Bats Weekly Podcast: Episode 3

BatsWeeklyLogo2014 580x259 Bats Weekly Podcast: Episode 3

In this edition of the Bats Weekly Podcast Robert Davidson and Ryan Ritchey discuss the International League Standings, Thunder Over Louisville, last weeks action, and upcoming opponents.

IL West Road Trip Preview

David Holmberg 11 580x452 IL West Road Trip Preview

Left-hander David Holmberg will get the start on Tuesday because of the Sunday rainout against Indianapolis. (Pat Pfister)

After a rainout Sunday afternoon against the Indianapolis Indians and an off day Monday, the Bats will begin a six-day road trip, in two different cities. Louisville will start their trip by traveling to IL West-leading Toledo and finish up by playing at Huntington Park in Columbus for the first time in 2015.

The Bats will face Toledo twice, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and Wednesday will be an education day, 10:30 a.m. first pitch. Left-hander David Holmberg will get the start on Tuesday because of the Sunday rainout against Indianapolis. Holmberg pitched against Toledo on Opening Night allowing five runs in four and one-third innings in a 13-0 Louisville loss. He will be looking for a different result this evening. A win tonight would be his first of the season.

Getting the ball for Toledo will be righty Buck Farmer. Getting the ball for Toledo will be righty Buck Farmer. Farmer dominated the Bats on Opening Night in Louisville, going 5.1 innings and allowing just two hits and one walk with eight strikeouts in the Mud Hens’ 13-0 win.

In the second game of the two-game series, the Bats will see another familiar face in southpaw Kyle Ryan for the Mud Hens. Ryan has pitched against the Bats once this season, pitching 4.2 innings and allowing three runs on four hits, walking three and striking out one. Toledo won that game 7-6 back on April 10. Starting for Louisville in the second game will be right-hander Dylan Axelrod.

Ivan De Jesus will enter the series for the Bats as the third leading hitter in the International League with a .452 average. He is currently on a nine-game hitting streak and 14 game on-base streak dating back to last season. Toledo’s Jefry Marte – IL Batter of the Week (4/13) – leads the league in RBI with 12 and has led the charge on offense for the Mud Hens. Louisville has had great pitching but they will have their hands full at Fifth Third Field with Toledo’s offense that ranks third in the league in average, first in doubles and third in slugging percentage.

After their trip to Toledo, the Bats will move onto Columbus for four straight games. The Clippers enter Tuesday a half-game behind the Bats in the IL West. Columbus was the division winner in 2014 and has the second-best record in the International League. If you were unaware of Columbus’ history in the International League let me inform you; they have nine IL championships. Only team that has more is Rochester with 10 championships, Louisville stands with one IL championship.

The game schedule in Columbus is as follows, Thursday April, 23rd 6:35 p.m. start, Friday April 24th 7:15 p.m. start, Saturday April 25th 7:15 p.m. start, and Sunday April 26th 1:05 p.m. start. The Bats will start Michael Lorenzen, Raisel Iglesias, Holmberg and Jon Moscot. The Clippers will counter with Shaun Marcum, Toru Murata, lefty Michael Roth and lefty Bruce Chen.

It hasn’t matter who Columbus hands the ball to so far this season as they lead the IL with just 17 runs allowed in 77+ innings. Their 1.85 ERA is best in the league and their four shutouts are also tops on the circuit.

As far as the offense goes, it isn’t as shiny as the pitching. They have had trouble scoring runs, just 22, which is worst in the league. Their .168 average is also last in the IL, but Louisville is right above them at 13th with a .217 clip. So if you are looking for a bunch of runs, this is not the series for you. On the other hand if you like a good old fashioned pitchers duel get on out to Huntington Park in Columbus and watch two great pitching staffs battle it out.

What have we seen so far?

Michael Lorenzen 2 580x326 What have we seen so far?

via Pat Pfister – pfoto.com

The first eight games of the season are now behind us and after dropping the first two at home to Toledo, the Bats have battled back and won four of the last six. A 4-4 record isn’t a dream start, but we have seen pretty good performances from a couple of players.

Keep in mind, the sample sizes used in this piece are too small to make long term predictions for this team, but they are always fun to play around with and look at. Let’s be honest, baseball fans love numbers and we have numbers so let’s analyze them a bit.

