The final Augusta GreenJackets team to play at Lake Olmstead Stadium didn’t fare well as a whole, but there were several individual bright spots.
As is often the case on GreenJackets teams, the brightest spots came on the pitching staff.
Domenic Mazza made South Atlantic League history with the first nine-inning perfect game in league history. It was Augusta’s biggest moment this season and was a major part of Mazza’s successful year, totaling a 3.01 ERA with 97 strikeouts to just 20 walks in 119 2/3 innings.
Stephen Woods was another important arm to Augusta, recording a 3.06 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 106 innings. Garrett Williams joined the staff during the season and made an impact with a 2.25 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 64 innings.
The GreenJackets bullpen featured a couple of the league’s best in Patrick Ruotolo and Nolan Riggs.
Ruotolo developed into one of the league’s top closers over the course of the season, resulting in a 1.75 ERA and 17 saves in 46 1/3 innings. The right-hander’s success was in large part because of his control, walking just 11 with 66 strikeouts.
Riggs recorded a 2.14 ERA with 69 strikeouts to 15 walks in 67 1/3 innings.
Despite several standout arms on the staff, the GreenJackets enter their final couple games ranked in the bottom half of the league in team ERA at 3.97. A lack of depth hurt their overall numbers, which helped lead to their poor standing in the division.
It was a similar case on offense, where no hitter reached even .290 and the largest RBI total entering the final weekend was 59.
Familiar faces such as Jean Angomas, Cristian Paulino and Kelvin Beltre were among the best bats for Augusta this year.
Despite playing just 62 games with the GreenJackets entering the weekend, Paulino had 30 stolen bases and hit a respectable .271. Beltre was one of the team’s biggest producers but had bouts of inconsistency, while Angomas came back to Augusta during the season and led the team in batting average.
Perhaps the most important development for the San Francisco Giants was Sandro Fabian’s late-season push. The young outfielder, considered Augusta’s top prospect this season, withstood the fatigue of a full season to hit .272 with 10 home runs and 59 RBI.
THE FUTURE: With the calendar turning to September, the Atlanta Braves are looking to the future with several prospects getting significant playing time.
Friday’s game against the Chicago Cubs served as an example. Former top prospects Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies started up the middle between shortstop and second base, while Rio Ruiz started at third. Young left-hander A.J. Minter also received another appearance out of the bullpen.
The Braves plan to use Swanson and Albies up the middle for years and are giving the two a chance for an extended taste in the major leagues before the season ends. Swanson has experienced ups and downs over the course of the year, while Albies has held his own in a shorter stint.
Ruiz has yet to earn significant playing time in the majors but will get that chance after the Braves traded Brandon Phillips this past week. The third baseman’s realistic potential is in a pinch-hit or platoon role, but he’ll get the chance to prove himself down the stretch.