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Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Bryce Elder makes Triple-A debut, Darius Vines throws complete game

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It was a good day down in the Braves’ farm system, especially if you like pitching.

Mills Fitzner

It was a more than respectable night down on the Braves’ farm system as Atlanta’s affiliates went a combined 4-2. Bryce Elder made his Triple-A debut, Darius Vines shoved for Rome, and both Gwinnett and Mississippi saw some offensive explosions. Lets get into the games.

Gwinnett Stripers 10, Louisville Bats 5

Box Score

  • Jason Kipnis, 2B: 3-3, HR, RBI, 2 R, .814 OPS
  • Jonathan Morales, C: 4-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, .432 OPS
  • Bryce Elder, SP: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K

Bryce Elder had a successful Triple-A debut and the Striper bats backed him up in a big way as Gwinnett walloped Louisville by the score of 10-5. All Bryce Elder has done all year long is consistently produce on the mound and his Gwinnett debut was no different. The fourth inning got away from him a little bit as he gave up a solo homer and an RBI double, but other than that, he was excellent yet again in going five innings on 89 pitches. Connor Johnstone had a rough relief appearance as he gave up two runs on three hits including a homer. Jacob Webb was the chosen one to close the game out and while he did give up a leadoff solo homer in the 9th, the rest of the inning went by without incident.

The Gwinnett offense did some WORK on Friday evening as FIVE different players (Jason Kipnis, Johan Camargo, Eddie Rosario, Yolmer Sanchez, and Jonathan Morales) hit home runs on the evening. Kipnis and Morales were particularly excellent as they had seven hits between them. Also worth mentioning is that Johan Camargo has hit safely in 12 of his past 14 games. Cristian Pache had a tough night at the plate in going 0-4 with a walk and three strikeouts. Drew Waters had the night off.

Mississippi Braves 3, Montgomery Biscuits 1 - F/8 - Game One

Box Score

  • Wendell Rijo, 2B: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, .799 OPS
  • Shea Langeliers, C: 1-3, .868 OPS
  • Nolan Kingham, SP: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2.18 ERA

Game one of Mississippi’s doubleheader with Montgomery was a pitcher’s duel, but Wendell Rijo carried the offense and the Braves’ pitching held up to secure a 3-1 win. Nolan Kingham, after a less than successful stint in Triple-A, picked up where he left off in Mississippi and went seven strong innings. He did give up the tying run in the bottom of the seventh that forced extras, but overall it was a fine effort. Corbin Clouse had a fun 8th inning where a tightly called strike zone led to back to back walks which loaded the bases with no out. 11 pitches later, he had struck out three straight batters and Mississippi had a win.

On offense, it was a pretty quiet night with the notable exception of Wendell Rijo who connected for a solo shot as well as an RBI single in extra innings. While Rijo is a bit of a journeyman depth type, he can play all over the infield and has very quietly put up .799 OPS with 14 homers in 270 ABs this season. Outside of Rijo, the Mississippi offense only managed three singles, but fortunately the pitching showed out.

Mississippi Braves 9, Montgomery Biscuits 0 - Game Two

Box Score

  • Trey Harris, RF: 2-3, 2 RBI, R, .659 OPS
  • Jalen Miller, 2B: 1-4, 2 RBI, .694 OPS
  • Hayden Deal, SP: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.90 ERA

The second game of the doubleheader went even better than the first as Mississippi’s bullpen stitched together a gem and the offense went wild in a 9-0 win. Hayden Deal was the odd man out recently and got sent to the bullpen due to the depth of starters on Mississippi’s pitching staff and he was on opening duties in this one. He along with Troy Bacon, Will Latcham, Indigo Diaz, and Brandon White combined to throw a three-hit shutout, so that was fun.

On offense, it was a balanced effort as six different M-Braves drove in runs and not a single one of them came via the long ball. Trey Harris has had a bit of a trying season, but he had a pretty nice game in this one with a pair of RBI to go along with a multi-hit game. Mississippi broke the game open in the top of the sixth thanks, in part, to some suspect defense from Montgomery as Mississippi batted around in the frame and scored five runs that put the game well out of reach.

Rome Braves 5, Greenville Drive 2 - Game One

Box Score

  • Cody Milligan, 2B: 3-4, .644 OPS
  • Michael Harris, CF: 1-3, R, .795 OPS
  • Beau Philip, SS: 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, .606 OPS
  • Darius Vines, SP: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 3.67 ERA

Darius Vines threw a complete game (well, a doubleheader complete game anyways) and Rome secured the game one win over Greenville by the score of 5-2. We have a little bit of concern with Darius giving up the long ball and his fastball failing to miss bats at times, but he has really opened a lot of eyes with his performance this season. If he can improve his heater, he could ascend the ranks in a hurry.

On offense, Rome had help from multiple sources as Cody Milligan, Beau Philip, and Luke Waddell each had multi-hit games. While Philip has really struggled this year, he has put together a decent little stretch of play over the last week or two including a key two-run single in the first inning. The only big knock in the game came off the bat of Brett Langhorne whose solo homer came in the second inning and stretched Rome’s lead to 4-0.

Rome Braves 1, Greenville Drive 4 - Game Two

Box Score

  • Andrew Moritz, DH: 1-1, HR, RBI, .676 OPS
  • Jesse Franklin V, CF: 0-2, SB, .854 OPS
  • Coleman Huntley, SP: 4 IP, 5 H, 3 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 1 K, 4.79 ERA

We won’t linger for long here as it never felt the Rome offense was going to get going in this one and the Braves fell by the score of 4-1. Coleman Huntley got the start for Rome and was okay. His defense behind him didn’t do him a lot of favors in the middle of the game as all the runs against him in the game were unearned, but these things happen. Davis Schwab had an adventure again in his relief appearance where he had a bunch of baserunners and gave up and earned run, but Marrick Crouse and Tyler Ferguson ended the game strong.

On offense, other than a solo shot from Andrew Moritz...well, there wasn’t much of anything. Rome had three hits in the entire game with two singles from Luke Waddell and Brett Langhorne in addition to Moritz’s homer.

Augusta GreenJackets 5, Carolina Mudcats 6

Box Score

  • Cade Bunnell, 3B: 2-5, 3B, 2 RBI, .817 OPS
  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 2-5, 2B, .849 OPS
  • Stephen Paolini, CF: 4-5, 3B, 2 RBI, .552 OPS
  • Joey Estes, SP: 5 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 2.84 ERA

The start of Augusta’s game was promising as they took an early lead and Joey Estes was shoving, but Estes faltered in the sixth inning and the GreenJackets’ bullpen coughed up the lead as they lost by the score of 6-5. Through the first five innings, Estes was locked in and looked like he was in similar form to when he threw a complete game in his last start. Unfortunately, the sixth inning saw him allow the first three batters to reach base via a pair of walks and a single. Alec Barger came on in relief and...well...all of those runners scored which certainly made Joey’s line seem a lot worse than it honestly was.

Offensively, there was plenty of good news as multiple GreenJackets filled up the stat sheet. This wasn’t the season that Stephen Paolini was probably hoping for, but he had himself a great game on Friday with four hits including a triple and a pair of RBI. The month of August has been significantly better for Paolini, so hopefully next season he will be more seasoned and able to perform. Cade Bunnell and Christian Robinson had multi-hit games along with Vaughn Grissom who is hitting .316 in the month of August which seems pretty good.