Atlanta Braves Week 9 Farm Report: Rome Struggles, Drew Waters Thrives

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 13: A baseball sits on the field before a spring training baseball game between the the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals at Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 13, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 13: A baseball sits on the field before a spring training baseball game between the the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals at Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 13, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Now into June, it’s time for Dominican Summer League baseball. The DSL Braves join our report this week, while the Braves in Single-A probably wish they weren’t.

It’s that time of year when the Atlanta Braves organization starts really getting busy, the DSL is getting started and the Gulf Coast League is right around the corner — the Danville Braves begin their season on Wednesday, June 19.

But let’s dive in to Week 9, a week of more offense from Gwinnett, solid pitching from Mississippi and some hot hitting from a the ‘new guy’ in Rome. Oh yeah, the DSL Braves kicked off the 2019 season on Saturday as well.

Here’s the last eight weeks of reports, in case you’ve missed out:

Week 1 ¦ Week 2 ¦ Week 3 ¦ Week 4

Week 5 ¦ Week 6 ¦ Week 7 ¦ Week 8

(33-23) Gwinnett Stripers (AAA)

Week 9 Record: 3-4

Players of the Week

(INF) Sean Kazmar Jr.

5 games, 7-for-18 (.388 BA), 3 HR, 2B, 10 RBI

Without playing the last two games of the week (Saturday, Sunday) Kazmar Jr. still put up the best offensive performance this week, hitting the most home runs and RBI, and finishing with the highest batting average on the team.

In 40 games this season in Gwinnett, Kazmar Jr. is slashing .275/.312/.486 (.798), far from the best rates on the team this year; but as of late, there’s no doubt he’s been one of the key hitters in this Stripers lineup.

The lifelong minor leaguer — he played 19 games in the majors with the Padres in 2008 — isn’t expected to put anyone on the big roster in danger. However, when you’re hot you’re hot, and Kazmar Jr. is just that. He’s hit homers in three-straight games that he’s played in (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday).

(SP) Bryse Wilson

1 start, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, BB, 6 K

Wilson wins Pitcher of the Week for the second time after winning the award in Week 8. The starting pitching for Gwinnett was rather weak this past week, as no starting pitcher made it over 4.1 innings until Wilson’s start on Friday. Out of seven starts in Week 9, only two were more than five innings (Wilson’s outing on Friday and Kolby Allard‘s on Saturday).

I wrote about Wilson’s struggles at the beginning of the season, also bringing it up in last week’s report; but as of late, the righty has been strong, leading the team in strikeouts with 51. The 4th round pick in 2016 is 3-5 with a 3.92 ERA in 10 starts this season.

Week At A Glance

(May 27 – June 2)

(5/27) Monday: Lost 9-7 vs. Norfolk Tides – FULL RECAP

  • (P) K. Allard: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
  • (2B) A. Blanco: 3-4, 2B, RBI, 2 R, BB
  • (1B) S. Giardina: 3-4, 2B, RBI, 2 R

Down 8-1 and going into Gwinnett’s half of the 8th inning, the Stripers scored five runs but still came up short on Memorial Day, splitting their 4-game series with the Norfolk Tides.

Sal Giardina kicked off the scoring in that 8th frame, slugging a line-drive RBI-double. Then, Travis Demeritte plated Giardina with a ground ball RBI-single, making it an 8-3 game. Demeritte finished with another hit (a double), a walk and scored a run. Demeritte extended his on-base streak Monday to an IL-best 29 games.

Catcher Alex Jackson was hit by a pitch and Pedro Florimon drew a walk, pushing two more runs across and resulting in an 8-5 score. Jackson finished 0-for-3 and Florimon 2-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts.

Here’s the final run scored in the 8th (Gwinnett’s 6th run), thanks to Sean Kazmar Jr. and his sac-fly that scored Travis Demeritte:

Shane Carle and A.J. Minter were two of four Stripers relievers to appear in Monday’s game, with both combining to pitch 2.2 scoreless innings and strikeout four.

