Rome Braves slip past Greensboro Grasshoppers on Sunday afternoon, as the Mysterious Mr. Puckett gets win for Braves:A.J. Puckett adds to his “Puckett/Bucket List”

Final from First National Bank Field on Sunday afternoon:
Rome Braves 4, Greensboro Grasshoppers 1
WP:A.J. Puckett(2-0)
LP:Carmen Mlodzinski(0-1)
SV:Indigo Diaz(2)


Braves line: 4-7-1
Hoppers line:1-5-2

Time of Game/TOG-2:49

Just not the Greensboro Grasshoppers day on Sunday afternoon, as the Rome Braves slipped past the Hoppers, by the score of 4-1…Rome’s starting pitcher Tanner Gordon limited the Hoppers to one run, on five hits, with two walks and five strikeouts from Gordon…Fabricio Macias plated/scored the Hoppers only run of the day after he tripled, and he was driven by Jared Triolo’s RBI single…Macias with the Hoppers only run on Sunday…

Greensboro never really got it going, and you had the Macias triple, the RBI single from Triolo, plus singles from Matthew Frazier, Kyle Wilkie, who had his first hit of the season on Sunday, and Francisco Acuna also produced a base-hit single for the Grasshoppers…

The Hoppers were limited to the five hits and just one run by the Rome Braves pitching staff, with Braves starter Gordon going four and two-third innings on the hill for the Braves, and Gordon was just one batter away from getting a five-inning start, and staying in the game long enough from a starting role, to take a “W”….

After Gordon’s steady work early, the Braves turned to their bullpen with A.J. Puckett and Indigo Diaz taking over for Rome, and it was Mr. Puckett who got the win, and Diaz claimed the save for the Braves….

The hitting heroes for the Braves were Michael Harris II, who was 4-4 at the plate with a solo home run and three singles….Harris a perfect 4-4 and had one RBI, with his third HR of the season, and Harris’ RBI total jumped up to eight RBI on the season…The Braves’ Jesse Franklin was 2-4 at the plate, and he scored one run…Franklin had a double and a single for the Braves, plus he stole a base…Brett Langhorne went 1-2 with a solo HR, and he drew two walks for the Braves….Cody Milligan was 0-2 for Rome, but he had a SAC fly RBI, and he reached first base when he was hit by a pitch…The Milligan RBI was his eighth of the year…

It was a 4-1 Braves win, and the Hoppers will have Monday off, before they hit the road on Tuesday, on their way to Hickory, for a six-game road stand with the Crawdads….

But let’s get back to Sunday afternoon’s game and the mystery behind Mr. Puckett….We called the Braves’ right handed pitcher, and the winner of the game on Sunday, the mysterious Mr. Puckett…

Why so mysterious, you might ask….

Well for one thing, he has played in the Kansas City Royals organization, the Chicago White Sox organization and he now resides in the Atlanta Braves organization…Mr. Puckett worked for both the Wilmington Blue Rocks(Kansas City), and the Winston-Salem Dash(Chicago White Sox), in the same season/same league(Carolina League) back in 2017….Puckett was (9-7) for Wilmington, and he went (1-0) for the W-S Dash…Puckett was (10-7) overall in 2017, while playing at the High Class A level…

Now that was back in 2017, and let’s fast-forward to 2021….From the end of 2017, until this season of 2021, Mr. Puckett was mysteriously out of baseball….

Where was the Mysterious Mr. Puckett??? He has no stats and no location from the end of 2017, until the beginning of the 2021 season….

But, with a little digging and research, we were able to find his whereabouts, and fill in the blanks…

Here is a little of the backstory on Austin Joseph/A.J. Puckett from Wikipedia/….

Puckett attended De La Salle High School in Concord, California. He played baseball and American football for De La Salle, pitching for the baseball team and playing quarterback and safety in football. The Oakland Athletics selected Puckett in the 35th round of the 2013 MLB draft, but he did not sign with Oakland.

Puckett then enrolled at Pepperdine University and played college baseball for the Pepperdine Waves. In 2016, his junior year, Puckett pitched 45 2/3’s innings without allowing a run, the third-longest scoreless streak in NCAA Division I history. He finished his junior year with a 9–3 win-loss record, a 1.27 ERA, and 95 strikeouts to 26 walks in 99+1?3 innings. Puckett was named a First Team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association, Baseball America, and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. He was named a Second Team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

The Kansas City Royals selected Puckett in the second round, with the 67th overall selection, of the 2016 MLB draft. He signed with the Royals, receiving a $1.2 signing bonus. After signing, he was assigned to the AZL Royals, and after pitching to a 3.86 ERA in two games, he was promoted to the Lexington Legends(South Atlantic League/SALLY League) where he posted a 2–3 record and 3.66 ERA in 11 games. He began the 2017 season with the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

The Royals traded Puckett and Andre Davis to the Chicago White Sox for Melky Cabrera on July 30, 2017. The White Sox assigned him to the Winston-Salem Dash. In 25 total games started between Wilmington and Winston-Salem, Puckett posted a 10–7 record with a 3.98 ERA. He missed the entire 2018 season with elbow pain, and elected to undergo Tommy John surgery on March 13, 2019.

On December 10, 2020, the Atlanta Braves selected Puckett in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft…..

**********So, here we go with filling in those blanks…Mr. Puckett was missing from professional baseball from the end of the 2017 season, until the start of the 2021 season….And now we know the ‘Rest of the Story’, about where Mr. Puckett was, and what he was doing…

Elbow pain shut Puckett down for the entire 2018 season….He missed the 2019 season after he had Tommy John’s surgery…He missed the 2020 season, due-in-part to the pandemic/COVID-19 Crisis….Then at the very end of last year/2020, he got picked up by the Atlanta Braves, and that is how A.J./Austin Joseph Puckett ended up being (2-0), after working 11 innings, over three games for the Rome Braves this season…

The Mysterious Mr. Puckett has found his Puckett/Bucket List, and he just keeps on adding to it….
(A.J. Puckett is 26 years old.)

++++++++++Another interesting note on A.J./Austin Joseph Puckett from Wikipedia….++++++++++
Between his sophomore and junior years of high school, Puckett suffered a brain injury. Doctors put him in a medically induced coma for three days.

This concludes our Hoppers-Braves baseball report for this Sunday, and we will back announcing Hoppers’ baseball again, when the team gets back to First National Bank Field on Tuesday May 25, for a six-game home stand with the Wilmington, Delaware Blue Rocks…..