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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Drew Waters and Jesse Franklin homer again

Drew Waters may finally be coming back to life

Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

It was far from a successful day in the minor leagues as the Atlanta Braves affiliates only went 1-4, but there was plenty of action from the prospects at every level. Drew Waters crushed a home run for Gwinnett, and has begun hitting the ball hard again the past couple of nights. Jesse Franklin stayed red hot with yet another home run, and Michael Harris continues to plug away giving Rome RBIs in both games of their double header.

(23-29) Gwinnett Stripers 5, (35-17) Durham Bulls 6 F/10

Box Score

  • Cristian Pache, CF: 1-4, BB .224/.289/.382
  • Drew Waters, LF: 1-5, HR, 4 RBI, .226/.333/.355
  • Orlando Arcia, LF: 1-2, HR, BB, RBI, .303/.380/.552
  • Jose Rodriguez, SP: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 9.82 ERA
  • Sean Newcomb, RP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 0.00 ERA

Gwinnett jumped out to a very quick start in this game as Orlando Arcia led off the game with his 13th home run of the season. This unfortunately did not seem to jumpstart the team at all, as Gwinnett only had one more hit through the first five innings of the game. In the sixth the Bulls lifted their starter Shane Baz, and the Stripers were able to capitalize on that immediately. Alex Jackson led off the inning with a single, and then following a walk to Jonathan Lucroy, it was Drew Waters doing the big damage. Waters took the first pitch he saw deep into the night in right field to tie the game at four. It was Waters’ first home run since May 19th. In the past two nights he has a home run and two doubles after only having two extra base hits since May 19th. Gwinnett had more opportunities to take the lead in the game as their bullpen locked down the Bulls, but never came through with a hit. They loaded the bases in the sixth inning but strikeouts from Jackson and Waters ended the threat. In the ninth, Phillip Ervin led off with a single and Jason Kipnis walked to put the Stripers in prime scoring position, but Johan Camargo grounded into a double play and Alex Jackson ended the threat with a ground out. Lucroy was able to get the extra runner home with a base hit in the 10th, but a Waters double play and Cristian Pache strike out ended the inning and Durham won in the bottom of the 10th.

Jose Rodriguez came into this start having just had two horrific starts for Gwinnett, and he was finally able to put together a decent outing today for the Stripers. He retired the first four batters he faced, but it seemed like things might fall apart again for him after he allowed back to back home runs and then a single with one out in the second. Fortunately he was able to work around this and face the minimum over the next 2 23 with some help from the defense. A third inning single was erased by a caught stealing and then in the fourth, Drew Waters snuffed out a batter trying to stretch a single against him after he bobbled the ball in the corner. Connor Johnstone was the first pitcher out in relief of Rodriguez, and while he didn’t look all that good, both of his runs were unearned as an error on a potential inning ending double play led to a cascade of problems. Dylan Lee was next out of the bullpen and he was on fire retiring all six batters he faced with two strikeouts to get his season ERA down to 1.96. Sean Newcomb was as good as you would expect striking out the side in the 8th with a hit and walk mixed in. In his three innings with Gwinnett this season Newcomb has struck out 72.7% of the batters he has faced. The only other pitcher regardless of inning total with a higher K rate in the minor leagues this season is Jacob DeGrom from his rehab start in Low-A. Jacob Webb had a dominant ninth inning, striking out the side in order all on whiffs to send it to extra innings. Handed a lead in extra innings he wasn’t nearly as effective, recording two outs on a double play but allowing two hits and a walk to give the Bulls the win.

Next Game: 7/4 @ (35-17) Durham Bulls @ 6:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

GWN: TBD

DUR: TBD

(31-22) Mississippi Braves 4, (25-26) Montgomery Biscuits 7

Box Score

  • Trey Harris, RF: 1-5, RBI, .256/.328/.320
  • Braden Shewmake, SS: 2-4, RBI, .204/.253/.365
  • Shea Langeliers, C: 1-4, .247/.347/.540
  • AJ Puckett, SP: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 5.40 ERA
  • Will LAtcham, RP: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3.78 ERA

