Friday Favorites: Chris Nelson

Chris Nelson 2 by Pat Pfister 34llo90k 2ha5f07z 580x326 Friday Favorites: Chris Nelson

Ben Tompkins was joined by Chris Nelson in this week’s edition of Friday Favorites. (c. Patrick L. Pfister/pfoto.com)

Louisville, it’s Friday – Time for another edition of Friday Favorites. You know me, if you don’t, you can get to know me @bennytomp18 on Twitter. This week I was joined by Chris Nelson, Bats third baseman and cleanup hitter, and we had some fun choppin’ it up on the mic.

I highly encourage you listen to the interview here on SoundCloud to fully capture the light-hearted, laid back atmosphere that these are conducted in, but if you’d rather read the interview, for your convenience I’ve transcribed it for you below. If you’ve missed the last few Friday Favorites I’ve done with Fellhauer, Rogers, or Bourgeois, be sure to check them out.

Ben Tompkins (BT): I normally open up with story time; you’ve been playing professional baseball since ’04 so I’m sure through traveling with the teams and going out at night you’ve collected some funny stories – What’s your favorite?

Chris Nelson (CN): My favorite road story would have to be my first year playing baseball; we were in Casper, Wyoming. So we get on a bus ride and we have a thing that you don’t poop on the bus because that’s just something you don’t do. So we’ve got a Latin guy and he went to the back of the bus and I don’t know what happened, but when he came out, it was one of those things where it was a horrible smell and he was going, “Hey man, me no poo-poo on the bus! Me no poo-poo on the bus!” But it was one of those things that, you know, it smelled for like nine or ten hours but it was pretty hilarious.

BT: Who is your favorite athlete and why?

CN: Miguel Tejada, he was my favorite baseball player growing up as a kid, he works hard and he’s just one of those guys you want to mimic when you’re coming up.

BT: Who is your favorite rapper in the game?

CN: I would have to go with T.I., he’s one of my favorites. I like Chief Keef, you know, Young Jeezy of course, all my people from Atlanta. Then some up and coming guys, my man Runway Richie, one of my homeboys who’s uhh..

BT: On the come-up?

CN: On the come-up, yeah, he’s on his way.

BT: Okay so you’re in a bar – First of all are you married?

CN: Yes I am.

BT: Okay so pre-marriage, Chris Nelson is out at the bar, you see a cute little thing walk by, what are you opening up with?

CN: *Smiling* What’s up? What’s happening?

BT: What’s your pickup line?

CN: That’s it! You know, once I get to talking man, it just flows.

BT: But those days are behind us?

CN: Oh yeah way behind us, way behind us *laughing*

BT: What’s your favorite place to eat that you can’t in Kentucky?

CN: Ohh, Mo’ Better Chicken.

BT: Mo’ Better Chicken?

CN: Yeah, it’s a spot that’s close to where I live, it’s called Mo’ Better Chicken.

BT: And it’s fire?

CN: Oh my gosh, it’s the best chicken I’ve had in a long time.

BT: If you weren’t playing baseball, what would you want to be doing?

CN: Uhmm.. I’d probably want to be uhh.. I don’t even know.

BT: You don’t know?

CN: No, no clue.

BT: Just, nothing?

CN: Nothing. Drink coffee, all day *laughing* be a coffee drinker.

BT: *laughing* Alright, what kind of coffee?

CN: Something macchiato, four shots of espresso, little milk, some soy.

BT: Dude, four shots of espresso? That’s a ton!

CN: Ahh nah, it’s perfect.

BT: *laughing* You just get jacked up off coffee?

CN: Jacked up all day, it never stops.

BT: What’s the one thing that you’ve always wanted to do, but you’ve never wanted anybody to find out about – If you could do that one thing, what would it be?

CN: I would probably want to be in a rock band or something. Like a drummer but I wouldn’t want anybody to know it.

BT: What would be your drummer name?

CN: Drumdies.

BT: *laughing* Drumdies?

CN: *laughing* Yeah, Drumdies, for sure.

BT: Alright – Johnny Manziel, Gronk, Charlie Sheen – Who would you want to be for a week?