(5/28) Tuesday: Lost 5-4 vs. Toledo Mud Hens – FULL RECAP

  • (P) P. Weigel: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 0 K
  • (2B) S. Kazmar Jr.: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI
  • (LF) T. Demeritte: 1-4, HR, RBI

On Tuesday, Gwinnett lost what was Game 1 of nine-straight road games, falling to the Mud Hens after Toledo’s Willi Castro (DET’s #7 prospect) slugged a solo-homer in the 8th inning.

It was a short outing for starter Patrick Weigel, even for him, as the slowly worked-in prospect only pitched 2.2 innings. Although he did throw his usual 50-something pitches (52).

In Gwinnett’s half of the 4th, down 2-0, Travis Demeritte went deep with a solo shot (his 12th HR of 2019):

Then in the following frame, Rafael Ortega tied things up at two apiece with a solo homer of his own:

Ortega’s 5th inning home run was his only hit of the game. He also walked once.

Keeping with the trend, Sean Kazmar Jr. this time hit a 2-run home run in the 6th inning, putting the Stripers up 4-2.

Unfortunately the lead couldn’t be savored, as Toledo plated two runs in the 7th inning, followed by Castro’s homer in the 8th.

Gwinnett, after Tuesday’s loss, has 91 home runs in 51 games; a total that leads all of the International League. They’re currently averaging 2.23 homers in the month of May, or 58 home runs in 26 games this month so far (per

Also on Tuesday, the Stripers turned their first triple-play of the season in the 2nd inning. Check it out:

(5/29) Wednesday: Lost 9-4 vs. Toledo Mud Hens – FULL RECAP

  • (P) H. Ynoa: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K
  • (1B) S. Kazmar Jr.: 4-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI
  • (RF) R. LaMarre: 4-5, 3 RBI, SB

Huascar Ynoa‘s second start in a Stripers uniform didn’t go too well, but thanks to Sean Kazmar Jr. and Ryan LaMarre‘s eight hits combined, Gwinnett came away on top Wednesday.

Kazmar Jr. kicked off the hitting with a home run of the scoreboard in the 2nd:

Then in the 3rd, Kazmar Jr. struck again. This time the first baseman scorched a liner to left, plating two more runs:

Here’s LaMarre’s RBI-single, also in the 3rd inning:

Pedro Florimon was another run producer on Wednesday, hitting a sac-fly in the 5th and finishing 1-for-3 with a walk.

(5/30) Thursday: Won 6-0 vs. Toledo Mud Hens – FULL RECAP

  • (P) K. Wright: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  • (2B) S. Kazmar Jr.: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI
  • (3B) J. Lopez: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI

A 28-minute rain delay spoiled Kyle Wright‘s start on Thursday, but between excellent pitching out of the bullpen and homers from Sean Kazmar Jr. and Jack Lopez, the Stripers shutout Toledo.

Here’s Lopez’s homer in the 2nd, putting the good guys on the board:

Then one off the scoreboard by Kazmar Jr., giving him three-straight games with a home run. He had one home run in 2018.

In the 5th, Travis Demeritte plated the sixth and final run for Gwinnett:

Rounding out the Stripers XBHs, Rafael Ortega hit his 16th double of 2019 and finished 1-for-4 with 2 runs and a walk.

Reliever Jonathan Aro converted his second save after pitching four innings and striking out two. He only gave up one hit, walking none.

(5/31) Friday: Lost 4-1 vs. Indianapolis Indians – FULL RECAP

  • (P) B. Wilson: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, BB, 6 K
  • (RF) R. LaMarre: 1-3, 2B, RBI, BB
  • (LF) T. Demeritte: 1-3, 2B, BB

The Stripers played sloppy defense on Friday, squandering a quality-start turned in by Bryse Wilson. The righty didn’t surrender any earned runs, but was tagged with 4 unearned runs due to Gwinnett’s four errors.

