On a night when the young Atlanta Braves minor-league affiliates went 2-2, it was a now-former Braves prospect who may have had the biggest impact. An 0-for-1 night with a sacrifice fly was cut short for Bryce Ball, who was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Joc Pederson.
The Braves, who are believed to have led all of baseball in top prospects named Bryce (or Bryse), now have one less. Ball was the No. 20 prospect in our pre-season top 30, but he was still a way off from the big leagues while Pederson brings a big bat to a big hole in the outfield and lineup.
Alas, there was Braves minor league ball played on Thursday night, so let’s get to it.
(29-34) Gwinnett Stripers 11, (25-36) Charlotte Knights 10
- Alec Jackson, C: 1-for-5, 1 R, 5 RBI, 1 HR, .253 BA/.997 OPS
- Travis Demeritte, RF: 2-for-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 HR, 1 BB
- William Contreras, DH: 1-for-4, 1 R
- Thomas Burrows, RP: 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K
- Victor Arano, RP: 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K
What a wild one in Charlotte, N.C. The Knights jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first inning and continued to build on it throughout the game. Gwinnett came storming back, scoring four in the seventh, two in the eighth and then two more in the top of the ninth to take an 11-8 lead. But the Knights weren’t done yet. Deivy Grullon ripped a two-out, bases-loaded double, scoring two, but Travis Demeritte threw Yermin Mercedes out at the plate to end the game and send the Stripers home winners.
One week after tossing a complete-game shutout, Kyle Wright was unable to complete four innings. Wright landed just 49 of his 71 pitches for strikes, allowing six runs through three innings. After Connor Johnstone tossed a scoreless fourth, Dylan Lee allowed two more runs across. Trevor Kelley, Thomas Burrows and Victor Arano combined for three shutout innings, but Jacob Webb picked up a save — in large part to Demeritte — despite allowing three hits and two runs.
There were plenty of contributors at the plate. Phillip Ervin and Travis Snider drove in two runs apiece, while Alex Jackson drove in five, including a seventh-inning grand slam that turned the tide of the game. Cristian Pache was absent from the lineup on Thursday, but Drew Waters lead off and started in centerfield. While he didn’t record a hit, he did walk twice and score a run.
(39-24) Mississippi Braves 2, (25-34) Tennessee Smokies 10
- Greyson Jenista, RF: 2-for-5, 1 R, .205 BA/.741 OPS
- Trey Harris, LF: 1-for-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, .271 BA/.709 OPS
- Carlos Martinez, C: 2-for-3, 1 RBI, .333 BA/.876 OPS in Mississippi
- Matt Withrow, RP: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K
Uncommon to popular belief, the M-Braves do lose a ballgame here and there. It was a rough night at the office for Victor Vodnik. In just his second start since missing all of June on the IL, Vodnik was unable to escape the first inning, allowing four runs in two-thirds of an inning. It quickly erased the 2-0 lead the M-Braves jumped out to, and they were simply unable to recover. Kudos to Matt Withrow who stepped in and temporarily put out the fire. He went 3.1 shutout innings, striking out two and lowering his ERA to 1.78 on the season.
Greyson Jenista had two hits from the leadoff spot, and got things going with a single to open the game. Trey Harris quickly responded with a double and drove in Jenista for the early 1-0 lead. Later that inning Carlos Martinez — who also had a pair of hits on the evening — was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score Harris. That was all the runs the M-Braves would muster as they were blanked for the next eight innings.
(33—30) Rome Braves 6, (37-26) Greensboro Grasshoppers 0
- AJ Puckett, SP: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K
- Michael Harris II, CF: 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, .300 BA/.770 OPS
- Jesse Franklin V, LF: 1-for-3, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, .269 BA/.912 OPS
- Riley Delgado, 3B: 2-for-2, 1 R, .228 BA/.574 OPS
- Andrew Moritz, RF: 3-for-4, 1 RBI, .298 BA/.686 OPS
Well, Jesse Franklin did not go yard on Thursday evening. But he did drive in two runs to continue on his torrid pace. Riley Delgado came into the game once Bryce Ball was traded and had a perfect day at the plate in his stead. Rusber Estrada added an RBI double to the R-Braves offensive brigade. Cody Milligan continues to string along a nice little season. He had another hit, scored another run, and swiped his 12th base of the season. He’s now hitting .285 with a .710 OPS.
The Rome Braves pitching staff was in the zone on Thursday. AJ Puckett, who struggled mightily in his return to Rome last week allowing seven runs in 3.1 innings, tossed seven shutout innings this time around. Marrick Crouse and Kasey Kalich combined for two shutout innings to close it out, with Crouse striking out the side in the eighth.
(28-34) Augusta GreenJackets 5, (43-18) Charleston Riverdogs 6
- Cade Bunnell, 3B: 2-for-4, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 3B, 1 HR, .241 BA/.887 OPS
- Willie Carter, LF: 2-for-4, 1 RBI, .297 BA/.825 OPS
- Joey Estes, SP: 4 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 5 K
- James Acuna, RP: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K
There has been no shortage of firepower thus far in this series. Augusta has scored 18 runs in the first three games, but unfortunately, have dropped all three. Joey Estes didn’t have his A-game on Thursday, walking a season-high four batters. To put it in perspective, Estes walked four batters in all of June. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention former DII standout James Acuna, putting together another strong outing striking out four in 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. He’s now allowed just one earned run in 7.1 July innings, striking out 10 and walking three.
Cade Bunnell, who had been delivering extra base hits aplenty all season, is now doing it much more consistently. With another two-hit game, his fourth multi-hit game of the month, Bunnell has seen his average raise from .219 in June to .241 in July. He now has 18 doubles, two triples and nine home runs on the season with an impressive .404 on-base percentage. Victor De Hoyos had a two-hit night as well, driving in a run and scoring two.