Atlanta Braves Farm Report Week 2: Rafael Ortega Has Himself a Week in Gwinnett

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 19: A general view of the atmosphere at Piedmont Park where Atlanta Brave legend John Smoltz suprised fans as part of Delta Air Lines' season-long Delta Dugout Initiative on June 19, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for Delta Air Lines)
ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 19: A general view of the atmosphere at Piedmont Park where Atlanta Brave legend John Smoltz suprised fans as part of Delta Air Lines' season-long Delta Dugout Initiative on June 19, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for Delta Air Lines) /
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Now into the first full week of play, the Atlanta Braves minor league teams were busy this past week … when it wasn’t raining.

(6-4) Gwinnett Stripers (AAA)


AWARD ALERT: Gwinnett’s Mike Soroka was named Pitcher of the Week (April 4-7 week) from his excellent performance last week versus Norfolk. The 2015 Draft pick (28th pick) pitched 5 innings on April 6; retiring all 15 batters and striking out seven.

Monday, April 8 

Won: 7-2


Durham Bulls @ Gwinnett Stripers

  • (P) Kolby Allard: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 K
  • (CF) Rafael Ortega: 3-5, 3B, 2B, 2 R, K
  • (2B) Andres Blanco: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R
  • (1B) Scott Kazmar Jr.: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, R

The Stripers broke out for 13 hits and scored 6 runs in the first inning on Monday night, continuing their hot start to the 2019 season. Rafael Ortega continues to swing the bat well, as he slugged two more XBHs. First baseman Scott Kazmir slugged a homer and knocked in 2 runs, helping his batting average as he finally got his first hit of the season.

Starter Kolby Allard picked up his first win by keeping the ball on the ground (7 groundouts) and 3 relievers finished off the game as Allard worked 5.2 innings. The Stripers pitching, as a group, struck out 6 and only walked three Monday.

Tuesday, April 9

Lost: 0-3


Durham Bulls @ Gwinnett Stripers 

A 43-minute rain delay crushed any momentum Gwinnett’s Mike Foltynewicz could accrue, and the righty had a pretty average start with 3.2 innings of work.

Rafael Ortega’s 5-game hitting streak was snapped as he went 0-for-4, and Adam Duvall hit the only XBH for the Stripers on Tuesday.

Relievers Jacob Webb and Dan Winkler both pitched an inning apiece without surrendering any runs and only allowing a hit. Gwinnett had some issues with Durham’s starter, Jake Faria (understandable, since he’s made 26 MLB starts). Faria struck out seven, walked none, and only allowed 4 hits to get the win.

Wednesday, April 10


Thursday, April 11

Lost: 6-7


Gwinnett Stripers @ Louisville Bats

  • (P) B. Wilson: 6 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 HR
  • (2B) Andres Blanco: 4-4, HR, 4 RBI, R, BB
  • (C) Raffy Lopez: 2-4, HR, RBI, R
  • (CF) Rafael Ortega: 3-5, 3B, 2 R, K

The Stripers blew a nice start to the game on Thursday night, after they jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning only to let the Bats chip right away at the lead and suffer a 7-6 loss.

Stripers starter, Bryse Wilson, went ahead and got his ‘bad’ start out of the way this season, as he gave up 6 runs off of 8 hits. He didn’t walk a single batter (4 strikeouts) but hung around the strike zone a little too often, giving up 2 homers.

Rafael Ortega just keeps getting knocks, this time blasting 3 hits, including a triple. Austin Riley went 0-for-5 with 2 strikeouts, and Adam Duvall went 1-for-4 with a sac-fly in the ninth inning.

Friday, April 12

Won: 9-7


Gwinnett Stripers @ Louisville Bats

  • (P) M. Soroka: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
  • (2B) Andres Blanco: 2-4, HR, 3 RBI
  • (CF) Rafael Ortega: 1-5, HR, RBI, K
  • (LF) Travis Demeritte: 1-5, 2B, 3 RBI, K

Friday night featured some struggles for starter Mike Soroka, but the Stripers offense came through and carried Gwinnett to the win. The Stripers had 10 hits as a team, including 3 doubles and 2 home runs.

Center fielder Rafael Ortega was at it again on Friday, going deep in the fifth inning and picking up another RBI. Demeritte, Kazmar Jr. and Duvall all picked up doubles, with Demeritte’s double being a 3-run knock in the ninth inning to put the Stripers ahead.

The Stripers could’ve done even more damage if not for going 3-for-13 with RISP.

Dan Winkler picked up the save, as he pitched an inning and struck out two with three walks.

Saturday, April 13

Lost: 2-3


Gwinnett Stripers @ Louisville Bats

  • (P) A. Santiago: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, K
  • (CF) R. Ortega: 1-4, HR, K
  • (3B) A. Riley: 1-4, RBI, K

CALL-UP ALERT: On Saturday, before this game, Touki Toussaint was recalled to the Atlanta Braves. The Atlanta Braves optioned #5 prospect Kyle Wright to Gwinnett. Gwinnett’s Andres Santiago made the spot start on Saturday, as Touki was originally scheduled to pitch for the Stripers against the Bats.

The Stripers fell to Louisville on Saturday, failing to mount a comeback in the eighth inning when Austin Riley started a rally by slapping an RBI-single to come within one run.

Immediately after Riley, the Stripers would gain another runner on the basepaths after an Adam Duvall singled. But in the end, the Stripers would fail to execute and score the runners, as Pedro Florimon and Scott Kazmar Jr. couldn’t move them over.

Austin Riley’s RBI-single broke an 0-13 hitless-streak for the third baseman and Rafael Ortega’s home run gave him three on the season, resulting in an on-base streak of 8 out of his first 9 games reaching the basepaths this year.

CALL-UP ALERT: With the Braves optioning struggling starter, Sean Newcomb, down to Gwinnett and placing Arodys Vizcaino on the IL; relievers Dan Winkler and Jacob Webb were recalled to the big leagues on Saturday.

Sunday, April 14

Won: 7-4


Gwinnett Stripers @ Louisville Bats

  • (P) K. Allard: 3.2 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 4 K
  • (CF) R. Ortega: 2-5, 2 HR, 2 RBI, K
  • (1B) P. Florimon: 2-3, 2 RBI, R, BB

Once again, starter Kolby Allard had a short start, this time because of a 2-hour rain delay. As a result, it was Conner Johnstone who picked up the win (his first of 2019). Johnstone pitched 2 innings, gave up a home run, and two hits.

I believe it’s time to write an article on center fielder Rafael Ortega (.372 BA / 1.260 OPS), as he went off again with 2 homers; one of them started the Stripers eighth inning rally.

Andres Blanco also homered on Sunday, going 1-for-5 with a strikeout. Blanco is doing just fine in Triple-A as well, with a .333 average and 1.144 OPS.