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Braves MiLB Recap 6/14: Gwinnett falters late, Dansby Swanson shines

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The Gwinnett Braves saw a late lead slip away while Dansby Swanson had another good day at the plate for Mississippi

Dansby Swanson

(30-35) Gwinnett Braves 6, (35-29) Lehigh Valley IronPigs 7

Box Score

  • Ozzie Albies, 2B: 1-5, R, .238/.282/.360
  • Rio Ruiz, 3B: 2-3, BB, .258/.356/.363
  • Anthony Recker, C: 2-4, 2HR, 3RBI, 2R, .248/.363/.459

Anthony Recker’s power show continued yesterday as the catcher hit two more homers in Gwinnett’s shocking loss. The catcher has four homers the past two games and has seen his slugging percentage rise from .357 to .459.

Gwinnett held a nice 6-1 leading going into the 9th after some solid pitching by Joel De La Cruz (5IP 4H 2ER 3BB 5K), Matt Marksberry (1.2IP 2H 0R 0BB 1K), and Tyrell Jenkins (1.1IP 1H 0R). Unfortunately things unraveled in the 9th as Bradley Roney came in and hit a batter and walked the next two. That loaded the bases and subsequently lead to a pitching change as Jose Ramirez came in to replace the struggling Roney. Ramirez was unable to record an out as he gave up one walk, and two doubles allowing all five runs to score.

Tough loss on a strong day for the offense as Gwinnett totaled 10 hits and six runs and was highlighted by back-to-back homers in the 6th by Anthony Recker and Reid Brignac.

Next Game: 6/15 @ Lehigh Valley IronPigs @ 7:05 PM ET
Probables

GWI: Sims, 2-5 6.80 ERA

LGH: Vasquez, 0-0 -.- ERA (AAA Debut)

(41-24) Jackson Generals 1, (31-34) Mississippi Braves 5

Box Score

Mississippi flexed their pitching muscle once again on the first-half champs as Rob Whalen extended his scoreless streak to 18 innings. Since having knee surgery during the off-season Whalen has come to the Braves a man on a mission. If you haven’t seen him pitch he’s fun to watch because he engages the defense so often with a late biting sinking fastball. He set a season high in walks last night (4), but limited a very good Jackson General offense to just five hits over six innings.

Mauricio Cabrera, fresh off winning Mississippi pitcher of the week, came in to replace Whalen and gave up a run and made it impossible for Whalen to pick up the win. It was just the second time in eight games that Cabrera gave up a run, and the first time in three games that he walked someone. After struggling a LOT with his command in 2015 (9.35 BB/9), Cabrera is just struggling a good amount (5.97 BB/9) this year. I dream of the day he has control of that 102 MPH cannon of an arm and becomes an elite member of the Braves bullpen.

Brandon Cunniff came in and quickly took care of the Generals in the 9th walking one batter and not allowing a hit. Most encouraging is Cunniff has allowed just five walks over his last 10 games - and since returning to Mississippi has seen his walk rate cut in half (2.45 BB/9).

The offense was carried by Dansby Swanson who collected a double, and triple last night as well as 3 RBI. Johan Camargo also tallied three hits and helped creep upwards towards his career average in OPS.

Next Game: 6/15 @ Birmingham Barons

Probables

MIS: Thurman, 0-5 5.50 ERA
BIR: Walters, 2-2 4.21 ERA

(27-35) Carolina Mudcats 3, (41-23) Lynchburg Hillcats 7 - 7 innings

Box Score

  • Braxton Davidson, RF: 0-3, K, .222/.310/.338
  • Sal Giardina, RP: 1.1 IP, 0H, 0R, 1BB, 0.00 ERA
  • Sal Giardina, 1B: 2-3, R, RBI
  • Ryan Clark, SP: 4.2 IP, 9H, 7R, 6ER, 1BB, 1K, 6.26

Ryan Clark struggled early allowing four runs in the first including two homers and a double. Clark is struggling so far this year with 6.26 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. His strikeouts are down (5.40 K/9), and walks are up (3.00 BB/9), but is actually out-pitching his ERA but not by much (5.30 FIP). The sophomore slump has hit him hard.

