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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Bryce Ball smacks doubters with two homer game

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Bryce Ball wasn’t the only player to hit two home runs on the day. Connor Lien also hit two home runs, one in which tied the game in the bottom of the 9th inning for the MBraves.

Bryce Ball
Bryce Ball
Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Gwinnett Stripers 1, Norfolk Tides 8

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, RF: 0-3, BB, 2 K
  • Cristian Pache, CF: 1-4, HR, RBI
  • Adam Duvall, LF: 0-3, BB, K
  • Tucker Davidson, SP: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER (4 R), 4 BB, 0 K
  • Patrick Weigel, RP: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

Right from the start, you could tell this wasn’t going to be a good game for Tucker Davidson. He hit the first batter, but got a double play ball from the next batter. However, He was going deep counts on most batters and struggled with fastball command. He just didn’t look comfortable. His velocity was fine as he was in his usual 90-95, but it is the end of the year and he did recently hit a new high in innings pitched. As a fan noted on Twitter, Davidson has still only allowed over three earned runs just once in 25 starts (if you count 3+ total runs, then it’s four times in 25 starts). This is also his first start without striking a batter out and his strikeout totals have been decreasing steadily since the end of July.

Patrick Weigel had all of his stuff working in relief, throwing all pitches for strikes. He wasn’t getting a ton of swing and miss, but still picked up three strikeouts. His fastball was the most lively I’ve seen this year. Some of the games I’ve seen he’s been low 90’s. Today he was more in the mid 90’s and even hit 98 mph on the stadium gun (though it wasn’t anywhere close to the strike zone). Chad Sobotka came on next and just wasn’t good. He gave up a grand slam that really put the game out of reach. AJ Minter came on in relief and with a couple of runners on got a groundout and strikeout to end the inning. It was really nice to see Minter get out of the inning without letting inherited runners scoring. Minter hasn’t walked a batter since being sent down.

The only thing to talk about on the offensive side was that Cristian Pache absolutely demolished the baseball in the 5th inning. That was his 1st Triple-A home run and ended a homerless drout that dated back to June 28th (over 50 games).

Mississippi Braves 6, Pensacola Blue Wahoos 7

Box Score

  • Trey Harris, RF: 0-4, BB
  • Connor Lien, CF: 3-4, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI
  • Ray Patrick Didder, SS: 2-4, SB
  • Connor Johnstone, SP: 6 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • Bradley Roney, RP: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

This game didn’t get really interesting until late. It was 4-3 as the game headed into the bottom of the 8th inning with the M-Braves batting. With the bases loaded and no out situation, they ended up failing to score a single run. This would completely backfire on them as Jason Creasy gave up four runs in the top of the 9th inning to make it a 6-3 game. In the bottom of the 9th, the MBraves had two on and Connor Lien got a hold of one to tie the game off his second home run. Ultimately the MBraves would lose in extra innings. Not scoring in the 8th inning really came back to bite them. One thing to note was that Greyson Jenista got pulled after going 0-3 with two strikeouts. He may have left with an injury, but didn’t see anything reported. Lane Adams replaced him and in two plate appearances walked and ground out.

Florida Fire Frogs 3, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2 (Game 1)

Box Score

  • Brett Langhorne, 2B: 2-3, 2B, RBI
  • Andy Wilkins, DH: 1-2, HR, 2 RBI
  • Sean Michel, CF: 2-3
  • Matt Hartman, SP: 6.2 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K

This was a weird game. Matt Hartman was not good here, but miraculously only gave up 2 runs in close to seven innings of work. The expression that it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good definitely applies here even if I don’t think it’s true. Thirteen baserunners and just two earned runs. The crazy thing is that Hartman only got one double play! Daysbel Hernandez only had to get one batter out (strikeout too) to pick up the save.

The offense wasn’t great, but they pulled out the victory thanks in part with Andy Wilkins two run home run.

Florida Fire Frogs 1, Charlotte Stone Crabs 4 (Game 2)

Box Score

  • Jordan Rodgers, 3B: 1-3, RBI
  • Zach Soria, DH: 2-3, 2B
  • Brooks Wilson, SP: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER (4 R), 0 BB, 5 K
  • Luis Mora, RP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K

Brooks Wilson pitched a complete game here. He did what he’s done all year. All Wilson does is throw strikes. When he’s commanding his pitches and locating, he’s damn near unhittable., However, when he’s missing spots, he’s a lot more hittable...but at the very least he isn’t giving up free passes.

Unfortunately for the Frogs, the offense has been pretty bad all season and so scoring one run isn’t any kind of surprise. Jordan Rodgers picked up an RBI in the 2nd inning and that was it. Frogs only had three hits in the game. Jefrey Ramos continues to be an enigma that frustrates. Any time he’s right at the .250 batting average mark he goes into a mini slump. For whatever reason, he just can’t hit over .250. This is the 2nd straight year he’ll hit in the .240’s. He’s only 20 years old. He was picking up more walks toward the end of the season and has even walked more than he struck out over the past 10 games. So it’s not a matter of striking out too much. It’s just a matter of making better harder contact. He could be a breakout candidate heading into next season for me.

Rome Braves 7, Greensboro Grasshoppers 0

Box Score

  • Bryce Ball, 1B: 2-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI
  • Greg Cullen, 2B: 3-4, RBI
  • Shea Langeliers, C: 2-5, 2 2B, 2 R
  • Connor Blair, RF: 1-3, HR, RBI, BB, SB
  • Mitch Stallings, SP: 8 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K

Oooooh, boy, this was a good game all around. Mitch Stallings had it going today and while he didn’t strike out many batters, the defense was spectacular all game to back him up. Luis Mora made things interesting in the 9th as he loaded the bases, but then struck the next three batters out to end the game.

On offense, there were many strong performances, but none better than Bryce Ball. This guy is just a monster with a bat. When he hit his second home run of the game, there were runners on 2nd and 3rd, and one would think that he was going to get pitched around...and he was for the first three pitches. They weren’t anywhere close to the strike zone. Then the pitcher got careless and threw a pitch low and in and Bryce Ball crushed it. Most hitters would likely take that pitch, but Ball is very aggressive and knows the strike zone. Shea Langeliers continues to stay red hot with hit two more doubles today. The only strange thing in this game, and it’s happened before, is when Justin Dean doesn’t play the manager inserts Jeremy Fernandez and his .269 OBP into the leadoff spot. He struck out three times. Other than that, you can’t really complain about the results.