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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Riley Goes Yard, Touki Dominates

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Touki Toussaint showed once again why he’s ready for Atlanta, and Austin Riley continued his latest hot streak with a first inning home run.

Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves - Game One Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

(63-65) Gwinnett Stripers 5, (71-57) Durham Bulls 0

Box Score

Austin Riley, 3B: 2-3, HR, RBI, .278/.345/.437

Rio Ruiz, 1B: 1-4, HR, 3 RBI, .266/.317/.386

Touki Toussaint, SP: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1.62 ERA

Touki Toussaint continued his dominance of the International League and the Stripers got home runs from Austin Riley and Rio Ruiz to fuel a 5-0 win. Gwinnett jumped to that lead early thanks to the bomb from Austin Riley in the first inning, and second half Riley seems to be fully locked in with 3 home runs in his last 5 games. Riley has hit safely in 4 of those 5 games and only struck out twice. A run scoring ground out made it 2-0 in the third inning, and then Riley was back at it again leading off the fourth with a single. Michael Reed followed with a base hit, and then Rio Ruiz blew the game open with his 8th home run of the season to make it 5-0. The Stripers only had one more hit following the 4th inning, but had already opened up more than enough of a lead for Touki Toussaint. Michael Reed had two hits in the game and over his last 13 games has 8 multi-hit games.

Touki Toussaint was once again in his highest gear, and the Durham batters stood little chance against him with only 3 hits over 7 innings. Touki had some struggles in the first inning with a couple of hits allowed, and there is a bit of a pattern developing with him having a tough time in the first or second inning, but he was able to work out of it scoreless and completely cut off any threat through the rest of his start. Touki retired 14 consecutive batters after allowing his second hit, 7 of those with strikeouts, before allowing a one out walk in the 6th inning. A strikeout ended that inning, then he worked around a one out hit in the 7th to finish his outing with a shutout intact. Toussaint has hit his stride since his promotion to Gwinnett, and over his last four starts has thrown 24 innings, allowed only 4 runs and has 28 strikeouts to only 6 walks. Touki only allowed more than one walk in one of those outings, and has thrown fewer than 100 pitches in each game showing a consistency and efficiency that is going to be the next step in his development. Adam McCreery finished out the game with 2 perfect innings while striking out 3 batters.

Next Game: 8/25 vs (59-69) Charlotte Knights @ 1:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

GWN: TBD

CHA: Asher Wojciechowksi (5-9, 4.41 ERA)

(59-67) Mississippi Braves 2, (63-62) Mobile Baybears 3 Game 1

Box Score

Cristian Pache, CF: 1-3, RBI, .329/.356/.443

Enderson Franco, SP: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 4.18 ERA

(60-67) Mississippi Braves 7, (63-63) Mobile Baybears 4 Game 2

Box Score

Cristian Pache, CF: 0-4, .311/.338/.419

Luis Valenzuela, DH: 2-4, 2B, RBI, .287/.313/.375

Dan Lietz, SP: 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 5.40 ERA

Mississippi couldn’t hold on to a lead in the first game of the double header, but scored seven runs in game 2 to split the day with the Baybears. Mississippi’s offense struggled early and the first seven batters of the game were sent back to the bench, but consecutive one out walks in the third inning got a rally started for the Braves. Cristian Pache then knocked in the first run of the game with a base hit, scoring Daniel Lockhart to make it 1-0 Braves. Connor Lien followed with another hit, scoring Ray-Patrick Didder, and the Braves had a chance for an even bigger inning but a double play from Alejandro Salazar ended the threat and the Braves were stuck with just two runs. Enderson Franco had allowed just one hit through three innings while the Braves led 2-0, but struggled to get the final out in the bottom of the fourth. A force out put runners at the corners with two outs and Franco then allowed 3 consecutive singles, each scoring a run to give Mobile their first lead of the game. Travis Demeritte’s walk that led off the top of the fourth was the last Mississippi baserunner to reach in the game, and former Braves prospect Ryan Clark finished off the game with a perfect ninth inning to seal a loss for Mississippi.

