Atlanta Braves Week 8 Farm Report: A third of the season complete
By Clint Manry
It was another week of runs, runs and more runs for Gwinnett, while a certain someone in Rome just keeps raking in the Atlanta Braves farm system.
This week’s edition of the Atlanta Braves Farm Report comes a day late, as I was in St. Louis over the weekend for the Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals series.
I was fortunate enough to attend both Saturday and Sunday’s game, witnessing firsthand a series win on the road for the Bravos.
In case you’re new to this, here are the previous reports:
Let’s get to it!
(29-20) Gwinnett Stripers (AAA)
WEEK 8 RECORD: 3-3
Players of the Week
(INF) Jack Lopez
4 games, .500 BA, 3 HR, 2 doubles, 9 RBI
A 16th round pick by the Kansas City Royals, 26-year-old infielder Jack Lopez has been incredible since replacing Austin Riley. This past week, Lopez only played four games, but was red hot when he played.
Overall, Lopez has played 35 games for the Stripers and after Sunday is slashing .258/.295/.419 with 5 home runs and 5 doubles. He’s also knocked in 18 runs, good for a not-great .715 OPS.
There’s no doubt he can hit, as Lopez has hit homers in his past three-straight games. Let’s see if Week 8 is the start of something special for the Puerto Rican.
*OTHER NOTABLE PLAYERS: Sean Kazmar Jr. also had a torrid Week 8, finishing with a .444 average, 2 homers, a double and 6 RBI in six games.
(SP) Bryse Wilson
2 starts, 1-1, 12.2 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 10 K
After struggling in his first several starts for Gwinnett this season and posting an 8.31 ERA in two games for the Atlanta Braves, Wilson has settled down a bit and finished with two solid starts in Week 8.
Home runs had been an issue for Wilson in the beginning of the season, but the righty has only given up one homer in his last three starts.
The 2016 4th round pick still doesn’t have a spectacular ERA for the season (4.38 ERA), but with a solid K/BB of 45/11 in 51.1 innings-pitched — and now 7 surrendered homers — his numbers are certainly starting to level out to what’s expected.
Week At A Glance
(5/20) Monday: OFF DAY
Monday was an off day for Gwinnett, their last one of May. The next day off won’t come until June 10 (another 20-straight games).
With no game action to recap, it’s a great chance to look back at some of the home runs hit by the Stripers so far this month (before Week 8):
(5/21) Tuesday: Lost 2-1 vs. Charlotte Knights – FULL RECAP
- (P) B. Wilson: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
- (3B) P. Florimon: 1-4, RBI, K
- (RF) T. Demeritte: 3-4, 3B, 2 2B, R
For just the 12th time all season (44 total games) the Stripers failed to hit a home run, losing on Tuesday despite a quality-start from starter Bryse Wilson and three XBH from Travis Demeritte.
Demeritte’s three hits extended his on-base streak to 23 games, but his homer-less performance ended his streak of four-straight contests with a home run.
Rafael Ortega, Andres Blanco, and Adam Duvall all finished 1-for-4 with one strikeout apiece. First baseman Scott Kazmar Jr. ended his day 2-for-3 with a walk.
Wilson’s start consisted of 93 pitches (66 strikes) and five groundouts with six flyouts. Reliever A.J. Minter worked the 8th inning, striking out two and walking two, while also allowing one hit.
Also, we know home runs have played a big part in Gwinnett’s success this season. Here’s an interesting list from MLB Pipeline on Tuesday:
(5/22) Wednesday: Won 9-1 vs. Charlotte Knights – FULL RECAP
- (P) K. Allard: 6 IP, 4 H, ER, 0 BB, 4 K
- (DH) A. Duvall: 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI, R, K
- (C) A. Jackson: 1-3, HR, 3 RBI, BB, K
It was quality-start #3 for Gwinnett starter Kolby Allard after turning in 6 innings of four-hit ball in a win over Charlotte.
Gwinnett stringed together 12 hits Wednesday, with three being of the XBH variety. Here’s the Stripers’ lone homer, a three-run dinger in the 4th from catcher Alex Jackson:
After a three-run 4th, the Stripers added two more in the 5th. Adam Duvall provided those two runs with this RBI double:
Scott Kazmar Jr. finished 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI, a run, and a strikeout. His two-run double in the 6th gave the Stripers all they’d need:
Surprisingly, Travis Demeritte was the only Stripers batter to finish hitless Wednesday (0-for-4 with 3 Ks).
Wes Parsons got in some work, pitching the 7th inning and striking out two while only allowing one hit and no walks.