The pitching has been fantastic so far, with the exception of the opening night game. The pitching staff has allowed 28 runs this season, but take out the Opening Night game, where 13 runs were scored, and the Bats have the second least amount of runs allowed. Division rival Columbus has allowed the least amount of runs with just five through the first seven games.

Having already made two starts is right-hander and second best pitching prospect Michael Lorenzen. Lorenzen pitched another gem last night in Indianapolis throwing six innings, allowing one run on six hits, walking one and striking out two. He has no thrown a combined 13 innings, allowing nine hits, one earned run, walking three and striking out five. The one earned run was a home run off the bat of Deibinson Romero in Indy.

Right-hander Jon Moscot matched Lorenzen in his first start of the season going five and two-thirds, allowing three hits, two walks and striking out six. Moscot had his off-speed pitches working and his command with his fastball was excellent.

The bullpen has done a tremendous job as well finishing games. The eighth inning has been a troublesome inning but they have been able to work out of the jams without any damage, so you can’t complain. Besides, who doesn’t like a little drama late in a ballgame every now and then? Over the last four games the bullpen hasn’t allowed a run in seven and one-third innings.

Right-hander Nate Adcock has saved two games this season matching his career-high total from last season in Round Rock. He has looked really good, commanding his fastball well and closing out games when the Bats need a big performance out of him.

For the offense, infielder Ivan De Jesus has started out on fire leading the league in hitting with a .478 average, getting 11 hits in 23 at-bats so far this season. He is riding a seven game hitting streak to begin the season and a 13-game on-base streak that dates back to last season. He is almost half way to his season long from last season where he reached base in 27 straight for the Norfolk Tides, the third longest in the International League. Getting to that .478 average he has multi-hit games in four of the seven games he’s played in this season.

Even with De Jesus hitting the way he has it hasn’t really translated into the entire offense. As a team the Bats are hitting .214, the second worst in the league, just in front of Columbus. Outfielder/Infielder Donald Lutz has struggled out of the gate offensively, hitting .087 (2-for-23). Manager Delino DeShields has put Lutz in four different spots in the order trying to get him going, but nothing has worked just yet. April is usually a tough hitting month for most do to the weather being a bit shaky and getting back into regular season baseball again, so expect a turnaround when the calendar flips to May.

So, through a little over a week of games, we have seen all three division teams and the Bats seem to matchup nicely with all three. The pitching has been outstanding, both the starters and the bullpen and the offense will start hitting before long. This is a team with a good mix of young talent and veterans and so far they have shown that they can win games against all three division opponents.

Bats Weekly Podcast: Episode 2

BatsWeeklyLogo2014 580x259 Bats Weekly Podcast: Episode 2

Robert Davidson & Ryan Ritchey are back with the second episode of the Bats Weekly Podcast! This week they discuss the opening home stand, the series with Indianapolis and the upcoming Thunder Over Louisville weekend at LSF.

The Bats Weekly Podcast is back!

BatsWeeklyLogo2014 580x259 The Bats Weekly Podcast is back!

With first pitch of the Louisville Bats 2015 campaign just hours away, Ryan Ritchey and Robert Davidson talk about their season expectations, the Louisville Bats roster, series previews with TOL & COL and interview new Louisville Bats manager Delino DeShields.

Click play to listen to the season premier of the Bats Weekly Podcast! Be patient, audio starts at eight seconds.

Opening home stand preview

Opening Homestand  Opening home stand preview

The Louisville Bats will begin their season on Thursday, April 9 at Louisville Slugger Field against the Toledo Mud Hens, the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. This will be the third straight season in which the Bats and Mud Hens have opened the season versus one another with the Bats winning the past two. Last season at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, Louisville pitcher Jeff Francis threw six shutout innings to lead the Bats to a 3-1 win. Francis earned IL Pitcher of the Week honors for his performance.

The Mud Hens finished one game ahead of the Bats last season, but both were under .500. The Bats seem to have what looks like a very talented group by players announced already and the predictions I am making for the Opening Day roster for new manager Delino DeShields to shuffle around. DeShields will manage his first game at Triple-A on April 9 after spending six seasons throughout the Reds system.

