It was an interesting week for the Atlanta Braves minor league affiliates. Three teams walked away with series splits, while Gwinnett — arguably the hottest team in the system — couldn’t manage a win. The Braves farm finished 9-15 for the week.
That’s not to say there weren’t stand out performances. Let’s take a look at some of those prospects that shined and what’s in store for Week 4 of the minor league season.
Augusta GreenJackets at Columbia Fireflies — May 25-30
Last week: 3-3
Last week’s rotation: Alec Barger, Spencer Strider, Joey Estes, Roddery Munoz and Darius Vines
This rotation is very fun to watch and has five intriguing arms from top to bottom. Spencer Strider has reached absurd level, making Low-A look entirely too easy for him. His most recent outing saw his fastball pumping and Fayetteville hitters not able to keep up, as he struck out 10 in 3.2 innings of work. Look at the ERAs and WHIPs of the GreenJackets starters thus far:
- Spencer Strider: 0.00 ERA, 0.15 WHIP
- Darius Vines: 0.75 ERA, 1.08 WHIP
- Joey Estes: 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP
- Alec Barger: 2.76 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
- Roddery Munoz: 5.54 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Obviously, Munoz’s numbers aren’t what you want to see, but his fastball is electric and he is working on consistency. He definitely has stuff you want to watch.
It was nice to see Vaughn Grissom back in the lineup, recording two hits in the three games he played last week after a mini hiatus. Drew Campbell also returned to action for the first time since May 8 and had four hits in eight at bats.
Rome Braves vs. Greenville Drive — May 25-30
Last week: 3-3
Last week’s rotation: Tanner Lawson, Ricky DeVito, Alan Rangel, Bryce Elder, Mitch Stallings and Tanner Gordon
Michael Harris is good at baseball. Very good, as a matter of fact. Last week, he went 8-for-19 raising his season slash line to .359/.382/.531. He leads High-A East in hits with 23 and is third in batting average. Is Jesse Franklin V starting to get it going? He ended the week on a three-game hitting streak with a 4-for-4 performance to close it out.
Ricky DeVito continues to be plagued by bad luck on fielding, with another unearned run scoring on his watch. His peripherals are all solid through three starts — a 1.35 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and a 16:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio — and worth the watch every time he takes the bump. Bryce Elder had his strongest start of his pro career. The 2020 MLB draft pick went 6.1 strong innings of one-run ball, striking out seven and walking none.
Mississippi Braves vs. Montgomery Biscuits — May 25-30
Last week: 3-3
Last week’s rotation: Nolan Kingham, Hayden Deal, Matt Withrow, Victor Vodnik, Odalvi Javier and A.J. Puckett
Bullpen appreciation post: For the third-straight week, we are happy to report that Troy Bacon, Jake Higginbotham, Brandon White and Brooks Wilson have yet to allow a run (okay, we know Higgy hasn’t pitched since the first week, but still wanted to add him). They have looked good as well, throwing strikes and limiting base runners. In the rotation, Victor Vodnik had another strong start going 6.2 innings, allowing one run and striking out six. He now has 19 strikeouts in 14 innings, and after walking three batters in each of his first two outings, he walked just one this past week.
After recording three stolen bases in a doubleheader, Justin Dean is second in Double-A South with five swipes. He’s also scored nine runs and has two outfield assists. So, despite his batting average being surprisingly low, it still seems Dean is doing Justin Dean things. C.J. Alexander hit another home run, giving him four on the season and placing him second in the league. He is still struggling to make any other contact, as is Braden Shewmake who had two hits, one walk and six strikeouts in 21 at-bats last week. Our old friend Riley Unroe had back-to-back three-hit games and deserves a shoutout. As it stands, this team is still surprisingly cold at the plate, and we continue to wait for a breakout.
Gwinnett Stripers vs. Memphis Redbirds — May 25-30
Last week: 0-6
Last week’s rotation: Kyle Wright, Jasseel De La Cruz, Jose Rodriguez, Kyle Muller, Connor Johnstone and Tucker Davidson
Davidson made his 2021 Atlanta Braves debut on May 18 and pitched well, going six innings, striking out five and allowing three runs. He returned to Gwinnett and was nothing short of amazing, going six innings of one-run ball, striking out nine and walking one. Unfortunately, the Stripers bats were silent, and Davidson picked up his first loss of the year. In three Triple-A starts, he has a 0.90 ERA and 0.60 WHIP, while striking out 23 and walking four across 20 innings. Talk about a tough luck loss.
Other than Davidson, it was a rather uneventful week as the Stripers scored a mere 16 runs in six games. Drew Waters started the week red-hot with seven hits and three home runs in his first two games but went cold like the rest of the lineup after Wednesday. On the mound, the Kyles — Wright and Muller — were roughed up again. The duo has allowed 24 earned runs on 41 hits in just 30 innings pitched while walking 21 thus far.