We had a full slate of games down in the Atlanta Braves' farm system on Sunday and the minor league affiliates went a combined 2-2. The starting pitching was largely quite good with Dylan Dodd and AJ Smith-Shawver leading the way, the Rome offense went wild, and David McCabe carried the offense for Augusta.
It was a tough night for the Stripers on Sunday as they fell by the score of 7-4 thanks largely to a bullpen implosion in the 7th inning. You can't blame Dylan Dodd for this one, though, as he was excellent while striking out eight batters in 5.2 scoreless innings. The command wasn't always there for Dodd as he had three walks on the day, but overall a really nice performance out of the lefty. The same cannot be said for Connor Johnstone who relieved Dodd. After getting the final out of the sixth inning, Johnston came back out for the seventh and recorded just one out while giving up five runs on two home runs and that was that.
It is going to be tough sledding for the Stripers' offense for a while given the state of their roster, but there were some positives on Sunday. Georgia Tech product Luke Waddell had a pair of hits which was nice to see as he tries to get acclimated to Triple-A. The guy who had the best day was Hoy Park who reached base four times and drove in a pair of runs for Gwinnett. Overall, not the most exciting day at the plate for the Stripers as did not record an extra-base hit all day despite scratching together four runs.
Down in Mississippi, the pitching staff held things down but the offense struggled again in their 2-1 loss. Luis De Avila was kind of all over the place and threw too many pitches as a result (four walks in 3.2 innings is not great), but the damage was largely mitigated and the bullpen held the line and kept the team in the game with 4.1 innings of scoreless relief.
There was very little to feel great about on offense with the notable exception of Landon Stephens whose solo homer in the top of the ninth inning got Mississippi on the board and gave them some life late. The only other M-Braves to record a hit in the game were Drew Campbell and Javier Valdes and they were both singles. Again, not ideal.
The fun got started down at Rome as they bludgeoned Bowling Green by the score of 12-3. AJ Smith-Shawver made his season debut and made the most of it as he struck out eight batters in 4.2 scoreless innings while throwing 78 pitches. Coming off a season that was shortened by injury and it being his first start of the season, AJSS going that far into the game and performing that well was a nice sight. Things were a little bumpy for the bullpen, but fortunately the Rome offense made those hiccups trivial.
Speaking of offense, there was plenty of it. Rome got multi-hit games from Kevin Kilpatrick Jr., Nacho Alvarez, Adam Zebrowski, Brandol Mezquita, and Kadon Morton and everyone in the Rome lineup recorded at least one hit other than Bryson Horne who tried his best. Kilpatrick and Nacho did work on the base paths as well with a combined three stolen bases. Zebrowski had a particularly big day at the plate with a double and home run to go along with two walks and 3 RBI.
Finally, we have the GreenJackets who emerged victorious by the score of 3-0. Jorge Bautista got the start for Augusta and he was quite good during his five scoreless innings. He was missing bats and limited hard contact which helped him put together a pretty efficient outing. Jared Johnson came out of the bullpen throwing gas and looked really good in his three clean innings of relief with six strikeouts.
David McCabe essentially WAS the Augusta offense on Sunday as he went 3-4 with a double, homer, and 2 RBI. McCabe's swing length and relative lack of athleticism could prove problematic for his hit tool in the long-term, but he does have some bat to ball skills and there is some real strength there. Francisco Floyd had a multi-hit game for the GreenJackets as well and Tyler Collins got his first extra-base hit with a double.