Fried, Riley among top prospect performers Saturday

Braves' Nos. 11, 13 help Rome punch ticket to South Atlantic League finals

Fried, Riley among top prospect performers Saturday

Led by left-hander Max Fried and third baseman Austin Riley, Class A Rome defeated Charleston, 4-1, on Saturday night to advance to the South Atlantic League finals.

After recording exactly 10 strikeouts in each of his final two regular-season starts, Fried, the Braves' No. 11 prospect, fanned a career-high 11 hitters in 7 2/3 innings, also a career high, in Game 3 of the semifinals. The 22-year-old left-hander allowed one earned run on three hits, walking one and hitting another, while throwing 74 of his 108 pitches for strikes.

"I get butterflies before I pitch every time, it's just part of my thing," Fried told "I love the game and playing so much, I'm always going to get nervous going out there. But seeing the confidence of my teammates, seeing how confident they were in me in going out there tonight, it eased everything."

Riley, meanwhile, paced Rome's offense by going 2-for-4 with three RBIs to finish the series with a .300 average. The Braves' No. 13 prospect drove in Rome's first run with an RBI single in the top of the third and then extended his club's lead with a two-run double in the fifth.

"He's been extremely huge for us the whole second half," Fried said about Riley. "Talk about a guy who's been putting in the hard work every day, he came in the second half kind of a new person. Just went out there and started literally smashing baseballs every day. He's been a huge catalyst to our offense and we know that if we have guys in scoring position and he's up, there's a good chance he's going to get them in."

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Saturday

No. 34 overall prospect Cody Bellinger (Dodgers' No. 1) went yard in Triple-A Oklahoma City's Game 4 win over Nashville, setting the stage for a winner-take-all Game 5 on Sunday night. The 21-year-old first baseman has hit four homers in seven games since being promoted to the Minors' highest level ahead of the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

Nos. 28 and 43 overall prospects Manny Margot and Hunter Renfroe went a combined 5-for-8 with three extra-base hits to help Triple-A El Paso defeat Tacoma, 5-4, and advance to the Pacific Coast League finals. Renfroe (Padres' No. 3) scored three times and hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning in a 3-for-4 performance, while Margot (Padres' No. 2) finished with two hits, including a double, in four at-bats.

No. 64 overall prospect Tyler O'Neill's (Mariners' No. 2) third home run of the postseason, a two-run shot in the top of the first inning, staked Double-A Jackson to an early lead that they never gave back, ultimately defeating Montgomery, 8-2, to move on to the Southern League finals. He went 3-for-4 in the contest and finished the four-game series with a .467 average and three RBIs.

"Obviously, he had a real good series. He's had a real good year," Generals manager Daren Brown told "He had three hits tonight, he's swinging the bat well. I think, at the end of the year, he struggled a little bit at the end. Playoffs coming around, he's locked back in a little bit. Had the big walk-off homer for us the first night, had a solo homer the next night and got us started tonight. He's a big part of the lineup and he's getting some pitches to hit and not missing them."

No. 90 overall prospect Francisco Mejia (Indians' No. 4) kicked off the Carolina League's Mills Cup series by going 3-for-5 with a run scored and a stolen base to help Class A Advanced Lynchburg claim Game 1 against Myrtle Beach in 12 innings, 4-3. It was his second three-hit performance of the postseason.

Royals No. 8 prospect Ryan O'Hearn belted his third postseason home run and scored the game-winning run on a suicide squeeze as Double-A Northwest Arkansas walked off Springfield in 10 innings, 3-2. Josh Staumont (Royals' No. 11) turned in six strong innings for the Naturals, allowing two earned runs on four hits, while his 11 strikeouts marked the third time in the last four starts that the hard-throwing right-hander recorded double-digit punchouts.

"We use the word 'gamer' a lot. It's such general statement but to me describes that O'Hearn," Naturals manager Vance Wilson told "It's only human nature to want to go home a little bit. In a way, I'm ready to go home; it's been a long year. But O'Hearn ... he wants to be in the stadium, he wants to be at the plate. His energy rubs off on everybody else, and he's definitely one of the guys that are the foundation of the team."

Dodgers No. 8 prospect Walker Buehler tossed two perfect innings for Class A Great Lakes, giving him seven straight hitless innings to begin his professional career. At the plate, second baseman Omar Estevez (Dodgers' No. 13) went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI as the Loons edged Bowling Green, 5-2, to advance to the Midwest League semifinals.

• Double-A Midland is back in the Texas League finals for a third straight year after A's No. 8 prospect Yairo Munoz's big night at the plate powered the RockHounds to a 5-2 victory over Corpus Christi. Starting at third base in the contest, Munoz, 21, went 3-for-4 with a double to finish the series with a .438 average and five runs scored.

Cardinals No. 19 prospect Austin Gomber allowed one or zero earned runs for Double-A Springfield for a fifth straight start. The 22-year-old southpaw yielded one earned run on six hits and one walk with eight strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings, throwing 57 of his 85 pitches for strikes.

D-backs No. 20 prospect Victor Reyes picked a perfect time for his first-career five-hit game. The 21-year-old switch-hitter was a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate in Class A Advanced Visalia's win over Bakersfield in Game 1 of the California League division finals, also tallying two runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base.

Angels No. 30 prospect Jose Suarez hurled five innings of one-run ball for Rookie-level Orem, though it wasn't enough to keep the Owlz from falling to Ogden, 7-4, in Game 2 of the Pioneer League semifinals. The 18-year-old lefty -- making just his second start for Orem -- scattered three hits, walked two and struck out five.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.