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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Bryce Ball, Willie Carter have good nights

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Bryce Ball doubled twice for Rome, Willie Carter hits his second home run for Augusta

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It was a down day for pitching prospects in the system, but the Atlanta Braves affiliates got some good offensive performances from prospects to hold you over. Willie Carter hit a huge home run for Augusta, and Bryce Ball and Michael Harris both delivered two hit games down in Rome.

(13-10) Gwinnett Stripers 3, (9-14) Memphis Redbirds 8

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, CF: 0-3, BB, HBP, .243/.356/.419
  • Orlando Arcia, SS: 0-5, .326/.393/.642
  • Jason Kipnis, 2B: 0-2, 2 BB, .333/.529/.583
  • Connor Johnstone, SP: 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 4.84 ERA
  • Yoan Lopez, RP: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 9.00 ERA

Gwinnett had a pretty awful day all around as the team only managed four hits and allowed three home runs to the Redbirds in an 8-3 loss. Gwinnett’s production came from the older veterans at the bottom of the lineup, with Abraham Almonte staying hot with the first Stripers’ RBI single of the game. The Stripers had a fairly good opportunity in the fifth inning following walks to Travis Demeritte and Drew Waters and Phillip Ervin came through with an RBI single. Unfortunately the game stayed at 5-2 as Orlando Arcia and Jason Kipnis grounded out to end the inning. Sean Kazmar knocked in the final run with a two out base hit in the eighth inning but the Stripers never put any sort of serious threat together after that fifth inning. Cristian Pache was supposed to make his first rehab appearance today and was even in the starting lineup prior to game time, but was an extremely late scratch and that spot went to Ervin.

Connor Johnstone made the start for Gwinnett and got through the first three innings, the fourth proved much more of a challenge for him. Three consecutive singles with one out in the inning brought in the second run of the game. Then after recording the second out, he allowed a three run home run that pushed the deficit to 5-0. Chasen Bradford had the strongest pitching performance among the Stripers tossing a perfect fifth with two strikeouts and a weak ground out to the pitcher. Jesse Biddle struggled to keep the ball close early, throwing the first eight pitches of the inning out of the zone and allowing a walk, a single while hitting a batter hitting a batter. Despite that mess, Biddle somehow only allowed a single a run. Dylan Lee allowed a hit but got a double play to end a scoreless inning for him lowering his ERA to 1.86. The newly acquired Yoan Lopez allowed a solo home run to the first batter he faced. Trevor Kelley did the same in the ninth inning allowing the second home run to Clint Coulter.

Next Game: 5/30 vs (9-14) Memphis Redbirds @ 1:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

GWN: Kyle Wright (0-2, 5.03 ERA)****

****Wright is listed, but this should actually be Tucker Davidson’s turn in rotation

MEM: TBD

(11-12) Mississippi Braves 1, (8-14) Montgomery Biscuits 0 F/10

Box Score

  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 1-4, .327/.431/.490
  • Trey Harris, RF: 0-3, HBP, .236/.345/.264
  • Braden Shewmake, SS: 1-4, .091/.155/.182
  • AJ Puckett, SP: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 3.24 ERA
  • Matt Withrow, RP: 3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0.55 ERA

AJ Puckett led a dominant Mississippi pitching performance and the offense finally broke through in the tenth inning to give the Braves a 1-0 win. Offensively there was obviously little of note to speak of, but Braden Shewmake broke a long hitless streak with an infield single to lead off the fourth inning. Drew Lugbauer also had a hit but the other three MBraves struck out to keep the game scoreless. The Braves struggled throughout the game, but in the tenth they were up to bat with no runs in for the Biscuits and a chance to steal the win. Two sacrifice fly outs did the trick, and the Braves got maybe the most horrible win in baseball history scoring the only run of the game without actually getting a runner on base in that inning.

In every 1-0 game there is horrible offense, and in every 1-0 game there is good pitching and AJ Puckett delivered that for the Mississippi Braves. Puckett retired the first five batters of the game before a single in the second inning, but he cruised past that with a ground out back to himself to finish the frame. There was trouble in the third as he allowed a hit and walk to lead off the inning, but after a fly out that didn’t advance the runners, he got a strikeout and a caught stealing to end the inning with no damage done. Puckett allowed a couple of more walks, but nothing more and left with two outs in the fifth inning and his strongest start of the season. Matt Withrow continued his return to success with a fantastic long relief outing. After finishing out the sixth inning he gave the Braves three more scoreless innings of relief and sent the game into extra innings. Mississippi tight rope walked out of the fifth inning after a leadoff walk, a sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position with one out. MBraves pitcher Will Latcham then issued an intentional walk to load the bases, and the big play was delivered with a double play to escape the jam and send it home to the offense.

