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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Ozzie heating up at AAA while Acuna runs wild

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As per the usual, there were some strong performances from prospects down in the farm system that is proving to be one of the deepest in baseball.

Charlotte Knights 2, Gwinnett Braves 4

Box Score

  • Ozzie Albies, SS: 3-4, 2 2B, 1 run, .328/.386/.448
  • Ronnier Mustelier, RF: 2-3, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, .258/.311/.340
  • John Gant, SP: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 7 K, 2.96 ERA

A few standout offensive performances backed a strong start from John Gant as Gwinnett beat Charlotte 4-2. Gant was excellent for Gwinnett and now has three straight appearances for Gwinnett where he has given up just 1 earned run despite bouncing between Gwinnett and Atlanta for the first month of the season. He also have struck out 27 batters in 24.1 IP in the minors this season. Chris Withrow and Ian Krol pitched 2.1 innings of scoreless relief with 5 Ks which is encouraging considering the struggles the big league club have had in the bullpen thus far this season.

On offense, it looks like Ozzie Albies is starting to settle in nicely at AAA as he had 3 hits in this game including 2 doubles which were his first extra-base hits in AAA. Ozzie now has two multi-hit games in his past three after scuffling a lit bit to start his time in AAA. The bulk of Gwinnett's runs were driven in by Ronnier Mustelier who hit a bases clearing triple in the first inning. Rio Ruiz is definitely cooling down as after his 0-4 game here he has just 7 hits in his last 10 games but by most accounts looks much better at the plate. Its a situation certainly worth watching but we are still cautiously optimistic given his improved swing and fitness this season.

Next Game: 5/9 at Rochester @ 7:05 PM

Probable Starters: Gwinnett - Lucas Sims, Rochester - TBA

Mississippi Braves 0, Tennessee Smokies 2

Box Score

  • Dansby Swanson, SS: 0-3, 1 BB, SB, error, .327/.442/.523
  • Dustin Peterson, LF: 0-3, 1 BB, .274/.344/.416
  • Brandon Barker, SP: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1.59 ERA

Brandon Barker had yet another really good outing but the offense did next to nothing as Mississippi fell to Tennessee 2-0. We all need to take a step back and appreciate just how good and consistent Brandon Barker has been this season. In his six starts this season, he has not given up more than 2 runs in any of them while walking just 8 batters in 33 innings in those starts to go along with 27 strikeouts. One of the most consistent performers in 2015 in the farm system as well, Barker is a prime candidate to be promoted to AAA as the Braves continue to call up help from the minors to try and stop the bleeding.

As for the offense, it wasn't pretty. No Mississippi batter had multiple hits or an extra-base hit for that matter while only Dian Toscano and Johan Camargo reached base multiple times (thanks walks!). Dansby Swanson was held hitless for the third straight game but still got some work done as he had a walk and his 9th stolen base of the year. One of the saddest parts of this game is that Willians Astudillo struck out again, his second strikeout of the year which tells you all you need to know both about his contact skills as well as Mississippi's offensive fortune in this game.

Next Game: 5/9 hosting Mobile @ 7:00 CST PM

Probable Starters: Mississippi - Andrew Thurman, Mobile - Charles Brewer

Carolina Mudcats 3, Lynchburg Hillcats 10

Box Score

  • Joey Meneses, 1B: 3-4, 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI, .330/.383/.505
  • Keith Curcio, LF: 1-4 , 1 2B, .279/.333/.404
  • Matt Withrow, SP: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 3.32 ERA

This game got ugly in a hurry as Carolina was routed by Lynchburg 10-3. After giving up 1 or less earned runs in his first four starts, Matt Withrow got hit pretty hard in this game. To be fair to Withrow, his line looked worse than it actually was as he left with two runners on in the 5th and Raymar Navarro threw a wild pitch to let the runners advance followed swiftly by a two-run double where both runs were ultimately charged to Matt. Still, not the greatest outing for him and he will look to bounce back his next time out. Carlos Salazar had another excellent inning of relief which was followed by Sean McLaughlin who gave up 3 runs (2 earned) on 3 hits for the game's final margin.

Carolina's offense came largely from Joey Meneses who has quietly been really excellent this season. He had 3 extra-base hits including his 3rd home run of the season in this game and now has a 13 game hitting streak during which he has 20 hits and has now raised his average all the way to .330. While he has only played first base this year, he has experience in the outfield in the minors and is an intriguing bat going forward. Other than Meneses, the Carolina offense did not do much of consequence with a Sal Giardina sac fly accounting for the Mudcats' other run.

Next Game: 5/10 hosting Potomac @ 7:00 PM

Probable Starters: Carolina - Max Povse, Potomac - Erick Fedde

Augusta Greenjackets 7, Rome Braves 6

Box Score

  • Ronald Acuna, CF: 3-4, 1 run, 2 SB, .306/.390/.398
  • Austin Riley, 3B: 2-5, 1 run, 1 RBI, .252/.292/.423
  • Jonathan Morales, C: 3-4, 2 runs, 1 BB, .310/.343/.430
  • Luke Dykstra, 2B: 3-5, 3 RBI, SB, .293/.337/.348

Rome may not win as much as we had hoped, but their games are always interesting as their rally fell short and they lost to Augusta 7-6. First, the bad news....after several really encouraging outings, Ricardo Sanchez got lit up in this game. He was doing well through the first three innings but then Augusta put 6 up on him in the fourth which is certainly less than ideal. He has toned down the walks a bit and beyond this game has shown a lot of improvement on the mound this season. The bullpen held things down with Grayson Jones, Alex (AJ) Minter, and Matt Custred combining for 4 scoreless innings of relief.

On offense is where things looked a lot brighter. Ronald Acuna had 3 hits to go along with his 11th and 12th stolen bases of the season while Austin Riley appears to be turning a corner a bit at the plate with his second straight multi-hit game. We can live with some strikeouts if Austin is still turning on balls and being productive, especially given the fact that he is still quite a young player with plenty of time to figure more out at the plate. Jonathan Morales continues to rake as he had 3 more hits in this game while Luke Dykstra (whose good start to the season has been lost amongst all the prospect chatter) had 3 hits and 3 RBIs to raise his average close to .300.

The most exciting news from the game though was the debut of Juan Yepez. We considered him among the more exciting hitters in the Braves' system last year and after starting the year in extended spring (presumably due to an injury or something else), he made his way to Rome. His first at-bat? RBI single. While he ended up going 1-4, still a welcome sign to see him in full season ball.

Next Game: 5/9 hosting Augusta @ 7:00 PM

Probable Starters: Augusta - Michael Santos, Rome - TBA