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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Bryce Elder, Mississippi Spins a No Hitter

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Bryce Elder and Dasybel Hernandez combined for a no hitter down in Mississippi.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Atlanta Braves Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

We had quite a day down on the Atlanta Braves farm system, with some very good and some very bad sprinkled throughout the levels. The very good was a no hitter down in Mississippi, the fourth in their history which led them to their sixth straight win. William Contreras led an offensive explosion in Gwinnett with two double, and Jesse Franklin remains the man with another towering home run.

(26-33) Gwinnett Stripers 8, (36-22) Nashville Sounds 4

Box Score

  • Cristian Pache, CF: 2-5, .252/.313/.398
  • Johan Camargo, 1B: 3-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, .305/.395/.506
  • William Contreras, C: 2-4, 2 2B, BB, RBI, .333/.400/.556
  • Jose Rodriguez, SP: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 7.71 ERA
  • Jasseel De La Cruz, RP: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 6.55 ERA

Gwinnett rolled through Nashville for their third win in three days, in a battle that was not particularly close. Gwinnett got a home run in the first inning from Johan Camargo and led all the way from there. Nashville’s starter did a decent job against the Stripers the first two times through the order, with only the Camargo home run and two hits from Terrance Gore, but that third time killed as Gwinnett went on a roll. Gore led off with a bunt single in the fifth, then when the lineup turned over Jason Kipnis knocked in Gore. Camargo followed with a double to score Kipnis and the Stripers stretched the lead out to three runs. The seventh inning was led by a Travis Snider walk, then Cristian Pache snuck in a bunt single to put the Stripers in a dangerous position. Kipnis and Camargo each delivered RBI singles and William Contreras mashed a double to put Gwinnett up 6-0. They were not done in the inning, as a ground out and Sean Kazmar single scored two more runs to make the lead 8-0. Cristian Pache has not had the greatest season but he’s been on a bit of a role of late and has four consecutive multi hit games. Over his last six he has cut strikeouts dramatically with only three though his power production has remained limited.

Jose Rodriguez provided an early lift on the mound for Gwinnett, keeping the Sounds off of the scoreboard while the offense had its struggles in the early innings. Rodriguez faced the minimum 12 batters through the four innings he pitched with the one hit he allowed in the second inning being erased by a double play. He was immediately followed with an intriguing move, as we saw Jasseel De La Cruz pitch out of the bullpen for the first time since opening day. It remains to be seen if this is a permanent move, especially as he still pitched three innings, but it is noteable nonetheless. De La Cruz still struggled mightily with command and walked three batters over three innings, but he didn’t allow a hit and struck out three of the eleven batters he faced. Jay Flaa took all the heat in this one in the eighth inning, as he allowed a run and left the bases loaded after recording just one out. This brought in Thomas Burrows who was not able to prevent any of the inherited runners from scoring and allowed in three more charged to Flaa. Jacob Webb pitched a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts and no walks or hits allowed.

Next Game: 7/11 vs (36-22) Nashville Sounds @ 1:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

GWN: TBD

NAS: TBD

(37-22) Mississippi Braves 6, (33-26) Pensacola Blue Wahoos 0

Box Score

  • Trey Harris, RF: 2-4, 2B, BB, 3 RBI, .264/.335/.342
  • Justin Dean, CF: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, .254/.373/.376
  • Shea Langeliers, C: 0-4, .249/.342/.527
  • Bryce Elder, SP: 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 2.81 ERA
  • Daysbel Hernandez, RP: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 3.71 ERA

Mississippi did a thing, and that thing propelled them to their sixth consecutive win on the season. Starting with the offense, the Braves gave Bryce Elder an early cushion to work with as Trey Harris had a single, then got to third on a Drew Lugbauer double before scoring on a wild pitch. They added on in a big way in the second inning, with two walks and a hit batter loading the bases for Trey Harris. Harris delivered with a double into right field that cleared the bases and pushed Mississippi’s lead out to four runs. They added two more in the fourth on a two run home run from Justin Dean, and the pitching carried the rest of the game. Trey Harris seems to be coming around now at the plate, and in June he has hit safely in seven of his eight games with a couple of home runs and a .924 OPS.

