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Braves MiLB preview: Standout prospects and a look ahead at Week 6

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Hard to believe it’s already June in the 2021 minor-league season. Here’s a look at what the Atlanta Braves affiliates have in store.

Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Coming off of a scorching hot 18-win week by the Atlanta Braves minor-league affiliates, the four teams returned to earth last week. The baby Braves combined for just eight wins playing against some of the stiffer competition in their respective leagues.

That doesn’t mean we were deprived of some solid performances. Wins and losses don’t always matter in the minors, as long as the prospects we need to see do well are... doing well.

Week 5 standout prospects:

Here’s a look at some of the hotter prospect performances from last week. We’ll be keeping our focus on prospects only, many of which are trending towards spots in our midseason top 30 rankings.

Augusta:

  • Darius Vines: 11 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 14 K
  • Joey Estes: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB 7 K
  • Willie Carter: 8-for-20, 2 RBI

Rome:

  • Bryce Elder: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 10 K
  • Spencer Strider: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
  • Michael Harris: 6-for-19, 1 HR, 4 SB
  • Jesse Franklin V: 5-for-16, 3 HR, 3 RBI

Mississippi:

  • Hayden Deal: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
  • C.J. Alexander: 5-for-18, 1 HR, 3 2B, 3 RBI
  • Shea Langeliers: 6-for-19, 3 HR, 5 R

Gwinnett:

  • Jasseel De La Cruz: 9.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 12 K, RBI single
  • Kyle Muller: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
  • Drew Waters: 6-for-20

Augusta GreenJackets (13-17) vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (15-14)

Last week: 3-3

Last week’s rotation: Darius Vines, Joey Estes, Roddery Munoz, Tanner Owens and Alec Barger

The GreenJackets got a much-needed split with a 9-7 victory over Charleston on Sunday. Vines is quickly becoming a prospect to get excited about, earning player of the week honors. His future as a starter or reliever is still in question. His fastball and change are pitches that play so far, and if he can develop the curve, it will be interesting to watch him at the next level.

Estes continued his strong season as well and is officially must watch every time he pitches. Offensively, this team continues to struggle outside of Willie Carter. Keep an eye on Cade Bunnell, though. He went 6-for-22 last week with four runs scored and four doubles. The 24-year-old second baseman is part of that ‘19 MLB draft class we always talk about, so it would be nice if he provided some late-round value and depth.

Rome Braves (15-15) vs. Asheville Tourists (13-16)

Last week: 1-5

Last week’s rotation: Ricky DeVito, Jared Shuster, Bryce Elder, Tanner Gordon, Spencer Strider and Alan Rangel

The R-Braves had a forgettable week, but Jesse Franklin didn’t. The right fielder finally looked like he is comfortable at the plate, closing the week with his first multi-home run game of his career. Michael Harris continues to hit as well, including this monster home run.

The starting pitching didn’t perform that poorly. Ricky DeVito only went three innings to start the week but allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out six. Jared Shuster appears to be being eased back into things, only going two frames, but struck out four while allowing no runs. Indigo Diaz continues to be insane out of the bullpen. The 22-year-old righty has not allowed a run since May 8 and his ERA is now 0.54 after two more scoreless appearances last week. He’s also struck out 34 in 15.1 innings while walking just four. That is the definition of firing on all cylinders.

Mississippi Braves (15-15) at Biloxi Shuckers (12-18)

Last week: 3-3

Last week’s rotation: Nolan Kingham, Hayden Deal, Odalvi Javier, A.J. Puckett and Jose Rodriguez

Nolan Kingham had two nice starts last week and has now strung together three in a row. Over that span he has seen his ERA lower to 3.82 and WHIP fall to 1.22. While he’ll never overpower a lineup with strikeouts, he still looks like a possible back-end, innings eater that can provide consistency to the rotation when needed. How his stuff plays up the ladder is yet to be seen, but he is trending in the right direction once again.

Langeliers and Alexander continue to hit, and hit for extra bases, but Justin Dean is hopefully starting to come around as well. Dean went 6-for-23 last week with three stolen bases, but the strikeout rate is somewhat concerning. He struck out multiple times in four of his six games last week, and someone with Dean’s game-changing abilities needs to find a more consistent way of getting on base.

Gwinnett Stripers (15-15) at Memphis Redbirds (12-18)

Last week: 1-5

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

De La Cruz had a great start to open the week, followed by a rough one to close the week. That said, even in his “bad” start on Sunday, he went three strong and looks like he can help the Atlanta Braves bullpen as soon as he is needed. Muller had his second-straight strong start this past week. The big takeaway is that over his last 10 innings, he’s struck out 14 and walked just two.

Travis Demeritte continues to hit, going 6-for-19 this past week. He’s now third in Triple-A East with a 1.094 OPS. Orlando Arcia’s hot bat is cooling down. He hasn’t homered since May 25 and hit .238 in his first week of June. Waters continues to be the main attraction at the plate. He’s slashing .263/.365/.414 with three home runs and seven stolen bases in 12 chances. Waters has also been hit by five pitches doing his best Ray-Patrick Didder impersonation. He is still a bit of a free swinger, but his development is without a doubt the most relevant in this lineup.