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Braves minor-league Week 14 preview: Star pitching prospects look to stay hot after big week

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The Atlanta Braves MiLB affiliates went a combined 14-10 last week. Here’s a look at who’s hot and what’s in store this week.

Gwinnett Stripers pitcher, Kyle Wright (30) in action during... Photo by Kevin Langley/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The dog days of summer are here. Or perhaps we should say bulldog days of summer: the Atlanta Braves saw some impressive pitching performances from the likes of Kyle Wright, Darius Vines, Bryce Elder and Joey Estes.

The Braves’ minor-league teams went a combined 14-10 last week, bouncing back from a brutal 9-16 stretch the week prior. But that was somewhat lost in the shuffle to one of the more memorable MLB trade deadlines in recent memory.

Chaos ensued over the last 48 hours of the 2021 deadline, as teams played chess by countering trade after trade after trade after... you get the point. Bryse Wilson and Alex Jackson departed, the latter shaking up the Talking Chop Midseason Top 30. Both Kasey Kalich and Ricky DeVito were moved, opening some spots on the list as well. Our own Garrett Spain broke down the prospects that were moved in a hectic trade deadline.

Speaking of prospects, this is the week you’ve all been waiting for: the release of the Talking Chop Midseason Top 30. The ball is already rolling with the honorable mentions and Nos. 30-25 released, and we will continue to release six per day at noon every day this week. You can keep up at the Talking Chop minor league hub.

Both Travis D’Arnaud and Huascar Ynoa began their rehab assignments. The minor-league season is entering its last few weeks of the 2021 season. Before we look ahead, let’s take a look at how some of the prospects we’ve been watching performed last week.

Augusta GreenJackets:

  • Joey Estes, SP: 10 IP, 7 H, 4 R (0 ER), 4 BB, 15 K
  • Vaughn Grissom, IF: 10-for-20, 1 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI
  • Bryson Horne, 1B/DH: 6-for-23, 1 HR, 4 RBI

Rome Braves:

  • Darius Vines, SP: 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K
  • Jesse Franklin V, OF: 4-for-23, 2 HR, 4 RBI
  • Michael Harris II, CF: 7-for-20, 2 R, 2 RBI

Mississippi Braves:

  • Bryce Elder, SP: 7 IP (lightning-shortened complete game), 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 9 K
  • Freddy Tarnok, SP: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 12 K
  • Shea Langeliers, C: 6-for-16, 2 HR, 4 R, 2 RBI

Gwinnett Stripers:

  • Kyle Wright, SP: 14 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 16 K
  • Drew Waters, OF: 7-for-27, 2 2B, 4 R
  • AJ Minter, RP: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 3 SVs

Here’s a look at the week ahead on the Braves’ farm.

Augusta (34-44) at Charleston RiverDogs (54-23) — August 3-8

Last week: 3-3

Last week’s rotation: Joey Estes, Tanner Gordon, Rainiery Rodriguez, Jared Johnson and Chad Bryant

Transactions: Activated Malcom Van Buren for the IL; released Zach Seipel

The GreenJackets had a .500 week, which makes two three-win weeks in a row. Hopefully that momentum continues as they head to Low-A East’s best team in Charleston. Joey Estes and Vaughn Grissom continue to be the big story in Augusta. Estes leads the rotation and made two starts this past week. He allowed no runs in his Tuesday start while four unearned runs crossed in his Sunday outing. His ERA is 2.58 on the season, with a 0.98 WHIP and a .193 batting average against. If you want any proof as to why you never judge a pitcher by his record, Estes is No. 2 in the entire league in ERA, WHIP and BAA... with a 1-5 overall record.

Grissom exploded this week, hitting .500 with three home runs. He’s now looking like the elite hitting prospect many hoped he was, now with a .306 average and .859 OPS. His bat just explodes through the strike zone and now that he appears to be fully healthy, opposing Low-A East pitchers will struggle to get him out. Bryson Horne and Willie Carter continue to swing a steady bat as well and remain a key part of the lineup to watch.

