This past week was one full of good signs for the Atlanta Braves farm system. Florida was the only team to post a dismal week, while Rome continues to impress and show signs of growth. Once again, the player and pitcher of the week come from Rome in Jeremy Walker and Brett Cumberland. Cumberland continues his hot-hitting power streak. Travis Demeritte, Tyler Pike, Ricardo Sanchez, and Anfernee Seymour also are highlighted this week. (Prospect ranking listed in parenthesis. All rankings taken from MLB.com’s Atlanta Braves Prospect Watch Top 30.)
Weekly Atlanta Braves Farm Report: Brett Cumberland Dominating in Single-A
Gwinnett Braves (Triple-A)
The Gwinnett Braves posted a losing record this week with a record of 3-4. Gwinnett stands five games back of the division leading Durham Bulls who are posting a strong season thus far.
The pitching turned in a couple of solid performances this week. Patrick Weigel (15th) looks to be settling in to Triple-A. His Memorial Day start was not terribly impressive, but he was able to work around eight hits with just two earned runs over five and two-thirds. He finished the week with five strikeouts in five shutout innings on Saturday. Southpaw prospect Newcomb (fifth) continues to move closer to a mid-season call up to the big leagues as he picked up his third start of the season to begin the week. His Friday start looked destined for something special. Newcomb made it through six shutout innings before a single and a walk paved the way for his exit. Newcomb’s line for the night was still impressive with two earned runs on four hits, three walks, and seven strikeouts in six innings completed. He did take the loss, but he was strong all night. Newcomb’s total line for the week is 11.0 innings, seven hits, three earned runs, six walks, and 16 strikeouts.
Infielder Johan Camargo (unranked) has received another promotion to Atlanta after the club decided to designate Emilio Bonifacio for assignment. For his week in Gwinnett, Camaro went 5-for-16 with a HR, two doubles, five runs scored, and two RBI. Atlanta’s top prospect, Ozzie Albies, remains in Gwinnett for more work and preparation. Albies is hitting just .267 with a .314 OBP in 53 games this season. It is understandable for fans to anxiously await his arrival, but they must not forget that Albies is still just 20-years old. His future remains bright, and there is no need to rush him along this season.
Mississippi Braves (Double-A)
The Mississippi Braves had a successful week with a record of 4-2. They are back to just a game below .500 with a record of 27-28 and are within striking distance of the division leading Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The pitching staff continues to be the calling card for Mississippi. The Braves held opposing teams to three runs or less four times in six games this week. Mike Soroka (fourth) receives credit for the weirdest start of the week. Soroka picked up his sixth win by going six innings with just three earned runs to his credit. The surprising part was that Soroka gave up 11 hits without striking out a single batter. Lefty Max Fried (eighth) was credited with his eighth loss of the season despite posting one of his best starts of the season. Fried allowed two earned runs over six innings with eight strikeouts. Losing record aside, Fried will hope to put together a strong second half to this season that he can build on for next year.
Demeritte (ninth) put up the performance of the week for the Braves farm system. On Saturday night, the utility infielder went 3-for-3 with two home runs, a triple, and three RBI. Demeritte continues to be one of the more intriguing prospects of MiLB. He has 24 extra-base hits this season and can drive the ball when he is on. Unfortunately, he also has 54 strikeouts in 52 games with just 23 walks. Demeritte will have to figure out how to lower his strikeouts in order to reach his full potential. Ronald Acuna (seventh) continues to light it up. He posted three multi-hit games this week with two doubles and another home run. Acuna is now hitting .389 at Double-A with four home runs.
Florida Fire Frogs (Advanced-A)
The Florida Fire Frogs continued their 2017 struggles with a 1-4 record this week. The team is now 22-33 on the season with little chance at postseason play. One player who continues to impressive each time he takes the mound is Tyler Pike (unranked). Pike threw six strong innings with a lone earned allowed on seven hits, two walks, and four strikeouts. Pike’s season ERA sits at 2.13 with 62 strikeouts in 11 starts. Ricardo Sanchez (19th) also posted a productive start with five shutout innings on three hits, two walks, and four strikeouts. Sanchez is finding his groove in Florida with two or less earned runs allowed in seven of his past 10 starts.
The Braves front office must be thrilled with the development of Anfernee Seymour (30th) so far this season. The Braves obtained Seymour last season in the Hunter Cervenka trade. Up to that point, Seymour had consistently struggled to find his way at the plate. After shifting the former shortstop to the outfield, the Braves are beginning to see progress in his approach. Another strong week leaves Seymour with a .313/.396/.361 slash line at Florida. He is hitting .298 with a .367 OBP across two levels so far in 2017. There still remains work to be done for Seymour, but the move to the outfield has suited him well and was a stroke of genius on the part of the Braves. Seymour’s blazing speed should translate at any level, and he is now getting on base enough to utilize his speed.
Rome Braves (Single-A)
The Rome Braves posted a record of 5-3 this week, which makes them 11-4 over their last 15. Rome currently is 2.5 games back of the South Atlanta League’s Southern division leaders, but they are in a good position to defend their SAL championship this season. Walker (unranked) was the top performing of Rome’s talented rotation this week. Walker began the week with an impressive 10-strikeout, one-run performance over seven innings. Over two starts, Walker contributed a line of 12.0 innings pitched with three earned runs on 10 hits with just one walk and 16 strikeouts. That dominant line earned Walker the pitcher of the week for the Braves farm system.
Catching prospect Cumberland (29th) doubles up on his player of the week honors with consecutive strong weeks for Rome! Cumberland hit six extra-base hits while going 9-for-25 with two home runs, a triple, three doubles, nine RBI, and seven runs scored. Atlanta must be giving serious consideration to promoting Cumberland. Cumberland’s offensive ranks in the SAL are fourth in slugging (.565), seventh in home runs (eight), fifth in RBI (35) and fifth in walks (26). Cumberland is also the SAL leader in OBP (.458) and OPS with a mind-blowing 1.023 OPS in 42 games. He is now displaying the blend of watchful eye and gap-power that led to the Braves selecting him 76th overall last season.