Another day. Another 10-run outburst. Another young starter taking a step forward. Another strong bullpen performance.
The elephant in the room is that the Braves are employing a replacement level 3B at the moment. He made a crucial error that lead to a 3-run double and the end of the night for Soroka. Otherwise, Soroka pitched pretty well. No walks, threw about 65% strikes, but couldn’t get through the fifth largely due to the error.
The bullpen went Moylan->Carle->Minter->Winkler->Vizzy. It’s happened enough that it seems that Winkler has passed Minter in bullpen hierarchy. We’re 6-deep in the pen right now, 7 if you count the usually effective long man, and you can make the argument that Moylan is now our least effective reliever. The bullpen’s ability to keep us in games has been one of the biggest reasons this team sits 23-15.
But now I’d like to talk to you about our AA production. You remember yesterday that we covered how well Austin Riley had been doing at AA before his promotion, but there’s still plenty, and perhaps more, to talk about at AA.
The bad news is that Kyle Wright has had a little bit of a slow start. He’s getting hit a little hard (32 H in 31 IP) and walking almost a batter every two innings, but his K rate is strong (34 K in those 31 IP), and he’s kept the ball in the ballpark (1 HR). He’s only had 16 professional starts, moving through 3 levels in the process, so some patience is important. He fired 7 scoreless innings last night, though, so he may be conquering AA. We shall see.
The rest of the pitching has been impressive. For the sake of time, I’ll merely mention that their relief pitching has been very impressive with Adam McCreery, Jacob Webb, and Devan Watts all emerging as interesting relief prospects not particularly far from the bigs. Touki Toussaint has been a welcome surprise as he’s put together a string of 7 starts where he’s looked like the electric talent he was projected to be. Big stat: 48 K in 36.2 IP. If he can continue his rapid progress, he’ll be in AAA soon.
Wes Parsons, a “top” prospect before the rebuild pushed his name down the line, has put together a strong run of starts with a 1.23 ERA in 29.1 IP. Injuries had held him back, but he appears healthy. He’s 25 now, so he may struggle to get into a window in Atlanta’s plans, but they did promote him to AAA last night, so he’s move up to the highest level. Good for him.
The position players have struggled. Pearl, MS is not the most hitter-friendly environment. Other than Riley, our only other top hitting prospect is Alex Jackson, and he is sporting a sub-.200 BA and a sub-.600 OPS. He had 120 PAs in AA last year to a better result (.744 OPS), so hopefully this is just a slump.