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Braves AFL Recap: Max Fried Leads Stellar Staff

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Max Fried’s opening day dominance led to 7 strikeouts over 3 innings and was part of a 16 strikeout performance by Braves pitchers on the day.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Fall League action is finally underway, and the Braves prospects were busy on opening day with 6 players getting action. Follow along this fall with Talking Chop as we’ll be bringing you updates on all the AFL action this season, with updates twice a week on Thursday and Monday mornings.

Games

(1-0) Peoria Javelinas 3, (0-1) Glendale Desert Dogs 0 Box Score

(1-1) Peoria Javelinas 4, (1-1) Glendale Desert Dogs 5 Box Score

Ronald Acuna

3-6, .500/.500/.500

All eyes will be on Acuna this fall as he’ll play out this AFL season as both the youngest and most highly-touted prospect in the league. Acuna got off to a good start on Tuesday afternoon, singling on the first pitch he saw in his second at bat. Acuna also added a single while battling down in an 0-2 hole in the 8th inning, and finished opening day by going 2-4. His first out in the game was another line drive, giving him 3 hard hit balls in his first playing action in over a month. Acuna struck out to lead off the second game against Pirates prospect Mitch Keller, but bounced back in his second at bat to knock a base hit off of him. That was the only hit of the day for Acuna, as he flew out to center field in his final 2 at bats.

Max Fried

3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7K, 0.00 ERA

Max Fried wasted no time in showing his dominance to open the season, as he struck out his first batter Tito Polo on 4 pitches. He then struck out Matt Beaty on three pitches and set down Francisco Mejia on 4 for an 11-pitch, perfect first frame. Fried extended his strikeout streak to open the 2nd inning by striking out Bobby Bradley on 3 pitches before allowing his first hit on a single to Yusniel Diaz. Fried then did typical Max Fried things and picked him off, but a dropped throw in the ensuing run down allowed Diaz to remain on base. A walk and a single loaded the bases against Fried, but he bounced back and struck out the next 2 batters to end the inning with no damage and give him 6 strikeouts in 2 innings. Going through the top of the order a second time for Fried yielded less favorable results than the first time, but he still only allowed one hit (Mejia) and struck out one in the third to finish with a final line of 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7K. Fried was reported to have an all around good outing, though he struggled more with his command after the first inning.

Touki Toussaint

2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA

Touki Toussaint followed Fried out of the bullpen in the opener, but got off to a slower start by walking Diaz to open his outing. Touki came back to strike out Cornelius Randolph on three pitches and then strike out Will Smith. Toussaint ended his opening inning with a battle against Tyler Kreiger, but was able to force an easy ground ball to end the inning with Diaz threatening at third base following a stolen base and throwing error. Touki came back in the fifth inning and stuck out the first 2 batters he faced before getting a fly out to end the inning and his outing. Reports on Touki were strong, primarily centered of course around how well he was throwing his curveball.

Alex Jackson

0-3, .000/.000/.000

Jackson had a less-than-strong day at the plate, popping out, flying out, and grounding into a double play, but behind it was fantastic for the Javelinas. Jackson navigated the Braves prospect through all 8 of their innings calling the game, and reports on his defense were widely positive and indicate he showed a level of comfort. Jackson did have one error while trying to throw out a runner stealing, a continuation of his problems in that area from the season when he threw out just 21% of potential base stealers. Jackson did not play in game 2, and it’s unlikely he will play back to back games this fall.

Austin RIley

0-4, .000/.000/.000

Riley looked simply overmatched in his first game, striking out in his first three at bats of the day before flying out in the 8th inning in his fourth. I couldn’t find any reports on him from the game, and he didn’t see any balls defensively. Riley did not play game 2 and like Jackson likely won’t get any back-to-backs this fall.

Josh Graham

1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 0.00 ERA

Josh Graham backed up Touki Toussaint in the rotation on Tuesday, and got a strong part of the lineup against the Desert Dogs. Graham forced a ground ball from Francisco Mejia to open his outing, then got the first of his strikeouts on three pitches to Bobby Bradley. Graham allowed a hit to Yusniel Diaz, who clearly has a major vendetta against Braves pitching, before getting a strikeout to end his outing.

Corbin Clouse

2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 0.00 ERA

The final of the Braves quartet of pitchers on Tuesday, Clouse extended his strong work from the regular season into the AFL. Clouse forced ground outs from the first two batters he faced in the game before allowing a 2-out single. Clouse recovered to strike out leadoff hitter Tito Polo to end the 7th inning with Peoria’s shutout intact. Clouse allowed a one out walk to Francisco Mejia in the 8th before striking out Bobby Bradley for the second out. Clouse then became the first Brave to conquer Diaz, striking him out swinging to end the inning and the outing for Clouse.

Jared James

0-2, BB, RBI, .000/.333/.000

Jared James batted in the 7 spot for the Javelinas on Wednesday, and in his first plate appearance of the game drew a walk off of Mitch Keller (the team’s only walk of the day). James rolled over a couple of balls for ground outs in his next two at bats before knocking in the final run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. James likely won’t see much playing time this fall, but a good run in the league could help earn him some points towards getting a spot on the bench in Atlanta at some point in 2017.