DeShields’ starting rotation could go in a couple of different directions, but should end up with Josh Smith, David Holmberg, Dylan Axelrod, Michael Lorenzen and Jon Moscot. If you ask me that is a group of five that can get through a lot of innings and give the Bats a chance to win on a nightly basis.

As for the position players, Yorman Rodriguez will make his Triple-A debut during the opening homestand, most likely. You, the fan, can also look forward to seeing another season of Tucker Barnhart behind the plate calling games. It has been said that pitchers love throwing to him and as we saw last season he calls a pretty good game behind the plate. Also, Donald Lutz will begin the season with the Bats after spending most of last season in Louisville. There is a lot to be excited about heading into the opening homestand.

Going off of the 2015 IL Preview that was sent out earlier this week, the Mud Hens look to have three players back into their projected starting lineup that started for Toledo on Opening Day in 2014, (First baseman Jordan Lennerton, center fielder Daniel Fields and DH Mike Hessman).

Again, taking a look at the IL Preview and the Mud Hens projected lineup, you the fan have a chance to see three of the Tigers top 10 prospects according to Baseball America. Dixon Machado, the projected shortstop, is the tenth best prospect for the Tigers who was signed back in 2008 out of Venezuela. He played in 90 games at Double-A in 2014 hitting .305 with 23 doubles and stealing eight bases. He stole 23 bags in 2012 with High-A Lakeland, but the eight last season was the highest since.

We jump way up to the second spot in the top ten for the next best prospect projected to be with Toledo. The second best prospect is right-handed pitcher Buck Farmer. Farmer spent time at four different levels last season including making his major league debut. He spent the majority of the season at Low-A West Michigan, pitching in 18 games, all starts, striking out 116 batters in 104 innings. At the Triple-A level in 2014 Farmer pitched two games, one of them against the Louisville Bats. This start came on August 28 in Louisville as he pitched seven innings, allowed one run on six hits, struck out two and walked one.

The top prospect for the Detroit Tigers and projected to be in the Mud Hens lineup is outfielder Steven Moya. Moya signed with the Tigers back in 2008 out of the Dominican Republic. Baseball America has Moya as a 70 power grade after hitting 35 home runs and 33 doubles in his first season at Double-A Erie last season. He played over 100 games for the first time in his career after a separated shoulder cut his 2013 season short. He is a big swing and miss batter striking out 161 times last season. Look for him this season and hopefully on Opening Night at Louisville Slugger Field.

Once the Bats and Mud Hens complete a four-game series, Columbus will come to town for their first two games against Louisville in 2015. Columbus won 13 of the 20 meetings in 2014 on their way to a West Division Championship. The Clippers project to have another stellar lineup, led by the Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor. Lindor sits atop the Indians prospect list for the second consecutive season and projects to be the Indians short stop by the end of this season, at the latest next season.

Baseball America tabs Lindor as the Indians best average hitter and defensive infielder among their prospects. We saw it a couple of times last season with Lindor making some beautiful plays at the short stop position. He has a great mix of speed and arm strength, which makes it hard to get anything by him on the ground.

Joining Lindor in Columbus will be third base prospect Giovanny Urshela and outfield prospect James Ramsey. Urshela is the 11th best prospect by Baseball America in the Indians system. If the Indians should need help at third base, Urshela should get the first crack at the job. He hit .276 with 13 homers, 27 doubles and six triples last season for Columbus. He is a high contact hitter only striking out 51 times, while walking 30 times. He likes to put the ball in play and has seen some success because of it.

Ramsey is the 12th prospect in the Indians chain after coming over from the Cardinals system during last season. He did most of his damage in Memphis last season hitting an even .300 in 67 games with 13 homers. Baseball America expects him to split time in centerfield this season for Columbus.

Those are the players you should be looking for when coming to the ballpark during the first homestand of the season (April 9-14). We hope to see you out at Louisville Slugger Field for the opening of it’s 16th season in downtown Louisville!

Bats Brain Buster Quiz Answers

 

Bailey Homer 580x873 Bats Brain Buster Quiz Answers

Homer Bailey in 2009 via Pat Pfister

If you completed the Bats Brain Buster Quiz, we really appreciate you taking the time to do so! I am sure you are wondering how many you answered correctly, so without further ado, here are the answers.