Rome (37-41) at Greenville Drive (39-38) — August 3-8

Last week: 3-3

Last week’s rotation: AJ Puckett, Jared Shuster, Alan Rangel, Jake McSteen, Darius Vines and Huascar Ynoa

Transactions: Braves sent Huascar Ynoa on rehab assignment

Rome bounced back after a 1-5 week to split the series with Asheville. Alan “The R-Braves GOAT” Rangel had another strong outing, going seven one-run innings, while walking none and striking out nine. Darius Vines continues to impress, this time tossing seven no-hit innings as part of a combined one-hit shutout. Huascar Ynoa began his rehab trail in Rome to forgettable results. He went just two innings, allowing eight hits and six runs while striking out two and landing 35 of 51 pitches for strikes. It was his first appearance in over a month, so there is no reason to panic just yet.

Michael Harris II had at least one hit in every game last week and is now on a nine-game hitting streak. The young outfield prospect is slashing .296/.344/.438 on the season. Jesse Franklin V continues to hit home runs. He now has the second-most dingers in High-A East with 19, just one off the leader. His 48 RBIs are tied for eighth. Andrew Moritz came alive in July. He ended the month on a 16-game hitting streak, slashing an impressive .394/.442/.451 for July.

Mississippi (44-34) at Birmingham Barons (42-35) - August 3-8

Last week: 4-2

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

Transactions: Activated Jefrey Ramos from IL; transferred Carlos Martinez to the Development List

The M-Braves rebounded from a winless week to take the series against Pensacola. They now head to Birmingham in a week-long battle of division leaders.

The Freddy Tarnok Show is a great one to watch and we’re here for it. He’s now made two starts since his promotion to Mississippi and has allowed three runs and three walks while striking out 21 over 10.1 innings pitched. His 16.25 strikeout-per-nine rate is among the best in all of baseball. Speaking of high strikeout rates, Indigo Diaz continues to impress in Double-A. He made his fourth and fifth appearance this past week, has yet to allow a run and now has 12 strikeouts in 7.2 innings pitched. Bryce Elder has made himself one to watch. He is an inning-eating bulldog and an ideal back-of-the-rotation type of pitcher. He’s sometimes effectively wild but has what appears to be a rubber arm that gets Elder late into ballgames.

Shea Langeliers hit in all four games he played this past week and is now on a five-game hitting streak. His 17 home runs are tied for tops in Double-A South. And while we’re on league leaders, how about the reemergence of Drew Lugbauer. The slugging first baseman/DH is now leading Double-A South with a .890 OPS. He has 12 home runs and 36 RBIs as well. Justin Dean had five hits this week, three of which went yard. He continues to evolve into a toolsy player as he adjusts to advanced pitching.

Gwinnett (41-37) vs. Charlotte Knights (28-49) — August 3-8

Last week: 4-2

Last week’s rotation: Kyle Wright, Jasseel De La Cruz, Jose Rodriguez, Nolan Kingham and Connor Johnstone

Transactions: Braves optioned Sean Newcomb and Orlando Arcia to Gwinnett; Braves sent Travis D’Arnaud on rehab assignment

The Stripers are on a tear. Gwinnett entered this week 11-1 over their last 12 and registered another winning week, taking down Memphis 4-2. The Stripers now welcome last-place Charlotte to Gwinnett.

Kyle Wright has been impressive of late. He’s gone at least six innings in each of his last three starts and has allowed just four runs while striking out 21. With Bryse Wilson now on the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wright is the main attraction in the Stripers’ rotation. Perhaps most importantly, AJ Minter is now a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities since returning to Gwinnett, recording three last week. He’s struck out six in five innings without allowing a run.

Despite rumors aswirl, both Drew Waters and Cristian Pache survived the trade deadline. Water ended July with an impressive .301/.351/.573 slash line to go along with 11 doubles and five home runs. Pache is still struggling to get the motor started and hasn’t been able to find consistency at the plate since returning from injury. He hit .232 with a .697 OPS in July. Travis Demeritte did not hit a grand slam this past week, but he did homer once to give him six for the month of July. That’s impressive considering he missed the first week on the IL. Lastly, William Contreras had a human week after three superhuman, video-game-esque weeks in a row. The young catcher had four hits and yet another home run.

UPDATE, 12:15 p.m. ET — David Lee is reporting several draft picks and free agent signings have been added to the FCL roster, as well as some releases from the Braves organization.