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Braves MiLB preview: Mississippi, Gwinnett head to postseason

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The 2021 Minor League Baseball regular season is in the books. Next stop: The postseason for the Gwinnett Stripers and Mississippi Braves.

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

The Atlanta Braves’ minor-league teams ended their respective seasons this past week. Fear not, Braves fans — we’re not done yet. Both the Gwinnett Stripers and Mississippi Braves are heading to the postseason.

Here’s what you need to know.

Gwinnett begins its Final Stretch Winner Quest

Stripers’ final record: 68-51 | 3rd place in Triple-A East, Southeast Division

Top hitters:

  • Travis Demeritte: .295/.379/.603, 13 doubles, 20 home runs, 54 RBI
  • Johan Camargo: .319/.395/.540, 22 doubles, 17 home runs, 70 RBI
  • Cristian Pache: .273/.341/.427, 15 doubles, 10 home runs, 38 RBI

Top pitchers:

  • Kyle Wright: 9-5, 3.34 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 123 strikeouts, 41 walks in 124 IP
  • Kyle Muller: 5-3, 3.10 ERA, 1.29 WHP, 82 strikeouts, 38 walks in 72.2 IP

What to know:

This week kicks off the first-ever 2021 Triple-A Final Stretch “playoffs”. All 30 clubs of Triple-A East and West will compete in a 10-game schedule and whichever team compiles the highest overall winning percentage over that span is the 2021 Final Stretch Winner.

Gwinnett at Durham Bulls — Sept. 22-26; all games 6:35 p.m. ET except Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. start

The Stripers draw the best team in all of Triple-A to start the Final Stretch. Durham finished 77-43 this season, winning the division by a comfortable eight games. That said, the Stripers played the Bulls well this year. After they dropped the first series 5-1 in Durham’s favor, they flipped the switch and took the most recent series 5-1.

With the rumored promotion of Bryce Elder looming, the two Kyles are the anchor to the rotation. Kyle Wright closed the final week of the regular season with a “Maddux” needing just 86 pitches to toss a complete game shutout. Johan Camargo has been on a tear at the plate. He’s hit in 13 of his last 14 games with nine of those games being of the multi-hit variety.

Mississippi takes on Montgomery for Double-A South title

M-Braves final record: 67-44 | 1st place in Double-A South, South Division

Top hitters:

  • Shea Langeliers: .258/.338/.498, 13 doubles, 22 home runs, 52 RBI
  • Greyson Jenista: .216/.343/.465, 7 doubles, 19 home runs, 42 RBI
  • Drew Lugbauer: .223/.331/.453, 15 doubles, 18 home runs, 51 RBI

Top pitchers:

  • Spencer Strider: 3-7, 4.71 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 94 strikeouts, 29 walks in 63 IP
  • Freddy Tarnok: 3-2, 2.60 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 61 strikeouts, 15 walks in 45 IP
  • Hayden Deal: 3-2, 3.77 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 72 strikeouts, 33 walks in 88.1 IP

What to know:

The M-Braves will play a much more traditional postseason with a five-game series determining the Double-A South champion. They schedule is as follows:

  • Sept. 21 and 22 | 7:35 p.m. ET | @ Montgomery
  • Sept. 24, 25* and 26* | 7:35 p.m. ET, 7:05 p.m. ET*, 6:05 p.m. ET* | @ Mississippi
    (* = if necessary)

Montgomery finished 62-55 this season, eight games behind Mississippi for the division crown. Because of the COVID postseason rules, the teams with the best two records — no matter what division — get the chance to play for the championship. Mississippi took the season series 17-7.

Mississippi finished with a .697 OPS, third worst in Double-A South. They certainly have bats with pop in Shea Langeliers, Greyson Jenista and Drew (s)Lugbauer. Justin Dean led his second league in stolen bases in as many seasons. But the strength of this team is pitching.

Jared Shuster, Spencer Strider, Freddy Tarnok and Alan Rangel make a tough rotation in a short series. Hayden Deal has been a steady presence in the rotation and the bullpen. Brooks Wilson has been an anchor at the back of the ‘pen all season long and breakout star Indigo Diaz — albeit somewhat human of late — has been lights out all season.