2022 Mississippi Braves: Year in Review
The Mississippi Braves concluded their 17th season with a 62-74 overall record, the sixth-best in the Southern League. The pitching staff’s 4.28 ERA ranked second in the Southern League and sixth in Double-A. The M-Braves posted a club-record 1,344 strikeouts, leading the league to rank fifth in Double-A. Starters posted
The Mississippi Braves concluded their 17th season with a 62-74 overall record, the sixth-best in the Southern League.
The pitching staff’s 4.28 ERA ranked second in the Southern League and sixth in Double-A. The M-Braves posted a club-record 1,344 strikeouts, leading the league to rank fifth in Double-A. Starters posted a 4.43 ERA. The M-Braves had a streak of eight games where the starting pitcher made it at least five innings (8/30-9/8), posting a 3.29 ERA (15 ER, 41.0 IP) over that span. RHP Alan Rangel led the league with 139 strikeouts and was fifth with a 5.26 ERA. The bullpen posted a 4.17 ERA.
Michael Harris II and Vaughn Grissom became the 22nd and 23rd players to be promoted directly from Double-A Mississippi to Atlanta. Both were promoted at 21 years old. Drew Lugbauer broke three M-Braves records, including the career and single-season home run records.
Money Mike to the Show
The Braves selected the contract of OF Michael Harris II to the Atlanta Braves major league roster on May 28, 2022. Harris II was the 22nd M-Braves player to be promoted directly to Atlanta, and the first since Max Fried on August 5, 2017...the first position player since Dansby Swanson on August 17, 2016. The first to make the jump from Mississippi to Atlanta was Brian McCann on June 10, 2005. He became the 156th M-Braves player to make their MLB debut.
At 21 years and 82 days old, Harris II was the youngest Braves player to make his MLB debut since RHP Huascar Ynoa on June 16, 2019 (21 years, 19 days)...Harris II was also the youngest Braves hitter to debut since Ronald Acuña Jr. debuted at 20 years and 128 days old in 2018. Harris II was the first Georgia-born player to make his MLB debut for the Braves since RHP Lucas Sims on August 1, 2017. The Braves top prospect played in 43 games for the M-Braves, reaching base safely in 41 of 43 games. The Dekalb, GA native had a minor-league-best 31-game on-base streak to start this season snapped on May 14 in Chattanooga. He hit .305 with 16 doubles, two triples, five home runs, 33 RBI, and 11 stolen bases. He registered a .878 OPS from the leadoff spot.
Harris II left the Southern League ranking among the Southern League leaders in doubles (16, 1st), hits (53, 2nd), XBH (23, T-2nd), runs (3rd, 33), total bases (88, 3rd), RBI (33, T-3rd), stolen bases (11, T-6th), and triples (2, T-4th). Despite just 43 games, Harris II ranked among the M-Braves season leaders in doubles (T-3rd), XBH (4th), stolen bases (5th), hits (10th), and total bases (10th).
Grissom to the Show
Vaughn Grissom had his contract selected by the Atlanta Braves on August 10 after 22 games and 91 at-bats for Mississippi. Grissom became the youngest player in AL/NL history to homer and swipe a bag in his major league debut. Grissom joined Harris II and became the second M-Braves player to be promoted straight to the majors in 2022. The 21-year-old became the 23rd player promoted straight to Atlanta, from Mississippi, since 2005. Harris II was the youngest player in the majors, and Grissom was the third youngest at the time of his promotion. The M-Braves added Grissom on July 12 from High-A Rome. In his first week in Double-A, Grissom hit .462 (12-for-26) with a triple, home run, five RBI, three runs, and three stolen bases. The Oviedo, FL native hit in his first nine games, and 19 of his first 22 games with Mississippi, batting .363 with three home runs, three doubles, one triple, 12 RBI, and seven stolen bases. While in Mississippi, Grissom led the Southern League and ranked fourth in Double-A with 33 hits.
