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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap 8/25: Austin Riley Stays Hot

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Austin Riley hit another home run for Gwinnett, his fourth in six games. In Mississippi Kyle Muller pushed his personal win streak to 4 games with another stellar start.

Austin Riley Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

(64-65) Gwinnett Stripers 11, (59-70) Charlotte Knights 5 Game 1

Box Score

Austin Riley, DH: 1-4, HR, BB, 2 RBI, .277/.346/.446

Rio Ruiz, 1B: 1-4, HR, BB, 3 RBI, .266/.318/.391

Kyle Wright, SP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2.70 ERA

(65-65) Gwinnett Stripers 7, (59-71) Charlotte Knights 4 Game 2

Box Score

Austin Riley, 3B: 1-5, 2B, .276/.344/.445

Rio Ruiz, 1B: 2-3, BB, RBI, .269/.321/.393

Connor Johnstone, SP: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 4.50 ERA

Gwinnett’s offense came to life as they swept a double header with the Charlotte Knights while scoring 18 total runs. Austin Riley opened it up in a big way in the first game, crushing his 9th Gwinnett home run and second in two games to give the Stripers a 2 run lead in the top of the first inning. Corbin Clouse, who was starting for some reason gave two runs back on 2 hits and a walk in the bottom of the first inning before retiring the side with his second strikeout. Clouse allowed another run in the second inning while striking out one. Clouse was replaced by Philip Pfeifer, who kept the game within a run in the fourth and fifth innings while the Stripers offense couldn’t push anymore runs across. In the top of the 5th they broke through, with Phil Gosselin hitting a go ahead two run home run to make it 4-3 Stripers. Gwinnett didn’t hold that lead long, however, with Pfeifer allowing 2 runs in his third inning of work to give Charlotte the lead back. Dustin Peterson tied things back up in the top of the 6th inning, singling to score Danny Santana for the Stripers 5th run.

Kyle Wright then came in for a relief appearance in the 6th inning, and allowed a leadoff double but set down the next three batters including a strikeout to work a scoreless frame. It’s likely that Wright is approaching his innings limit, as he reached 135 in his last start and 140 would be a sensible number for him to cap at. The teams traded scoreless 7th innings, then Gwinnett put their collective foot (fin?) on the pedal in the final two innings. A Michael Reed double in the 8th put he and Austin Riley on with none out, then a walk to Rio Ruiz loaded the bases for Dustin Peterson. Peterson singled to score Austin Riley and give Gwinnett the lead, then Ryan Flaherty had the biggest hit of the inning to bring in two more and make it 8-5 Gwinnett. In the ninth hits from Danny Santana and Michael Reed set up Rio Ruiz to crack a 3-run home run, putting the game out of reach and giving Ruiz home runs in consecutive games. Jacob Webb came in and pitched a perfect ninth with a strikeout.

Gwinnett struck first again in Game two, with a double from Austin Riley and a single by Rio Ruiz bringing around the first run of the game in the first inning. Connor Johnstone took the lead and ran with it early, starting the game off with 4 scoreless innings in a spot start. In the top of the fourth inning Rio Ruiz walked to start the inning, then doubles from Sean Kazmar Jr. and Phil Gosselin scored two runs to make it 3-0 in favor of Gwinnett. A 5th inning solo home run off of Johnstone brought the Knights a run closer, but Gwinnett responded with a big inning in the top of the 6th. A single from Rio Ruiz and double from Dustin Peterson put the Stripers in a good position, then a throwing error allowed Ruiz to score and put Kazmar on base. A wild pitch scored Peterson, then Gosselin doubled in Kazmar and later scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 7-1 in favor of the Stripers. Johnstone allowed a two run home run in his 6th and final inning, then turned the ball over to Peter Moylan in the 7th. Moylan and Brandon McCarthy each pitched a single inning of scoreless relief before giving the ball to Adam McCreery in the 9th. McCreery allowed a run on two walks and a hit while striking out two batters.

Next Game: 8/26 vs (59-71) Charlotte Knights @ 5:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

GWN: Max Fried (2-5, 4.10 ERA)

CHA: Jordan Guerrero (5-2, 3.00 ERA)

(62-67) Mississippi Braves 3, (76-56) Biloxi Suckers 1

Box Score

Cristian Pache, CF: 2-4, .317/.341/.415

Travis Demeritte, LF: 1-4, 2B, 3 RBI, .224/.321/.419

Kyle Muller, SP: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 2.25 ERA

Kyle Muller’s strong start and a big hit in the 3rd inning fueled Mississippi to their third straight win and put them half a game back of Biloxi in the playoff race. Biloxi struck first in the second inning, but in the third it was Mississippi who would come through with a big hit. Kyle Muller walked to lead off the inning, then a single from Alejandro Salazar and walk to Tyler Neslony loaded the bases with one out for the Braves leading run producer Travis Demeritte. On an 0-1 pitch Demeritte knocked a double into the left field gap, clearing the bases and giving the Braves a 3-1 lead. The Braves only got two more hits over the remainder of the game, but the pitching staff held tight to their lead and led them to a 3-1 win. Demeritte has been the keystone to this Braves offense in August with a .924 OPS and 12 RBIs in 19 games. Mississippi has a chance to vault themselves into first place if they win on Sunday, and three teams (Biloxi, Mississippi, and Pensacola) are all within half a game of the second half division win in the South.

