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Braves Week 19 Minor-League preview: Young bats look to continue power surge after big week

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The Atlanta Braves minor-league affiliates combined to go 14-8 last week. As we enter the home stretch, let’s take a look ahead at the week in store.

Atlanta Braves prospect Justin Dean bats for the the Rome MiLB team. Photo Credit: Garrett Spain

The Atlanta Braves farm system battled rains this past week but came out ahead with a winning record. The four squads finished 14-8 with some notable promotions to some fast-rising prospects. This week, Augusta, Rome and Gwinnett take on teams with a sub-.500 record while Mississippi battles the Montgomery Biscuits in a big Double-A South clash.

Before we look ahead, here is how some of the prospects we’ve been closely tracking all season did last week.

Augusta GreenJackets:

  • Bryson Horne, 1B/DH: 9-for-22, 4 2B, 1 HR, 5 R, 3 RBI
  • Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B: 8-for-19, 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 R, 9 RBI
  • Dylan Spain, RP: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 0 ER, 7 K — first career win

Rome Braves:

  • Darius Vines, SP: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 8 K
  • Vaughn Grissom, SS: 4-for-9, 3 R, 1 HR,3 RBI, 1 SB
  • Michael Harris, II, CF: 3-for-14, 2 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 SB

Mississippi Braves:

  • Spencer Strider, SP: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
  • Trey Harris, OF: 5-for-18, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI
  • Justin Dean, CF: 6-for-12, 1 HR, 6 R, 1 RBI, 2 SB

Gwinnett Stripers:

  • Kyle Muller, SP: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K
  • Cristian Pache, CF: 6-for-17, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 SB
  • Drew Waters, OF: 3-for-17, 5 R, 2 SB

As we said, the young Braves have a favorable schedule this week. Here’s what we will be watching.

Augusta (45-63) vs. Columbia Fireflies (47-61) — Sept. 7-12

Last week: 3-3

Last week’s rotation: Rainiery Rodriguez, Ryan Cusick, Andrew Hoffmann, Estarlin Rodriguez and Joey Estes

Transactions: Estarlin Rodriguez added to roster from FCL; Connor Blair activated from IL

With the promotion of Vaughn Grissom, the focus on Augusta are the names from the 2020 and 2021 MLB draft and draft pool. Bryson Horne ended the week on a tear, hitting in his final four games of the week. He’s slashing a respectable .272/.322/.413 on the season with nine home runs. Justyn-Henry Malloy started to get hot as August ended and that carried over to the first week of September. He hit .400 last week, homering to end August on Tuesday and then once more to end the week on Sunday.

Joey Estes only pitched one inning last week and Ryan Cusick struggled to get out of the first inning in his start. That said, Dylan Spain — an intriguing story out of DII Hawaii Hilo — has been more than bargained for when the Braves selected him in the 10th round this year. He has yet to allow a run in Augusta, now up to 9.0 scoreless innings while striking out 10 and walking just one.

Rome (51-56) at Asheville Tourists (47-57) — Sept. 7-12

Last week: 5-1

Last week’s rotation: Tanner Gordon, William Woods, AJ Puckett, Darius Vines, Jake McSteen and Mitch Stallings

Transactions: Activated Garrison Schwartz; Vaughn Grissom added to the roster from Augusta

Welcome to High-A, Vaughn Grissom. One of the highest rising prospects of 2021, Grissom joined Rome for three games last week and certainly impressed. He walked in his first at-bat, stole third and scored the first Rome of the game in his debut. Perhaps most impressive: he walked three times and struck out none against the most-advanced pitching he’s faced to date. Michael Harris continues to do Michael Harris things, creating and scoring runs. He is up to .295/.357/.434 on the season. Jesse Franklin V ended the week on a three-game hitting streak, blasting his league-best 23rd home run on Sunday.

Darius Vines is the man to watch on the bump in Rome. He dealt once again this past week, striking out eight and walking one. Since joining Rome, he has struck out 72 and walked 16 in 65 innings.

Mississippi (61-40) vs. Montgomery Biscuits (56-51) — Sept. 7-12

Last week: 3-1

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

Transactions: Jared Shuster, Tyler Ferguson, Luke Waddell assigned to Mississippi roster

Jared Shuster was promoted midweek and his debut didn’t go very well. The positive is that he did strike out the side in the second inning. The negative is he allowed eight runs and two homers in his four innings of work. Shuster’s fellow draft-mate, Spencer Strider, was sharp once again, tossing five scoreless while striking out eight. Since his promotion to the M-Braves, he’s struck out 82 in 55 innings.

This week was about the bats. Greyson Jenista led the charge, blasting four home runs — including a three-homer game on Thursday — and driving in six on the week. Justin Dean opened September on fire, hitting .500 for the week with his seventh home run and Double-A South-best 28th stolen base. Trey Harris had himself a nice week as well, hitting his eighth home run of the season. Drew Lugbauer’s turnaround season continued as well. He hit in every game this week — including consecutive games with home runs — and now has a .844 OPS with 18 home runs on the season.

Gwinnett (61-47) at Columbus Clippers (51-55) — Sept. 7-12

Last week: 3-3

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

Transactions: Orlando Arcia, Jacob Webb and Sean Newcomb recalled by Braves

The Stripers had to dodge rain and play a pair of doubleheaders this week, so coming out of this with a series split is a successful week. Kyle Muller, who has gone six innings in each of his three starts since his return to Gwinnett, was sharp. He landed just 54 of his 91 pitches for strikes but walked just one. Bryce Elder looked good in his start after struggling a bit in his previous two. He only went four innings but struck out seven and walked one. His rise up the ladder this season has been fun to watch.

At the plate, Cristian Pache still seems to be getting a feel for some swing changes but is looking more comfortable. He started September with a .353 average last week. And in your weekly Travis Demeritte appreciation post, the Stripers jack-of-all-trades hit his 17th and 18th home runs last series amid a 4-for-13 week. He’s now hitting .299 with a 1.009 OPS on the year.