Though the Mississippi Braves’ record (22-35, last in the Southern League South) isn’t good, the team’s pitching actually is. Heading into a six-game series against Tennessee at Pearl’s Trustmark Park, the last-place M-Braves sport the best staff ERA — 4.07 — in the Double-A league. The Smokies (32-25, first in the SL North), a Chicago Cubs affiliate, have the third-best at 4.52. The series, the M-Braves’ last at home in 2023, offers a couple of intriguing pitching matchups: On Thursday, Luis De Avila, Atlanta’s No. 14 prospect, goes against former Southern Miss star Walker Powell. De Avila’s 3.49 ERA ranks third in the league. The 6-foot-8 Powell leads the SL in wins with 11 and has the fifth-best ERA at 3.76. On Friday, Domingo Robles, with eight wins and the fourth-best ERA in the loop (3.62), faces Kohl Franklin, the Cubs’ No. 28 prospect. USM alum Hurston Waldrep, Atlanta’s first-round pick in July and its No. 2 prospect, makes his second Double-A start on Saturday; he threw three shutout innings last week. M-Braves veteran Alan Rangel, the SL’s reigning pitcher of the week (seven shutout innings, 12 strikeouts), will start on Sunday. P.S. Baltimore has promoted USM product Matthew Etzel, a 2023 draftee, to High-Class A Aberdeen. Etzel hit .33 with two homers, 23 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in 25 games at two lower levels.