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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Freddy Tarnok impresses in Double-A debut, Gwinnett offense goes wild

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Freddy Tarnok struck out nine in his debut for Mississippi on Friday.

Freddy Tarnok Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

Atlanta Braves minor league affiliates went a respectable 2-2 on Friday evening with Gwinnett and Augusta(!) emerging victorious. In addition to Gwinnett going absolutely wild on offense, Friday evening also saw Freddy Tarnok make his Double-A debut and the return of Braden Shewmake to Mississippi’s lineup. Lets get into the games.

Gwinnett Stripers 17, Norfolk Tides 8

Box Score

  • Drew Waters, LF: 2-4, HR, 3 RBI, .781 OPS
  • William Contreras, C: 1-4, HR, 3 RBI, BB, 2 R, 1.342 OPS
  • Cristian Pache, CF: 1-3, RBI, 2 BB, SB, .708 OPS
  • Travis Demeritte, RF: 1-4, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 1.123 OPS
  • Jose Rodriguez, SP: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 6.91 ERA

Well then, Gwinnett’s offense decided that they weren’t going to mess around as this game turned into a rout in a hurry as the Stripers blew out Norfolk by the score of 17-8. The pitching side of this game wasn’t the real story, but Jose Rodriguez did put together a fine outing for Gwinnett tossing five scoreless innings. Rodriguez has had a rough go of it in Gwinnett during his two stints there this season, so it was nice to see him find some success. If any of you were wondering if Jay Flaa was close to playing his way back into the Braves bullpen, the answer is a firm no as he gave up five earned runs on two hits, two walks, and a HBP while recording just a single out.

On offense...well, it was a fun one. William Contreras, Drew Waters, and Travis Demeritte all connected for home runs and combined to drive in 10 of Gwinnett’s 17 runs in this game (all by the end of the fifth inning, actually). We have been pretty closely monitoring the hot streaks of late from Contreras and Waters, but Demeritte has been awesome as well with five home runs and an OPS healthily over 1.200 since his return from the injured list back on July 10. As is customary, it is feast or famine with Alex Jackson at the plate, but tonight was the fun side of that as he had a pair of hits, including a double, while driving in three runs of his own.

Mississippi Braves 2, Biloxi Shuckers 4

Box Score

  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, .827 OPS
  • Braden Shewmake, SS: 0-3. BB, .632 OPS
  • Trey Harris, LF: 1-3, .677 OPS
  • Freddy Tarnok, SP: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K

Despite Freddy Tarnok posting a stellar Double-A debut, the Mississippi offense struggled and the bullpen faltered late as the Braves lost to Biloxi by the score of 4-2. Tarnok made his Double-A debut on Friday evening and it was a very successful one as he struck out nine batters in a little over five innings of work while giving up just two runs. Tarnok’s promotion was an interesting one because while some of his numbers didn’t exactly scream promotion at times since he returned from rehab, but he has been at High-A since 2019, he has missed bats all year, and his stuff has been high quality even when the results have not been. Overall, great to see the Braves challenge him a bit and great to see him rise to that challenge. After Tarnok was lifted and Indigo Diaz pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief (he has not given up a run in three Double-A appearances fwiw), Brandon White came in to at least give Mississippi a chance to force extra innings, but it just wasn’t his night as the two runs he gave up in the top of the ninth proved to be decisive.

There is little to talk about on offense in this game as the only runs that Mississippi scored came off the bat of Drew Lugbauer. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Lugbauer connected for his eighth homer of the season to give Mississippi a 2-0 lead. It is safe to say that at the beginning of the season, I did not have Slugbauer leading the Mississippi lineup regulars in OPS this deep into the season but here we are. Baseball! While Mississippi only recorded two other hits (both singles) in the game, one final note is that Braden Shewmake returned to the lineup. He had been absent since July 11th and drew a walk on Friday.

Rome Braves 4, Bowling Green Hot Rods 5 - F/11

Box Score

  • Michael Harris, RF: 2-5, 3B, RBI, .756 OPS
  • Logan Brown, C: 1-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, .612 OPS
  • Alan Rangel, SP: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 3.82 ERA

A close game on Friday that saw Rome take the lead twice in extra innings, but it was not to be as they were walked off in the 11th inning by their nemesis Bowling Green by the final score of 5-4. Alan Rangel, who I assume has an apartment in Rome’s stadium at this point, got the start and he looked good in giving up just one earned run in almost five innings while striking out eight batters. The month of July has been good to him with a 2.86 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 22 innings of work. Kasey Kalich pitched a scoreless inning of relief which was nice to see given that two of his previous three appearances for Rome had been uncharacteristically shaky. Sadly, the fun came to an end in the 11th inning as Tyler Ferguson got the call out of Rome’s bullpen with the Braves having grabbed the lead in the top half of the inning. After two straight hits and an error by Jesse Franklin out in center tied the game and put the winning run on third, a sac fly won the game for Bowling Green.

On offense, we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about Michael Harris who has looked better of late after a bit of a slump. He had a two-hit game including a go-ahead triple in extra innings. He has now hit safely in four of his past five games. Shean Michel had a multi-hit game and Logan Brown connected for a two-run homer in the seventh inning to tie the game. This is the part of the recap where our own Wayne Cavadi starts getting really excited about a DII alum doing work.

Augusta GreenJackets 4, Columbia Fireflies 3

Box Score

  • Landon Stephens, LF: 3-4. HR, RBI, 2 R, .767 OPS
  • Willie Carter, RF: 2-4, 3B, .818 OPS
  • Ricardo Rodriguez, C: 3-4, 2B, RBI, .798 OPS
  • Tanner Gordon, SP: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 3.54 ERA

Augusta won a game! Our long nightmare is over as Tanner Gordon pitched six strong innings and the GreenJackets held on to win by the score of 4-3. With all of the piggybacking that we have seen from the GreenJackets pitching staff this season, it was sort of nice to see a guy pitch well and deep into a game as Tanner gave up just two runs in six innings of work. Alec Barger struck out five in two innings of relief, but did give up the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning because nothing can be easy. Fortunately, Benjamin Dum closed the game out without much incident and Augusta got a much needed win.

It was a nice and well-rounded offensive effort from Augusta on Friday as they had five players (Landon Stephens, Willie Carter, Ricardo Rodriguez, Bryson Horne, and Cam Shepherd) with multi-hit games with all of those but Horne also driving in a run. One player that did not have a great game was Stephen Paolini who struck out in all four of his plate appearances. Oof.