It finally happened: Braves starter Kyle Wright finally had a poor outing, allowing six runs from seven hits in his 4 2/3-inning start on Tuesday against the Red Sox. Atlanta’s offense did a nice job fighting back, but ultimately Boston maintained its advantage throughout the game… and the Bravos lost 9-4. Still with a 3.03 ERA this season, Wright will bounce back.
Down on the farm it was series-openers for all four affiliates, and boy there was some excitement for the Braves Triple-A and Single-A clubs. And better than that, all four of Atlanta’s minor league teams won last night, which is always great to see. Here’s a recap of Tuesday’s action down on the Braves farm…
AAA – Gwinnett (16-15)
W, 8-4 vs. Durham
(P) Touki Toussaint – 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, HR
Bullpen – 5 IP, 2 H, 9 K
(SS) Braden Shewmake – 4 for 4, 2 2B, 4 R, 2 BB, SB
(RF) Preston Tucker – 3 for 5, 2B, 2 RBI, R
(C) Chadwick Tromp – 2 for 5, HR, 4 RBI, R, BB
(1B) Pat Valaika – 3 for 5, 2B, RBI
(CF) Delino DeShields – 2 for 2, 3 BB, 2 SB
Before Tuesday, when it came to playing Durham and doing it at their ballpark (Durham Bulls Athletic Park), the Stripers historically didn’t play well. According to MiLB.com, yesterday’s win over the Bulls snapped a seven-game losing streak against the team, not to mention nine consecutive losses at the team’s stadium. And it was all thanks to a career-high four hits from prospect shortstop Braden Shewmake, who also tied a Gwinnett single-game record with four runs scored.
Although, it wasn’t just Shemake that played well. Last week’s Player of the Week, catcher Chadwick Tromp, added four RBI, including his sixth home run of the season with a blast in the first.
Fast-forward to the end of the third and both team’s were tied at three apiece. But the Stripers would go on to break away as the offense combined to score five runs over the next five frames, thanks to an overall tally of 17 hits as a team. Starter Touki Toussaint struggled with his control, walking four batters, but overall he pitched fine in his seven-strikeout outing. Other than the free passes, a three-run homer in the third by Durham was really Touki’s only mistake, as he’ll enter his next start with a 4.78 ERA for the season. A four-man Gwinnett bullpen – Nolan Kingham, Michael Tonkin, William Woods and Jesús Cruz – managed to hold the Bulls to just two hits in five scoreless innings to finish out the game.
Other notables: prospect outfielder Drew Waters was in Tuesday’s lineup, though he led off as the team’s DH. Waters finished 0 for 6 with three strikeouts. Also, in a bit of a surprising roster move, on Tuesday catcher Victor De Hoyos was assigned to the Stripers from Single-A Augusta. Hoyos is coming off six games with the GreenJackets, in which he has hit .333 with a homer and two doubles.
AA – Mississippi (12-16)
W, 5-3 vs. Chattanooga
(P) Tanner Gordon – 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB, 8 K, 2 HR
Bullpen – 4 IP, 3 H, 9 K
(CF) Michael Harris II – 1 for 5, R
(DH) Jalen Miller – 4 for 4, 2 2B, 2 R
(SS) Luke Waddell – 2 for 4, 2B, 2 RBI, BB
(3B) CJ Alexander – 1 for 3, HR, RBI, BB
(RF) Justin Dean – 2 for 4, 2B, RBI, R, SB
We had another four-hit game on Tuesday – this time from Mississippi’s Jalen Miller (his first 4-hit performance of his pro career), as the M-Braves offense tallied a dozen hits overall and won despite going just 2 for 10 with RISP.
In his second time around at the Double-A level, Mississippi starter Tanner Gordon was much better. The prospect pitcher allowed a pair of home runs to Chattanooga, but all in all it was a solid outing, featuring 81 pitches (60 strikes). For the most part, Gordon did a nice job of keeping the ball in the dirt; of his six batted-ball outs, five were groundouts. The M-Braves bullpen was also strong. Troy Bacon, Victor Vodnik and Justin Maese all three combined to strike out nine Lookout batters in the final four innings, highlighted by Vodnik’s four punch outs in 1 1/3.
Along with Miller’s 4 for 4 performance, Mississippi infielder Luke Waddell continues to perform well down in Double-A. The 23-year-old has hit safely in eight-straight, and during that span he’s sporting a .467 AVG with six XBH (2 HR) and 11 RBI. This kid is especially crushing left-handed pitchers, hitting .471 against that particular flavor of pitching in 2022.