Next Game: 5/30 vs (8-14) Montgomery Biscuits @ 7:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

MIS: Nolan Kingham (2-1, 4.43 ERA)

MTG: TBD

(13-10) Rome Braves 6, (10-13) Greenville Drive 2

Box Score

  • Michael Harris, CF: 2-4, RBI .345/.364/.488
  • Bryce Ball, 1B: 2-4, 2 2B, RBI, .213/.364/.443
  • Logan Brown, C: 2-4, .211/.240/.324
  • Mitch Stallings, SP: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 2 K. 2.45 ERA
  • Marrick Crouse, RP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 10.50 ERA

We can always count on the Rome Braves to bring the excitement, and then did so with a strong offensive showing from two top prospects along with some good pitching. Rome was quiet through two innings, waiting for their moment to strike, and in the third Beau Philip broke open the gates with a leadoff single. After Brett Langhorne singled he and Philip pulled off a double steal and Garrison Schwartz brought a run in with a ground out. Cody Milligan stayed hot and brought in Langhorne with an RBI double, and Michael Harris snuck a run scoring single in. Bryce Ball then absolutely ripped a ball into right field for another Rome Braves RBI double and the game was thoroughly broken wide open. A fifth inning single from Harris also led to a run on some little league defense. Bryce Ball led off the eighth inning with another ringing double, and a single from Logan Brown had runners at the corner. Beau Philip got in the mix with an RBI ground out to score Ball and push the lead back out to 6-2.

Mitch Stallings may not have known exactly how to find the strike zone, but he got away with it for four innings and kept the Drive scoreless as the offense went to work. Stallings first inning featured a hit batter and a walk with one out, but he got two fly outs to strand the runners. A walk in the second and third innings both came to nothing, but it got a little more salty after a walk to lead off the fourth inning. Stallings then allowed a hit, his first and only, but was able to get a well-timed double play to throw out a shut down inning to back up Rome’s offensive showing. Marrick Crouse got himself working in the right direction with a scoreless two innings, though it’s fair to say he didn’t have a stellar control performance. Gabriel Noguera lowered his ERA on the season to 0.96 with a scoreless inning of work, and Coleman Huntley closed out the game with two innings in which he allowed the only two runs.

Next Game: 5/30 vs (10-13) Greenville Drive 2:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

ROM: Tanner Gordon (0-1, 3.45 ERA)

GVL: Chris Murphy (1-2, 4.50 ERA)

(9-14) Augusta GreenJackets 2, (15-8) Columbia Fireflies 10

Box Score

  • Stephen Paolini, CF: 0-4, .147/.293/.191
  • Willie Carter, RF: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, .313/.432/.478
  • Braulio Vasquez, 3B: 0-2, BB, .237/.408/.322
  • Alec Barger, SP: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1.59 ERA
  • Miguel Pena, RP: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 7.88 ERA

Let’s just get into it. The GreenJackets weren’t very good today, but Willie Carter delivered the boom with a crushing fourth inning home run to put them on the board. Augusta really had a bunch of opportunities to score in this game as they reached base fourteen times between walks and hits but went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, left eight men on base, and grounded into three double plays. Brandon Parker reached base three times all on walks, and despite hitting .132 this season he has a .314 on base percentage from all the walks he is taking.

Alec Barger had his worst start of the young season and didn’t make it out of the fourth inning as he struggled to find his feel and get into a rhythm. He had no problems in the first inning and went through the Fireflies in order, but it immediately went south in the second. He loaded the bases on two walks and a double and then allowed a two-run double that put the Columbia on top. A double steal brought in the third run, and Augusta never matched that. Barger allowed two more runs in the third inning on two hits and a walk, but settled down to record a double play and then the first two outs of the fourth inning. He was replaced by Carter Linton who allowed a run in the inning before recording the final out. Linton pitched a scoreless fifth inning. Gabriel Rodriguez pitched a master class in not knowing where anything is going, walking two batters and hitting two batters with pitches before being removed after recording two outs. Miguel Pena finished out the game and allowed two runs over his 2 13 innings.

Next Game: 5/30 vs (15-8) Columbia Fireflies @ 5:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

AUG: TBD

COL: Ben Hernandez (0-1, 4.15 ERA)