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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap 8/18: Toussaint and Muller Dominate

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Touki Toussaint struck out 9 batters for Gwinnett and Kyle Muller threw his first career shutout. Dustin Peterson and Travis Demeritte went deep.

Jeff Morris

(60-62) Gwinnett Stripers 5, (57-65) Buffalo Bisons 1

Box Score

Austin Riley, 3B: 0-4, .274/.344/.400

Dustin Peterson, LF: 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, .271/.329/.410

Touki Toussaint, SP: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 1.93 ERA

Touki Toussaint came into this game knowing it is possibly the last time he’ll throw a pitch in a Stripers uniform, and he left the crowd with a great last impression by spinning a gem. After falling behind by a run early the Stripers offense gave some support in the second inning, with a single from Lane Adams scoring Michael Reed and Rio Ruiz to give Gwinnett a 2-1 lead. As Touki rolled so too did the opposing starter, but Gwinnett finally got back on the board in the 6th inning. Dustin Peterson mashed his 10th home run of the season, scoring Michael Reed and making it 4-0 Stripers. This was all the Stripers pitching staff would need in the game, but Gwinnett decided to add on one more in the bottom of the ninth. This time it was Michael Reed on the hitting side of a run scoring, singling to center field to score Danny Santana. Reed had three hits in the game and has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games. Reed has a 1.048 OPS on the season with Gwinnett in 182 plate appearances, which would lead the International League by a large margin if he had enough to qualify. The current leader has an .896 OPS.

Touki Toussaint made quite a farewell start with Gwinnett, although it didn’t get off to the hottes start. After striking out the first batter of the game Touki allowed a single and double consecutively to let in a run, but locked in and was strong throughout the remainder of the game. Touki got a fly out and a strikeout to end the first, then set down the side in order in the 2nd and 3rd innings and after 3 had 5 strikeouts and no walks. Toussaint allowed a single and a walk in the 4th inning, but a caught stealing and two more strikeouts prevented any further damage. Touki allowed a single and hit a batter in the 5th inning, but his 8th strikeout of the game stranded the runners and kept the game at 2-1. Toussaint allowed a leadoff single in the 6th inning, but forced a double play from the next batter and struck out the final batter of his start, his 9th of the game. Chase Whitley made his first multi-inning relief appearance since returning from the disabled list for the Stripers, going 2 scoreless and striking out three with a walk and 2 hits allowed. Jacob Webb came in to close the game out in the ninth, and used three ground ball outs to get a scoreless inning and prevent a two out double from scoring.

Next Game: 8/19 vs (57-65) Buffalo Bisons @ 1:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

GWN: Kyle Wright (2-1, 2.89 ERA)

BUF: Thomas Pannone (0-3, 4.91 ERA)

(57-65) Mississippi Braves 1, (57-64) Chattanooga Lookouts 0 Game 1

Box Score

Cristian Pache, CF: 0-3, .322/.355/.390

Travis Demeritte, LF: 1-2, HR, RBI, .225/.321/.420

Kyle Muller, SP: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2.50 ERA

(58-65) Mississippi Braves 10, (57-65) Chattanooga Lookouts 17 Game 2

Box Score

Cristian Pache, CF: 1-3, BB, .321/.345/.393

Ray-Patrick Didder, SS: 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI, .310/.397/.430

Michael Mader, SP: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 4.12 ERA

A dominant start from Kyle Muller opened the Mississippi Braves double header with a win. Muller made it clear he was on from the first pitch of the game, and struck out the side in the first inning. Both teams were locked in a scoreless tie through the first 3 12 innings of the game, but Mississippi broke that streak thanks to Travis Demeritte’s solo home run. Demeritte is leading the team with 16 home runs this season. Muller continued to cruise in the game, and after allowing a leadoff single in the second inning retired 9 straight batters. Muller allowed a couple of singles to lead off the 5th inning, but got a key double play and a strikeout to end the threat from the Lookouts. Muller retired all three batters in the 6th inning and the first two of the seventh, but a two out single had a chance to blow the shutout. Muller allowed another single to center field, but the Lookouts baserunner Luis Arraez tried to test the arm of Cristian Pache and was thrown out at third base to end the shutout for Muller. This was the first complete game and shutout of Muller’s career. Muller has gotten the win in all three starts in Mississippi and has a 2.50 ERA and 19 strikeouts to 3 walks in 18 innings pitched. Muller has completed at least 5 innings in each of his last 15 starts.