Kyle Muller was stellar for Mississippi once again, moving to 4-0 in his 4 starts at Double-A. Muller struggled a bit early, including a single in the first inning and then two walks in the second. Another hit in that second inning brought in a run against him, but he shut down the Shuckers offense from there allowing only 3 more baserunners. The closest Biloxi came was in the fourth, when Muller allowed a single and double but stranded those runners on base by forcing a ground out. Muller pitched a perfect 5th inning and allowed just a walk in the 6th to finish his day with one run allowed over 6 innings. Elian Leyva pitched a scoreless inning of relief in the seventh, then Rex Brothers did the same in the 8th inning. Jason Hursh got him 6th save of the season with a scoreless ninth, allowing one hit and no walks with no strikeouts.

Next Game: 8/26 vs (76-56) Biloxi Shuckers @ 6:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

MIS: Ian Anderson (0-1, 6.75 ERA)

BLX: Marcos Diplan (2-4, 5.09 ERA)

(49-75) Florida Fire Frogs 1, (71-58) Lakeland Flying Tigers 5

Box Score

Drew Waters, CF: 0-4, BB, .255/.305/.347

CJ Alexander, DH: 1-3, BB, .377/.406/.525

William Contreras, C: 1-4, 2B, RBI, .266/.324/.344

Albinson Volquez, SP: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 11.50 ERA

Albinson Volquez allowed one run over 6 innings in his debut for Florida, but it wasn’t enough for Florida as the offense only produced one run and they lost 5-1. The Fire Frogs had little offense through the first 7 innings of the game, producing no runs and falling behind 5-0 after 7 and a half innings. In the bottom of the 8th they finally broke through, with a double from William Contreras scoring CJ Alexander to make it 5-1. Drew Waters went 0-4 to snap a 9 game hitting streak, but he did draw a walk that extended his on base streak to 15 games. William Contreras has not struck out in his last 4 games for Florida. Braxton Davidson struck out two times in the game, giving him 200 on the season to tie the all time Florida State League record, set by Gerald Lyscio back in 1965. Davidson has 7 more games to strike out one more time to break the record.

Albinson Volquez was called up from across town, jumping all the way from the Gulf Coast League to the Florida State League to make a spot start. He was unsurprisingly shaky, but was able to keep the Fire Frogs in the game by allowing only one run over his six innings of work. 2 walks and a hit batter loaded the bases in the first inning, but Volquez limited the damage to one run on a sacrifice fly and that was all that Lakeland would manage off of him. Volquez allowed 5 total walks in the game and hit another batter, but the Flying Tigers only managed to get three hits and because of this couldn’t really capitalize on Volquez’s mistakes. Victor Cavalieri came in to relieve in the 7th (another GCL to FSL promotion a couple of weeks ago) and he continued his struggles by allowing 2 runs in the 7th inning. Cavalieri was brought back out in the 8th inning and allowed 2 batters to reach before being pulled from the game for Alex Camacho. Camacho was also promoted all the wayb from the GCL, but he actually had some success in rookie ball unlike the two previous pitchers and didn’t allow any earned runs over 2 innings. He did allow both inherited runners to score thanks to a single and a couple of wild pitches, but didn’t walk anyone and struck out a batter in his two innings. This need for the Braves to promote guys across so many levels highlights the depth problems the international sanctions will cause, as now that players are being promoted out of the level or injured the Braves are forced to promote non prospects into an unfair situation due to travel considerations, a lack of depth overall, and unwillingness to bring up legitimate prospects who have not yet earned a promotion to the next level.

Next Game: 8/26 vs (71-58) Lakeland Flying Tigers @ 11:00 AM ET

Probable Starters

FLO: Jeremy Walker (4-11, 4.19 ERA)

LAK: Liarvis Breto (3-2, 2.61 ERA)

(66-61) Rome Braves 6, (65-59) West Virginia Power 7

Box Score

Jefrey Ramos, LF: 1-4, BB, .239/.285/.405

Drew Lugbauer, DH: 2-4, 2 2B, BB, .239/.319/.389

Freddy Tarnok, SP: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 4.14 ERA

Rome was unable to overcome early runs allowed by the pitching staff and took a 7-6 loss to West Virginia. Rome fell behind 4-0 in the top of the second, then responded in the bottom of the inning to chip away one of those runs. A throwing error allowed Trey Harris to reach base, then hits from Hagen Owenby and Alan Crowley scored the Braves first run of the day. The Braves then fell behind 7-1, but a big 6th inning gave them hope of a comeback. A single from Jefrey Ramos led off the inning, then doubles from Drew Lugbauer and Trey Harris scored 2 runs. A single from Owenby scored Harris, and then Kevin Josephina doubled, all with nobody out. A pitching change then happened and the Braves rally was crushed, with only one more run scoring on a sacrifice fly to make the deficit 7-5. The Braves had one more opportunity in the bottom of the ninth, with AJ Graffanino reaching on an error to lead off the inning and then walks to Ramos and Lugbauer loading the bases with nobody. A ground out from Harris scored one to bring the game within a run, but with a runner on third base the Braves struck out twice to end the game with a tough loss.