Mississippi took a 4-0 lead in this game, but the offense shut down and the pitching could not hold as they took the loss. Mississippi’s hot start to the game began in the first inning when consecutive singles from CJ Alexander, Shea Langeliers, and Braden Shewmake brought in the game’s first run. After a couple of quiet innings the Braves were back at it again in the fourth inning, with Drew Lugbauer driving in a run with the first of his two doubles. Jalen Miller followed up with an RBI single, and then an error by the first baseman brought in the third run of the inning. Mississippi still had the bases loaded with one out and the middle of the order coming up, but strikeouts from Alexander and Langeliers ended a huge opportunity that ended up being very costly. Over the next five innings Mississippi batted just one over the minimum, with two double plays and a caught stealing erasing some of the batters that did get on. Braden Shewmake now has an 8 game hitting streak, and since the start of June has a 125 wRC+. Shea Langeliers had two more strikeouts today in what has been an increasingly concerning trend for him. While his defense and power explosion has many clamoring for a promotion and even for him to be in Atlanta, it’s hard to justify moving a guy up who has struck out 13 of the time over the past month of action and 29% overall. As Alex Jackson has shown us, no amount of raw power will make up for it if you can’t hit and while the bar for what a reasonable strikeout rate is has certainly changed in the past five years until Shea can hit a bit more he may be stuck in the limbo of playing outrageously well but not being worthy of a call up.

Mississippi pitching was a bit of an uninteresting story as no one did particularly well. AJ Puckett was able to hold it together for three innings, but after being given a four run lead he allowed a quick one back on a home run in the bottom of the fourth. The wheels then fell off in the fifth as he allowed three walks and three hits before being pulled from the game with one out. All in all he allowed four runs in the inning and Emmanuel Ramirez had to keep it from getting worse and did so with two strikeouts to end the inning. Ramirez allowed a run in the 6th on a triple and a wild pitch then made way for Sean McLaughlin in the 7th. McLaughlin was the only Braves pitcher not to give up a run as all three batters he faced put playable balls in play for the Mississippi defense. Will Latcham allowed an unearned run in the 8th inning.

Next Game: 7/4 @ (25-26) Montgomery Biscuits @ 7:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

MIS: TBD

MTG: TBD

(28-22) Rome Braves 10, (22-28) Wilmington Blue Rocks 0 Game 1

Box Score

  • Michael Harris, CF: 1-3, 2B, HBP .328/.351/.494
  • Beau Philip, SS: 3-3, HR, BB, 2 RBI, .222/.298/.361
  • Jesse Franklin, LF: 2-3, 2B, HR, BB, 2 RBI, .277/.335/.547
  • Mitch Stallings, SP: 4 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K., 4.85 ERA
  • Coleman Huntley, RP: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.34 ERA

Rome poured on runs in game one and easily rolled to a win. You can probably guess how the scoring started, as Jesse Franklin hit yet another home run to put the Braves up 1-0. Rusber Estrada followed with a home run of his own, and remember that name for a bit because we’ll circle back. Beau Philip hit a solo shot in the fourth inning to extend the Rome lead, and give them three home runs on the day. Once the fifth inning came around Rome was ready to do work, and an error and forcce out scored Mitch Calandra and Shean Michel who had reached earlier in the inning. Estrada then led off in the 6th inning with a double, and Beau Philip and Brett Langhorne each followed with doubles to score two more and extend the lead to 7-0. Doubles from Michael Harris and Jesse Franklin added another run on the board, and now we come right back around to Estrada again who hit his second home run of the day and the Braves fourth to make it 10-0.

Mitch Stallings had to hold on pretty tightly as the Braves offense didn’t go wild until he left the game, and he did a pretty good job for four innings despite baserunners against him. He walked two in the first but got around that with the help of an Estrada caught stealing. He allowed hits in the second and third inning that never really threatened, but a leadoff single in the fourth could have been danger. Stallings was able to get a double play, and a later double in the inning was of no consequence. Coleman Huntley was tremendous for the Braves and retired all nine batters he faced in relief to close out the game.

