A glorious day is upon us and that is the FIRST minor league recap since the end of the 2019 season. I remember when the rumors were coming out last year about the season potentially being moved back further and further until they rightfully decided to cancel the season entirely. It was an absolutely devastating time for tons of players many missing a year of prime development, and many playing the last baseball games of their career.
We saw many teams, including the Braves' very own Danville affiliate, get the ax from minor league baseball and the addition of the Augusta GreenJackets to the organization. 2020 also brought us just a five-round draft, something the Braves could ill-afford because of the international sanctions that have finally been lifted but have left the organization devoid of a lot of potential talent and forcing them to rely more on free agents than normal.
But today? Today we no longer have to think about any of that at all and instead can look forward to the future again. Today is the day a lot of player's lives finally get back to normal. Today is the day that Talking Chop staff and commentators look for the organization's next Ronald Acuña Jr. The Braves minors isn’t quite what it once was, and that’s what happens when you do so well accumulating talent that - all of that talent ends up in the majors but there is still a LOT to talk about. For those of you that have been with us for many years, I want to say welcome back! For those of you that find themselves a new fan of the team, or organization welcome to one of my favorite times of the year - minor league baseball season. Every day we will be recapping the organization's games while highlighting at least six players per game for you to either research on your own or keep away penciled in your mind. Without further ado - lets get started!
(1-0) Gwinnett Stripers 10, (0-1) Charlotte Knights 9
- Drew Waters, CF: 1-for-6, R, K
- Travis Demeritte, DH: 3-for-6, HR (1), 5 RBI, 2 R
- Ryan Goins, 2B: 2-for-5, HR (1), 2 R, RBI, BB
- Kyle Muller, SP: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 4 K
- Connor Johnstone, RP: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
- Carl Edwards Jr., RP: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K
Despite a roster filled with arms with MLB experience, it was the bats the carried the Stripers to an opening day win over the Charlotte Knights - with every hitter in the lineup collecting at least one hit. The festivities begin in the first inning with Drew Waters taking the second pitch of the season to the knee, stealing second, and then scoring on a Travis Demeritte single that also scored Ryan Goin and gave the Stripers a 2-0 lead.
Carlos Martinez added another run in the top half of the second inning by singling to center and scoring Yolmer Sanchez extending the lead to 3-0.
That’s when Kyle Muller began to slowly run out of steam and things began to unravel for him with spotty command of his pitches leading to seven straight runs for the Knights over the next two innings to create a 7-3 deficit for the Stripers highlighted by a single that was misplayed by Drew Waters and nearly resulted in an inside-the-park grand slam. Connor Johnstone righted the ship, in relief of Muller, and gave the Gwinnett offense a chance to respond and they absolutely responded. Ryan Goins hit the first homerun of the MiLB season in the fifth inning to make it 7-4, later in the same inning Johan Camargo picked up his first double that scored Orlando Arcia to make it 7-5, and Travis Demeritte later singled in that same inning to score Johan Camargo and make it a 7-6 game.
Two innings later and Travis Demeritte connected on this mammoth homer to give the Stripers an 8-7 lead.
The Knights would score one in the bottom of the inning to tie the game and the game stayed tied at 8-8 until the 12th inning when Abraham Almonte doubled in Travis Demeritte and then scored on a throwing error. The inning came to a rather hilarious end with a rather significant TOOTBLAN with Carlos Martinez being thrown out at the plate by...well a sizable margin.
this is where Martinez was when the catcher received the throw pic.twitter.com/qe8RgppFKe— Atlanta Braves Farm System Updates (@BravesMILB) May 5, 2021
Dylan Lee would give up an unearned run in the 12th, as he gave up a single that scored the runner that started at second, but that was all of the damage and the Stripers were able to survive and pick up their first win of the season.
Mississippi Braves vs. Pensacola Blue Wahoos - Postponed
Rain still sucks. Thursday will be a doubleheader to make this one up
(1-0) Rome Braves 11, (0-1) Winston-Salem Dash 5
- Michael Harris II, CF: 3-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI, SB, Outfield Assist
- Jesse Franklin V, RF: 2-for-4, RBI
- Cody Milligan, 2B: 3-for-4, 3 RBI, BB
- Bryce Elder, SP: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 6 K
- Indigo Diaz, RP: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K
- Kasey Kalich, RP: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K
It was all Rome Braves on this one and the Michael Harris II hype train got off to a roaring start with a three-hit game to start off the season - highlighted by this easy gapper that he hit to the opposite field.
He showcased it all showing fantastic zone awareness, hitting for some easy power, playing a good defensive center-field including the first outfield assist of the season where he easily threw out a runner at second on a misplayed ball and picking up his first stolen base of the season. By the end of the game, it almost looked like the Dash were simply sick of facing him, registering a four-pitch walk in his final at-bat where nothing was remotely close. Jesse Franklin V, made his Braves organizational debut and showed a good hit tool - picking up a pair of singles. Shortstop Beau Philip looked improved from 2019 with a swing that looks “significantly improved” according to our very own Garrett Spain - and showed off a great arm at short. Second baseman Cody Milligan had a big day of his own going 3-for-4 with three singles and picking up three RBI.
On the pitching side of things Bryce Elder made his long-awaited MLB debut and showed flashes of why the Braves went overslot for him in the final round of the 2020 draft. He threw all four of his pitches relatively well before having to sit for a long time while the offense scored six runs - and then the command began to waiver just a bit. Indigo Diaz righted the ship for the Rome pitching staff throwing 2.1 fantastic innings - nearly picking up an immaculate inning, and did so mainly by using just his fastball and fantastic command of it. Kasey Kalich, pitching for the first time since 2019, also made his season debut and while he struggled with his off-speed command - showed promise in his fastball-slider arsenal and is a name to watch this year.
Augusta GreenJackets vs. Columbia Fireflies - Postponed
Yep.....rain sucks. Same thing as above. Opening night is moved to tonight and Thursday will be a doubleheader.