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Braves minor-league Week 13 preview: William Contreras, Drew Waters, Travis Demeritte power Gwinnett to 5-1 week

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The young Atlanta Braves combined for only nine wins this week, but Gwinnett stayed red hot. Here’s how it went down on the Braves’ farm.

2021 Sirius XM Futures Game Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves four minor-league teams combined to go 9-16 last week. Gwinnett was again the kings of the farm, with another impressive week going 5-1 while Mississippi was on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, not winning a game the past week.

For those of you keeping score at home, the Braves signed 19 of their 2021 MLB draft picks. You can see the final results here: Talking Chop MLB draft signing tracker.

Before we get into the week ahead, let’s look back on some prospects you should have your eyes on this week.

Augusta GreenJackets:

  • Bryson Horne, 1B/DH: 9-for-25, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI
  • Willie Carter, OF: 9-for-33, 1 HR, 6 R, 3 RBI
  • Vaughn Grissom, IF: 6-for-18, 2 2B, 4 R, 2 RBI

Rome Braves:

  • Michael Harris II, CF: 5-for-21, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 SB
  • Darius Vines, SP: 11.1 IP, 12 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 2 BB, 12 K
  • Jared Shuster, SP: 3.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K

Mississippi Braves:

  • Shea Langeliers, C: 3-for-18, 1 HR, 1 RBI, has no thrown out 22 of 44 base runners
  • Freddy Tarnok, SP: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 9 K
  • Drew Lugbauer, DH: 5-for-24, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI

Gwinnett Stripers:

  • Jasseel De La Cruz, SP: 4 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K
  • Drew Waters, CF: 5-for-2, 1 2B, 3 HR, 6 R, 7 RBI
  • William Contreras, C/DH: 5-for-18, 4 HR, 6 R, 7 RBI

Now, on to the week ahead.

Augusta (31-41) vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (33-39) — July 27-August 1

Last week: 3-4

Last week’s rotation: Joey Estes, Roddery Munoz, Rolddy Munoz, Tanner Gordon, Jared Johnson and Rainiery Rodriguez

Transactions: Assigned Rainiery Rodriguez from FCL

It was a busy week for the GreenJackets with an extra make-up game thrown into the already normal six-game slate. Add in a rainout to open the week, and Augusta played seven games in five days, and surprisingly came out okay.

Joey Estes started off the week with a strong performance. Although he allowed five runs — four of which were earned — he also struck out 10 and walked none. Rainiery Rodriguez made his Augusta debut in winning fashion. After going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in the FCL, the 20-year-old tossed six innings allowing two runs and striking out four. He’s not a big strikeout guy, but tends to keep the walks down, so he’s one to watch.

The bats are still relatively quiet. Vaughn Grissom played sparingly and had a four-hit, two-RBI Saturday, but made his eighth error of the season on Sunday. Willie Carter continues to be the most consistent bat on the team. He’s now hitting .295 with an .810 OPS.

Rome (34-38) vs. Asheville Tourists (28-40) — July 27-August 1

Last week: 1-5

Last week’s rotation: Darius Vines, Jared Shuster, Mitch Stallings, Alan Rangel and Jake McSteen

Transactions: Promoted Riley Delgado to Mississippi; activated Mitch Calandria from the IL

The Rome Braves started the week off losers of four in a row, making it seven-straight going back to the previous week. They return home to host Asheville this week, looking to right the ship against a Tourists team that is 8-22 on the road this season.

Darius Vines had a rough few days on the bump, surrendering five runs to both open and close the week. He did strike out 12 in 11.1 innings and continues to flash promise. Jared Shuster had another short outing but made the most of it with four strikeouts in 3.1 innings pitched. The Braves are obviously taking it very slow with him.

