Week 5 Farm Report: Chadwick Tromp breaks out for Gwinnett, while Michael Harris continues hot start

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Sunday wrapped up Week 5 of the 2022 minor league season, as the Triple-A level has now completed 30 games of its regular season schedule. Overall it was a rather exciting week on the Braves farm, featuring walk-off hits, impressive pitching performances and even some remarkable individual play by the system’s talented minor leaguers. Here’s a look at the top performers from the previous week.

AAA – Gwinnett (15-15)

Drew Waters7 for 13 (.538 AVG), HR, 3 RBI

Preston Tucker7 for 17 (.411 AVG), HR, 2B, 3 RBI

Chadwick Tromp8 for 17 (.470 AVG), 4 HR, 3 2B, 12 RBI

Pat Valaika5 for 22 (.227 AVG), 2 HR, 2 2B, 5 RBI

Bryce Elder7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, BB, 7 K, HR

Kyle Muller1-0, 6 IP, 7 H, ER, 2 BB, 4 K

Seth Elledge3 IP, BB, 4 K

Dylan Lee1-0, 3 IP, H, 6 K

Even though the scorching-hot bat of Travis Demeritte no longer exists in the lineup, Gwinnett has become more fun to watch lately – perhaps it’s because the team has won four of its last six… who knows. But regardless, getting Drew Waters back in the mix was huge, even if I think there’s still some soreness in that hamstring (he only played in three games this past week). Maybe the org is simply being careful with one of its top prospects; I hope that’s the case. But either way, I’m ready to see him start racking up the ABs, because when he has played this season he’s been great.

Speaking of great, where the hell did Chadwick Tromp come from? No, that stat line up there is not a typo – the dude was that good in the Charlotte series, hitting nearly .500 for the week. I know Demeritte’s ascendance to the majors is one of those one-in-a-million-type deals that don’t usually happen, but Tromp could be our next great story if he gets an opportunity in Atlanta. The 27-year-old catcher has recorded a hit in all but one of his 15 games with the Stripers in 2022.

On the mound, Gwinnett got back one of its ace pitchers in prospect Bryce Elder, and with both Kyle Muller and Tucker Davidson pretty much mainstays in the Triple-A starting rotation, you’d think this staff would be one of the best in all of minor league baseball. The problem is, none of these talented prospect pitchers have seemed to get into form yet, with Elder mostly struggling at the big league level in April, while Muller and Davidson have sort of been hit or miss. I didn’t list his line from last Wednesday, but Davidson once again struggled with run prevention this past week, allowing four runs in his start versus the Knights, although he did tie a season-high with nine strikeouts. Hopefully these Gwinnett arms start producing like we know they each are capable of.

AA – Mississippi (11-16)

Michael Harris II – 11 for 26 (.423 AVG), 4 2B, RBI

Luke Waddell5 for 15 (.333 AVG), HR, 3 2B, 4 RBI

Darius Vines1-0, 11 1/3 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 15 K, 2 HR

Alan Rangel4 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 11 K

Jared Shuster5 1/3 IP, 3 H, ER, 6 K

Freddy Tarnok4 2/3 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 6 K

Justin MaeseSV, 3 2/3 IP, 2 H, 4 K

Tyler Ferguson3 IP, H, 5 K

Indigo DiazSV, 3 IP, BB, 5 K

It was essentially a two-man wrecking crew on offense for the M-Braves last week, as Michael Harris II and Luke Waddell are both off to hot starts this season. Harris, of course, is getting all kinds of attention for his impressive streaks, though it’s funny because Week 5 was probably his worst performance of 2022 so far. Yeah… he’s been that great. Waddell is interesting. I always looked at him as maybe a guy with a ceiling of a utility infielder, but with this power display he’s putting on, already with nine XBH (7 doubles), there may be more to the Braves former fifth-round pick. Other notables: Drew Lugbauer cooled quite a bit in this most recent series, while former prospect CJ Alexander seems to be heating up.

This will go down as the best week of pitching for Mississippi, as the staff posted two 11-strikeout performances: one from Alan Rangel earlier in the week… and one from Darius Vines in the series finale on Sunday.

Plus, Jared Shuster and Freddy Tarnok both pitched well, giving the M-Braves four strong outings by its starters. You can’t ask for much more than that in a minor league rotation. And as icing on the cake, as you can see, several of the team’s top bullpen arms turned in successful weeks, with Indigo Diaz appearing closer to a return to his dominant 2021 form. This is a fun Mississippi team right now, which is saying something considering how awesome this club was last year.

