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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Justin Dean has a big game, Wright and Strider look great on the mound

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Interesting night down in the minors as all four affiliates eeked out close wins.

Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Gwinnett Stripers 2, Memphis Redbirds 1

Box Score

  • Orlando Arcia, SS: 1-4, HR, RBI, 1.100 OPS
  • Travis Demeritte, RF: 0-1. 3 BB, 1.164 OPS
  • Drew Waters, CF: 0-4, 2 K, .796 OPS
  • Kyle Wright, SP: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 5.03 ERA
  • Jesse Chavez, RP: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 3.00 ERA

Kyle Wright pitched well, the bullpen held down the fort for the most part, and Sean Kazmar came through with a walk-off hit in Gwinnett’s 2-1 win over Memphis. Considering how rough Wright had looked recently in his starts, it was certainly nice to see a strong start from him as he threw five scoreless innings. Chasen Bradford threw two scoreless innings of relief to lower his season ERA to 0.96. It is also worth mentioning that he has walked just one batter in six appearances so far this season. Jesse Chavez would get the call for the final two innings and while his innings were far more eventful, including giving up the tying run in the top of the ninth, he also struck out four in his two innings of work and now has 15 Ks in nine innings this season (six appearances).

The pickings were slim on offense on this evening as Angel Rondon and the Redbirds bullpen held the Stripers in check for most of the evening. Only Jason Kipnis and Abraham Almonte had multi-hit games for the Stripers and the only extra-base hit for the team came off the bat of Orlando Arcia. With two outs in the third inning, Arcia broke the scoreless tie with a solo homer to give Gwinnett a lead. However, with Drew Waters and the rest of the offense having a down night, Memphis hung around and managed to tie the game late. Fortunately, Gwinnett got a single and a couple of walks to load the bases for Striper legend Sean Kazmar who got the RBI single to end the game on the spot.

Mississippi Braves 4, Montgomery Biscuits 3

Box Score

  • Justin Dean, CF: 2-3, 2 2B, 2 SB, RBI, BB, .859 OPS
  • Drew Lugbauer, DH: 2-3, RBI, R, .840 OPS
  • Trey Harris, RF: 1-3, RBI, BB, .524 OPS
  • Nolan Kingham, SP: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 4.43 ERA
  • Daysbel Hernandez, RP: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

You are going to see a trend amongst the Braves’ affiliates this evening as Mississippi won a close game over Montgomery by the final score of 4-3. Justin Dean had himself a night as not only did he have a pair of extra-base hits, but he continued to be a terror on the basepaths with a pair of stolen bases to bring his season total to seven. CJ Alexander and Drew Lugbauer had multi-hit games for the Braves and Shea Langeliers added an extra-base hit out of the clean-up spot. Trey Harris continues to grind away and is trying to get into a groove offensively, but has yet to really impact the ball much this season. Braden Shewmake had another hitless night to bring his season OPS down to .373 which is...not anywhere close to what we thought it would be.

Nolan Kingham got the start for Mississippi and was his usual consistent self. He pitched into the seventh inning and while he did give up a couple runs and had his fair share of baserunners, he kept the game very manageable and was largely very efficient. Daysbel Hernandez, who was just demoted to Mississippi earlier in the day, pitched like a man who wanted to prove that he didn’t want his stay in Double-A to last very long as he was piping 98 mph and throwing filth in his nearly two innings of work. Brandon White came in to close things out and while he did give up a run late to make the game more interesting than it needed to be, he ultimately got the job done and has quietly put together a really nice season at the backend of Mississippi’s bullpen so far (1.13 ERA, 10 Ks in eight innings).

Rome Braves 6, Greenville Drive 5

Box Score

  • Kevin Josephina, 3B: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, .583 OPS
  • Michael Harris, CF: 1-4, RBI, .890 OPS
  • Beau Philip, SS: 1-2, HR, RBI, BB, HBP, 2 R, .619 OPS
  • Jared Shuster, SP: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 300 ERA
  • Trey Riley, RP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3.75 ERA

Rome matched Greenville’s four-run fifth inning with one of their own to hang in the game and Andrew Moritz promptly walked the game off with an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to secure the Braves a 6-5 win. Tonight marked the return of Jared Shuster to the mound. Although his return was admittedly brief, he did look good as the fastball was live and his changeup was predictably very good, but he only threw 34 pitches before exiting the game after being out the last couple of weeks. It will be interesting to see if he makes his next start and how his innings/pitch counts are managed going forward. Marrick Crouse would relief Shuster and he was....not good. However, hat tip to Trey Riley and the breakout relief star of 2021 Indigo Diaz who kept Rome in the game with a combined three scoreless innings of relief at the end of the game.

On offense, Rome didn’t amass a ton of baserunners on the evening, they made the ones they did get count going 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Kevin Josephina drove in two runs on the evening as he continues to work towards getting the title of honorary chairman of the Rome Braves. Beau Philip connected for his first home run of the season and Michael Harris had another RBI hit to go along with a stolen base for good measure. The bottom of the ninth saw yet another case of the Braves seizing on an opportunity as they got two baserunners quickly on a HBP and a walk and Moritz singled in the winning run for another one run win on the evening.

Augusta GreenJackets 4, Columbia Fireflies 3 - F/10

Box Score

  • Cade Bunnell, 2B: 2-5, 2B, HR, RBI, 2 R, .891 OPS
  • Willie Carter, RF: 3-5, RBI, .935 OPS
  • Ricardo Rodriguez, C: 3-4, 2B, RBI, BB, .899 OPS
  • Braulio Vasquez, 1B: 1-4, BB, 2 SB, .726 OPS
  • Spencer Strider, SP: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 0.00 ERA

Yep, that’s right....all four Braves affiliates won by a single run as Spencer Strider’s strong start set Augusta up for success and they ultimately won in extras by the score of 4-3. We are running out of superlatives to describe Spencer Strider at this point, so I will leave you with this: despite the fact that he actually had a few baserunners in this game, in 11 1/3 innings this season, he has struck out 26 batters. That is...a lot. We expect him to move up to Rome fairly quickly. Augusta would then trot out three different relievers in the game and each one gave up a run which would ultimately force extra innings.

On offense, Cade Bunnell was the star of the night with a pair of extra-base hits out of the leadoff spot including his third homer of the season. Willie Carter had another strong day at the plate with three hits with Ricardo Rodriguez, who has been making some hard contact so far this season, joining him. Braulio Vasquez did Braulio things as he stole two more bases to bring his total to 15 in this young season. Braulio. Will. Run. Stephen Paolini got the day off except for a pinch-running appearance late in the game. Hopefully the breather lets him get on track. Ricardo would prove to be the hero in this one as his RBI double in the top of the 10th with one out proved to be the game winner.