The Slugbauer Makes Mississippi History
Drew Lugbauer set a new club record in 2022 with 46 career home runs over two seasons and 214 games. He hit 18 home runs in 2021 and led the league with 28 long balls in 2022. On September 9 at Biloxi, he broke the club, and franchise single-season home run record, surpassing Ernesto Mejia (2011) and Mike Hessman’s (2001) record (26). He was the first M-Brave to lead the Southern League in home runs (28) and RBI (82). Lugbauer also set a club record with seven RBI on Saturday, July 2, at Biloxi.
THE SLUGBAUER.— Mississippi Braves (@mbraves) September 10, 2022
He breaks the single season franchise record with his 27th home run of the season!
Congrats, @DrewLugs! pic.twitter.com/hlskQKM94F
Lugbauer hit a walk-off three-run homer on July 8 vs. Pensacola and a walk-off single on June 3 vs. Montgomery. The first baseman had multi-homer games on May 27 at Pensacola and September 7 at Biloxi, the seventh and eighth of his career. He finished in the league’s top 10 in home runs (28, 1st), RBI (81, 1st), XBH (52, 2nd), walks (74, T-3rd), doubles (24, T-9th), and total bases (207, 2nd).
Prospects and Promotions
The M-Braves roster featured 11 of the current Top 30 Atlanta prospects on MLB Pipeline...INF Vaughn Grissom (1), LHP Jared Shuster (3), RHP Freddy Tarnok (8), RHP Victor Vodnik (11), INF/OF Justyn-Henry Malloy (13), RHP Darius Vines (17), LHP Dylan Dodd (18), OF Jesse Franklin V (19), INF Luke Waddell (26), RHP William Woods (27).
Woods, Shuster, Tarnok, RHP Tyler Ferguson, Vines, RHP Odalvi Javier, and C Hendrik Clementina were all promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett during the season. Woods (4/30) and Tarnok (8/17) made their MLB debuts this season.
After going 7-13 in April, the M-Braves turned it around with a league-best 16-10 record in May. In June, the club was 7-19, tying their club record for losses in June. The M-Braves went 16-8 in July. The 16 wins were 2nd in AA and T-5th in MiLB. The M-Braves finished 10-15 in August, continuing the remarkable trend. September finally ended the trend, as the M-Braves finished the final month of season 6-9.
The Comeback Kids
The M-Braves came back in the eighth inning or later ten times this season after just two such comebacks last season.
The M-Braves pulled off back-to-back comebacks on April 30 and May 1 at Montgomery. On April 29, the M-Braves blew a 6-1 lead and trailed 9-7 heading into the 9th, but the club rallied for three runs after being down to their final strike twice to win 10-9. Riley Delgado hit the game-winning two-run single. On May 1, the M-Braves trailed 5-2 with two outs in the ninth. Luke Waddell smashed his first Double-A home run, a three-run shot to right field to tie the game at 5-5. Jalen Miller hit a grand slam in the 10th, and the M-Braves went on to win 11-7 in the club’s third straight win. The M-Braves completed four of their final-inning comebacks at Riverwalk Stadium.
Against the Barons, the M-Braves scored four of the final five runs to win an 11-inning thriller on August 27. On August 29, Bunnell smashed a game-winning grand slam in the ninth. On September 2, the M-Braves scored four runs in the eighth in a 9-7 comeback win over the Smokies.
COMEBACK KIDS!!!!!!!@javilonn16's two-run double makes it 13-12!!— Mississippi Braves (@mbraves) August 13, 2022
10 UNANSWERED RUNS!!!! pic.twitter.com/kZaByX3AqL
Dates of Significance
- March 18: MLB announced various experimental rules in the Southern League for 2022. The league used a pitch clock, bigger bases and shift restrictions. MLB approved using all three of those rule changes for the start of the 2023 season.
- April 8: Opening night for the M-Braves, starting their 17th season as the Double-A Affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. The club returned 20 players from the 2021 Double-A South Championship roster, including nine position players and 11 pitchers. CJ Alexander and Trey Harris, the longest-tenured M-Braves, raised the championship banner in a pregame ceremony.
- April 16: Jared Shuster broke the Southern League record with eight consecutive strikeouts in a five-inning complete game shutout in a rain-shortened win at Biloxi.
- April 22: The M-Braves recorded the shortest nine-inning game in club history, one hour and 48 minutes, in a 3-1 loss versus Chattanooga.