A+ – Rome (14-13)

Justyn-Henry Malloy7 for 23 (.304 AVG), 2 HR, 2B, 5 RBI

Cody Milligan7 for 22 (.318 AVG), 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 SB

Cade Bunnell6 for 17 (.352 AVG), HR, 2B, 6 RBI

Drew Campbell6 for 22 (.272 AVG), 2B, RBI, 2 SB

Christian Robinson4 for 17 (.235 AVG), HR, 2B, 3 RBI, SB

Justin Yeager2 2/3 IP, H, ER, 2 BB, 5 K, HR

Davis Schwab2 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 5 K, HR

Lisandro Santos3 IP, 3 H, 7 K

R.J. Freure5 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K

Rome suffered its first series defeat in Week 5, losing five of six to Greenville. We knew those R-Braves bats couldn’t stay that hot forever, and last week the offense came to a halt, with even Landon Stephens cooling quite a bit, to the tune of a 2 for 19 (.105 AVG) performance. Although, guys like Justyn-Henry Malloy kept the momentum going, as he’s still hitting .282 for the season. His pair of homers in the Greenville series has him up to three long balls for 2021, and that power compliments his above-average glove nicely. I mean, just look at this play from Week 4…

At the plate this past week, Malloy recorded a hit in every game as he’s hit safely in eight of his last nine games, allowing him to post a solid .324 AVG in his last 10 contests. Fellow infielder Cody Milligan also continues to make a lot of contact, as he put together three multi-hit performances last week. Milligan – a former ninth-round pick – has been a fringy prospect ever since his pro debut in 2019, and now with over 100 games at the High-A level under his belt, I think it’s time to see what the 23-year-old can do in Double-A. The Denver native is hitting .307 with seven doubles so far this season. Cade Bunnell came out of nowhere last week and led Rome in AVG. The former 40th-round pick sort of had a break-out campaign last year when he slugged 17 home runs in Single-A. He strikes out too much and is a career .203 hitter in the minors, but he obviously has some power, so he’ll enjoy the recent surge in contact.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the offense that was lacking for Rome this past week – the starting pitching was also pretty dreadful. Not a single R-Braves starter put together a solid outing in the Greenville series, as staff aces Andrew Hoffmann and Luis De Avila struggled. In fact, the former only lasted two innings in his series-opener last Tuesday, and the latter… well he allowed a season-high six runs from eight hits on Thursday, giving him back to back poor outings (he allowed 5 ER in Week 4). The 20-year-old De Avila kicked off 2022 with a stingy 1.93 ERA through his first three starts, but since then it has risen to 5.40. Hoffmann is still holding his own, sporting a 3.75 ERA in five total starts, to go with 11.2 strikeouts per nine. The R-Braves bullpen was much better this past week, as relievers Justin Yeager, Davis Schwab, Lisandro Santos and R.J. Freure pitched well in their assignments against the Drive. At least one area of the team performed well, but Rome will need more consistency from its starters next week if it wants to avoid spoiling such an impressive beginning to its 2022 campaign.

A – Augusta (15-12)

Geraldo Quintero7 for 25 (.280 AVG), 2 3B, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 SB

Brandol Mezquita8 for 21 (.380 AVG), HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI, SB

Cal Conley6 for 26 (.230 AVG), HR, 3B, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 SB

Adam Zebrowski5 for 13 (.384 AVG), HR, 3B, 2B, 5 RBI

Kadon Morton7 for 18 (.388 AVG), RBI, SB

Jordano Perez5 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 5 K

AJ Smith-Shawver5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K

Estarlin Rodriguez4 IP, 2 BB, 4 K

Rob Griswold1-0, 3 1/3 IP, 6 K

Augusta had to settle for a series split versus Carolina last week, but the team played well overall, receiving plenty of offense from its lineup to go with a pair of solid outings from its starters. The talk of the week for the GreenJackets has to be prospect outfielder Brandol Mezquita, who entered Sunday’s series finale with the best wRC+ (157) in the Braves minor league system. I recently wrote a little profile on the kid, but what the 20-year-old is doing in his first year of full-season ball is pretty special, as he’s currently in the midst of a 19-game on-base streak, to go with what was a five-game hitting streak before an 0 for 4 performance this past Saturday (that still featured a walk).

It seems like Augusta has like five catchers, but there’s no doubt that Adam Zebrowski is the leader of that group. The former 13th-round pick turned in another impressive week in the Carolina series, tallying a combined 11 total bases in just four games. Also, Kadon Morton appears to be finding his way… finally. The 21-year-old outfielder went 4 for 4 in the series finale on Sunday, helping him lead the team in AVG for Week 5. Prospect infielder Cal Conley is getting there, with a decent performance at the plate last week. Hopefully this is the start of better play for a kid I’ve been big on since the Braves drafted him in the fourth-round last year.