To replace him the Mudcats brought on Sal Giardina who had enjoyed a multi-hit game while playing first base. While I really wish I had additional info on his arsenal, Sal came on and threw 1.1 innings of hit-less baseball against one of the Carolina League’s best offenses. I’m working on getting any type of video or info and if I do, expect either an update or for it to be placed in my next recap because who doesn’t love to watch position player pitch?

Mudcats offense collected six hits, two by Sal, and just one extra-base hit by Reed Harper. Joey Meneses extended his hitting streak to four games and is enjoying the best year of his career.

Next game: Next line down.

(27-36) Carolina Mudcats 4, (42-23) Lynchburg Hillcats 9

Box Score

  • Braxton Davidson, RF: 1-2 2B, RBI, BB, .225/.315/.345
  • Erison Mendez, 2B: 1-2, RBI, .161/.210/.223
  • Erison Mendez, RP: 1IP, 0H, 0R, 1BB, 0K, 0.00 ERA
  • A.J. Minter, RP: 1IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 1K, 0.00 ERA

There’s not much good to write about this game other than the fact that we were blessed with another position player pitching in this one.

A.J. Minter registered another scoreless inning and since he has returned from TJ surgery he has pitched in nine games, and has yet to yield a single run. Braves are taking it particularly cautious with him and limiting his pitching opportunities. They actually shut him down for a week, not because of inflammation or soreness, but because he was pitching two to three times a week. They know they have a good one in A.J. and are going to be as cautious as possible with him.

Carolina used 5 relievers yesterday including starting Zack Bird who gave up four runs in less than three innings. He’s had a tough year in Carolina to the tune of a 8.20 ERA and 2.20 WHIP. He’s better than that, he knows it, you know it, so as far as I’m concerned it’s just a first-half we will all forget about.

Taylor Lewis registered his ninth scoreless inning for Carolina and has continued his great 2016 season. While he had a 4.66 ERA while in Rome, he had a great 2.34 FIP and has continued that success in Carolina (2.49 FIP) without being so unlucky (0.00 ERA).

Offensively the Mudcats went 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position which helped them in the 4th when they scored their only runs. Joseph Odom continues to sizzle with the bat going 2-for-3 with his 7th homer of the season. Joey Meneses collected his 18th double of the season in a game that saw him go 2-for-4. Joey is hitting .564/.595/.872 over his last 10 games, and has rebounded from a disastrous 2015 campaign by hitting .345/.407/.502 on the year. He has seen his K rate decrease nearly every year he’s been in baseball, but is unfortunately almost two years older than his average age of competition. Could see him moving up to Mississippi for the second half.

Next Game: 6/15 @ Lynchburg Hillcats @ 6:30 PM ET

Probables

CAR: Franco, 4-3 4.64 ERA

LYN: Polanco, 2-1 1.99 ERA

(26-38) Rome Braves 2, (33-32) Columbia Fireflies 6

Box Score

  • Austin Riley, 3B: 1-4, 2B, R, 2K, .260/.307/.386
  • Lucas Herbert, C: 1-4, 2RBI, 2K, .228/.281/.299
  • Mike Soroka, SP: 5IP, 8H, 4ER, 1BB, 4K, 2.92 ERA

Mike Soroka allowed a season high four earned runs last night. That’s hilarious. He’s really good.

Here’s what David Lee had to say about the Soroka start:

Even when Soroka struggles with fastball command he still impresses.

Offensively Austin Riley collected the only extra-base hit of the game for Rome, a double, in the 6th. One TC comment a few days back spoke about how Riley was hurt for most of the year and is only recently getting healthy and it shows. After struggling for most of the season Austin is hitting .356/.400/.467 with a much lower strikeout rate. It will be interesting to see how the second half of his season goes if he was indeed struggling with injuries for most of the first half.

Next Game: 6/15 @ Columbia FireFlies

Probables

ROM: Weigel, 4-3 2.77 ERA
COL: Ingram, 4-5 4.64 ERA