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Braves minor leagues: A look ahead at Week 3 of the MiLB season

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We had more excitement on the Atlanta Braves farm this past week. What is on deck for the coming week of minor league play?

2021 Atlanta Braves Photo Day Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves farm system opened the 2021 season with an impressive 14-10 start. While Week 2 wasn’t as strong, the Braves still went a combined 11-13 with plenty of individual performances about which we can gush.

Let’s take a look at what the week ahead has in store and some performances that stood out last week.

Augusta Greenjackets vs. Fayetteville Woodpeckers — May 18-23

Last week: 2-4

Last week’s rotation: Alec Barger, Darius Vines, Spencer Strider, Chad Bryant, Joey Estes, and Tyler Owens

For a team that went 2-4, there was some nice starting pitching going on in Augusta last week. Keep in mind, most starts are going only three or four innings tops right now, but there is plenty to like. Both Barger and Vines had their second-straight solid start, but let’s focus on Joey Estes and Spencer Strider. Estes is a guy who’s been in the Talking Chop prospect rankings since he was drafted. He has a four-pitch mix, but how would the 2020 layoff affect him? Thus far it hasn’t, as he pitched 4.1 innings of one-run ball with three strikeouts and no walks last week. And Strider — just wow. He was literally perfect in his big league debut: no hits, no walks, nine batters faced, nine batters retired... seven of which came by strikeout.

Rome Braves vs. Bowling Green — May 18-23

Last week: 3-3

Last week’s rotation: A.J. Puckett, Ricky DeVito, Tanner Lawson, Alan Rangel, Bryce Elder, and Tanner Gordon

Okay, A.J. Puckett, I am intrigued. The 25-year-old out of Pepperdine had two strong appearances this past week. The first was a scoreless, 4.1-inning start where he was effectively wild, walking three and striking out two. The second was a 3.1-inning relief appearance, again scoreless but this time striking out four and walking just one. Through his first 11 innings, he’s posted a 0.82 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.

Michael Harris remained red-hot, with eight hits and his first two home runs of the season. He closed the week with a 4-for-4 performance including his third stolen base of the season. Cody Milligan continues to hit as well, closing out his week with an RBI in three-straight games.

Mississippi Braves vs. Chattanooga Lookouts — May 18-23

Last week: 2-4

Last week’s rotation: Nolan Kingham, Hayden Deal, Victor Vodnik, Odalvi Javier, Matt Withrow, and Mitch Stallings

While the bats have still been slowly getting started, Justin Dean looks like he may be coming alive after a nice week. Dean went 5-for-21 with two home runs and two stolen bases. Shea Langeliers leads the team in OPS with 1.027 and is tied for the lead with three home runs while Trey Harris leads the team with ten hits. Harris is still getting good at bats, but thus far all his hits have been singles. Once he gets comfortable and the power is back, he should really be grooving.

The bullpen is still untouchable. Troy Bacon, Jake Higginbotham, Brandon White and Brooks Wilson have thrown a combined 17.2 scoreless innings with 22 strikeouts and four walks and nary a run allowed. Victor Vodnik, who had an exciting debut last week, struggled a bit this time around but still struck out eight in 3.1 innings.

Gwinnett Stripers at Nashville Sounds — May 18-23

Last week: 4-2

Last week’s rotation: Kyle Wright, Tucker Davidson, Connor Johnstone, Jasseel De La Cruz, Kyle Muller, and Bryse Wilson

As of this writing, Davidson is in Atlanta, so the Stripers will likely have to fill his spot in the rotation after another dazzling start last week. He was even sharper than his 2021 debut, tossing seven scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking one. Jasseel De La Cruz made his first start of the season last week, striking out three over three, one-hit innings. Kyle Muller had a much-needed good start, tossing four innings of one-run ball, striking out six and walking three.

Drew Waters was back in the lineup and closed out the week with a hit in each of his last two games. He also walked three times and struck out once which was nice to see. Travis Demeritte and Orlando Arcia continue to be the big bats with a 1.316 OPS and 1.296 OPS respectively. Arcia leads Triple-A East with seven home runs, but was flashing the leather last week as well, doing it on all sides of the ball. Demeritte started the week with a pinch-hit home run and followed it up with a three-hit night to keep the hot bat rolling. Gwinnett is hitting and has come out of the gate red-hot.