Jesse Franklin V was having an 0-for week until Sunday, when he launched his 16th and 17th home runs of the season. He drove in four, to give him 44 on the season, but it wasn’t enough as Rome dropped Sunday’s game. Andrew Moritz was in the leadoff spot to close the week and is now hitting over .300 with a .700 OPS. And of course, Michael Harris II played very good baseball per usual and continues to be the guy to watch on this roster.

Mississippi (40-32) at Pensacola Blue Wahoos (37-35) - July 27-August 1

Last week: 0-6

Last week’s rotation: Odalvi Javier, Victor Vodnik, Bryce Elder, Freddy Tarnok, Spencer Strider and Hayden Deal

Transactions:

It wasn’t pretty for the M-Braves last week. They lost every single game and dating back to last week are now on an eight-game skid. Still, the M-Braves were able to stay tied for the best record in Double-A South as they head to West Florida for a matchup with the fish.

Odalvi Javier started the week with a dandy; he just found himself on the wrong side of a 1-0 pitcher’s duel. Javier went seven strong, allowing the one run and striking out five. He was on the losing end on Sunday when he came on in relief for Hayden Deal — who pitched well himself, tossing six innings of two-run ball and striking out six. Still, he’s having a nice little run in Double-A and is on pace to establish some career highs while currently sitting on a 3.14 ERA. Freddy Tarnok had himself a Double-A debut to remember, striking out nine in 5.1 innings, but also found himself on the losing side, despite allowing just two runs. He’s now struck out 19 in his past two starts.

The bats have not been afire during the eight-game losing streak. Drew Lugbauer hit two more home runs this past week and now has nine on the season. He’s hitting .258 with a nice .843 OPS in a big rebound season. Justin Dean didn’t have a huge week with the bat but swiped two stolen bases on Sunday to keep him atop Double-A South with 21 on the season. Braden Shewmake only appeared twice this week but closed it out with a 3-for-4 Sunday.

Gwinnett (37-35) at Memphis Redbirds (36-36) — July 27-August 1

Last week: 5-1

Last week’s rotation: Kyle Wright, Thomas Burrows, Jasseel De La Cruz, Jose Rodriguez, Nolan Kingham and Tanner Roark

Transactions: Braves recalled and optioned back Bryse Wilson; Jonathan Lucroy elected free agency after being optioned; activated and optioned Alex Jackson to Gwinnett; released Jaycob Brugman

Gwinnett keeps rolling as the lone hot team in the Braves system. Last week, the Stripers went a perfect 6-0 — the first Braves’ farm team to do so in 2021 — and followed it up with another winning week to get above the .500 mark for the first time in months. The Stripers enter next week on a five-game winning streak.

While the bats have been red hot, Jasseel De La Cruz got the much-needed strong start after an abysmal June. He went just four innings — and still profiles more as a reliever — but landed 42 of his 64 pitches for strikes and walked none. AJ Minter has been nearly perfect since rejoining Gwinnett to — hopefully — right the wrongs he has had in the bigs this season. He picked up two saves this week, tossing two scoreless and hitless innings, while walking one and striking out two.

Drew Waters and William Contreras continue to rake. Each had a multi-game home run streak this past week. Waters, who struggled a bit this year with an injury, is slashing .313/.368/.638 in July with nine doubles, one triple and five home runs, launching a homer in three-straight games this past week. Yes, the strikeouts are still an issue, but the walk rate is rising and the bat is looking more like many thought it should.

Contreras has just been lights out since returning to Gwinnett, now on a 12-game hitting streak. One week after earning Triple-A East player of the week honors, he had another monster week and is now slashing .377/.441/.868 in July with five doubles and seven home runs, four of those coming in consecutive games to end the week. Cristian Pache hit every game last week and is now on a six-game hitting streak. Like his teammates above, Pache also homered in back-to-back games to start the week.

And then there is Travis Demeritte, who may have come back from the IL with superhuman abilities. The right-fielder hit a grand slam on Sunday, his second of the week and third in seven games. He’s hitting .327 with a 1.145 OPS.