1. Who is the last Louisville Bats player to have 20 home runs and 20 doubles in the same season?

Mike Hessman - He recorded 25 home runs and 32 doubles in the 2013 season playing in 121 games for the Bats.

2. Who recorded the first Louisville stolen base at Louisville Slugger Field?

“Neon” Deion Sanders - Sanders stole a base in the first inning of the second game played at Louisville Slugger Field. In the top of the first Norfolk’s Jason Tyner stole a base keeping Sanders from being the first player to steal a base at LSF.

3. Who leads the Louisville franchise in games played?

Corky Miller - The Louisville legend Corky Miller claimed the record of most games played during the 2014 season with 548. His #8 was retired on August 31, 2014, becoming the first number to be retired by the Louisville franchise.

4. Who holds the Louisville franchise record for highest batting average since 1982?

Norris Hopper - Norris Hopper hit .347 during the 2006 season putting him atop the list just beating out Raul Gonzalez’ (2002) .333 average.

5. Who is the most recent Louisville pitcher to strike out 15 batters in one game?

Homer Bailey - Homer Bailey struck out 15 Toledo Mud Hens on 4/26/09 at Fifth Third Field.

6. Who is the current Louisville Bats pitching coach?

Ted Power - Power is entering his 10th season as the Bats pitching coach. He took over his current position in May 2006.

7. Who is the last Bats player to win Minor League Player of the Year?

Jay Bruce - Jay won the award in the 2007 season.

8. Who is the last Bats player to hit for the cycle?

Chris Dickerson - Dickerson hit for the cycle on July 26, 2007 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

9. Who is the lead radio announcer for the Louisville Bats?

Matt Andrews - Matt took over as the lead radio announcer in 2010, after having been the No. 2 radio announcer since he joined the Louisville Bats in 2003. His No. 2 is Nick Curran who will be beginning his third season.

10. What team did the Louisville franchise play in the first game at Louisville Slugger Field?

Norfolk - Louisville played Norfolk to open up LSF on April 12, 2000 with Norfolk winning the game, 8-5.

Reds finalize 25-Man roster as Opening Day approaches

Sam LeCure 580x824 Reds finalize 25 Man roster as Opening Day approaches

Sam LeCure

The Cincinnati Reds will be taking the field in four days on April 6 against division foe Pittsburgh and the game will count towards their end of season record, finally. With that approaching Bryan Price and the Reds had to cut the roster down to 25 players. The final cuts were announced earlier on Thursday, with one move shockingly being made.

Right-handed reliever Sam LeCure was released, cleared waivers and was sent outright to Louisville. Bryan Price was not happy about having to make the move, as he said,

œThe LeCure thing, I never could have seen that coming when we began Spring Training, Price said. I think it breaks all of our hearts that he’s not on this ball club right now. We anticipate him being back. I think we feel he’€™s not at his best where he needs to be to help us right now. We’€™ve got to get him back there. He should be a big part of our team this season. We’€™re all just a wreck about him not being with us at this point in time. I’€™m very confident that he will be back with us.

LeCure is owed $1.85 million and by being on the Bats he is able to keep that money instead of testing the free-agent market. As you read above, Price expects LeCure to be back on the Reds roster at some point this season. The main issue for LeCure wasn’t his velocity being down but in Price’s words “his fastball command.” “He’€™s a fastball pitcher with a lot of good accessory pitches -€“curveball, slider and changeup. His bread and butter we’ve seen over the last five years is being able to locate that fastball with that off the body comebacker on lefties and freeze down and away on the right-handers.”

LeCure hasn’t pitched in the minor leagues since 2011 on rehab where he pitched four games for the Bats, allowing one run in six and two-thirds innings. The last time he pitched full time at the minor league level, he was a starter for the Bats in 2010.

Also part of the cuts was Michael Lorenzen, as he was sent to minor league camp and will end up in Louisville as well. He spent last season in Pensacola making 24 starts with a 3.13 ERA. Lorenzen was in the discussion for a possible major league bullpen role during camp.

Both of these moves cleared space for a couple of players to make the major league roster. Veterans Jason Marquis, Kevin Gregg and Brennan Boesch all made the Opening Day roster. Joining them will be infielder/outfielder Chris Dominguez. It will be the first time the former University of Louisville Cardinal, Dominguez has made an Opening Day roster after making his major league debut last September with the San Francisco Giants against the Colorado Rockies.

