he wasn’t locating anything (1IP 0H 1R 3BB) and walked the bases loaded. He forced a groundout to the SS which should have ended the game but the catcher dropped the ball after stepping on the plate and couldn’t pull off the double play. Parnell then forces a GO to himself and all he has to do to win is...well just look at GIF.
Ronnier Mustelier graciously hit a single in the 15th to score Reid Brignac that ended up being the game winning run. This was not a pretty game by any means after the starting pitchers were taken out and quite frankly I’m a little upset I watched beyond the 7th.
Next Game: 4/29 vs Columbus @ 7:05 EST
Probable Starters: Casey Kelly - Gwinnett, Will Roberts - Columbus.
(7-14) Mississippi Braves 4 @ (10-11) Jacksonville Suns 9
Ozzie Albies, SS: 3-4 2B, BB, R, .370/.433/.519
Sean Godfrey, CF-LF: 2-4 2B, RBI, .222/.222/.333
Jason Hursh, P: 2IP, 1H, 1 run (0 ER), BB, 4.50 ERA
Dustin Peterson, LF: 1-3, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, .275/.337/.463
It’s Albies’ world and we are just living in it. The SS collected 3 more hits last night and now has an OPS of .952 against players that are on average 5 years his senior. He has 9 hits in his last 4 games, is hitting .429 over his last 10 games, leads the league in hits, is 5th in OBP, 3rd in average, 6th in SLG, & 5th in OPS. He has nothing else he needs to show me to prove he’s MLB ready and it’s simply a waiting game. He hits for average, with gap power, has speed to burn, is excellent on defense where he showcases an excellent first step and instincts and has a good arm. The only thing he can work on is his stolen bases. He has nothing to prove. He’s ready.
Mississippi struggled with RISP, going a collective 2-for-10, and on nights when Camargo is cold it’s tough for Mississippi to win. Dustin Peterson collected his 8th hit in his last 7 games and is beginning to hit for some power this season (6 doubles, 3 home runs). After a breakout 2015 season (.268/.313/.477) Jacob Schrader is struggling following a promotion to AA and is now hitting .211/.333/.333 and we might begin to see some roster shuffling to help his development out (Meneses up from Carolina, Schrader to Carolina).
Andrew Thurman, looking to assert himself as a pitching prospect this year, struggled out the game and did not make it out of the 3rd giving up 5ER, and 8 hits. Andrew has struggled since his return to play following the bus crash in Carolina and while he struck out 6 in his last outing, he continues walk and give up hits which has his WHIP up to 1.82 this season. He has an arsenal that’s good enough to succeed in AA so we have to remain patient with him and hope he turns the page sometime this season.
Danny Burawa was outrighted off of the 40-man roster yesterday and did not respond to it well giving up 3ER in his 1 inning and now is owner to a 7.88 ERA & 3.000 WHIP. The next three pitchers: Jason Hursh (2IP 1H 1R 0ER 1BB), Kyle Kinman (1IP 1H 0ER 1BB 1K), & Madison Younginer (1IP 0H 0ER 0BB 1K) did their thing but the damage was done.
Next Game: 4/29 at Jacksonville @ 6:05 ET
Probable Starters: Mississippi - Chris Ellis, Jacksonville - Jarlin Garcia
Wilmington Blue Rocks 0 @ Carolina Mudcats 0
Carolina brought out the big guns last night. Swipe right night, thirsty Thursday, and a concert from Alessia Cara but this game was postponed due to rain and will be made up as a DH in June.
Next game: 4/29 vs Lynchburg Hillcats @ 7:00 ET
Probable Starters: Carolina - Enderson Franco, Lynchburg - Mitch Brown
Rome Braves 4 @ West Virginia Power 2 - Game One - Resumed from yesterday
Ronald Acuna, CF: 2-5 HR, 3RBI, .278/.345/.367
Austin Riley, 3B: 2-4 2B, K, .266/.286/.456
Touki Toussaint, P: 5IP, 2H, 1BB, 3K, 9.19 ERA
I don’t think there is a box score I am happier to type out than the one I just did. Welcome to 2016, Touki Toussaint. It has pained me to watch him struggle this year, mainly due to the fact of how nice of a person he is, so to see him return to form last night made me very happy. Touki was effective only needing 58 pitches to go 5 innings and throwing 36 strikes. He flashes so many plus pitches and it’s important to remind ourselves that he is still so young and raw and his development will take some time. But I mean..can you blame me for being excited for a guy that flashes this kind of curveball?
Grayson Jones continues to be effectively wild registering 2IP 1H 1ER and now has a season ERA of 2.79. I watched him live and he’s a bit terrifying to watch as he has trouble locating his fastball, seriously he hit the backstop twice on warm ups when I went to Rome, but for his pro career, he has a 2.98 ERA and 1.23 WHIP while limiting hitters to a .188 BAA. Oriel L Caicedo came in to pitch the final 2 frames and allowed just 1 hit and 1 strikeout.
Offensively, Rome was held in check for every inning outside of the 4th when they "exploded" for 4 runs capped by a Ronald Acuna 3 run homerun. While his slash line might not shock you he is the real deal and has cemented himself as a Braves top 5 prospect. Where he lands on the list is to be seen but he’s a special player that possess all the qualities you look for by exhibiting great instinct on the field, a great arm, a mature approach at the plate, incredibly quick hands at the plate, and as he grows should add some more power on to his frame. We all read the reports raving about him in spring training, and getting to see him in person only validates everything you’ve read about him. He has the opportunity to be a special player and we, especially myself, have to remember to be patient about his development.
After a brief stretch of inconsistent play, 3-24 HR & 9K in 6 games, Austin Riley has righted the ship and extended his hitting streak to 4 games in which he has 7 hits. It was especially encouraging to see him collect the double off of Jonathan Brubaker of the Power who is a solid pitcher. The only thing to be scared about is those rising error numbers as Austin collected his already 5th error of the season. He has an impressive arm but is struggling in the field.
Finally, Luke Dykstra collected another 2 hits and the son of former MLB legend Lenny, continues to have a solid MiLB career now raising his career line to .295/.338/.398. While nothing about his game stands out he’s effective with the bat, and in the field and has succeeded at every level of play.
Next game: 4/29 @ Hagerstown Suns @ 6:05 ET
Probable Starters: Rome - Mike Soroka, Lynchburg - TBD