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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(25-29) Mississippi Braves (AA)

Week 9 Record: 3-3

Players of the Week

(OF) Drew Waters

6 games, 10-for-25 (.400), 2 3B, 2B, RBI, SB

If you’ll keep reading down to the game recaps below, you will find that Waters had a heck of a game on Saturday, coming so close to a certain special something.

Frankly, I’m running out of adjectives for this kid. The guy is 20-years-old and going into this season had only played 164 games of professional baseball. He’s already literally a top-5 player in Double-A.

Here’s his numbers and Double-A ranking in 53 games this season:

  • 221 at-bats
  • .312 batting average (8th)
  • 69 hits (1st)
  • 34 runs (9th)
  • 17 doubles (4th)
  • 6 triples (t-1st)
  • 107 total bases (2nd)

He has three home runs and 18 RBI, but I’m sure the power will come, at least somewhat. Like any young player, plate-discipline is something Waters could work on (5.4 BB%, 31.6 K%), but that will also come in due time.

Oh yeah, Waters also has a 10-game hitting streak going. He had three multi-hit games over his past 10 contests, including his four-hit game on Saturday.

M-Braves Starting Rotation

6 starts, 37 IP, 21 H, 13 ER, 14 BB, 35 K

It was a great week for Mississippi’s rotation, with Tuesday and Saturday’s starts being the only outings where a Braves starter surrendered more than three runs.

Altogether, the staff finished Week 9 with a 3.17 ERA, striking out 8.5 batters-per-nine and walking 3.4 per nine.

I suppose if one start had to be chosen as the best, it would have to go to Tucker Davidson‘s outing on Wednesday. Davidson pitched six scoreless innings, working around three hits and three walks. He struck out eight.

Literally every single pitcher in the M-Braves rotation is a ranked pitching prospect, so more of what we seen this past week should be expected.

Week At A Glance

(May 27 – June 2)

(5/27) Monday: OFF DAY

The M-Braves were off on Memorial Day, but there was some hardware to be given out:

Also, Muller earned another award, joining Christian Pache as last week’s Farm Bureau Player and Pitcher of the Week:

(5/28) Tuesday: Lost 7-0 vs. Pensacola Blue Wahoos – FULL RECAP

  • (P) J. Wentz: 6 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
  • (RF) C. Pache: 1-3, BB, K
  • (LF) D. Waters: 1-4, 3 K

Outfielder Conner Lien returned for the M-Braves on Tuesday, but it didn’t matter as they ran into some shutdown pitching by Pensacola’s starter, Bryan Sammons.

Sammons tossed four 3-hit innings, striking out eight Braves, while walking none and surrendering zero runs. Then, the Blue Wahoos bullpen pieced together four more innings, only giving up one hit and striking out seven combined.

Joey Wentz wasn’t so fortunate. For the first time this season, Wentz gave up three home runs, resulting in five earned runs.

Other than Pache and Waters listed above, Riley Unroe was the only other Mississippi batter to record a hit, finishing 2-for-3.

(5/29) Wednesday: Won 6-3 vs. Pensacola Blue Wahoos – FULL RECAP

  • (P) T. Davidson: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
  • (RF) C. Pache: 2-5, HR, 3 RBI
  • (LF) C. Lien: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R

Before Wednesday’s game, a roster move was made:

Tyler Neslony had a terrific first game back, picking up two hits including a solo home run in the 6th inning to put the M-Braves on the board. His other hit was a double.

Christian Pache also did this to the baseball…

That punishing line-drive 3-run homer was Pache’s fourth of the season.

Five of the M-Braves six runs came in the 8th inning, thanks to Pache’s dinger and Conner Lien’s 2-run double. Ryan Castell also contributed with a run and two base-hits.

Drew Waters finished 1-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts, extending his hitting streak to six games.

Tucker Davidson’s six shut-out innings lowered his ERA to 1.49 for the season, currently the lowest rate in the Southern League. Also, his eight strikeouts was the highest total he’s ever accrued in one start.

(5/30) Thursday: Won 6-4 vs. Pensacola Blue Wahoos – FULL RECAP

  • (P) De La Cruz: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
  • (DH) T. Neslony: 2-5, HR, 3B, 3 RBI
  • (1B) R. Casteel: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI

Even though the righty surrendered two home runs, Jasseel De La Cruz picked up his first Double-A win on Thursday, throwing a 94-pitch three-hitter.

