Welcome to the first edition of the 2017 Last Word on Baseball’s weekly update of the Atlanta Braves farm system! The Braves system is stocked with talent as a result of an organizational rebuild that has been ongoing for the past few seasons. 2016 saw many of the Braves affiliations compete in the postseason, and the Rome Braves took home a South Atlantic League (SAL) title! 2017 will be an interesting season watching the young stars of the future compete for a shot in the big leagues! (Prospect ranking listed in parenthesis. All rankings taken from MLB.com’s Atlanta Braves Prospect Watch Top 30.)
Rome Braves Begin Title Defense
Gwinnett Braves (AAA)
The Gwinnett Braves began the season with a 1-3 record during a four-game set against the Durham Bulls. The starting rotation did not have a great start to the season. The rotation gave up at least four earned runs in the first three games of the series. Sean Newcomb (fifth) gave up four earned runs in his Triple-A debut despite recording eight strikeouts. Lucas Sims (18th) provided the bright spot for Gwinnett’s pitching staff this week. Sims picked up the lone victory with five innings of one run ball with five strikeouts.
Johan Camargo (unranked) began the season with a bang with three hits, four RBI, and two runs scored in the season opener. He went hitless in the second game before getting injured in the third game. Camargo will be interesting to watch moving forward. He may have the opportunity to join the big league club as a bench player at some point this season. Ozzie Albies (first) finished the week with five hits, including a triple, a double, and three runs scored.
Mississippi Braves (AA)
The Mississippi Braves got off to a 2-2 start in a four-game set against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Patrick Weigel (15th) had the best outing on the mound for Mississippi. He completed five shutout innings with seven strikeouts in Mississippi’s first win of the year. Kolby Allard (third) took a loss despite a strong performance. The lefty struck out five over five innings but allowed six hits and a home run in a 6-1 defeat.
Catcher Kade Scivicque (unranked) had a strong start to the year by going 5-for-11 with a double and two RBI on the week. However, the performance of the week belongs to outfielder Keith Curcio (unranked). He had five hits, including two doubles, a triple, and a game-winning, two-run single, in a 4-3 victory.
Florida Fire Frogs (Advanced-A)
The Florida Fire Frogs made their debut with a 2-2 record for the week. Two lefties, Luiz Gohara (10th) and Drew Harrington (25th), provided impressive starts to open the season. Gohara received a no-decision for his efforts, but the duo combined for 11 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts, one walk, and seven hits allowed. Ricardo Sanchez (19th) was roughed up in his first start of 2017. He was unable to make it out of the fourth inning after giving up four runs on seven hits, three walks, and two home runs.
The big names for the Fire Frogs had a sluggish first week. Ronald Acuna (seventh) went 2-for-16 with six strikeouts. Third baseman Austin Riley (12th) did not fare much better (2-for-13), but he did add his first home run of the season. Catcher Alex Jackson (23rd) chipped in four runs, two RBI, a home run, and two doubles and is the player of the week for the Fire Frogs.
Rome Braves (A)
The Rome Braves kicked off their SAL title defense in stunning fashion with a 4-0 record on opening weekend. The pitching looks primed for another strong year. The starting rotation allowed two or fewer earned runs in all but one game to start the season. Ian Anderson (sixth) struck out eight in his first start while Bryse Wilson (24th) struck out five without issuing a walk over five shutout innings. The rotation was the staple for Rome last season, and it looks like Rome may have another special rotation of young arms this season.
Anfernee Seymour (unranked) had a strong week as Rome’s leadoff hitter. The speedster went 5-for-12 with three doubles and two runs scored. Shortstop Derian Cruz (unranked) is another player to keep an eye on. He only managed three hits this week, but two went for extra bases to go with three RBI.