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Braves Minor Recap: Acuna, Didder, Ellis Shine

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Gwinnett had the night off while several prospects continued their strong starts to the season both at the plate as well as in the field.

(12-16) Mississippi Braves 3, (13-14) Tennessee Smokies 2

Box Score

  • Dansby Swanson, SS: 1-3, 2B, 2BB, .357/.457/.571
  • Chris Ellis, SP: 5.2IP, 5H, 3ER, 4BB, 3K, 2.06 ERA, 1.057 WHIP
The night belonged to Chris Ellis who continued his stellar season. Walks continue to plague him as this was the third 4 walk outing for the pitcher, however he hasn't given up more than 6 hits in a game so his WHIP is still a great 1.057. He doesn't come at you with an amazing arsenal but he knows how to pitch. While control of it plagued him while he was with the Angels, he appears to have harnessed it and has had great results this year. When he's throwing right his fastball comes with sink and it's evident he is throwing it right as coming in to tonight 53% of his batted balls were ground balls. Ellis already has a great feel for his changeup so being able to harness the fastball could see his stock rise. He also flashes a pretty decent curveball but doesn't throw it too much other than to show it to hitters. With all the moves occurring between Gwinnett and Atlanta I suspect it won't be too long until Ellis shows up at Gwinnett, and while he might not blow you away he's fun to watch.

Jason Hursh came in and provided his 5th straight scoreless outing but in those 5 outings he has surrendered 4 walks. It's a big year for Hursh who has struggled in his career. The move to the pen seems to have helped his stock a bit, however he still needs to make strides in his command. If he is able to throw more strikes consistently he could be a valuable bullpen asset for years to come. Kinman followed Hursh and provided back-to-back walk-less outings for the first time this year, however he still has 8 in 9 innings. Finally, Bradley Roney came in and shut the door for Mississippi. Hitters have never been able to make consistent contact off of Roney (career .138 BAA) but he struggles with walks and it was evident again today as he picked up 2 more. He's limiting RHB to less than .100 BA, but has now surrendered more walks (7) than hits (6). 

Mississippi won this game despite hitting just one extra base hit by none other than Dansby Swanson (15), who now leads all of baseball (MiLB & MLB) in doubles. With that double he extended his hitting streak to 7 games, and has now been on-base in 12 straight games. I really have nothing else to say about him so I'll just give you some ranks among the top 100 prospects in baseball: 1st in doubles, 7th in OPS (1.028), 4th in OBP (.457), 4th in BA (.357). Since there are no notable GIFs from this game I will leave you with this one - Swanson scoring the GW run on a wild pitch in the top of the 9th from the 4th.

Swansby Speed

Next Game: 5/6 @ Tennessee Smokies (13-14) @ 7:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

MIS: Sean Newcomb (1-1, 2.84 ERA )

TEN: Paul Blackburn (3-0, 0.29 ERA)

(11-15) Carolina Mudcats ,(19-7) Lynchburg Hillcats

Postponed due to rain.

Next Game: 5/6 vs Lynchburg Hillcats (19-7) @ 7:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

CAR: Enderson Franco (2-1, 7.36 ERA )

LYN: TBD (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

(10-16) Rome Braves 4, (18-9) Hickory Crawdads 3

Box Score

  • Ronald Acuna, CF: 3-4, 3B, 2SB(8), .299/.382/.402
  • Touki Toussaint, SP: 5IP, 5H, 2ER, 1BB, 4K, 7.84 ERA

Like clockwork my slot for MiLB recap comes up and Ronald Acuna delivers. He started off his day singling in the first, and picking up his 7th SB of the season before being stranded at 2nd. In the fifth, Ray-Patrick Didder singled, stole 2nd, and then scored on a Acuna triple. He later scored in the inning following a sacrifice bunt by Luke Dykstra. In the 7th Acuna singled once again, stole 2nd, and scored the winning run on an Morales single in the 7th. It was Acuna's 9th multi-hit game of the season. In comparison he has 8 hitless games. He also has hits in 18 of his games. His spray chart and heat maps are things of beauty, while he tends to pull the ball a bit more in the infield, a number of hits come to center and right. Defensively, and I'm basing this on a sample size of maybe 5 games, he has a beautiful first step, reads the ball wall, and is smart with his routes. He seems much more polished than Mallex was just last year. I have him firmly at number 4 on my prospect listing which will be coming to you guys later this summer.

Acuna Triple

Acuna SB

Acuna Triple

Acuna Triple

Acuna Catch Garrett Spain

Acuna Catch

Touki made his second encouraging start in a row allowing just 1 walk and 5 hits over five. He's working on locating his fastball more and it's come at the expense of some velocity. That said, it appears to have more movement and if he can continually throw it for strikes it's a huge step in his development from raw athlete to premium pitcher (remember that curveball GIF?). He is someone to monitor over his next few starts to see if these changes stick and if they do - sorry Diamondbacks.

Next Game: Scroll down.

(10-16) Rome Braves 0, (18-9) Hickory Crawdads 6

Box Score

  • Ray-Patrick Didder, RF: 2-3, 2B, .311/.410/.456
  • Mike Soroka, SP: 4IP, 7H, 4ER, 3BB, 3K, 2.32 ERA
  • AJ Minter, RP: 1IP, 0H, 0BB, 0.00 ERA, 0.000 WHIP

It's like these players know it's my day on the schedule and want to continue to back up my praise. Game 2 featured a stagnant offense that accumulated just 4 hits. 2 of those hits were by incredibly intriguing RF Ray-Patrick Didder. I'm not a scout. I don't pretend to be a scout. What I can tell you is this kid will catch your eye. Whether it's his ability to make contact, his incredible acceleration (with the help of our very own Eric Cole think 65-70 grade speed), or his awesome name, Didder is flying up my prospect ranking. The kid just knows how to hit. His spray chart is unbelievable with 7 hits to left, 11 to right, and 6 to center. He uses his speed well as can be seen by only 10 flyouts. He knows his skill set and applies it at a very young age. It remains to be seen if he will continue to hit this well, but as of right now he's someone you must follow. Defensively, he's still a project. He was a SS but did not do well and has since been shifted to right - where I haven't had the opportunity to really watch him but with his speed it's fair to hope he provides +defense one day. He's a bit older (21) than his teammates so don't be surprised if he is promoted soon to see if he is the real deal (with his speed I think he is).

Today was an aberration of a start for Soroka who yielded as many walks (3) today, as he had the rest of the year combined (6 starts). Through 31 innings he still has a ridiculous 6 walks and has shown pitchability well beyond his age (18). I mean his walk rate (1.7BB/9) is Bartolo Colon esque. Coming into today's game he was already an extreme groundball pitcher - 61% of his batted balls.Making his pro baseball debut was Braves 2015 #75 pick A.J. Minter out of Texas A&M who retired the side in order on 8 pitches. If you want to watch him pitch in Rome, I suggest going out within the next few outings because he will not be there for long. For those who don't know of him he was a pitcher out of College Station who was destined for the first round until he blew out his elbow. It's almost as if the Braves were able to nab 3 first round picks in last years draft. He touches 97, hits his location, oh and is left-handed. As long as he can remain healthy, he will likely quickly rise through the farm and compete for a spot in the pen next year.

Acuna Catch

Minter Slider

Next Game: 5/6 vs (10-16) Hickory Crawdads (18-9) @ 7:0 PM ET

Probable Starters

ROM: Patrick Weigel (1-2, 3.33 ERA)

HIC: Erik Swanson (2-0, 1.27 ERA)