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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap 4/30: Morales and Franco homer, Sims has strong start

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Only two Braves’ affiliates were in action last night and boht pitching staffs threw shutouts.

MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Gwinnett Stripers 5, Charlotte Knights 0

Box Score

  • Jose Bautista, 3B: 1-4, BB, 3 K, run, .207/.324/.241
  • Carlos Franco, DH: 1-4, HR, BB, 3 RBI, .250/.309/.443
  • Lucas Sims, SP: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1.46 ERA

Carlos Franco hit an absolute bomb and Lucas Sims plus the bullpen threw a shutout as the Stripers handily defeated Charlotte by the score of 5-0. Lucas Sims is starting to settle in nicely at Triple-A after a bumpy appearance in the majors as he threw five shutout innings with five strikeouts on Monday. Working on regular rest as a starter seems to beneficial for him, although where there is realistically any chance of him joining the Braves’ rotation at this point with all of the competition for those spots is definitely in question. Luke Jackson and Evan Phillips each had two innings scoreless relief appearances to secure the win for Gwinnett.

On offense, Carlos Franco did the big damage with a monster home run that left the stadium in the 7th inning, a three run shot that gave the Stripers a 5-0 lead that would prove to be the deciding margin. Gwinnett got contributions from up and down the lineup though, with Rio Ruiz, Sean Kazmar, Jaff Decker, and Danny Santana all having multi-hit games. Dustin Peterson, fresh off his International League Player of the Week title, kept things going with another hit as well. Jose Bautista did record a hit and a walk in the game, but he also struck out three times. There are also some reports out there that his defense at third has been a bit shaky, although whether that is indicative of his overall ability there or will improve significantly as he gets reps remains to be seen.

Mississippi Braves 4, Jackson Generals 0

Box Score

  • Jonathan Morales, C: 1-4, HR, .244/.333/.333
  • Luis Valenzuela, SS: 2-3, 2B, RBI, .228/.279/.351
  • Enderson Franco, SP: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 3.68 ERA

Jonathan Morales hit his first home run of the season and Enderson Franco keyed the second shutout of the day for Braves affiliates as the Braves took down Jackson by the score of 4-0. Jonathan Morales had a tough year at the plate last year, but he is not far removed from an impressive campaign at Rome that had him as a borderline top 30 prospect in the Braves’ farm system. Add him to the depth (if you haven’t already) the Braves have in the minor leagues even though he isn’t a top tier prospect there, at least not yet. The bottom of the order did work in this game for Mississippi as Luis Valenzuela, Daniel Lockhart, and Connor Lien all had multi-hit games. For Lien, that was his first multi-hit game of 2018 as he has struggled mightily to start the season with a .415 OPS and 19 strikeouts in 40 at-bats.

On the pitching side, Enderson Franco had an excellent start for the Braves with five scoreless innings while walking three batters and striking out seven. Franco is sort of the perfect organizational pitcher as he seems willing and able to float between levels, make starts as needed, and will generally put up quality innings. Kelvin Vasquez followed with two scoreless innings of relief before Devan Watts came in and locked down the win with two scoreless innings of his own. Four of Watts’ five appearances with Mississippi this season have been of the scoreless variety and he has walked just three batters all year long. If you were to say that he along with Corbin Clouse were the best reliever prospects in the Braves farm system, we wouldn’t argue with you.