Both teams combined to hit six homers in the game, totaling 15 thus far in the series. Regardless, De La Cruz finished with eight punchouts, giving him 12 total strikeouts in his first 11 innings for Mississippi since being promoted from Florida.

Shortstop Riley Unroe finished with two hits, one being a double, and scored a run. Christian Pache and Drew Waters both recorded hits, with the former finishing 1-for-5 and the latter 2-for-4 with a walk. Both Pache and Waters scored a run apiece.

Reliever Andres Santiago worked an inning for the hold and Jeremy Walker converted his second save of 2019, pitching 0.2 innings and striking out one.

(5/31) Friday: Lost 2-1 vs. Pensacola Blue Wahoos – FULL RECAP

  • (P) I. Anderson: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
  • (RF) C. Pache: 1-4
  • (LF) D. Waters: 2-4, 2B, K, ERROR

Starter Ian Anderson, former 3rd overall pick in 2016 MLB Draft, tossed a season-high 7 frames Friday night, after throwing a 106-pitch four-hitter to give the M-Braves 15 quality-starts in the month of May.

Anderson had somewhat of a slow start to the 2019 season, but has since gotten things turned around. For the month of May, he finished with 32 innings-pitched and 44 strikeouts to go along with a nice 3.09 ERA.

Mississippi’s loss Friday tied the series 2-2 with Pensacola, as the Braves actually outhit the Blue Wahoos 8-5. Drew Waters’ 2-for-4 finish gives him 19 multi-hit games (leads Southern League) and 17 doubles. Waters also leads all of Double-A with 65 hits this season.

Second baseman Alejandro Salazar had a nice game, going 3-for-4 with a double.

(6/1) Saturday: Won 8-4 vs. Pensacola Blue Wahoos – FULL RECAP

  • (P) K. Muller: 7 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 K
  • (LF) D. Waters: 4-5, 2 3B, 2B, RBI, 2 R
  • (SS) R. Unroe: 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI, R

Drew Waters stole the show from starter Kyle Muller, as Waters finished a home run short of the cycle on Saturday night. Waters led the M-Braves to their first series win over the Blue Wahoos since 2016.

The young outfielder is up to 9-straight games with a hit and leads the league in hits, XBHs, doubles, triples, total bases and runs.

Muller, the Braves #11 prospect, was practically flawless in his 97-pitch outing. The 21-year-old surrendered his 10-inning scoreless streak when he surrendered a 2-run homer in the 4th inning.

After Saturday’s game, the lefty leads the league in opponent’s batting average (.180) and ranks second in strikeouts (67) and ERA (1.49). His 10 strikeouts Saturday was his first double-digit strikeout finish.

Christian Pache wasn’t bad himself, going 1-for-5 with a double, two RBI and a run. The Braves #1 prospect has himself an 8-game hitting streak.

(6/2) Sunday: Lost 9-1 vs. Biloxi Shuckers – FULL RECAP

  • (P) J. Wentz: 5 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
  • (3B) D. Lockhart: 1-4, 2B, RBI
  • (LF) D. Waters: 1-4, 2 K, SB

After a leadoff walk to Conner Lien in the 1st inning, Biloxi’s Alex Bettinger retired 12-straight M-Braves hitters on Sunday.

The game stayed competitive until the 9th, when the Shuckers scored five runs and put the game out of reach.

Tyler Neslony picked up a base-hit and struck out twice. Shortstop Ray-Patrick Didder finished 1-for-2 with two walks. Luis Valenzuala pinch-hit for Joey Wentz in the 6th and got a base-hit.

With the loss, Joey Wentz settles for a 4-5 record. He’s now made 11 starts this season and is up to a 5.00 ERA after Sunday’s outing. The lefty has 45 strikeouts in 54 innings-pitched.

Christian Pache had the night off, but did make an appearance as a pinch-hitter, going 0-for-1. The top Braves prospect had a solid week in Week 9, going 6-for-23 (.260 BA) with a double, a home run and five RBI. He still not being very patient at the plate (only one walk in 23 ABs), but he’s still hitting well.