Game two was an offensive battle, with Chattanooga striking quickly in the top of the first for two runs off of starter Michael Mader. The teams put up zeroes for the next two innings, but Mississippi had a big inning up their sleeves in the 3rd. A single from Connor Lien got a rally started with one out, and then Ray-Patrick Didder continued his assault of the Southern League with an RBI double. An infield single off of the pitcher from Cristian Pache advanced Didder to third and then a ground out tied the game. A single from Alejandro Salazar and walk to Travis Demeritte loaded the bass, and Tyler Marlette gave Mississippi their first lead of the game with a two run single. Didder then knocked in another run in the 5th inning to make it 5-2 Braves. Chattanooga got the game within one with a couple of runs in the 5th inning, and it could have been worse but Arraez once again decided to test a Mississippi outfielder and this time Connor Lien threw him out at third base. Mississippi took advantage of an error in the bottom of the 5th to help load the bases, and then a couple of sacrifice flies and a single from Luis Valenzuela scored three more runs to make it 8-4 Braves. Josh Graham was brought in for the 6th inning and struggled mightily, allowing 3 hits and a walk, the biggest of those being a three run home run that pulled Chattanooga back within a run. Graham finally worked out of it, and in the bottom of the sixth Cristian Pache led off with a walk(!) and then scored on a double from Travis Demeritte. Tyler Marlette singled to score another run and make it 10-7 Mississippi. Jason Hursh was brought in to close out the game, and it seemed in jeopardy as he allowed 2 singles to lad off the inning. Hursh worked around this though, despite later loading the bases with a walk, and the Braves won 10-7. Travis Demeritte has been on a home run binge in the second half of the season, with 10 in 50 games since the All Star Break and a .793 OPS. In the month of Augusst Demeritte is hitting .295/.415/.591 with 4 home runs in 13 games.

Next Game: 8/19 vs (61-61) Mobile Baybears @ 6:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

MIS: Ian Anderson (0-0, 2.25 ERA)

MOB: Jesus Castillo (8-4, 4.81 ERA)

(47-71) Florida Fire Frogs 2, (68-55) Lakeland Flying Tigers 11

Box Score

Drew Waters, CF: 1-4, .243/.282/.297

CJ Alexander, 3B: 1-4, .357/.426/.500

Huascar Ynoa, SP: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 8.62 ERA

The Fire Frogs pitching staff got pummeled, allowing 11 runs in an 11-2 loss. The offense had no luck getting going in the early stages of the game, as they were met with a rehabbing Michael Fulmer that they could not solve. CJ Alexander got a single off of him in the first inning but that was the only hit they managed in Fulmer’s 4 innings of work. The Fire Frogs went down in order in the 5th inning, but in the 6th finally got onto the board. Jordan Rodgers was hit by a pitch, then after Drew Waters grounded into a force out he scored a single from Riley Delgado and an error by the third baseman. The brought Florida tantalizingly close to tying the game, as they only trailed 9-1. A Garrison Schwartz home run led off the 9th inning for the only other Florida run on the game. Riley Delgado has a hit in three straight games and 9 of his last 10, and has a 10 game on base streak going. Delgado struck out twice in the game, breaking a span of 8 games and 37 plate appearances without a strikeout.

Huascar Ynoa had another rough start, allowing 5 runs over his 3 23 innings of work. A fielding error in the first inning led to 1 unearned run and one earned run scoring against him, and through his first three innings of work he had allowed just the one earned run. He had allowed 4 hits and struck out 2 batters. A walk led off the fourth inning, and a then a single and a triple led to 2 more runs scoring. A throwing error allowed another run to score off of Ynoa, and he was pulled with two outs in the inning. Victor Cavalieri finished the inning without allowing another run to score, but he was awful in the 5th inning allowing 3 batters to walk, 3 hits, and giving up 4 runs, all earned. Tyler Watson was brought in to finish the 5th with the bases loaded and only one out, and stranded two of the three inherited runners while retiring both batters he faced. Watson allowed 1 run over 2 23 innings with 2 strikeouts. Sean McLaughlin pitched the 8th inning and allowed one run on 3 hits and no strikeouts or walks.

Next Game: 8/19 vs (68-55) Lakeland Flying Tigers @ 1:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

FLO: Tucker Davidson (6-10, 4.71 ERA)

LAK: Gregory Soto (7-6, 4.42 ERA)

(63-59) Rome Braves 2, (61-59) Delmarva Shorebirds 4

Box Score

Justin Dean, CF: 1-4, .268/.369/.393

Trey Harris, RF: 1-4, .207/.294/.310

Freddy Tarnok, SP: 6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 4.24 ERA

Freddy Tarnok had a nice start for Rome, but poor run support led to a 4-2 loss for Rome. The Braves offense was set down in order for the first three innings, but Justin Dean broke through and led off the fourth with a single in a 0-0 game. A wild pitch and a fly ball advanced Dean to third base, but two consecutive strikeouts stranded him there and Delmarva took a 2 run lead in the bottom of the inning. The Braves got their first runs of the game in the 7th inning, with singles from Drew Lugbauer and Trey Harris and a walk to Brendan Venter loading the bases with one out. A walk to Marcos Almonte scored the first run of the game for the Braves a ground out for Derian Cruz tied the game at 2, though the Braves couldn’t get any more in the inning. The Braves made no threat in the 8th and 9th innings, and a 2 run top of the 8th gave the Shorebirds a 4-2 win.