(28-23) Rome Braves 2, (23-28) Wilmington Blue Rocks 6 Game 2

Box Score

  • Michael Harris, CF: 1-4, RBI, .326/.349/.489
  • Bryce Ball, 1B: 0-3, .197/.339/.354
  • Jesse Franklin, RF: 0-2, BB, .277/.335/.547
  • Darius Vines, SP: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K., 4.05 ERA
  • Marrick Crouse, RP: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 4.91 ERA

Rome trailed throughout most of game two and never made a huge push for runs after a big third inning. A three run home run had Wilmington on top when the third inning rolled around, but Rome was able to mount a rally thanks to an error. A double steal brought home the first run, and with a man on Michael Harris represented the tying run in the game. He did what he has all season by driving in a run, then he stole second base to set himself up in scoring position to tie the game. That unfortunately went nowhere and after Wilmington got two runs in the bottom of the third Rome never threatened to catch up. Jesse Franklin had a rare hitless game, and he’s another we should talk about a bit. He’s in a bit of the same situation as Shea Langeliers, as although he has been phenomenal for the last month or so he still is running around a 28% strikeout rate in that span. His season numbers aren’t so bad, around 24.4%, but the jump to Double-A is a tough one and if you’re wondering why he hasn’t been promoted that is one of the main reasons.

Darius Vines cruised through his first inning on the mound with two strikeouts, but he struggled in the second and was pulled from the game after throwing 33 pitches to record two outs. The big hit in the inning was a three run home run that came immediately following an error in the inning. That one mistake was indicative of his issues with commanding the ball as he missed his location quite often throughout the second inning and this happened to be one time he missed over the plate. In his two starts for Rome Vines has 10 strikeouts over 6 23 innings, but the four walks and overall lack of feel for location has been a bit of a problem for him. Gabriel Noguera walked three batters in relief and allowed two runs, nothing much more to say as he now has 27 walks in 16 innings this season. Tyler Ferguson pitched two innings and allowed one unearned run, and Marrick Crouse continued his fantastic streak of pitching with a scoreless inning and a strikeout. Crouse’s sketchy command was a real problem early in the season and has inflated his overall numbers, but over the past month he has 12 strikeouts to 1 walk (2 HBP) in 11 innings and a 0.82 ERA.

Next Game: 7/4 @ (23-28) Wilmington Blue Rocks @ 1:05 PM ET

Probable Starters

ROM: Freddy Tarnok (2-1, 3.86 ERA)

WIL: TBD

(23-29) Augusta GreenJackets 4, (27-22) Columbia Fireflies 7

Box Score

  • Bryson Horne, 1B: 2-2, 3B, HBP, RBI, .271/.312/.452
  • Willie Carter, RF: 0-2, BB, RBI, .313/.411/.431
  • Ricardo Rodriguez, C: 0-2, BB, RBI, .244/.374/.427
  • Joey Estes, SP: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2.68 ERA
  • Benjamin Dum, RP: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.38 ERA

Joey Estes led Augusta to a 4-1 lead after six innings, and then Augusta things happened and they lost 7-4. Augusta was handed their first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning, as a single, two walks, and then a bases loaded hit batter brought in a run to score. It wasn’t until the third inning when they got a run from hitting baseballs, this coming courtesy of a triple from Bryson Horne and then a sacrifice fly. They brought in an add on run in the fourth on a Horne sacrifice fly and then another run on a sixth inning single from Stephen Paolini, but Augusta never could string together hits or extra base hits for a big inning and that came back to bite them in the end. The GreenJackets didn’t record a hit after that Paolini single.

Joey Estes was fun to watch once again for the GreenJackets, which makes exactly two players in this entire game for Augusta along with the big day from Horne. He struck out two batters in the first inning to work around a double and a walk, then set down four batters in a row after that with two more strikeouts. The second time through the order the strikeouts dried up and Columbia was able to threaten against him, but only a sacrifice fly in the 3rd inning was able to push anyone across. He retired the last 11 batters he faced in the game despite only recording one more strikeout, with six of those not leaving the infield on three infield pop ups and three ground balls. Gabriel Rodriguez was brought on in a close game that Augusta was leading, and it went exactly as anyone would expect for a guy with 25 walks and three hit batters in 14 23 innings. He loaded the bases on a hit, walk, and hit batter before even recording an out, then after a strikeout walked in a run and allowed another on a force play before being pulled from the game. Benjamin Dum could not strand the runners and allowed a two run single that gave Columbia the lead. Dum pitched a clean 8th inning, but an error in the 9th inning extended the suffering and he allowed a two run home run that iced the game with the struggling Augusta lineup not able to string together hits.

Next Game: 7/4 vs (27-22) Columbia Fireflies @ 6:35 PM ET

Probable Starters

AUG: Jake McSteen (1-0, 1.86 ERA)

COL: Adrian Alcantara (2-3, 4.25 ERA)