Shortstop Luis Marte had two errors (one fielding and one from a missed catch); catcher Alex Jackson committed a throwing error (his 5th error this season); and infielder Jack Lopez also made a fielding error (his 5th error of 2019).

It really was a shame, as Wilson did more than just pitch well. He also finished 2-for-2 with the bat. Wilson is now hitting .400 for the season. Here’s one of his base-hits:

Gwinnett only totaled 4 hits all evening, so Wilson’s two knocks plus LaMarre’s and Demeritte’s above was all the lineup managed Friday.

With the month of May ending Friday, the Stripers’ power surge resulted in a franchise record in home runs by the team, with 61 long balls in only 29 games (2.10/game average). The team still leads the IL with 94 home runs in 54 games this season.

With Friday’s homerless loss, Gwinnett is now 3-12 when the team fails to hit a home run. I’d say this team lives and dies by the long ball, which is fun but also frustrating as well.

(6/1) Saturday: Won 7-6 (F/10) vs. Indianapolis Indians – FULL RECAP

  • (P) K. Allard: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
  • (C) A. Jackson: 2-5, HR, 3 RBI
  • (2B) A. Blanco: 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 3 R

Adam Duvall‘s RBI-double and Alex Jackson’s RBI-single pushed the Stripers ahead in the top of the 10th Saturday, giving Gwinnett their 32nd win of 2019.

Duvall, who has been mysteriously absent since May 24, finished 2-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and also scored a run. Jackson not only played a part in winning the game at the end, but also gave Gwinnett two runs in the first frame with his home run:

Before Jackson’s homer, Ryan LaMarre broke the 0-0 tie in the 1st with an RBI-double. LaMarre went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run.

Andres Blanco added two more with his deep drive in the 5th:

Once again Travis Demeritte reached base safely on Saturday, pushing his IL-leading on-base streak to 34 games. Demeritte finished with a double and a walk in four at-bats.

Wes Parsons dominated the 10th, striking out two in his one inning of work.

(6/2) Sunday: Won 4-2 vs. Indianapolis Indians – FULL RECAP

  • (P) P. Weigel: 3.2 IP, 4 H, ER, 3 BB, 3 K
  • (2B) A. Blanco: 1-3, HR, 3 RBI, BB
  • (LF) A. Duvall: 1-4, RBI

In the final game of the Stripers/Indians series and the final game of Week 9, Gwinnett put together another impressive offensive performance.

The Stripers got on the board in the 3rd inning from an RBI-ground out by Andres Blanco, scoring Luis Marte. The next batter, Adam Duvall, would plate another run with his RBI-linedrive single out to center field.

With a 2-1 lead in the 8th inning, Blanco gave the Stripers an instant two-run cushion, blasting a 2-run homer out to right field:

That long ball was Blanco’s 9th of the season and gave him 28 total RBI in 2019. The infielder from Venezuela is batting .282 in 50 games.

Leadoff hitter, Rafael Ortega, finished the game 1-for-3 with two runs and two walks. He also stole second base, giving him seven swipes this season. Ortega is up to a .269 average in 2019, while also running an above-average .906 OPS with 16 doubles and 11 home runs.

Catcher Sal Giardina picked up two hits, one a double, in four at-bats. The part-time backstop has played in 22 games this season and is hitting .246. Shortstop Luis Marte was the only other batter in the lineup to record a hit, finishing 1-for-3 with a run and a walk. Marte has struggled a bit this season, OPSing .574 in 37 games thus far.

Patrick Weigel’s third Triple-A start on Sunday didn’t consist of many innings, but the right-handed pitching prospect has continued to comeback strong from his Tommy John surgery from last year. Weigel is running a 2.63 ERA in Gwinnett, with eight strikeouts in 13.2 innings-pitched.