Brennan Boesch is coming off a batting title in the Pacific Coast League where he hit .332 for the Salt Lake Bees, the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He wasn’t just a batting average player for them as he hit 25 home runs and 25 doubles on his way to a 2014 All-Pacific Coast League spot as the designated hitter. He also played 27 games for the Angels hitting .187 with two doubles and two home runs.

Jason Marquis is a veteran that will begin his 15th major league season when he takes the mound for the Reds this April. He last pitched for a major league team in 2013 for the San Diego Padres making 20 starts. He finished 9-5 with a 4.05 earned run average. He spent last season in the Philadelphia Phillies organization making eight starts for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Triple-A club.

Finally, the last veteran to make the club is Kevin Gregg. He will begin his 13th major league season in 2015, having last pitched for the Miami Marlins in 2014, making 12 appearances. The Reds will be his sixth different big league team that he has played for.

All of these moves leave the roster at 28. The final three names are Homer Bailey, Jason Bourgeois and Sean Marshall and they will begin the season on the Disabled List, leaving 25. Below is who is left in camp, so you can see the Opening Day roster for the Reds in 2015.

Reds Roster 580x459 Reds finalize 25 Man roster as Opening Day approaches

via Reds Twitter account

Felix Perez released by Cincinnati Reds

Perez 580x385 Felix Perez released by Cincinnati Reds

via Pat Pfister

News broke on Tuesday afternoon that the Cincinnati Reds had released four-year Louisville Bats outfielder, Felix Perez. Perez has been apart of the Reds organization since he signed as a non-drafted free agent on May 15, 2010.

His first full season in professional baseball was in 2011, when he played at two different levels, in Carolina and Louisville. All but nine games that season came at Double-A Carolina where he hit .257 with four home runs, 16 doubles and drove in 32 runs. He was promoted to Louisville for nine games to end the season.

In 2012 Perez was a full-time player for the Bats in the outfield and hit a career-high .301. He upped his doubles total to 25 and RBI total to 35. He played a solid season in 2013 setting then career-high’s in multiple offensive categories setting him up for another career year in 2014.

Perez indeed did have another career year last season, finishing the season with a career-high in home runs (12), RBI (74), hits (129), doubles (36) and runs (62). His 74 RBI were the most recored in a single season since infielder Danny Dorn also recorded 74 in 2011. The 36 doubles, which were the third most in the International League, were the most since C Devin Mesoraco also had 36 in 2011.

He was second on the team with 34 multi-hit games, six of which were three-hit games, and third on the team in runs and hits. He is sixth in franchise history in hits (375), only 96 away from the record holder Aaron Holbert. He was also 14 doubles shy of tying Corky Miller’s franchise record of 99.

Perez or better known by his walkup song Chacarron, will be missed in Louisville, but we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors in baseball!

If you ever miss hearing his walk-up song, just come back to this post and listen to it over and over again!

 

Neftali Soto traded to White Sox

Neftali Soto Blog 580x385 Neftali Soto traded to White Sox

CREDIT: PAT PFISTER

News broke Monday afternoon that the Cincinnati Reds have traded Neftali Soto to the Chicago White Sox after eight years with the organization. Soto played most of those eight seasons in the minor leagues including the last three with the Louisville Bats. The return on Soto is cash.

Soto was a key player for the Bats last season hitting .302 with 23 doubles. For an offense that really struggled to score runs, Soto was the shining moment in the lineup, when in it. He will move on to the White Sox, hopefully for a major league roster spot and if not, you can possibly catch him at Louisville Slugger Field when Charlotte comes to town from July 27-30.

This move leaves an open spot in the Bats infield to begin the season. Soto played first base much of last year, so replacing him will be tough. A couple of options come to mind, infielder Chris Dominguez, utility player Brennan Boesch, and infielder Josh Satin. Depending on who makes the Opening Day roster the Bats could have a solid corner infielder in either of those options.

Soto ends his Reds career, as of now, with a .274 minor league average, 107 home runs, and 439 RBI. His major league career never got going as he played in 34 games and recorded 44 plate appearances.