(5/23) Thursday: Lost 3-1 vs. Charlotte Knights – FULL RECAP
- (P) H. Ynoa: 4 IP, 5 H, ER, 2 BB, 6 K
- (RF) R. Ortega: 1-3, 2B, RBI, BB
- (LF) T. Demeritte: 1-4, 2B, 2 K
In Huascar Ynoa‘s first start as a member of the Gwinnett Stripers (he’d made one appearance as a reliever), the offense was uncharacteristically modest.
Ynoa’s 72-pitch (47 strikes) outing was somewhat spoiled by his adversary, Charlotte’s starter Dylan Cease (White Sox #5 prospect).
Cease only allowed five hits and struck out seven Stripers, though he did walk four. The former 6th round pick (2014) was effective enough to limit Gwinnett to only two extra-base hits.
With Ynoa only pitching the first 4 innings, starter Patrick Weigel appeared and pitched the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings. Weigel altogether pitched 3.1 innings and struck out three. He gave up a hit, a run, and walked one on 51 pitches (29 strikes).
Centerfielder Ryan LaMarre finished 1-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base, and a strikeout. Jack Lopez picked up a hit in four at-bats and scored a run.
Andres Blanco and Alex Jackson were the only other batters in the lineup to pick up hits. Blanco was 1-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout, while Jackson got one hit and struck out three times.
(5/24) Friday: Won 13-7 vs. Norfolk Tides – FULL RECAP
- (P) M. Rowen: 4 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, K (RF) R. Ortega: 1-5, HR, 3 RBI (C) A. Jackson: 2-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI
It was another typical Stripers game on Friday, as Gwinnett tallied up 14 hits as a team, coming from 6 home runs, 2 doubles a triple and 5 singles. This team knows how to hit for power.
Here’s homer #1, a 3-run blast from Rafael Ortega in the 2nd:
Home run #3 came in the 3rd from Scott Kazmar Jr., who finished 3-for-4 with 2 RBI and 3 runs-scored.
Even the Austin Riley replacement got in on the action, with Jack Lopez going bridge and giving Gwinnett back-to-back home runs in the 3rd inning.
Lopez ended his night 2-for-3, with a double in the 5th, and three RBI. He’s filled in rather nicely for Riley, hitting .274 after Friday night.
Oh yeah, the 3rd inning was notable, being that Gwinnett hit for the cycle as a team (1 single, 1 double, 1 triple and 2 homers).
The Stripers are up to an insane home run total of 83 as a team. The big league baseball has been very advantageous for them. Also, Alex Jackson had his first 2-homer game since 2017.
(5/25) Saturday: Lost 10-8 (F/13) vs. Norfolk Tides – FULL RECAP
- (P) A. Santiago: 2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, K
- (3B) J. Lopez: 4-6, HR, 2B, 2 RBI
- (SS) L. Marte: 3-6, 2 RBI
In a wild game with the Tides on Saturday, where Gwinnett used 7 different pitchers, the Stripers walked off the field with a tough loss as they went 5-for-22 with RISP and left 15 runners on the basepaths.
Andres Santiago got the start for Gwinnett, but his outing was cut extremely short after a home run and five runs crossed the plate. Santiago only faced 15 batters, but threw 63 pitches.
On offense, Sean Kazmar Jr. and Jack Lopez went back-to-back in the 4th inning. Kazmar Jr. finished 1-for-6 and struck out twice.
Alex Jackson was oh-so-close to having himself a homer in the 5th, but he settled for an RBI-double and finished 2-for-7 with a run and an RBI.
Andres Blanco tied things at six apiece in the 8th when he hit a sac-fly, scoring Jack Lopez.
In the 12th, Luis Marte made the score 7-7 with an RBI-single.
In the 13th, the Tides Jace Peterson (former Brave) and DJ Stewart plated three runs combined to give Norfolk the two-run win.
(5/26) Sunday: Won 9-6 vs. Norfolk Tides – FULL RECAP
- (P) B. Wilson: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
- (SS) J. Lopez: 1-3, HR (GS), 4 RBI
- (RF) T. Demeritte: 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB
Former Braves utility-man, Jace Peterson, went 4-for-4 and just missed hitting for the cycle for the Tides, but Gwinnett outlasted Norfolk and came away with the win on Sunday.
Gwinnett’s Bryce Wilson came just short of another quality-start, forcing 6 groundouts and only allowing one flyout in his 105 pitches (60 strikes).
Travis Demeritte kicked off the scoring in the 3rd with a home run, giving the Stripers the lead:
Then in the 5th, Jack Lopez went deep with a grand slam, putting Gwinnett up by five runs:
For good measure, Ryan LaMarre hit another Stripers homer in the 7th:
LaMarre finished 3-for-3 with a triple and 2 RBI, also drawing a walk and scoring three runs on Sunday.
Hitting leadoff, Rafael Ortega went 2-for-4 with a walk. Hitting in the second spot, Andres Blanco went 0-for-4 with a run, a walk, and a strikeout.