Mississippi took an early lead in game two and never looked back, opening it up to 7-1 before Mobile was able to get some late runs. Daniel Lockhart had the first run scoring hit of the game, knocking in two runs on an RBI single and a fielding error and then later scoring on a passed ball to make it 3-0 Misssissippi. Braves starter Dan Lietz allowed the only run against him in the bottom of the inning, with a force out cutting the Braves lead to 3-1. Mississippi added on more in the fourth inning, with a leadoff single from Tyler Marlette and a double from Luiz Valenzuela setting up a major scoring threat with none out. Carlos Martinez singled to score both runs and make it 5-1, then got all the way to third on an error on the play but was stranded there thanks to three consecutive strikeouts. Three singles in the 5th inning scored two more runs, including an RBI single from Luis Valenzuela, and the Braves had a commanding 7-1 lead after 4 and a half innings. Rex Brothers pitched a scoreless inning of relief in the 4th before making way for Tyler Pike in the 5th. Pike gave the Baybears a glimmer of hope, allowing a home run then two walks and a single to load the bases with no outs. Justin Kelly came in and allowed 2 of those inherited to score to make it 7-4, but was able to prevent any further damage and finish a complete inning. Jason Hursh finished things off with two scoreless innings, with one hit and no walks or strikeouts.

Next Game: 8/24 vs (76-54) Biloxi Shuckers @ 8:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

MIS: Michael Mader (4-3, 4.12 ERA)

BLX: Thomas Jankins (10-8, 4.42 ERA)

(49-73) Florida Fire Frogs 8, (67-58) Jupiter Hammerheads 9

Box Score

Drew Waters, CF: 2-4, 3B, BB, .267/.313/.356

CJ Alexander, 3B: 2-4, BB, 2 RBI, .370/.393/.500

Riley Delgado, SS: 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI, .310/.371/.338

Huascar Ynoa, SP: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 8.69 ERA

Most of the Fire Frogs put up an impressive offensive performance, but a bullpen meltdown in the 9th inning blew a huge lead and led to a loss. Florida quickly fell behind in the game allowing 3 runs over the first two innings, but in the third inning a Riley Delgado double got things started and he ended up scoring on a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 3-1. Jordan Rogers led off a big fourth inning with a double, and then Isranel Wilson singled to bring in Rodgers and cut the Hammerheads lead to one. A stolen base and a walk advanced Wilson to third, and Delgado tied the game up with an RBI single. CJ Alexander then gave the Fire Frogs their first lead of the game with a 2 run single, scoring Delgado and Drew Waters to make it 5-3 in favor of the Fire Frogs. Rodgers once again got a rally started in the 8th inning, this time with a leadoff walk, and he came in to score on a triple from Kurt Hoekstra. Another hit from Izzy Wilson make it 7-3, and then consecutive hits from Waters and Delgado brought in Wilson to extend the Fire Frogs lead to 8-3. All seemed well, until Florida allowed 6 runs in the top of the ninth. Garrison Schwartz and Kurt Hoekstra had hits in the bottom of the ninth, but three strikeouts assured those runners wouldn’t score and Florida fell 9-8. Drew Waters is now on an 8 game hitting streak and is hitting .353 in that span. Braxton Davidson struck out 5 times in the game, giving him 198 on the season and bringing him 3 strikeouts away from breaking the Florida State League’s all time record.