Jordano Perez and AJ Smith-Shawver, who combined to strike out 12 in 10 innings worth of work in Week 5, headlined the Augusta starting rotation. With 2021 draftee Samuel Strickland landing on the 7-day IL, Perez was tasked with the spot start last Friday, and overall he pitched well in his 2022 debut, limiting the Mudcats to just one run from five hits, to go with five strikeouts. Wednesday’s outing for Smith-Shawver gives him back to back seven-strikeout performances now, as he seems to be finding his groove. The teenage prospect carried a 6.00 ERA after three starts to begin 2022, but now sports a much more manageable 4.74 ERA through five overall outings. Hopefully the good work continues for the Braves seventh-round pick. I came away really impressed with Rob Griswold. He pitched out of the GreenJackets bullpen on Thursday and Saturday and was especially dominant in the former outing, racking up five strikeouts in just two innings of work. The 23-year-old righty has a bit of a side-arm delivery, and his breaking ball has been nearly an unhittable offering so far this season. Griswold will enter Week 6 with a strong 2.77 ERA in 13 innings in 2022.

25 thoughts on “Week 5 Farm Report: Chadwick Tromp breaks out for Gwinnett, while Michael Harris continues hot start”

  1. Thanks Clint. Super interesting to read as every week.

    Langeliers with an 1.093 OPS and 11HR in 100 ABs. Good for him.
    Didn’t realize Betty was in the A’s organisation as well.
    Pache is not doing too well .457 OPS in 87 ABs.

  2. On last thread:

    Snitker is playing a dangerous game with Adam Duvall, but the only solution is to play a dangerous game with Acuña, because the other option, Heredia, prolongs the problem. Duvall, a Type-1 Diabetic, should not be playing CF everyday and it will definitely make him wear down quicker than being the everyday RFer.

    I’ve always thought it was important that the Braves utilize the DH position to give people rest, but that requires 4 capable OFers and Ozuna isn’t a capable OFer. So, this argument is void and it was the main reason why I did not want Ozuna on this team long term.

    The Braves could try to dump Ozuna for some sort of salary relief, but no one is going to take him at his current cost when it’s combined with his current output. If he were to start producing offensively at a high level again, then this problem goes away and there’s no need to trade him.

    For now, the Braves could swap Duvall and Acuña between CF and RF giving equal innings in CF to each, leaving Ozuna in LF. When Rosario returns, Duvall can get some full-on rest. Until then, pray Heredia can find some offense or Contreras can find an OF glove.

  3. I can give you the inside scoop from my February trip to Aruba. The cab drivers there are convinced Tromp is the real (art of the) deal. Make Aruba Great Again! (Clint does his research, I do mine.)

  4. JonathanF, can you take a trip to the Bahamas and let us know how good Lucius Fox is going to be for the Natspos?

  5. Thanks, Clint–great stuff. The two minor leaguers I’m most interested in are Michael Harris and Waters, because outfield is the big area of need on the big league roster (see @2 above and the discussion in the last thread). Waters has been very hot in very limited action, but considering all the problems he had making contact in 2021 at Gwinnett, I suspect he’s got to show a lot more at AAA before they call him up. Harris is doing everything and more at AA so far, but I cannot imagine they would call him up before September. If he continues to rake in Mississippi, he may very well get the call to AAA during this season.

  6. Well, my next tip is that George Kirby (whose parents live about three blocks from me) is going to be really good for the Mariners.

  7. And one more more point about the current outfield (as per previous thread): Ozuna has been fairly dreadful of late, but the odds of him contributing a productive bat over the rest of the season are a lot better than the odds on Demeritte. Don’t get me wrong–I’m delighted to see Travis get a chance, and I hope he keeps up his good play so far. But even at his ceiling, he won’t approach what Ozuna can contribute if he can do what he did in 2020 (which is less than two years ago).

  8. It wouldn’t be that far for me to travel to Winder, Georgia, to talk with the locals about how good Travis Demeritte will be. And the travel expense would be a lot less than JonathanF’s trip to Aruba or the Bahamas. But what you’d have to pay me for my time makes it prohibitive.

  9. @8 But as bad as he looks, can Ozuna approach his 2020 performance or is he what he is now? At 31, Ozuna may be on the way down while Demeritte at 27 may still be on the way up. Although one might argue that Demeritte may be peaking rather than improving.

    What I can say for sure is that Demeritte’s defense is a helluva lot better than Ozuna’s.

