The big news on the Atlanta Braves farm system Monday wasn’t a big-time prospect, but a big-time signing. Dallas Keuchel got the nod in Rome for his Braves debut. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of prospect action Monday night. Drew Waters had a big night and Cristian Pache went boom, while a walkoff win highlighted an undefeated night.
Here’s how it all went down for the Braves minor leagues.
Gwinnett Stripers — Off
Tuesday’s probable starter: Bryce Wilson
Mississippi Braves vs. Jackson Generals:
Game 1: M-Braves, 6-1: Box score
Game 2: M-Braves, 2-1: Box score
- Cristian Pache, CF: 2-for-8, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI (combined)
- Drew Waters, LF: 4-for-8, 1 R, 1 RBI (combined)
- Ian Anderson: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K
Game 1 continued from a rain-shortened Sunday start and the M-Braves were able to finish what they started. The pitching was botched from rain delays, but all four pitchers looked fine. Tucker Davidson started the game 24 hours earlier and only went 2.1 strong innings in the ugly weather while Jasseel De La Cruz relieved him, tossing 1.1 shutout innings. He did walk three, which is a bit concerning especially since he’s walked 11 in his last four outings. Claudio Custodio picked things up and went 4.1 shutout innings, striking out three as Thomas Burrows shut it down.
Waters had a big first game with three hits, including his eighth triple of the season, and his second three-hit game in his last three increases his Southern League lead for the batting title (.322). But it was Ryan Casteel who once again delivered, going 3-for-4 with four RBI, including his seventh home run of the year.
Game 2 was the Pache show as his solo blast in the third tied the game and his RBI ground out put the M-Braves ahead for good in the fifth. Anderson had an up and down start, landing 57 of 92 pitches for strikes and walking three, but scattering five hits and striking out nine. It’s the fourth time in his last five starts he allowed just one run. Jeremy Walker continues to thrive out of the pen. He has now not allowed a run in his last eight appearances, all while striking out 10 and walking one.
Tuesday’s probable starter: Andres Santiago, Kyle Muller (doubleheader)
Florida Fire Frogs vs. Dunedin Blue Jays — PPD
Tuesday’s probable starter: TBD
Rome Braves 1, Charleston RiverDogs 0 (10)
- Derian Cruz, 3B: 1-for-4, 1 RBI
- Logan Brown, C: 1-for-4
- Dallas Keuchel: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
Yes, it was Dallas Keuchel Night in Rome, but what can’t be lost in his performance was how amazing a pitcher’s duel this turned out to be. One of the top prospects in the New York Yankees system, Luis Gil matched zeroes with Keuchel for seven innings, striking out 10 and walking one. The two put on quite the show for the nearly 4,000 in attendance.
There weren’t many base runners on the evening, with just five hits and two walks combined, which brought on extra innings. Our old friend Derian Cruz delivered, knocking in the game-winning run in the tenth on an RBI single. He looks a lot more confident and his swing, now solely from the right-hand side, doesn’t seem as big as it used to. Perhaps he has turned that corner we have all been waiting for him to, well, turn.
And of course there was Keuchel. Everything was working for the lefty. He cruised through seven, needing just 77 pitches, 55 of which were strikes. He was landing his cutter, slider, change, and fastball and the few balls he threw didn’t miss by much. He was hitting the upper 80s with his fastball is which is where he has been. It’s his deception on the other pitches that made Keuchel more effective.
“It’s not necessarily a velocity game for me,” Keuchel said in front of his locker to a room full of media. “It never has been. In California when I was throwing, I think I was anywhere from 85 to 90. I was just trying to stay in control. You’re going to have an uptick in velocity no matter what, the adrenaline will be pumping and the competitiveness comes out. It was nice to work behind a few guys.”
Keuchel left the field signing autographs for fans by the Marina in left field before preparing for the onslaught of reporters on hand in Rome. He expects to make at least one more start, likely Saturday, but it all depends on the weather and where the teams — most likely Gwinnett — are. But for Braves fans, they were treated to their future rotation piece who isn’t all that far away from competing for the team he grew up rooting for.
“It’s an organization I grew up enjoying,” Keuchel said after the game. “I was a big fan of the Big Three, but who wasn’t. Just to be part of an organization that’s such class and has such a rich history, it doesn’t get any better than that. I’m just happy to be along for the ride.”
Tuesday’s probable starter: Gabriel Noguera