Now for the story, and that is the combined no hitter from the Mississippi Braves pitching staff. Bryce Elder had his longest start of the season and was certainly avoiding hard contact throughout the game, but command was a problem and could have derailed this start. Elder walked four batters and threw less than half his pitches for strikes, but yet he forced ten ground ball outs, and the defense stepped up behind him committing zero errors and turning three double plays. Is was truly a team effort to get this one done, and impressive to see Elder able to get outs even when his location is off. Elder finished off his start with his strongest inning of the game, bookending swinging strikeouts around a weak ground out. Daysbel Hernandez didn’t get his part of the no hit bid off to the best start as he walked the first batter, but it was pure dominance from there and he cruised through the final two innings. He struck out the next two batters before forcing a ground out for the third out, then closed out the ninth with another perfect inning and two swinging strikeouts to finish off the game. He also delivered the reaction of the year.

Next Game: 7/11 vs (33-26) Pensacola Blue Wahoos @ 3:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

MIS: Spencer Strider (0-1, 5.40 ERA)

PNS: Edward Cabrera (1-0, 1.17 ERA)

(31-27) Rome Braves 4, (38-20) Bowling Green Hot Rods 8 Game 1

Box Score

  • Logan Brown, C: 0-3, .222/.254/.317
  • Bryce Ball, 1B: 2-3, 2B, 3B, .198/.342/.377
  • Jesse Franklin, LF: 1-2, HR, BB, RBI, .273/.335/.568
  • Freddy Tarnok, SP: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 5.01 ERA
  • Marrick Crouse, RP: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 4.50 ERA

Rome’s double header kicked off with a bit of a disaster, but Jesse Franklin also made a baseball disappear, so I guess we can take some pleasure in that. That home run in the second kicked off the scoring for Rome and answered a home run from the Hot Rods to tie the game. Bryce Ball followed with a triple off of the wall and scored when Beau Philip walked and was caught in a rundown trying to steal second base. Bowling Green and Rome traded runs again in the fifth inning, but it was not exactly an even trade. Bryce Ball led off the inning with a double and Beau Philip drew a walk, which put the tying run only two batters away from being on deck. Cody Milligan brought in both runners with a two RBI single, and that was it for Braves offense as the next eight batters were retired in order

Freddy Tarnok had an uneven start on the mound, with the big problem being that his command just wasn’t there for most of the outing. He had moments of dominance, but a ball left over the plate in the second inning led to the first of two home runs off of him in the game. He struck out six batters through four innings and it seemed that home run would be all Bowling Green would get off of him, but the fatigue clearly became a factor in the fifth and it became a snowball. Tarnok allowed a home run and two walks, with the only out being recorded on a caught stealing. He was pulled in favor of Kasey Kalich, who had about as much luck allowing four hits and a walk to score five more runs in the inning. It all thankfully came to a close when the final batter was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Marrick Crouse got through the final two innings scoreless, and Rome had a much better second game so let’s not linger here too long.

(32-27) Rome Braves 4, (38-21) Bowling Green Hot Rods 3

Game 2

Box Score

  • Rusber Estrada, C: 2-3, HR, BB, 3 RBI, .204/.371/.537
  • Bryce Ball, 1B: 1-1, 2B, 2 BB, .202/.351/.387
  • Jesse Franklin, LF: 0-3, BB, SB, .269/.333/.559
  • Jake McSteen, SP: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 4.63 ERA
  • Indigo Diaz, RP: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1.00 ERA

Rome’s pitching staff didn’t have a chaos inning, which made quite the difference in the final score of Game 2. Bowling Green had the early lead in the game but a Jesse Franklin walk and subsequent home run from Rusber Estrada erased that two run deficit. Bryce Ball followed that up with a double and Brett Langhorne brought him in for the third run of the inning. Then, rain came and everyone sat for an hour and the game dragged on past midnight before the Braves scored another run. Bowling Green tied the game in the meantime, but Rusber Estrada was pretty much that dude from the first pitch. First, he took a bounce off the backstop on a wild pitch and was able to tag out a runner trying to score in the top of the 8th, then he led off the bottom of the inning and took a 2-2 pitch into left field for a walk off win.

