Minor league recaps are back! We have missed you all terribly. Lets get right down to it as there was a LOT that happened in the season openers of the MiLB season.
Augusta GreenJackets 1 @ Rome Braves 10
- Mike Soroka, SP: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
- Dalton Geekie, RP: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K
- Ronald Acuna, CF: 2-5, 1 run, 2 RBI, 1 SB
- Austin Riley, 3B: 3-5, 2 runs, 2B, 1 RBI
- Ray Patrick Didder, RF: 2-4, 2 runs, 3B, 2 RBI
Lets be clear about this game: there are any number of players whose stats we could have chosen to highlight and that would have been perfectly defensible. Rome jumped all over Augusta and routed them 10-1. While Augusta didn't help their own cause much with costly walks and fielding blunders, the story of the night was the absolute dominance Rome exhibited from top to bottom. Ronald Acuna, Jonathan Morales, Austin Riley, Justin Ellison, and Ray-Patrick Didder all had MULTI-hit games and thats not including contributions from basically the rest of the lineup. The lineup put up 10 runs despite only 2 extra-base hits and while the 10 Ks as a team could be improved, this was without a doubt a coming out party for these guys.
As for the pitching, it was absolutely tremendous as Mike Soroka, at the ripe old age of 18 and among the younger players in the league, was absolutely stellar as he mixed in a fastball, changeup, and breaking stuff that all flashed plus. He had the GreenJackets swinging at pitches he wanted them to swing at and got outs with all of his pitches. When asked about what was working particularly well for him, he was quick to point out the game calling of Lucas Herbert. Dalton Geekie had a memorable debut as well with 2 innings of perfect relief. Overall, a fantastic showing from Rome who will send Patrick Weigel to the mound on Friday night.
Carolina Mudcats 4 @ Salem Red Sox 13
- Sean Godrey, DH: 2-4, HR, 3B, 2 runs, 2 RBI,
- Dansby Swanson, SS: 2-4, 2B, 1 RBI, 1 error
- Enderson Franco, SP: 2 IP, 12 H, 9 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
- Braxton Davidson, RF: 0-4, 1 K
Things did not go nearly as well for the Mudcats as they were roughed up by a very talented squad in Salem 13-4. Enderson Franco did not have a good night as he lived in the middle of the strike zone and wasn't fooling anyone. This was certainly not how he wanted to start his career with the Braves in 2016. Wes Parsons came in in relief and was inconsistent with his control, giving up 5 hits and 2 walks in 2.1 innings of work while striking out three.
On the offensive side of the ball, there is good and bad to take away from tonight. Top prospect Dansby Swanson got two hits including a double while driving in a run in his first pro game as a member of the Braves organization. Sean Godfrey, who spent time at multiple levels of the minors last season, supplied most of the offense for Carolina with a homer and a triple while driving in two runs. Unfortunately, Braxton Davidson did not fair particularly well going 0-4 with a strikeout which won't quiet those who thought his promotion was a tad premature given his development at the plate.
Pensacola Blue Wahoos 3 @ Mississippi Braves 1
- Lucas Sims, SP: 5 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K
- Ozzie Albies, SS: 0-4, 2 K
- Dustin Peterson, LF: 1-4, 2B, 1 K
- Johan Camargo, 2B: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 Run
- Hunter Cervenka, RP: 1.0 IP, 2 K, 0 ER
Lucas Sims was outstanding in his first start of the year, but the offense did not show up for Mississippi as they fell to Pensacola, 3-1. Sims went 5 innings in his first start of 2016 and continued on his strong efforts in the AFL and latter parts of the 2015 season by striking out 9 while giving up just one hit and one run. Three walks isn't ideal, but with the curveball and life on his fastball he was getting plenty of swings and misses. Jason Hursh, however, did not have a good first relief appearance as he seemed like at times he could not throw a strike and gave up the deciding two runs in his inning of work. Hunter Cervenka, however, was excellent in his inning of relief and could easily find himself in the majors if he continues to dominate lefties as he has during his time in the Braves system.
The offense was sparse from Mississippi's side. Ozzie Albies had a forgettable debut as he went 0-4 with 2 Ks while Dustin Peterson did get the Braves only extra-base hit. Willans Astudillo had a particularly rough game as he was held hitless while grounding in to two double plays. Johan Camargo scored the Braves' only run after he walked, but was held hitless as well.
Gwinnett Braves 2 @ Norfolk Tides 0
- Mallex Smith, CF: 2-5, 2B, 3B, reached on fielder's choice, 2 runs
- Rio Ruiz, 3B: 0-4, 1 K
- Jhoulys Chacin, SP: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
- Daniel Castro, SS: 1-4, 1 RBI
Gwinnett backed Jhoulys Chacin's stellar outing with just enough run support to secure their first win of the season, 2-0. Chacin, who will be rejoining Atlanta's rotation within the next week or so, was excellent going nearly 8 innings and scattering 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7. Brandon Cunniff did his best in the 9th to throw away all that good work by loading the bases, but David Peterson relieved him and secured the final out.
As for the offense, it was Mallex Smith setting the table all night. He reached base 3 times including two extra-base hits and scored both of Gwinnett's runs. Daniel Castro was one of the players to drive him in to give him his first RBI on the season. Both players could easily join the big club as soon as a position is made available or if an injury occurs. Rio Ruiz had a tough night at the plate, going 0-4 and while he is among the youngest players at the level, he has a lot to prove this season after his difficulties last year and somewhat unexpected promotion.