It was just one, and it didn’t come until the fifth inning this time, but prospect Michael Harris II kept both his hitting and on-base streaks going, pushing the former to 15-straight games and the latter to 28. Also, former prospect third baseman CJ Alexander continues to swing a hot bat lately. Alexander slugged his second home run of the year on Tuesday, turning on a fastball to put Mississippi up by two in the eighth.
A+ – Rome (15-13)
W, 6-1 vs. Winston-Salem
(P) Andrew Hoffman – 5 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 8 K
(P) Lisandro Santos – (W), 4 IP, 2 H, 4 K
(SS) Vaughn Grissom – 2 for 5, 2 RBI
(DH) Landon Stephens – 1 for 4, HR, RBI
(LF) Jacob Pearson – 2 for 4, 2B, R
(RF) Christian Robinson – 2 for 4, 2 RBI, R
Rome needed a win on Tuesday… and it got one, thanks to five strong innings from starting pitcher Andrew Hoffmann and five late runs from the offense. For Hoffmann, the solid outing was needed, given his last time out he only lasted a pair of innings. The Braves prospect righty heads into his next start with a 3.41 ERA in six overall outings this season, and he continues to flourish versus right-handed batters (.206 AVG for RHB in ’22).
In the aforementioned sixth, it was outfielder Christian Robinson that broke the tie, slapping a two-run single with bases loaded to put Rome up 3-1.
Then, in the next inning, 1B/DH Landon Stephens returned to his slugging ways, whacking a two-run home run over the left field wall for his ninth dinger of the year, extending the R-Braves lead to 5-1.
Prospect shortstop Vaughn Grissom added an RBI single for insurance in the eighth, giving him two hits on the day. Grissom has been fine so far in 2022, but is just a hot streak away from standing out among the likes of guys like Stephens, Robinson and Justyn-Henry Malloy. The 21-year-old appears to be getting there, though, as he rocks a .302 AVG with four XBH over his last 10 games, including five multi-hit performances. Speaking of Malloy, it looks like he received a day off on Tuesday, as he was nowhere to be found in Rome’s lineup.
Relieving Hoffmann, Lisandro Santos did a great job of preserving not only the win… but also the R-Braves bullpen. Santos entered to start the sixth inning and never exited, striking out four in four shutout frames. In fact, the 23-year-old lefty hasn’t allowed a single run yet this season, in 16 innings of work.
A – Augusta (16-12)
W, 4-3 vs. Columbia
(P) AJ Smith-Shawver – 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 12 K
(LF) Brandol Mezquita – 2 for 4, 2B, SB
(SS) Cal Conley – 1 for 4, R, SB
(2B) Caleb Durbin – 1 for 3, HR, RBI
(DH) Brandon Parker – 1 for 4, 2B, R
(C) Rusber Estrada – 1 for 3, 2B, BB
Second baseman Caleb Durbin may have provided Augusta with the go-ahead run in the seventh to break a 3-3 tie (hitting his second HR of the season), but last night’s MVP was most definitely starting pitcher AJ Smith-Shawver, who racked up a dozen strikeouts in a five-inning outing. The 19-year-old righty was amazing on Tuesday, punching out four of six Columbia batters in the first pair of innings, before allowing his first hit. In the 83-pitch start, Smith-Shawver allowed just one batted-ball out to go with all his K’s. And the dominant performance cuts his season ERA down to a respectable 4.50. With seven punch outs in each of his previous two outings before last night, the kid now has 26 strikeouts in his last 15 innings – an average of 15.6 per nine in that span.
Peyton Williams sort of spoiled Smith-Shawvers’s gem last night, allowing a game-tying sac-fly in the seventh. But the reliever did a fine job of bouncing back and getting a strikeout to end the frame without more damage. Darling Florentino and Rob Griswold finished the final two innings, and they were each perfect allowing no hits.
Prospect outfielder Brandol Mezquita kept his solid hitting going on Tuesday and extended his on-base streak to a whopping 20 games. During that span, Mezquita is hitting .373, and for the year he’s up to a .359 AVG. The 1 for 4 performance by prospect Cal Conley has him hitting .304 over his last five games, as he’s recorded a hit in three-straight contests now. Hopefully he keeps it up.