07 May

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The Mississippi Braves’ lineup got a little stronger on Saturday when Jesse Franklin V made his 2023 debut. Batting third at Pensacola’s Blue Wahoos Stadium, Atlanta’s No. 14-rated prospect struck out in his first two at-bats but homered to center in his third, possibly a good sign for a power hitter who missed more than a year after elbow surgery. Franklin, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound, lefty-swinging outfielder, is considered the top power hitter among the Braves’ prospects. Drafted in the third round out of Michigan in 2020, he blasted 24 homers at High-Class A Rome in his pro debut in 2021 and hit two more in 15 games for the Double-A M-Braves before going down with his injury in April of last year. He also stole 19 bases at Rome and got two bags last year, so he’s not a one-tool pony. Despite Franklin’s homer and another by veteran slugger Drew Lugbauer, the M-Braves lost 3-2 at Pensacola and fell to 9-17. They conclude their two-week road trip today and return to Trustmark Park on Tuesday. Franklin fortifies a lineup that also includes No. 13 prospect Cal Conley, off to a slow start; Justin Dean, a former Top 30 prospect who played center field for the 2021 Southern League title team; and Lugbauer, who has 51 homers in three years with the M-Braves. The M-Braves also have added No. 4 prospect AJ Smith-Shawver, a right-hander whose Double-A debut Friday was cut short by rain after two (shutout) innings. This team ought to get better. … At High-A Rome on Saturday, former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College star Brandon Parker hit his first home run of 2023 and is batting .255 for the R-Braves. He hit 10 homers at Low-A Augusta last year. An NJCAA Division II player of the year at Gulf Coast, Parker, an outfielder, hit 38 bombs while at Perk. P.S. Props to J.P. France, the Mississippi State alum who threw five shutout innings for Houston against Seattle in his big league debut. … In something of a surprise move, Detroit optioned Spencer Turnbull to Triple-A Toledo today, presumably for some fine-tuning at a lower level. The Madison Central High alum has a 7.26 ERA over seven starts.

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