Atlanta Braves Minor League Recap: Riley and Keller go wild, Acuna continues to dominate

Manny Barreda had a decent first start for Gwinnett after being signed out of the Mexican League and Ronald Acuna did Ronald Acuna things, but the bullpen faltered and the Braves lost a rain shortened game by the score of 7-5. After posting a 4.06 ERA in 93 innings with 89 strikeouts and 34 walks in the Mexican League in 2017, the Braves snagged Barreda and he was performing well until the fifth inning where things started to get away from him a bit. Unfortunately, Philip Pfeifer had a rough relief appearance in giving up three runs. Walks have been Pfeifer’s primary problem this season as he has 36 of them in 46 1⁄3 innings of work

On offense, Ronald Acuna reached base four times and at this point, it is more surprising when he has a game where he doesn’t do something awesome than when he does. He is now approaching the same number of games he played in Florida earlier this year and his OPS is nearly 200 points higher in Triple-A than it was there. Jace Peterson and Rio Ruiz each went deep for Gwinnett while Dansby Swanson went 0-3 with a walk as his struggles this season have continued down in Gwinnett.

Mississippi Braves 6, Biloxi Shuckers 7

Mike Soroka is no longer a teenager as he pitched this one on his birthday, but he still pitched very well and Austin Riley had a breakout game although Mississippi fell by the score of 7-6. Soroka had a couple close calls on the outside corner against a couple righties and a check swing go against him that led to having more walks than we are accustomed to from him, but overall he was still his usual, dominant self. The two runs that scored on his watch were both the direct result of a throwing error from Travis Demeritte which scored one run and the runner that reached later scored on a single. The bullpen struggled as Mauricio Cabrera botched a pickoff throw which led to some unearned runs and Junior Rincon gave up a pair of runs which ultimately proved decisive in the game.

Austin Riley had his best game at Double-A so far as he had three hits including a three-run bomb in the third inning. One would hope that he could bring his walk rate up a bit, but thus far Riley is holding his own reasonably well since his promotion to Double-A. Keith Curcio reached base four times at the top of the order, but unfortunately the offense struggled beyond the 1-3 hitters.

Brett Cumberland, C: 2-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI, .301/.397/.407 Alejandro Salazar, 3B: 2-4, 2B, grand slam, 4 RBI, .247/.268/.314 Enderson Franco, SP: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 4.71 ERA
Stephen Gaylor, CF: 2-3, 2 3B, .220/.278/.290 Ray-Patrick Didder, CF: 1-3, RBI, .226/.332/.322 Raymar Navarro, SP: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1.04 ERA

The Fire Frogs swept their doubleheader with Bradenton by the scores of 7-4 and 3-0 thanks to some timely hitting and strong pitching. In the first game, Enderson Franco struggled to keep guys off the basepaths, but the damage was largely limited despite the levels of contact he was giving up. In the second game, Raymar Navarro and Sean McLaughlin combined to throw a shutout as both were impressive in shutting down Bradenton.

On offense, the first game was dictated by a big game from Brett Cumberland, who is among the hotter hitters in the Braves farm system right now, and then punctuated by a walk-off grand slam off the bat of Alejandro Salazar. It is also worth noting that Brett Cumberland was hit by yet another pitch in the second game of the doubleheader to bring his season total to what seems like 132. Ray-Patrick Didder extended his hitting streak to six games as he continues to improve after a rough first half to the season.

Marcus Mooney, SS: 2-7, 2B, 3 RBI, .232/.299/.271 Drew Lugbauer, C: 3-6, 2B, run, BB, .364/.440/.591 Tucker Davidson, SP: 6 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2.83 ERA

Rome likes playing extra inning games (they are now up to 12 on the season) and they like winning them even more as the Braves did eventually win this 14 inning marathon by the score of 6-5. Tucker Davidson got the start in this one and since his conversion to a starter after starting the season as a reliever, the results have been mostly good although this game was less than ideal. The bulk of the damage off of Tucker came in the third inning as a walk and five straight singles ended up plating four runs. The bullpen staff of Bladimir Matos, Troy Conyers, and Taylor Lewis came up big though as they pitched eight scoreless innings to give Rome the chances they needed to win the game.

Marcus Mooney was doing a big chunk of the heavy lifting in the leadoff spot for the offense as he drove in half of Rome’s six runs. Drew Lugbauer hasn’t slowed down since his promotion to Rome as he had three hits and a walk. In the five games since he was promoted to Rome from Danville, Slugbauer has posted a .364/.440/.591 line. Izzy Wilson was the one to end the madness as he hit a walk-off RBI single that drove in Cristian Pache would had walked for the second time in the game earlier in the inning.

Bradley Keller, LF: 3-5, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 runs, .306/.360/.597 William Contreras, C: 4-5, SB, .352/.440/.524 Huascar Ynoa, SP: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R (0 ER), 3 BB, 6 K, 4.28 ERA

Huascar Ynoa continued his strong start to his career with the Braves and Bradley Keller continues to annihilate baseballs as Danville defeated Greeneville 6-3. In his two starts since coming over from the Twins in the Jaime Garcia trade, Ynoa has thrown eight innings and given up just one earned run and walked 5 while striking out 12 batters.

Bradley Keller was just one part of the cycle away yet again and he now has nine hits in his last three games including two home runs. William Contreras has come on to the scene in a big way this season in rookie ball. After his four hit performance in this one, Contreras now sports a .964 OPS in 28 games. If he can stick behind the plate, it would be a huge boon for the system. Kevin Maitan did not play in this one and has not played since leaving the game early with an injury on 7/31.

Yunior Severino, DH: 2-4, RBI, run, .302/.368/.443 Yoeli Lopez, RF: 3-4, 3B, run, .267/.362/.350 Yefri del Rosario, SP: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3.43 ERA

Multiple strong performances on both sides of the ball allowed the GCL Braves to beat their Phillies counterparts in a close 4-3 game. The results for Yefri have been a little uneven thus far, but he has the repertoire to be yet another really good pitching prospect for the Braves. He now sports a 3.43 ERA in 21 innings with the GCL Braves with 18 strikeouts and six walks.

On offense, Jeffrey Ramos, Yunior Severino, Braulio Vazquez, and Yoeli Lopez all had multi-hit games. Ramos, in particular, has been insane of late as he has now hit safely in six straight games and is batting .459 with 17 hits (seven XBHs) in his last ten games. Yunior Severino is hitting well again after slumping a bit and struggling with strikeouts. Keep an eye on Yoeli Lopez as his bat is starting to come around and he was among the more impressive players we saw on the GCL Braves when we were down there from his approach at the plate to his cannon of an arm in right (he had an outfield assist in this game as well).

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