    Duvall is kicking up into his 30s too. I just think that we may get more out of platooning Duvall or Ozuna with Rosario unless something changes with Duvall and Ozuna’s performance. Heck, we might be better off with Contreras and D’Arnaud sharing catching and DH duties.

  10. Ozuna’s defense is indeed pretty much unplayable. Unless his bat returns to 2020 levels, it’s better to not put him in the lineup at all when he is not the DH. And I agree that ideally you spread the DH spot around some to give guys some rest.
    As to whether he is starting an age related decline, odds are he is. Some players drop off sharply in their early thirties, some only gradually, but the vast majority are not as good in their early thirties as they were in their late twenties.
    Still, his bat was outstanding less than two years ago. The results so far this season (and in last season’s SSS) are dreadful, but they have no choice but to give him time to see if he can still hit.

  11. Contreras in left makes some sense. His bat looks to be major league ready. The only problem is that you’d still love for him to be the catcher of the future. For that, it would be good for him to play catcher every day in AAA. If Demeritte turns into a pumpkin, though, I’d definitely try Contreras in left.

  12. @12 But does Snit have to hit him cleanup? He has been a huge rally killer of late with terrible at bates resulting in strikeouts and routine double plays. Maybe switch him and TDA? Drop Riley to 4 and move TDA to 3? Anything to get him out of the 4 hole at this point.

  13. I know there are other more insightful stats, but a quick look at OPS makes in Ozuna’s case is pretty telling. He has a .644 OPS in 2021 and his OPS is .615 so far this year. His career OPS is .789 and he had a 1.067 OPS in 2020.

    There is no way Ozuna will get to 2020 production levels. That was clearly an outlier and he was a guy who took advantage of a hot few months to get a good contract. Given his terrible defense, I don’t see him ever providing much WAR, even if he gets to career numbers. He’s only 31, so this could be an age related decline, but more likely he will make some improvements. If he doesn’t approach career levels by the All Star break and Waters and/or Harris continue to produce, I think he’ll be DFA’d.

  14. I am not ready to pull the plug on Ozuna. Missing most of last year and having a limited spring training, it is probably going to take some time to get going.

    Though his throwing arm is about as good as mine.

  15. Ozuna needs to be a .800 OPS DH who can play outfield when there’s an injury. That’s what he’s being paid to do. He doesn’t need to be his 2020 self or play average defense.

  16. @17
    DH only dudes that only carry an .800 OPS are 1.5ish WAR players. Ozuna has to be more than that to be worth anywhere near his contract.

  17. @18 he’s getting paid just over $16 million. Fangraphs says one WAR cost $8.5 million this past offseason, and the article was before the end of the lockout so that figure might be more now.

    If he has a 1.5 WAR year, he’ll be just barely overpaid this year, tho he’ll need a bounce back to make his contract worth it, and such a bounce would be dead cat at best. But he’s getting paid basically like a not-quite-league-average player.

    https://blogs.fangraphs.com/what-are-teams-paying-per-war-in-free-agency/

  18. @18-19

    This would be one of the rare instances where I think WAR isn’t getting the full picture. There’s value to your full-time DH actually being able to play a position vs. someone like Nelson Cruz who is only a DH. If there’s an injury, Nelson Cruz can’t help you. So if you want to assign a WAR value to positional and roster flexibility, then I think that gives him the needed bump to get to that value figure that makes sense for his contract.

  19. I think Ozuna and Duvall both need to go to the bottom of the lineup until they start hitting. Ozuna hitting after Acuña, Olson, and Riley is a rally killer.

    Duvall was an all or nothing hitter, and now that the ball isn’t carrying, he’s hitting a whole lot of nothing.

  20. Ozzie is hitting .231/295/419 which looks like a poor line but it’s league average this year.

    I can’t imagine MLB thinking that continuing with this new dead ball era will be good for attendance. Though I guess if the shift is eliminated next year, the amount of singles and doubles will go up and you will have more action on the base paths.

  21. I went to the Rangers/Yankees doubleheader this past Sunday (two 9-inning DHs in a week — yippee!) and we counted 5 balls that we thought would make it to the fence or leave the yard. Instead, they were all caught before the warning track.

    It was chilly & a bit swirly/windy, sure, but those balls were audibly smacked — and they all became outs.

    I’ve been to 9 games this year at either Yankee Stadium or Citi Field and, for the most part, the balls that fly over the fences have been screaming liners (like Olson’s in the 1st game of the DH last week). I’m not really seeing the lofty bombs. The ball definitely ain’t the same.

    But, it does make for a fast game. (The times of the Braves/Mets DH: Game 1: 2:49; Game 2: 2:18) So there’s that…

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