Braves Minor League Recap: Braden Shewmake homers, Gordon strikes out 7
By Eric Cole
The Atlanta Braves' farm system has been busy over the last couple of weeks and so far, the results on the field have been decidedly mixed. Case in point was last night where the MiLB affiliates went a combined 1-3, but there were some positives to take away including a Braden Shewmake homer, a strong start from Tanner Gordon, and a smattering of other nice performances.
Gwinnett has had the roughest start to the year amongst the affiliates in terms of wins and losses, but they were the sole winners last night as they emerged victorious by the score of 9-3. Jared Shuster got the start for Gwinnett and struggled mightily to find the strike zone as he had five walks in three innings of work and got his pitch count run up to nearly 80 pitches. Fortunately, the damage while he was in the game was limited to one unearned run and the bullpen only allowed two runs the rest of the way.
The offense did some good work for Gwinnett. Braden Shewmake had the biggest swing as he connected for his second home run of the season. Hopefully this is a sign that he is turning things around at the plate as his .636 OPS to start the season is less than inspiring. Forrest Wall, Nick Solak (who recently got claimed off of waivers by the Braves), Yolmer Sanchez, and Joe Hudson each had multi-hit games for the Stripers. Wall in particular has looked good to start the season as he has been making plays in the outfield, hitting the ball hard, and causing havoc on the base paths (he already has eight stolen bases on the season).
Mississippi had a tough night on Thursday as they got shut out 3-0 by Montgomery. Tanner Gordon did his job, though, as he went six strong innings with seven strikeouts. Gordon's fastball has nights where it has nice carry up in zone and he commands the hell out of it and this was one of those nights. A lack of consistency with his secondaries has kept him from taking the next step, but there is real arm talent here.
As for the offense...well, there wasn't much as the squad only managed six singles on the evening and they struggled to even put runners in scoring position. Even the red hot Cody Milligan got held in check as he went 0-4. Sometimes it just isn't your night.
It was a rough night for Rome as they could not contain Hudson Valley's offense in a 10-4 loss. JJ Niekro got the start for Rome and while he had a rough first inning where he got tagged for three runs, he did manage to limit the damage the rest of his 4.2 innings despite not having his best stuff last night and kept Rome in the game. Unfortunately, the bullpen struggled as they gave up seven runs over the game's final 4.1 innings and that was that.
The Rome offense was inconsistent, but there were some highlights. Kevin Kilpatrick Jr. had another nice night with a pair of hits including an easy triple plus a walk. His .821 OPS to start the season doesn't tell the whole story as he has hit safely in eight of his first 11 games, has been impacting the ball more of late, and has been making plays on the bases and in the field. Adam Zebrowski had a multi-hit game as did Stephen Paolini who also drove in a pair of runs. Paolini has some real raw tools, but his hit tool has been slow to develop. One hopes last night is a good sign that he is starting to figure things out.
Augusta played a tight game against Myrtle Beach and ended up falling by the score of 3-2. Spencer Schwellenbach was on the mound for the GreenJackets and it wasn't his finest work as he failed to complete the second inning (he has been having his pitch count managed to be fair). While the defense behind him wasn't doing him many favors and some balls just found some holes, he also wasn't missing bats last night left some pitches over the plate. Landon Harper gave Augusta 4.1 scoreless innings of relief and the bullpen as a whole held strong, but the offense wasn't able to make a comeback.
It was a rough night for the lineup as they just weren't able to string together any offense (plus they had two guys thrown out at home which isn't great). Tyler Collins had a two hit night including a double and Justin Janas reached base four times, but most of the offense was scattered through the game other than the second inning and two of their better scoring chances ended with outs at home plate.