It was a bit of a mixed bag down in the Atlanta Braves minor league system as the affiliates went 2-2 and we saw some good performances from top prospects while others struggled or didn’t play at all. Bryce Elder didn’t quite throw a no-hitter this time, but he did overcome a tough start to go seven inning while Freddy Tarnok struck out 10 batters in just five innings of work. Lets get into the games.
Gwinnett Stripers 5, Charlotte Knights 3
- Drew Waters, LF: 1-4, 2B, R, .756 OPS
- William Contreras, C: 2-4, HR, RBI, 1.184 OPS
- Jason Kipnis, 2B: 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI, .829 OPS
- Jasseel de la Cruz, SP: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 6.10 ERA
Thanks to a big fifth inning, the Gwinnett Stripers were able to jump out to an early lead and hold off Charlotte late by the final score of 5-3. It appears as though that Jasseel de la Cruz’s command has taken a big step back this year which is a real shame because we still like the stuff, but Friday night was another night where he issued too many free passes. In 38 1/3 innings this season, he has walked 24 batters and unless that gets corrected, he is profiling more and more as a reliever. Ty Tice and Jay Flaa each had scoreless innings of relief before Yoan Lopez had another rough bullpen appearance that allowed Charlotte to get within a couple runs. Fortunately, old friend Sean Newcomb was able to close the game out by striking out the side in the ninth.
On offense, it was surprisingly the Jason Kipnis show as he had three hits including a two-run double in the aforementioned fifth inning. William Contreras connected for his second home run since being sent back down to Gwinnett and currently sports an 1.184 OPS in his seven games in Triple-A. Sean Kazmar connected for his sixth home run of the season while Drew Waters, continuing his impressive run of late, reached base a couple of times including a double. Waters is now slashing .333/.390/.611 for the month of July.
Mississippi Braves 6, Tennessee Smokies 4
- Greyson Jenista, LF: 3-4, HR, RBI, 2 R, .777 OPS
- CJ Alexander, 3B: 1-4, HR, RBI, .559 OPS
- Bryce Elder, SP: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 2.74 ERA
Bryce Elder battled through some struggles early while Greyson Jenista had a big night as Mississippi got their 40th win of the season by the final score of 6-4. Coming off being a part of a no-hitter, a little bit of a hangover was reasonably expected for Elder against a really tough Smokies lineup. Despite some struggles in the third inning, Elder still managed to go seven innings on 94 pitches and the stuff continues to impress, particularly the pair of breaking balls. Brooks Wilson pitched the final two frames of the game and while it wasn’t easy, as Darius Hill gave him fits in both innings he pitched and he had to work around a lot of baserunners, he did end up striking out six batters in those two innings of work to secure the win.
It would have made sense if the Mississippi offense would have struggled with both Braden Shewmake and Trey Harris out of the lineup and Shea Langeliers going 0-for-4, but the Braves did just fine thanks to a collective team effort. Greyson Jenista had a good game recording three hits including his ninth home run of the season. CJ Alexander and Hendrik Clementina also homered to help pace the offense. The biggest knock of the evening, oddly enough, wasn’t a hit as Justin Dean (who also had a triple and a walk in the game) hit into a fielder’s choice that resulted in a pair of runs for Mississippi thanks to a throwing error. Dean also scored on a wild pitch earlier in the game.
Rome Braves 4, Greensboro Grasshoppers 5
- Michael Harris, CF: 0-2, 2 BB, .769 OPS
- Shean Michel, RF: 1-4, HR, 3 RBI, .560 OPS
- Brett Langhorne, 1B: 2-4, HR, RBI, .631 OPS
- Freddy Tarnok, SP: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 4.76 ERA
Rome managed to snag the lead in the fifth inning thanks to a big three-run homer, but the bullpen blew the lead late and their comeback fell short as they lost by the score of 5-4. Freddy Tarnok got the start for Rome and was excellent striking out 10 batters in just five innings of work. He still seems like he is trying to get his feet under him this season command-wise, but the stuff is very live and he remains one of the more interesting arms in the system. All was well until Coleman Huntley came in and had a less than optimal relief appearance as he gave up three runs on five hits in just two innings and just like that, Rome was behind and those runs proved to be enough to secure the win for Greensboro.
It was a tough night on offense save for a three-run homer off the bat of Shean Michel. Michael Harris walked a pair of times, but the month of July has not been kind to him as he has slashed .200/.289/.275 so far with just two multi-hit games. He has been particularly rough of late and has gone hitless in six of his last seven games. Brett Langhorne had a pair of hits including a late solo homer that brought Rome within a run of the Grasshoppers in the ninth. Unfortunately, with Jesse Franklin V out of the lineup, the offense failed to convert on most of the few chances they did have in the game.
Augusta GreenJackets 1, Charleston RiverDogs 3
- Bryson Horne, 1B: 1-4, 2B, .711 OPS
- Vaughn Grissom, SS: 1-3, BB, SB, .765 OPS
- Roddery Munoz, SP: 3.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 6.18 ERA
Augusta struggled offensively, which seems like a fairly regular occurrence, as they fell to Charleston by the final score of 3-1. Roddery Munoz got the start for Augusta and in his first appearance since June 10, he went nearly four innings of scoreless baseball while striking out three batters. That is still a very live arm and it will be interesting to see how he develops the rest of the season. Unfortunately, Miguel Pena and Estarlin Perez were less effective as each gave up runs in their appearances. With Augusta’s offense shut down, that was more than enough.
You had to know that Augusta was going to have a tough time on Friday when they only drew three walks as a team on the evening. As a silver lining, Vaughn Grissom did have a hit, a walk and a stolen base. Unfortunately, they only had four hits as a team on Friday with the doubles from Bryson Horne and Cam Shepherd being not anywhere close to enough to get the job done.