Huascar Ynoa was all over the place in this start, and early on it was a question if he would even manage to get out of the very early stages of the game. Ynoa allowed a leadoff walk and then a single in the first inning, then a throwing error from Lucas Herbert allowed a run to score with one out. Another single brought in a run, but Ynoa was able to get a strikeout and ground out to prevent further damage. Ynoa really struggled to open the second inning, allowing a double and then two singles and a walk to load the bases, but settled down and struck out a batter before getting two fly outs to end the inning with only one run in. Ynoa then struck out the side in order in the third inning, then went right back to having a bad day with a single and a walk to lead off the fourth. Ynoa worked out of this jam scoreless, getting his 7th strikeout of the game in the process. The bullpen was left with a lot of work to do but Brandon White stepped up in a big way, pitching three perfect innings of relief and striking out two batters to save some bullpen arms. Daysbel Hernandez pitched a shaky but scoreless 8th, but when brought out for the ninth inning things quickly unraveled. An error by the usually steady Riley Delgado led off the inning, then a double followed before a ground out. This is when things got bad, as a single scored the second run of the inning and then two consecutive walks loaded the bases and brought the go ahead run to the plate with one out. That man singled, scoring two runners, and another error allowed both remaining runners into scoring position. Hernandez was lifted for Chase Johnson-Mullins, who struck out the first batter then allowed a two run scoring single to give Jupiter the lead in the game. CJM finished the inning off with a strikeout but the damage was done and the Fire Frogs took a bad loss.

5 strikeouts

Next Game: 8/24 vs (69-58) Lakeland Flying Tigers @ 6:31 PM ET

Probable Starters

FLO: Connor Johnstone (1-3, 2.81 ERA)

LAK: Anthony Castro (8-3, 3.08 ERA)

(66-59) Rome Braves 3, (63-59) West Virginia Power 2

Box Score

Jefrey Ramos, LF: 1-4, .239/.284/.407

Drew Lugbauer, DH: 1-3, 2B, BB, .236/.314/.383

Walter Borkovich, SP: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1.98 ERA

A strong pitching performance and a few key hits and errors were enough for the Braves to get their third straight win. West Virginia took a 1-0 lead in the early stages, then in the fourth inning Jefrey Ramos had a one out single to get things started. An error allowed both he and Drew Lugbauer on base, and with two outs Hagen Owenby tied the game up with an RBI single. In the 6th it was Lugbauer getting a rally started, smashing a double with one out. Trey Harris came through with a run scoring single, giving Rome their first lead of the game at 2-1. West Virginia tied the game up in the top of the 8th, but Rome had a big chance in the bottom of the ninth when an error allowed Marcos Almonte to reach second base with none out. A ground out from Derian Cruz advanced Almonte to third, and then a sacrifice fly walked off the game without a hit to give Rome a 3-2 win. Jefrey Ramos has been a bit disappointing this season hitting only .239 despite a jump in his power production. His 40.1% fly ball rate contributes to both that jump in power and his .263 BABIP, but it doesn’t explain such a low rate of success on balls in play and with a 17.2% strikeout rate that represents the lowest of his young career he could be due for a breakout next season if his numbers normalize. Scouting-wise, Ramos has a good feel for the barrel and tends to make solid contact and this season seems far outside of what would be expected of him.

Walter Borkovich pitched 7 innings of one run ball on just 83 pitches, with his defense carrying a huge load as he had only 2 strikeouts in the game. Borkovich allowed a couple of singles in the second inning, leading to the first run of the game off of him and putting Rome behind early 1-0. Borkovich shut down the Power the rest of the way through though, allowing 4 more hits over the next 5 innings and departing with a 2-1 lead. Cutter Dyals was brought in and hit the first batter he faced, then a fielding error put two runners on with none out. A bunt single loaded the bases, and Dyals allowed the tying run on a double play though that likely prevented further damage in the inning. A ground out ended the inning with the game tied 2-2. Hayden Deal pitched the top of the ninth inning and got ground outs from all three batters he faced.

Next Game: 8/24 vs (63-59) West Virginia Power 7:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

ROM: Odalvi Javier (3-10, 4.35 ERA)

WV: Sergio Cubilete (4-5, 5.60 ERA)