Rome went bullpen game in the second game of the series and for the most part everyone did their jobs and they were able to come away with the win. Jake McSteen allowed a run in the first that was contributed to by a Bryce Ball error that led off the game, then in the second he allowed a solo home run. This was the worst pitching performance of the day for the Braves. Tyler Ferguson didn’t allow a hit over two scoreless innings, working around an error and walk in the fourth to keep the Braves up by a run. Gabriel Noguera pitched a bridge inning in the fifth to send it to Indigo Diaz for the two inning save. Despite Diaz’s amazing work on the season he allowed an earned run for the third time all year, giving up a leadoff double and a two out single to blow the save. He still pitched his two innings, and he struck out five batters so it’s hard to say he did too terribly. Mitch Horacek shut down the Hot Rods in the 8th with two strikeouts and that aforementioned wild pitch play and the Braves took the win behind that.

Next Game: 7/11 vs (38-21) Bowling Green Hot Rods @ 2:00 PM ET

Probable Starters

ROM: Alan Rangel (3-5, 4.15 ERA)

BG: Jacob Lopez (2-1, 2.95 ERA)

(27-31) Augusta GreenJackets 3, (26-32) Myrtle Beach Pelicans 10

Box Score

  • Cade Bunnell, 3B: 3-5, HR, 2B, RBI, .239/.404/.468
  • Bryson Horne, 1B: 1-4, 2 RBI, .257/.295/.434
  • Braulio Vasquez, 2B, 1-4, BB, 2 SB, .215/.350/.331
  • Miguel Pena, SP: 3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 6.58 ERA
  • Gabriel Rodriguez, RP: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 12.12 ERA

Augusta’s bullpen gave up seven runs in the final two innings of this mess of a game. Cade Bunnell was not a mess, however, as he took the second pitch he saw deep for a leadoff home run. That is his 8th home run of the season, and he’s been a wrecking crew for Augusta with a 164 wRC+ over his past 20 games. Myrtle Beach hit back and took a 3-1 lead, but that ain’t no thang for Division II baseball as Bryson Horne delivered a game tying two run single to score Braulio Vasquez who I just have to talk about for a second. The rest of this game featured Augusta not scoring runs, and we don’t like that, but what we do like is weird baseball and there may be none weirder this season than Braulio Vasquez. Braulio has 32 stolen bases this season. That is 15 more than anyone else in the system and tied for third in all of minor league baseball. This is even crazier, because Vasquez has played only 43 games and many of those coming off the bench, so he has only 28 hits. Let me emphasize that he has four more stolen bases than hits this season. That’s 16 fewer hits than anyone else with more than 30 stolen bases, and his 158 plate appearances are 64 fewer than anyone else with more than 30. Braulio had 30 total stolen bases in four seasons before this, and has 32 after less than half a season. I’m enjoying this so much.

Augusta sent six pitchers out there and only one of them had a good day so let’s do this. Miguel Pena pitched a scoreless first inning, which is good, but then he allowed a two run home run in the second inning and then another run in the third so that didn’t go as planned. Peyton Williams struck out two batters and didn’t allow a run, but those were the only two outs recorded as he was pulled for Benjamin Dum after allowing a walk and a hit. Dum had a great day, finishing off the fourth with no more damage and then keeping a flailing offense in the game for the next three innings. He pitched 3 13 scoreless innings of relief with four strikeouts, no walks, and only two hits allowed. That was the end of his rope however, and if you hoped the next rope would be as good I’m a frayed knot. Kenny Wells allowed a go ahead three run home run in the eighth inning and that was it for this game really. Baseball is nine innings, unfortunately so sometimes, and Gabriel Rodriguez had one of his days. He struck out the first batter he faced, then allowed two walks, a hit, and two more walks before getting the second out. Rodriguez is the second weird of the day, as he has a very respectable 17.1 K/9 and 34.1% K rate on the season. He also has a 16 BB/9 and 31.9% BB rate which is the opposite of respectable. He has faced 91 batters this season and 63 have ended in walk, strikeout, or hit by pitch. Zach Seipel allowed two hits in relief but we were blessed with a tootblan to end the inning and I need a shower after that.

Next Game: 7/11 vs (26-32) Myrtle Beach Pelicans @ 5:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

AUG: Tanner Gordon (2-2, 2.39 ERA)

MB: DJ Herz (1-3, 3.89 ERA)