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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap 5/13: Riley blasts three home runs, Allard throws a gem

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It was a fine day down in the minor leagues as Austin Riley had a career day and Kolby Allard had arguably the best start as a professional.

MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at Toronto Blue Jays
Austin Riley did a lot of this on Sunday.
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Gwinnett Stripers 10, Norfolk Tides 0

Box Score

  • Austin Riley, 3B: 4-5, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .336/.393/.680
  • Danny Santana, LF: 3-5, 2 2B, 3B, RBI, .267/.277/.456
  • Kolby Allard, SP: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1.71 ERA

Gwinnett starts us off with a rout of Norfolk by the score of 10-0 thanks to career days from both Austin Riley and Kolby Allard. Before we get to the devastation that Austin Riley was responsible for, it is definitely worth mentioning that Danny Santana had a great day at the plate with two doubles and a triple (he has hit safely in six straight games) and Peter Bourjos added a multi-hit game of his own with a triple. However, the day on offense firmly belonged to Austin Riley who had the best game of his professional career in driving in eight of Gwinnett’s 10 runs and hitting three home runs in the game including a grand slam that cemented the rout.

In short, Austin is a bad, bad man and he was in full force on Sunday. Between his time in Double-A and Triple-A in 2018, he has hit nine home runs and posted a 1.073 OPS through his first 34 games.

With such a dominance performance at the plate, it would be easy to overshadow whatever happened on the mound for Gwinnett, but Kolby showed out himself with eight scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. Allowing just two hits, a walk, and a HBP, Allard was spot on with his location and sequencing as he was working quick innings and getting hitters to swing at the pitches he wanted them to. With a strike zone that wasn’t super generous and against a pretty good Triple-A squad, the result is very encouraging. Allard currently ranks second in the International League in ERA with 1.71 and second as well in innings pitched with 42 IP through his first seven starts in 2018.

Mississippi Braves 4, Jackson Generals 5

Box Score

  • Jonathan Morales, C: 1-3, 2B, BB, 2 runs, .227/.310/.293
  • Tyler Marlette, 1B: 2-4, 2B, RBI, run, .215/.270/.333
  • Bryse Wilson, SP: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 4.50 ERA

Bryse Wilson didn’t have his best stuff in his second start at Double-A, but he battled through five innings. Unfortunately, the bullpen faltered as Mississippi fell to Jackson by the score of the 5-4. Bryse struggled through the games first couple of innings as he gave up a leadoff home run in the first and allowed several baserunners in the second and was made worse by an error in the outfield by Tyler Neslony. Fortunately, his defense helped him get an inning ending double play when a sac fly that did score a run got a free out when a runner got greedy and tried to take third. That did not go well thanks to a strong throw from Connor Lien. The rest of Bryse’s start went by without incident, but then Michael Mader came in in the sixth and a couple wild pitches, a passed ball, and a couple hits later, Mississippi was behind by the score of 4-2. Adam McCreery’s appearance went only marginally better as he gave up a two-out walk and single brought in another run which proved to be the game winner.

On offense, it was a balanced effort that kept Mississippi in the game. Luis Valenzuela, Tyler Marlette, Daniel Lockhart, and Connor Lien all drove in runs for the Braves. While only Valenzuela and Marlette had multi-hit games for Mississippi, Mississippi did a good job of getting runners home from third even when hits were hard to come by. Alex Jackson had the day as did Travis Demeritte. Hopefully the day off will prove fruitful as both have struggled a bit to start the season although Demeritte has shown signs recently of breaking out of his funk.

Rome Braves 7, Hickory Crawdads 2

Box Score

  • William Contreras, C: 4-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 runs, .286/.390/.443
  • Justin Smith, RF: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, .321/.367/.643
  • Drew Waters, CF: 1-4 HR, 2 RBI, BB, .228/.291/.468
  • Drew Harrington, SP: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 4.66 ERA

The final game from Sunday featured another beatdown as Rome got it done on both sides of the ball and took down Hickory 7-2. The offense shined on Sunday with William Contreras being the star of the show. Contreras had four hits including his third home run of the season. While he did start the season in extended spring, he is still meeting our expectations as arguably the best hitter on the team and arguably the best catching prospect in the Braves’ farm system. Drew Waters’ return from injury is going well so far as he has homered in back-to-back games. That also ran his hitting streak to four games. The swing and miss is going to need to be monitored, but beyond that...Waters is proving to be a strong value as a second round pick from 2017. Justin Smith has joined the team from extended recently and is on fire to start his full season ball career. He had a pair of hits and RBIs in this one.

On the pitching side, Drew Harrington went four innings and gave up an earned run while walking none and striking out three. Freddy Tarnok had a two inning relief appearance and also gave up an earned run while walking three and striking out three. As promotions happen from Rome, it will be interesting to see if the Braves begin transitioning Tarnok into the rotation, but for now the stuff (while raw) has been quite exciting. Hayden Deal had two more scoreless innings in relief and has been stellar for Rome in striking out 21 batters against two walks in 13.1 innings (7 appearances).