(31-31) Danville Braves 8, (38-24) Bluefield Blue Jays 3

Box Score

Nick Shumpert, SS: 2-5, 2 2B, 4 RBI, .254/.311/.410

Justin Smith, LF: 3-4, .235/.328/.471

Tanner Lawson, SP: 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.76 ERA

A big offensive day paved the way for a Danville win, with Nick Shumpert continuing his torrid spell at the top of the Braves order. Bluefield took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, then both sides traded zeroes before Danville was able to respond in the bottom of the 5th inning. Carlos Baerga Jr. and Michael Mateja led off the inning with singles, and then Shumpert came through with his first double of the game to knock both in and tie the game 2-2. Bluefield came right back in the 6th with a run, but Danville had another answer. Justin Smith led off with a single, and then a double from Rusber Estrada put both in scoring position. A ground out scored Smith, and then a critical fielding error on a ground ball from Shumpert scored Estrada to give Danville the lead in the game. Estrada led off the 8th inning with a single and Mateja had his 3rd hit of the game to put two runners on for Shumpert, who doubled in both for his 3rd and 4th RBIs of the game to extend the lead to 6-3. A single from Henry Quintero scored Shumpert, then Griffin Benson doubled to score Quintero for the Braves 8th run of the game. Nick Shumpert has come alive since moving to the leadoff spot for Danville, hitting .394/.432/.667 in 8 games in that role. Shumpert has 5 multi hit games in his last 6 games and has 6 of his 15 extra base hits this season in that span.

Tanner Lawson gave up a couple of runs in the first inning on 4 hits, but the Danville pitching staff tightened up from their and only allowed one more run. In Lawson’s second and final inning of his start he struck out two batters in a perfect inning, leaving with the Braves down 2-0. The next pitcher in line was Jake Higginbotham, who was fantastic in relief over three innings of work. Higginbotham threw 3 scoreless innings and struck out 3 batters while walking one and allowing one hit. This was 5 days after allowing 7 runs in his previous outing and was a fantastic turn around. Connor Simmons allowed a solo home run in his first inning of work that gave the Blue Jays the lead back, but while the Braves offense rallied he pitched 2 scoreless innings to follow and got the win in the game. Mason McReaken pitched the final inning, striking out two batters and walking two but allowing no hits or runs.

(22-30) GCL Braves 5, (24-28) GCL Tigers East 4

Box Score

Braulio Vasquez, 2B: 1-3, BB, RBI, .270/.318/.411

Jeremy Fernandez, CF: 2-4, 2B, BB, .282/.325/.492

Javier Ciriaco, SP: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0.96 ERA

A big day from Charles Reyes drove the Braves offense in a 5-4 win. Jeremy Fernandez led the game off with a walk, and Reyes came through to give the Braves a very early lead with a 2 run home run. In the 5th inning Juan Morales led off with a base hit, then Jeremy Fernandez knocked his first hit of the game to represent another major threat for the Braves. A sacrifice fly from Braulio Vasquez brought in Morales, and then Ray Hernandez singled to left field to score Fernandez and make it 4-1 Braves. A double from Fernandez and then a single from Reyes added a key run in the top of the 9th inning to make it 5-3. Fernandez has been fantastic this season, striking out just 12.9% of the time while posting a career high .208 ISO. This is a massive jump in his power production despite seeing a slight drop in his fly ball rate, as he has a 24.4% line drive rate and has upped his HR/FB to 17.4%. His .280 BABIP indicates he could have even more room for those number to go up, and it’s definitely time to see if he can maintain those contact rates as higher levels.

Javier Ciriaco made his first start in two years and his first in the Gulf Coast League, and he pitched an absolutely stellar 5 innings for the Braves. Ciriaco struck out the first three batters he faced in the game, and struck out 5 of the first 8 batters before allowing a hit and then striking out his 6th of the game. A leadoff triple in the fourth inning led to the only run against him, but he didn’t allow another run in the inning and got one more strikeout. Ciriaco struck out the first batter of the 5th inning, then allowed a single but finished the inning scoreless. Ciriaco has a 0.96 ERA since his promotion stateside and 13 strikeouts to 2 walks in 9 13 innings. Gabriel Rodriguez allowed a run in his one inning of work, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out two batters. Jackson Lourie worked the 7th inning and allowed a run on a hit batter, a walk, a bunt single, and a sacrifice fly then pitched a scoreless 8th. Lourie hit the first batter of the ninth inning, then three wild pitched scored him to bring the Tigers within one run. A walk put the tying run on base, but Lourie was able to get a fly out to end the inning and the game with a Braves win.