- May 28: Atlanta selected the contract of Michael Harris II, making him the 22nd player promoted directly from Double-A Mississippi to Atlanta.
- June 21: With his 33rd career home run for the M-Braves, Drew Lugbauer broke the all-time club record previously held by Travis Demeritte and Connor Lien.
- July 2: Drew Lugbauer records seven RBI at Biloxi, breaking the club record for RBI in a single game in an 18-4 win.
- July 11: In a rare blockbuster trade involving a draft pick, the Atlanta Braves traded top prospect Drew Waters and M-Braves players CJ Alexander and Andrew Hoffman for the Kansas City Royals No. 35 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. Alexander had appeared in 179 games for the M-Braves since 2019, ranking fourth in team history with 27 home runs. Atlanta drafted Alexander in the 20th round of the 2018 MLB Draft.
- July 17: The M-Braves completed their first six-game series sweep in club history over Rocket City at Trustmark Park. The M-Braves outscored the Trash Pandas 34-12 in the series.
- August 1: Trey Harris was traded to the Washington Nationals for Ehire Adrianza. Harris was the 2019 Atlanta braves Minor League Player of the Year and combined to hit .323 with 14 home runs, 73 RBI, and eight stolen bases over three levels of the Braves organization. The Austell, GA native and fan favorite appeared in 196 games for Mississippi since 2019, posting a .252 batting average with 30 doubles, four triples, 12 home runs, 78 RBI, and .681 OPS. Harris was a key contributor and team leader on the 2021 Double-A South.
- August 10: Atlanta selected the contract of Vaughn Grissom, making him the 23rd player promoted directly from Double-A Mississippi to Atlanta.
- August 12: At Tennessee, 30 combined runs set a new Mississippi Braves team record in the 16-14 win. The seven-run fourth inning was a season-high, while the nine-run comeback was the second largest in team history. The M-Braves became the first team in minor league baseball in 2022 to give up double-digit runs in an inning and win the game.
- September 9: Drew Lugbauer hit his 27th homer of the season, breaking the single-season record held by Ernesto Mejia and Mike Hessman.
- September 18: The M-Braves concluded the 2022 season, finishing 62-74, the sixth-best record in the Southern League.
Freddy Tarnok was promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett on July 8. He started 15 games for the M-Braves. He posted a 2-2 record with a 4.31 ERA over 62 2/3 innings. He has 27 walks to 75 strikeouts. Over his last four starts with the M-Braves, Tarnok had a 1.71 ERA, allowing just four runs in 21 innings with 31 strikeouts. On June 30, the right-hander matched a career-high with 12 strikeouts in five innings at Biloxi.
Jared Shuster was called up to Triple-A Gwinnett on July 26. He finished Double-A with a 2.78 ERA through 17 outings, which ranked third in the Southern League. The New Bedford, MA native, was among the league leaders in ERA (2nd, 2.87, strikeouts (106, 2nd), opponent’s batting average (.198, 2nd), WHIP (0.96, 2nd), and innings (90.2, 2nd) at the time of his promotion.
Shuster pitched in the MLB Futures Game at Dodger Stadium on July 16 before the MLB All-Star break, giving up one run (HR to former teammate Shea Langeliers) on two hits with no walks and two strikeouts in 1.1 innings pitched. Atlanta drafted Shuster in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2020 MLB Draft. He was originally promoted to the M-Braves near the end of the 2021 season.
Darius Vines was promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett on August 9. The right-hander went 7-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 20 starts over 107.0 innings. Upon his promotion, he led the league with 127 strikeouts and 107.0 innings pitched while also ranking among the leaders in starts (20, T-2nd), ERA (3.95, 4th), AVG (.244, 6th), and WHIP (1.21, 3rd). Vines’ 127 strikeouts were 2nd in Double-A and 6th in MiLB.
Vines was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Month for July, going 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA in five starts, allowing four earned runs over a league-best 30.2 innings. He struck out 32, walked nine, and held opponents to a .155 average. The Oxnard, CA native had a 1.51 ERA over eight starts (8 ER/47.2 IP) from June 19-August 4 with 44 strikeouts and nine walks.
