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Braves Week 20 MiLB preview: The final week of the regular season is upon us

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The Atlanta Braves minor-league affiliates put up a 17-7 week. Now they enter the final week of the 2021 regular season.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Nineteen weeks are in the books and just one remains for the Atlanta Braves’ minor-league affiliates. The young Braves had a solid week, going 17-7 overall between the four levels. The Mississippi Braves have locked up a playoff berth while Gwinnett hopes to stay hot as the Triple-A version of the 2021 “playoffs” approaches (more on that later).

By now, you know the drill. Here’s a quick look at some of the Braves’ top prospects.

Augusta GreenJackets:

  • Landon Stephens, 1B: 6-for-17, 4 HR, 8 R, 9 RBI
  • Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B: 5-for-16, 2 HR, 8 R, 3 RBI
  • Andrew Hoffmann, SP: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K

Rome Braves:

  • Michael Harris II, CF: 6-for-23, 4 2B, 6 R, 3 RBI
  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 8-for-20, 2 2B, 1 HR, 9 R, 6 RBI, 1 SB
  • Darius Vines, SP: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

Mississippi Braves:

  • Jared Shuster: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
  • Freddy Tarnok, SP: 6.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
  • Shea Langeliers, C: 4-for-18, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI

Gwinnett Stripers:

  • Kyle Wright, SP: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K
  • Bryce Elder, SP: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
  • Drew Waters, OF: 7-for-22, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI

Now, on to the final week for the lower minors.

Augusta GreenJackets (50-64) at Myrtle Beach Pelicans (57-57)— Sept. 14-19

Last week: 5-1

Last week’s rotation: Royber Salinas, Ryan Cusick, Andrew Hoffmann, Jared Johnson, Rainiery Rodriguez, James Acuna

Transactions: Jared Johnson, Royber Salinas assigned to Augusta; Joey Estes placed on IL

The GreenJackets are 8-3 in September and look to close the season on a high note. If they go 2-4, they’ll make it out with a winning record in the final month of the season.

It was an impressive week for the GreenJackets young starters. Salinas, Cusick, Hoffman, Johnson and Rodriguez combined to toss 20.2 innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs while issuing 11 walks and striking out 31. Salinas and Hoffman didn’t allow a hit or a run in their start and five of those 11 walks came from Johnson.

We’ve talked about a lot of the young bats all season, but as this year comes to a close, we need to make a Landon Stephens appreciation post. We don’t speak of him much since he wasn’t in our top 35 prospects but the 6’2, 204-pound slugging righty has put up one of the more memorable Low-A seasons the Atlanta Braves have had of late. After a four-home run week, Stephens is slashing .243/.353/.483 with 21 home runs and 67 RBI. What his future holds is uncertain, but he surely deserves some recognition for his 2021 campaign.

Rome Braves (54-59) vs. Hickory Crawdads (45-66) — Sept. 14-19

Last week: 3-3

Last week’s rotation: William Woods, Tanner Gordon, Darius Vines, Jake McSteen and Dylan Dodd

Transactions: Dylan Dodd, Javier Valdes assigned to roster; Brett Langhorne placed on IL

As Rome is set for its finale as well, the R-Braves need a big 5-1 week to finish the season at an even .500. Hickory, statistically speaking, is one of the worst teams in the league, so there’s a chance it happens.

Darius Vines had another strong start this week and is the man to watch in the rotation in Rome. Split between Augusta and Rome, Vines numbers are solid for the 2021 season. He enters the final week with a 3.06 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 126 strikeouts in 106 innings pitched.

At the plate, Vaughn Grissom is a menace. It is unbelievable how easy he has made High-A look since his promotion. In his nine games in Rome, he is slashing .414/.550/.690 with 12 runs scored and 10 RBI. He’s walked an incredible 10 times and has struck out just three times. Jesse Franklin V hit another home run last week and is tied for the league lead with 24 with six games to go. This Michael Harris fella seems pretty good at baseball. He enters the final week with a .293 average and .787 OPS after providing a steady bat from start to finish.

Mississippi Braves (65-42) at Chattanooga Lookouts (56-52) — Sept. 14-19

Last week: 4-2

Last week’s rotation: Hayden Deal, Jared Shuster, Alan Rangel, Freddy Tarnok, Spencer Strider and Matt Withrow

Transactions: Emmanuel Ramirez assigned to roster; Indigo Diaz, Sean McLaughlin activated from IL; Troy Bacon placed on IL

Your Mississippi Braves are postseason bound, clinching a playoff berth last week. They have the Double-A South - South Division locked up and are a mere few wins away from the best record in the entire league.

Freddy Tarnok should have a party thrown for him as one of the most improved pitchers in the system. While he is not perfect, his command and “rawness” of the past seems to be cleaned up in every start and he has gotten stronger every outing. Split between Rome and Mississippi, his number are: 3.38 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, with 104 strikeouts and 26 walks in 69.1 innings. Jared Shuster looked more comfortable this week as well, and Spencer Strider struggled since our own Garrett Spain was on the recap.

Greyson Jenista and Shea Langeliers homered again this week. They pace the team in home runs, Langeliers with 20 and Jenista tied with Drew Lugbauer with 18. Langeliers breakout season has been fun to watch, as he is slashing .254/.331/.483 with newfound power while throwing out 42 percent of base runners.

Gwinnett Stripers (66-48) vs. Nashville Sounds (60-54) — Sept. 14-19

Last week: 5-1

Last week’s rotation: Kyle Muller, Kyle Wright, Bryce Elder, Jose Rodriguez and Connor Johnstone

Transaction: Maikel Franco, Riley Unroe assigned to roster; Travis Snider released

It was another big week for Gwinnett, which unlike the other teams in the system, have plenty of baseball left. While the regular season concludes this week, next week the chase for the 2021 Triple-A Final Stretch Winner begins “based on highest overall winning percentage during a 10-game schedule immediately following the originally scheduled championship season (concluding Oct. 3).”

Kyle Muller made two starts this week and fared well, going 11 innings while allowing four runs and striking out 11 and walking five. The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Wright (see what I did there) continued as Kyle Wright delivered an ace-like performance, striking out 10 over seven. Bryce Elder is settled in and fired another impressive start. His ability to throw deep into ballgames is invaluable.

Cristian Pache had a big week and looks like he is close to a return. He went 7-for-25 this week, scoring five runs and hitting a home run to get things started. His outfield counterpart Drew Waters also looked sharp this week. With their bats going, the Stripers have a chance at the first-ever Final Stretch title.