Wednesday, May 15 - GreenJackets 5, Braves 4
If you judge a pitcher's performance by swinging strikes, strikeouts and how he commands his stuff, the matchup between Chris Stratton and Mauricio Cabrera lived up to the billing. Neither line was outstanding, but both impressed with excellent stuff.
Stratton allowed four runs on 10 hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out five. He recorded 11 swinging strikes and 11 ground balls, both among his best this season.
Stratton struggled keeping the ball down and commanding his fastball in the early innings, resulting in two first-inning runs, including a home run to Jose Peraza. But he settled in and commanded better in the later innings, working with a very good breaking ball that induced most of his whiffs.
The first-rounder continued to show excellent sequencing and pitchability, working both sides of the plate with all of his pitches. He showed two variations of a breaking ball at different speeds, and he seemed to have a knack of locating it no matter when it was used. This is Stratton's ticket.
Cabrera was even better than expected, working with a nasty mid-90s fastball that featured heavy sinking action toward right-handed batters. His "slurvy" breaking ball was harder than I expected, showing tight enough break for me to label it a legit slider in the 80s. His changeup was outstanding, showing an advanced feel for the pitch in two-strike counts.
After one outing, I feel confident in giving Cabrera three legit pitches right now. The fastball is an easy plus, the slider is solid average (should become above average easily) and the changeup is on its way to being consistently plus. Once Cabrera works on command and spotting his pitches more consistently, and reaching deeper into outings, he'll be on his way to being a high-end starter in the upper levels. I don't see him falling to the bullpen in the majors unless something drastic happens to his development.
Peraza showed some lapses at shortstop in the third game of the series, committing two errors on routine plays. Otherwise, he impressed with his overall defensive profile. He has plus range, an above-average arm and above-average glove. His arm action on throws is a little long, but it's not enough to take away from his grading.
Peraza also has a good hit tool, making solid contact several times throughout the series. He didn't show much raw power to me, but he popped one over the left-field wall in this game, flashing at least some power. I don't expect it to be a big part of his game, but he won't have the bat knocked out of his hands in the upper levels.
Tyler Tewell could be an interesting name for Braves fans to remember. He was picked in the 14th round out of Appalachian State in 2012, so he comes in under the radar as a prospect. But the small catcher proved very athletic behind the plate in this game, shifting out of the box more than once to block balls in the dirt from Cabrera. His arm wasn't anything to write home about, but it serves its purpose behind the plate. As a hitter, Tewell showed some good raw in batting practice, but it failed to show in-game in my limited looks. He generates good bat speed and makes good contact when his head stays on the ball; it has a tendency to fly open on big swings.
Notable Augusta lines:
Chris Stratton: 7 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 11 swinging strikes
Jesus Galindo: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI
Shayne Houck: 1-3, RBI, 2 BB
Matt Duffy: 1-3, RBI, 2 BB
Trevor Brown: 1-4, RBI
Notable Rome lines:
Mauricio Cabrera: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 10 swinging strikes
Jose Peraza: 3-4, HR, 2 RBI
Joey Meneses: 3-4
Levi Hyams: 2-4
Blake Brown: 1-3, 2B, RBI