Odalvi Javier was called up to Triple-A Gwinnett on August 13 and again on August 30. The right-hander posted a 2.75 ERA in 52.1 innings over 42 appearances for the M-Braves. Javier had a streak of no earned runs over 18 appearances and 20.2 IP from May 29-July 23.
Tyler Ferguson was promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett on July 12. The Vanderbilt product was 3-1 with a 3.69 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 31.2 innings over 32 appearances for the M-Braves. He had a streak of no runs allowed over eight outings from 5/1-18, covering 8.1 innings with three hits, one walk, and 12 strikeouts.
Tanner Gordon went 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA (11 ER/33.0 IP) over his last six starts with the M-Braves. He had 34 strikeouts to seven walks over those starts. The right-hander’s ERA has improved each month, highlighted by a 3-0 record and a 3.43 ERA over four starts in August. He was promoted to the M-Braves at the beginning of May after posting a 1.64 ERA with 36 strikeouts to no walks over 22.0 innings in High-A Rome.
After being promoted to Mississippi on July 12, Dylan Dodd went 2-4 with a 3.11 ERA in 46.1 innings over nine starts. Dodd posted a 2.08 ERA in four starts in August, going an unlucky 0-3. The left-hander has allowed no more than two runs in seven of nine starts, with three quality starts. The left-hander combined to go 11-9 with a 3.33 ERA in 25 starts over 135.1 innings between High-A Rome and Double-A Mississippi.
Despite going an unlucky 1-4, Allan Winans had an impressive 2.44 ERA over 44.1 innings. He walked nine with 44 strikeouts. In his last start for the M-Braves on September 13, Winans struck out a career-high ten batters in seven shutout innings on Tuesday against the Biscuits. The right-hander allowed one walk and four hits. His previous career high for strikeouts was six. He tied another career-high in length, matching his seven-inning start against Pensacola on July 22, where he gave up one earned run. He was transferred to the M-Braves from Gwinnett on July 26 after completing a rehab assignment with the FCL Braves.
Justin Maese was the first M-Brave since 2012 to finish the season with 50 appearances, which was tied for first in the Southern League. He finished tied for third in the Southern League with 11 saves.
Alan Rangel’s 139 strikeouts led the Southern League. He was among the league leaders in ERA (5.26, 5th), starts (26, 2nd), innings pitched (114.2, 4th), and WHIP (1.50, 5th). Atlanta selected his contract to the 40-man roster on November 11, 2021.
Top Offensive Performers
Justyn-Henry Malloy was promoted to the M-Braves on July 12. The 22-year-old slashed .268/.403/.824 with six home runs, 11 doubles, and 31 RBI in 54 games for the M-Braves. He was promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett for their final nine games following the conclusion of the M-Braves season. Atlanta drafted Malloy in the sixth-round pick in 2021 out of Georgia Tech.
Malloy combined to slash .289/.407/.862 with 16 home runs, 27 doubles, and 75 RBI in 125 games between Rome and Mississippi. The Bergenfield, NJ native ranks among the top three Braves farmhands in 11 offensive categories while leading the organization in walks, doubles, and on-base percentage. Malloy hit .301 in August with 11 extra-base hits, 15 RBI, 20 walks, 20 runs, and .935 OPS. He shot up the most recent prospect rankings, jumping 14 spots to No. 13 in the Braves MLB Pipeline Top 30.
Hendrik Clementina was called up to Triple-A Gwinnett on August 9 after 69 games with the M-Braves. In Double-A, the catcher hit .243 with 11 homers and 34 RBI. He earned Southern League Player of the Week from 5/24-29 at Pensacola and went 11-for-16 with 2 HR, 5 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, SB, and two runners caught stealing. Had his first career 5-hit game and 4-run game on 5/27 at PNS, reaching base six times (first M-Brave to do so since Alejandro Salazar 7/15/18 vs. PNS). Clementina went 4-for-4 the next day, reaching base safely in 13-straight plate appearances.