Freddy Tarnok had a strong first inning, setting down the Power in order and striking out one batter. Things got rough for Tarnok in the second inning, as he allowed 2 walks and 3 hits before being pulled from the game due to pitches thrown with two outs in the inning. Tarnok allowed 4 runs, all unearned due to an error, but departed with his team trailing 4-1. John Curtis came in to relieve Tarnok and took up the bulk of the remaining innings in the game. Curtis struggled early allowing 2 runs in the third inning and then another in the fourth, but settled down over the remainder of the game and finished with three scoreless innings. Brooks Wilson was fantastic in relief over the final two innings, allowing 1 hit, no walks and no runs while striking out 3 batters. Wilson has a 1.05 ERA in 25 23 innings over two levels this season.

Next Game: 8/26 vs (65-59) West Virginia Power 2:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

ROM: Alan Rangel (5-6, 3.96 ERA)

WV: Max Kranick (4-5, 3.96 ERA)

(32-32) Danville Braves 14, (40-22) Princeton Rays 7

Box Score

Henry Quintero, RF: 2-5, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, .270/.294/.362

Zack Soria, C: 204, 2B, HR, BB, 4 RBI, .195/.292/.256

Matt Hartman, SP: 3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2.87 ERA

An offensive outburst saw every Danville hitter with a hit and all but one reaching base twice in a 14-7 win. Danville fell behind 2-0 after the first inning, but they had a big inning up their sleeves in the third. Consecutive singles from Carlos Baerga Jr. and Michael Mateja led off the inning, then a fielding error loaded the bases. The Braves scored all three runners in the inning with them coming in on a wild pitch, an error, and finally a Ricardo Rodriguez single to make it 3-2 Braves. Danville fell behind again and trailed 4-3 after 5 innings, but in the final 3 innings they turned up the heat. A three run home run from Zack Soria gave the Braves the 6-4 lead in the sixth inning, then the Braves extended that lead on Rodriguez’s triple in the seventh. Rodriguez also scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 8-4 in favor of Danville. A walk to Carlos Baerga set up Nick Shumpert for an RBI triple in the 8th inning, then Luis Mejia doubled to score Shump and Henry Quintero tripled to score Mejia to give Danville an 11-4 lead. The Braves got 4 more hits and three more runs in the top of the ninth inninf to make it 14-4 in favor of Danville. They scored 11 runs in the final 4 innings, and 8 of their 15 hits in the game were extra base hits.

Matt Hartman got the start for Danville, and he struggled in his three innings of work although some of that was due to defensive problems behind him. Hartman allowed a home run to the first batter he faced in the game, then a fielding error allowed the next batter to reach base. That run came around to score, putting Danville behind by two runs in the game. Another error in the third inning led to a run, helped by Hartman’s 2 wild pitches in the inning. Hartman left and Luis Mora came on to pitch, and he had one of his better outings since coming off of the disabled list. Mora struck out 2 batters and allowed only one run over two innings, though he did allowed 2 walks and three hits. Mitch Stallings pitched two scoreless innings and struck out 3 batters. Across two levels this season Stallings has 30 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 25 innings, with a .421 BABIP against resulting in a 4.68 ERA. This may not be entirely abnormal, however, as he has allowed a 29% line drive rate and seems to consistently get hard contact even though he gets swings and misses as well. Ryan Shetter pitched a perfect 8th inning of relief, then another error in the 9th inning extended the inning for Shetter to allow a 3 run home run.

(22-32) GCL Braves 0, (37-16) GCL Tigers West 12

Box Score

Wiston Cerrato, C: 2-4, .159/.245/.182

Jeremy Fernandez, CF: 0-4, .281/.322/.492

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

Patrick Weigel was the lone bright spot for the GCL Braves in their 12-run, shutout loss to the Tigers. Offensively the Braves had 8 hits on the day but none of those came home, with only two innings producing multiple baserunners. Joel Reyes led off the 8th inning with a double, the only extra base hit of the game, but was stranded there.

Patrick Weigel made his fourth rehab appearance for the GCL Braves and pitched his fourth scoreless inning, this time striking out one batter in a perfect inning. He has allowed only 2 hits and no walks while striking out 6 during this rehab. Victor Vodnik was brought on in relief and got crushed, allowing 5 hits and 4 runs while recording only 2 outs. Both outs were recorded via strikeout and he didn’t allow a walk, with all balls in play against him falling for hits. Walner Polanco came in to finish the inning and pitched 2 13 scoreless innings, but ran into his own problems when he was brought in for the 6th inning when he allowed 4 runs. They turned to Alex Aquino, who had a solid outing allowing only one run over 2 innings while striking out one. Miguel Pena pitched one inning and allowed only one earned run, then they turned to infielder Luis Ovando to close out the game. Ovando allowed two runs and struck out 1 batter. This was the fourth relief appearance for Ovando, who has struck out 5 batters and not walked any over 3 13 innings.