Welcome to another installment of the weekly report on the Atlanta Braves farm system from Last Word on Baseball! The week was certainly a mixed bag in terms of results. The Florida Fire Frogs posted run totals of 18 and 22 this week, but wound up with a record of 2-4. Mississippi also finished below .500, and Rome was the only team to post a winning record this week. Players highlighted these week are Lucas Sims, Rio Ruiz, Kolby Allard, Kade Scivicque, Max Fried, and Ray-Patrick Didder. Drew Harrington is named the pitcher of the week, and Ronald Acuna is player of the week after raising his batting average more than 50 points. (Prospect ranking listed in parenthesis. All rankings taken from MLB.com’s Atlanta Braves Prospect Watch Top 30.)
Weekly Atlanta Braves Farm Report: Ronald Acuna Trending Up
Gwinnett Braves (Triple-A)
The Gwinnett Braves posted a .500 week with a record of 3-3. Their performance was inconsistent, but the week brings their season win-loss record to 14-8. The pitching allowed just four total runs in the three wins on the week, but they allowed 20 runs in their three losses. Sean Newcomb (fifth) posted five shutout innings in his lone start on the week. Newcomb scattered two hits and was able to work around four walks while also striking out six. Sims (18th) continued his strong stretch with seven innings of two run ball with one walk and three strikeouts. Sims received a no-decision in the Gwinnett loss, but he posted his second quality start in a row to lower his season ERA to 2.66.
Third baseman Ruiz (22nd) put together his first strong week of the season. He played in five games this week and had a hit in all but one game. Ruiz went 5-for-14 with his first three home runs of the season and four runs, four RBI, one double, and one walk. He also proved clutch this week with one walk-off home run and another go-ahead home run that wound up being a game winner. In a week where top prospect Ozzie Albies scored just two runs, Ruiz provided the spark that Gwinnett needed in their three victories.
Mississippi Braves (Double-A)
The Mississippi Braves struggled this week with a record of 3-4. The biggest issue for Mississippi right now remains a stagnant offense. The Braves scored more than four runs just once, and they averaged just over three runs per game on the week. Allard (third) had two productive outings this week, and he began the week with an impressive start of five shutout innings with five hits, one walk, and five strikeouts. For the week, Allard posted 11.0 innings pitched with two earned runs allowed on nine hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts. Fellow southpaw Fried (eighth) contributed the start of the week for Mississippi. Fried picked up his first Double-A win with seven shutout innings, scattering a lone hit and one walk while striking out six. It was by far Fried’s best start of the season, and it was his first shutout start of 2017.
Catcher Scivicque (unranked) continues to hit the ball well in Double-A. Scivicque played in four games and had a hit in each game. He went 6-for-14 on the week with his first home run of the season, one run, one RBI, and a walk. Scivicque’s strong week brought his season average to .314 and earned him player of the week honors for the Braves farm system. It would be nice to see his OPS come up a bit from the .780 Scivicque has posted in the first 14 games of the season, but it is a great sign to see him hitting well with a .368 OBP. Infielder Travis Demeritte (ninth) went 1-for-16 to begin the week. Demeritte righted the ship in the last three games of the week by going 5-for-12 with two doubles, five runs scored, and an RBI. Demeritte has some work to do in terms of consistency, but his talent remains evident.
Florida Fire Frogs (Advanced-A)
If Gwinnett was inconsistent this week, the Florida Fire Frogs were downright erratic. The Fire Frogs run totals this week were zero, 22, eight, two, 18, and one. The pitching only had one real meltdown this week, when they allowed nine runs against the Palm Beach Cardinals, but the team went just 2-4 on the week. Lefty Harrington (25th) began and ended the week with solid performances. Harrington receives the pitcher of the week award for the Braves farm system despite failing to record a win. He posted one shutout appearance, going seven innings by scattering three hits without a walk and three strikeouts. For the week, he posted 13.0 innings pitched with two earned runs allowed on eight hits, one walk, and nine strikeouts. Harrington is now 2-2 on the year, but holds a 2.54 ERA with 21 strikeouts in his five starts. Harrington was Atlanta’s third-round selection out of Louisville last season, and he seems intent on making a name for himself in 2017. Fellow lefty Tyler Pike (unranked) picked up his first win of 2017 with five strikeouts and seven shutout innings.
Outfielder Didder (unranked) is slowly starting to come around after a dismal start to the season. The leadoff hitter for the Fire Frogs went 5-for-15 with five runs scored, two RBI, three walks, and four steals. Fellow Florida outfielder Acuna (seventh) turned a corner in a big way this week. Acuna receives player of the week honors for the Braves farm system after picking up a hit in every game this week. He finished the week 11-for-26 with a home run, two triples, a double, nine runs scored, 10 RBI, and four steals. Acuna raised his season batting average from .230 to .289 and was a one-man wrecking crew all week.
Rome Braves (Single-A)
The Rome Braves were clearly the team of the week for Atlanta’s farm system. Rome went 5-1 with some dominant pitching along the way. Rome’s pitching staff allowed just eight runs in the five victories this week while holding the competition to one run in four games. Oriel Caicedo (unranked) set the tone for Rome’s pitching staff by allowing a single earned run over five innings pitched to pick up his fourth win of the season. The Panamanian southpaw now holds a 4-0 record and a 1.14 ERA over his first six appearances (two starts). The pitching performance of the week, however, belongs to Joey Wentz (13th). Wentz went six shutout innings with three hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts this week to lower his season ERA to 2.70. Unfortunately, Wentz received a no-decision for his efforts, but he has now posted three consecutive quality outings.
No single player stood out for Rome, but a collection of individual performances highlighted Rome’s strong week. Outfielder Anfernee Seymour (30th) began the week with a 3-for-4 night with two RBI and a run scored in Rome’s victory over the Hickory Crawdads. First baseman Anthony Concepcion (unranked) went 1-for-2 with two walks, two runs scored, and a grand slam in a win against the West Virginia Power. In the same game, catcher Lucas Herbert (unranked) went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored. Rome’s performance this week was the definition of a team performance, and they now sit atop the southern division of the South Atlantic League with a record of 16-7.