Cade Bunnell had three different stints with the M-Braves this season, May 12-17, June 28-July 12, and August 10-End of Season. In 43 games for Mississippi, he is batting .301 with eight home runs, 11 doubles, two triples, 32 RBI, 31 walks, and .989 OPS. Bunnell was a 40th-round pick in 2019 by Atlanta.
Bunnell logged his first multi-homer game on August 25 at Birmingham, smashing a solo home run in the fourth and a three-run shot in the ninth. Since being promoted for a third time on August 10, he hit .278 with six homers, 20 walks, 26 RBI, and a .925 OPS in 31 games.
After being promoted from High-A Rome on June 21, Cody Milligan hit .271 with a .345 OBP and went 14-for-14 in stolen bases in 68 games as the leadoff hitter. He had a 10-game hit streak from 8/10-21, batting .415 with 18 hits, four doubles, and two RBI over the streak. Milligan’s best month was August, where he batted .318 with a .388 OBP in 21 games.
GRAND SALAMI TIME @CadeBunnell3!!!— Mississippi Braves (@mbraves) August 29, 2022
The Cade Bunnell slam gives us a 7-5 lead in the 9th!!!
🚀 435 feet | 107 mph#ForTheSip pic.twitter.com/NtpJCl5uTr
Andrew Moritz homered in back-to-back games on September 6-7 for his first two long balls of the season, logging four hits in each game. From September 6-11 at Biloxi, the outfielder went 9-for-18 with two homers, three doubles, five RBI, and seven runs in four games. Moritz became the first M-Brave to log back-to-back four-hit games since Emerson Landoni had back-to-back five-hit games, July 12-13 at Chattanooga in 2015. His efforts earned him Southern League Player of the Week. After being promoted from High-A Rome on April 29, Moritz hit .285 with two home runs, 16 doubles, and 34 RBI in 84 games for the M-Braves.
Riley Delgado closed out the season on a 19-game on-base streak, the second-longest active streak in the Southern League (Logan O’Hoppe, 29). He was on a seven-game hit streak with a hit in 14 of his last 15 games. He ranked 6th in the Southern League with a .272 batting average. He had an eight-game hit streak from 7/23-8/4 and an 11-game hit streak from 5/13-25.
Justin Dean tied an M-Braves record by scoring five runs on July 2 at Biloxi. He finished the season as the club’s stolen base leader, successful in 19 of 24 stolen base attempts. In June, Dean led the club with a .298 average. He had six extra-base hits, six RBI, 13 walks, and nine steals.
Luke Waddell hit .272 with a .364 OBP, ten doubles, two home runs, and 29 RBI in 41 games for the M-Braves. He Had a 12-game hitting streak, 4/30 to 5/14, and went 5-for-5 on 4/30 at MTG, including a three-run homer to tie the game in the ninth, the first 5-hit game since Alejandro Salazar on 7/15/18. The Georgia Tech product had a 15-game on-base streak from 4/30-5/19.
M-Braves to the Show
Drew Waters (8/22), Shea Langeliers (8/16), Freddy Tarnok (8/16), Vaughn Grissom (8/10), Joey Meneses (WSH, 8/2), William Woods (ATL, 4/27), Bryce Elder (4/12), Michael Harris II (5/28 from MIS), and Joey Wentz (DET, 5/11) as former M-Braves to make their MLB debut this season. In total, 161 have made their debuts, and 23 promoted directly from Mississippi since 20.
In his big league debut, Braves top prospect Vaughn Grissom crushes a homer out of Fenway Park! 😱💪— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) August 11, 2022
Brand New Coaching Staff
Bruce Crabbe took over as the M-Braves 10th manager in club history after spending 17 seasons in the Boston Red Sox organization. He was joined by pitching coach Bo Henning, hitting coach Mike Bard and coach Angel Flores, all in their first seasons with the club.
Crabbe spent the last eight seasons as a coach for the Triple-A Pawtucket/Worcester Red Sox. The Orlando, FL native last managed the Lowell Spinners (Red Sox Short-A) from 2012-13. Crabbe’s professional career began in 1984 with the Chicago Cubs organization. Crabbe played for five teams over nine professional seasons before transitioning to coaching in 1994.
The M-Braves had a total attendance of 150,491 at Trustmark Park in 2022, averaging 2,246 fans per game.