Today, our journey turns sweaty to Pearl, Mississippi, where pitchers go to gloat and grow and hitters go to die in 116 degrees of pure humidity. While it’s hard to make it as a hitter in Pearl, there are several that are doing their best to get out of swamp-crotch conditions as quick as possible. This month’s Mississippi Braves Players of the Month feature 4 hitters and 3 pitchers, and there are quite a few players that could become dudes in the right situation. This is the 2nd installment in our Players of the Month series as we already covered the Gwinnett Stripers Players of the Month here. Let’s get to it starting with the bats.
Mississippi Braves Players of the Month: Hitters
Landon Stephens: .959 OPS, 4 2B, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 10BB
Stephens is a fairly versatile player with a good amount of experience in both corner OF positions and 1B. His K-rate is problematic and likely the one thing that will end his baseball journey if he can’t reduce it. Still, between the positional flexibility and the power tool, there’s a good bit to like.
Drew Lugbauer: 1.386 OPS, 31 PA, 4 2B, 2 HR, 5BB
Lugbauer is hitting his stride at Double-A and is hitting a dinger in about every 3rd game. The power is extraordinary, but so is the K-rate. With a near 15% BB-rate and a 36.5% K-rate, he is a true 3 outcomes hitter. Unfortunately, these numbers are at AA, not the bigs and will likely be unplayable at the big league level.
Cade Bunnell: .915 OPS, 88 PA, 4 2B, 5 HR, 2 SB, 11 BB
Bunnell has what the Braves MLB roster really needs and that is positional flexibility. I’ve talked about this before and I’ll double down on it now: Bunnell is a big leaguer. Like Martin Prado, he (and the next guy on this list) are dirt dobbers and know baseball, enjoy baseball, and eat daily doses of dirt regularly. I remember when Prado was asked to play SS for a short period of time and before his 1st game playing the position, Prado was asked about it and he replied, “I’m like the Matrix. I’ll just upload the manual”. That’s how a few Bunnell.
Luke Waddell: .884 OPS ,108 PA, 5 2B, 3 HR, 7 SB, 14 BB
Waddell…same thing as Bunnell, but more positional flexibility as he’s played all IF positions and even has some OF experience.
Mississippi Braves Players of the Month: Pitchers
Luis De Avila: 22.1 IP, 13H, 12BB, 25K, 1.61 ERA
Avila still walks too much, but has increased his K-rate to where his WHIP is a strong 1.12. This is only his 2nd year in the Braves org, but is progressing nicely.
Victor Vodnik: 12 IP, 4H, 9BB, 20K, 0.00 ERA
It’s been an injury riddled road for Vodnik, but it looks like moving him permanently to relief is finally paying off. Walks are still coming in bunches and he’ll have to reduce those a ton before he jumps to the next level.
Domingo Gonzalez: 8 IP, 5H, 1BB, 11K, 1.13 ERA
Got his start in the Pirates org, this is Gonzalez’s first year in the Braves org and it’s going well. The K-rate is higher than it’s ever been, but so is the walk rate. He seems like one to keep an eye on.
Want to talk about this piece and more? Pull up a stool at the bar by clicking on the graphic.