Freddy Tarnok didn’t miss many bats for Rome, but stranded runners on base throughout and was able to work out of trouble and hold Delmarva to 2 runs. Tarnok forced 2 key double plays in the first 3 innings, the second of those preceding a triple that potentially could have scored a run. Tarnok’s biggest struggles were in the fourth inning, when he allowed 2 hits and hit a batter to allow 2 runs to score. Tarnok allowed 7 hits through the first 4 innings and then a hit to lead off the 5th before retiring the final 6 batters he faced in the game. Kelvin Rodriguez was brought on in relief of Tarnok, and held onto a tie game with a scoreless 7th. Rodriguez struggled in the 8th, however, with a leadoff single that scored on a go ahead triple with two outs in the inning. Rodriguez then allowed another run scoring hit to make it a 4-2 deficit before ending the inning with a strikeout.

Next Game: 8/19 vs (61-59) Delmarva Shorebirds 5:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

ROM: Alan Rangel (4-6, 4.22 ERA)

DEL: Cameron Bishop (9-5, 2.85 ERA)

(29-28) Danville Braves 5, (24-32) Greeneville Reds

Box Score

Nick Shumpert, SS: 2-4, HR, BB, RBI, 2 SB, .214/.282/.357

Greg Cullen, 2B: 0-4, BB, .290/.389/.398

Tanner Lawson, SP: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 3.33 ERA

Danville took an early lead, but two key home runs in the middle innings sunk the Braves to their 5th straight loss. Nick Shumpert got work done leading off in the first inning, singling and then advancing all the way around to third base on a stolen base and a throwing error. A base hit from Luis Mejia brought Shumpert in for the first run of the game, and a Henry Quintero double made it 2-0 Danville. Greenville took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 5th, spurring a response from the Braves in the bottom of the inning on a home run from Shumpert to tie the game. Greenville pulled ahead by four runs in the 6th, and Danville would never catch up. A double from Justin Smith in the bottom of the 6th scored the Braves 4th run of the game, bringing around Greg Cullen to make it 7-4. The Braves left the bases loaded in the bottom of the 7th inning without drawing any closer, then made it 7-5 in the 8th on a single from Michael Mateja. They would get no more, losing 7-5.

Tanner Lawson made a strong start for the Braves, stifling the Reds offense with three scoreless innings. Lawson allowed the sole hit off of him to the second batter, then retired 8 of the last 9 with only an error interrupting that streak. Lawson’s 5 strikeouts are a new career-high for him, and he has ot walked a batter in his last 13 innings. Jake Higginbotham came into this game with a 1.01 ERA on the season, but that ballooned to 3.10 after a horrendous outing of relief. Higgy worked a clean 4th inning and struck out the side, but things went south quickly in the 5th as he allowed a 2 run home run to tie the game. Higginbotham then allowed 2 more hits in the inning to score the third run of the game, doubling the earned run total against him on the season. Higginbotham allowed the first three runners to reach in the second inning, then after recording the first out and allowing 2 runs to score he allowed another 2 run home run to make it 7 earned runs on the day. Higginbotham was then removed from the game for Connor Simmons. Connor Simmons saved some bullpen arms with 2 23 innings of good work, striking out 4 batters and allowing one hit and one walk. Tanner Allison pitched a perfect ninth with no strikeouts.

(20-27) GCL Braves 0, (23-24) GCL Yankees West 5

Box Score

Braulio Vasquez, 3B: 1-3, HBP, .275/.325/.430

Jeremy Fernandez: 0-4, .280/.324/.510

Patrick Weigel, SP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 0.00 ERA

The GCL offense was shut out, managing only 3 hits, and fell 5-0 to the Yankees. Jeremy Fernandez lost his 6 game hitting streak by going 0-4, but he didn’t strike out and over the past 12 games Fernandez only has 4 strikeouts. The Braves were being no hit through the first 7 innings, managing only a couple of walks and a hit batsmen to reach, but finally got themselves on the board with a 2 out single from Brandon Chapman. The Braves got two hits from Braulio Vasquez and Ray Hernandez in the ninth inning, but a ground out ended the game and they were shut out for the first time since July 10 and just the second time this season.

Patrick Weigel made his second rehab appearance for the Braves, and was even improved over his first with a perfect, 3 strikeout inning. Weigel was up to 95 with his fastball, which is extremely impressive two games back from Tommy John and is a good sign moving forward that his stuff will make a full recovery. Prior to his injury Weigel was one of the hardest throwers in the system, topping out at 99 mph though more consistently sitting 93-95 and saving that premium velocity for strikeout situations. You likely won’t see that velocity just yet from Weigel as he’ll be holding back a bit until he’s 100% rehabbed. Miguel Jerez came in to make an official full start for the Braves, but that didn’t last long as he got hit around a bit and struggled to find control of the zone. Jerez walked 3 batters in 2 13 innings of work and allowed 5 runs before being pulled from the game. Jackson Lourie pitched well as Jerez’s replacement, going 2 23 innings scoreless and striking out 4 batters. Lourie walked 2 and gave up 2 hits but stranded those runners. Gabriel Rodriguez did his thing, walking 4 batters in 1 13 innings but not allowing a hit or run and striking out 2. In 10 innings this season Rodriguez has only allowed 2 hits and 1 earned run, but has a horrific 21 walks and 38.9% BB rate while striking out 20 batters for a 37% K rate. Miguel Pena finished out the game with a scoreles 23 of an inning, striking out a batter for one of those outs and walking a batter.