Rome won the Class A South Atlantic League title a year ago thanks to what was considered the most prospect-laden rotation in the Minors, but it could be argued that the best performance in the Championship Series didn't come from a Braves pitcher.
Philadelphia Phillies prospect Franklyn Kilome matched or surpassed the impressive work of Max Fried, Kolby Allard, Touki Toussaint and Mike Soroka in picking up the Lakewood BlueClaws' lone victory.
Taking full advantage of the breaking ball that had turned around his season, Kilome allowed just one hit over seven scoreless innings while striking out nine and walking two. He retired the first 12 batters.
"I think it had to be my best game," the 21-year-old native of the Dominican Republic said in looking back at that start last September. "My curveball, they couldn't hit it."
Kilome -- ranked as the Phillies' No. 5 prospect -- hasn't been quite as dominant so far this season after the move up to the Clearwater Threshers in the Class A Advanced Florida State League, but he has definitely stamped himself as a pitcher to watch. Signed for $40,000 by the Phillies as a rail-thin 17-year-old in 2013, Kilome's profile has risen along with his physical development.
"I've grown at least an inch and gained about 60 pounds," said Kilome, who is now nearly 6-foot-7 and weighs around 230 pounds.
The extra size has helped produce a fastball that regularly hits 98 mph. It was a revamping of his breaking ball that turned things around for Kilome early last season, though.
After allowing 17 runs over 9 2/3 innings last April with Lakewood, Kilome was shut down for a couple weeks while altering his curveball grip -- and the change was dramatic.
Kilome allowed as many as three runs only once the rest of the year, allowing just seven hits over 13 scoreless innings while striking out 15 and walking none in his final two regular-season starts to get his ERA down to 3.85.
"The way he turned it around was very impressive," said Shawn Williams, Kilome's manager at Lakewood last year and Clearwater this season. "Being able to cope with the bad times and working to get better is what you want to see."
Kilome, who struck out 130 in 114 1/3 innings last year, now has a curveball and a slider -- the difference in velocity is about 10 mph -- and both give hitters something to worry about in addition to the heater. His changeup is more a work in progress.
"I'm working on commanding my fastball better and getting ahead in the count," Kilome said. "That's what will help me, along with the changeup."
After three strong starts in April, Kilome went through a rough stretch before working seven scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory over the St. Lucie Mets at the end of May, allowing five hits and no walks. He needed just 77 pitches, 54 of them strikes.
Kilome was not as efficient Monday but just as effective as he allowed one hit over five scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Charlotte Stone Crabs. He walked five and struck out four, throwing 95 pitches.
The outing lowered Kilome's ERA to 2.70. He has a 3-2 record and 43 strikeouts to 17 walks in 46 2/3 innings over 10 starts.
Kilome has made adjustments on and off the field since signing with the Phillies. His progress in learning English is something he's rightfully proud off.
"My first year [in the United States], it was hard," he said. "I was very uncomfortable. I couldn't talk to people and I didn't know what they were saying. I knew I had to learn English fast."
In additions to attending classes offered by the Phillies, Kilome listened to music in English and asked for help from teammates.
"I told them to correct me when I said something wrong, so I could learn," he said. "I didn't want not knowing English to hold me back. I wanted to have no barriers on the field or away from it. You have to try no matter what if you want to learn something new."
Just like with his breaking ball, Kilome proved he was willing to put in the work to get better. Now he may be on the fast track toward Philadelphia.
New leader: Tampa right-hander Zack Littell improved to a Florida State League-best 7-1 record as he went the distance in a 9-1 victory over the Jupiter Hammerheads that was called after seven innings because of rain June 4. The Yankees' No. 20 prospect has a 1.94 ERA and 47 strikeouts to 13 walks in 60 1/3 innings, winning his past six starts and going seven innings in the last four. Littell, 21, was acquired from the Mariners in a winter trade after going 13-6 with a 2.66 ERA between two Class A levels last season.
Moving on up: Right-hander Zac Gallen, the Cardinals' No. 24 prospect, was promoted from Palm Beach to Double-A Springfield after allowing just three earned runs over 26 2/3 innings in his last four starts. He worked 8 2/3 innings in his final start after going eight innings two outings earlier. Gallen, 21, was 5-2 and ranked second in the Florida State in ERA (1.62) and WHIP (0.97) while striking out 56 and walking 10 in 55 2/3 innings. He was a third-round pick in the 2015 Draft out of the University of the North Carolina.
On the shelf: Fort Myers third baseman Chris Paul went on the disabled list shortly after taking over the FSL batting lead among qualified hitters with a .351 average. The 24-year-old batted .383 last month, getting a hit in 15 of his last 16 games before having to leave in the first inning against Bradenton on May 30. Paul, a sixth-round pick by Philadelphia in 2015 out of the University of California, had a .402 on-base percentage and .495 slugging mark in 49 games, collecting 20 extra-base hits and driving in 28 runs.
Playing catchup: St. Lucie first baseman Peter Alonso, the Mets' No. 9 prospect, homered in his first game after missing six weeks with a broken left wrist suffered in the sixth game of the season, but then went the next four games without a hit. He had hits in the three games after that but was batting .157 with two homers and five RBIs through 14 contests. Alonso, 22, was taken in the second round of the 2016 Draft out of the University of Florida and batted .301 with five homers over 30 games in the New York-Penn League last season.