CN: Charlie Sheen for sure! *laughing* 100 percent Charlie Sheen.

BT: *laughing* Why?

CN: *laughing* I mean…

BT: *laughing* We’ll keep it off of this?

CN: *busts out laughing* Charlie Sheen for sure! I mean the man does TV shows, he’s in commercials…

BT: Everything else.. Stuff..

CN: *laughing* Everything else! Why not? Charlie Sheen, for sure.

BT: In the Bats clubhouse right now, who would you be most scared to get in a fight with?

CN: Myself! I ain’t scared of nobody else.

BT: Who would be your easiest competition?

CN: Jumbo [Diaz].

BT: Really?

CN: Jumbo and Big Russ.

BT: Dude, Jumbo is big though.

CN: So? They’re the biggest ones, that’s who you’ve got to go after first! You have to go after the big ones first.

BT: Not the size of the dog in the fight right?

CN: Exactly! You gotta go after the big boys, man!

BT: Who is the funniest guy to be in the clubhouse with if you’re just kicking it?

CN: Uhm, I would have to go Jumbo probably.

BT: He’s a funny dude?

CN: Yeah, Jumbo is funny. Especially playing cards – We play a game called the big two and he’s hilarious when we play. He thinks he’s the best but he’s not the best.

BT: Who is the best?

CN: Me, of course.

BT: Oh okay. I should have known, I shouldn’t have even had to ask that question.

CN: What was the question for?

BT: I have no idea, you know what? That’s on me. *Smiling* Do better right?

CN: *Laughing* Do better.

BT: And lastly, what is your favorite quote or piece of advice that someone passed down to you, a mantra that sticks with you to this day?

CN: Respect everything, be in awe of nothing.

BT: What’s that mean?

CN: You know, you go out there and you might face Derek Jeter one day, and you’re like “Oh wow, that’s Derek Jeter,” you know, you respect that he’s Derek Jeter, but don’t sit there and be in awe and let the moment entrap you.

Louisville I’ll be back next week, like I said last week if there’s a player or somebody that you want to see one of these done with, let me know, Tweet me @bennytomp18. From the heart of beautiful downtown Louisville and Louisville Slugger Field, I’m Ben Tompkins, stick to the script baby.

Ben Tompkins is a media relations intern for the Louisville Bats. You can follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18 and on Instagram @bennythekid01.

Everything you need to know about Lehigh Valley

IronPigs 580x451 Everything you need to know about Lehigh Valley

Good afternoon from Louisville Slugger Field. The Bats aren’t here this week, which means it must be time for a long-awaited new edition of “Everything you need to know”. After a long break of home games and a road trip to Columbus (already covered here), we turn our attention back to the International League’s North Division and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

In the first two games of a four-game set in Allentown, the Bats are 2-0 and will look to secure a series victory tonight as Tim Crabbe toes the rubber for Louisville against the ‘Pigs’ Barry Enright. It’s a good start to an eight-game road trip that will include a trip to Pawtucket starting on Saturday. For now, though, let’s focus on what’s going on in Eastern Pennsylvania. Here’s everything you need to know about the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Allentown, PA.

Before we get the baseball, it should be noted that the folks at Lehigh Valley did a phenomenal job capitalizing on the bacon fad with some tweaks to their branding and uniforms. Click here for more. OK, now we can talk about baseball.

The Veterans

RHP B.J. Rosenberg kicks off our look at the IronPigs’ roster for a couple of reasons. First, he qualifies as a veteran as this is his third year spending time with Lehigh Valley. Second, Rosenberg is a former University of Louisville Cardinal and a former Bats intern. Rosenberg is a Major League veteran of parts of three seasons, holding a 4-2 record and a 5.65 ERA in 52 career big league games. This season, the Meade County High School alum is 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA with Lehigh Valley.

A name that should be familiar to National League baseball fans is SS Ronny Cedeno, who has over eight years of official MLB service time. He’s spent Major League time with the Cubs, Mariners, Pirates, Mets, Astros and Padres and has played in a total of 868 major league games. He’s a career .246 hitter at the big league level and is currently hitting .286 for the ‘Pigs.

OF Darin Ruf will round out our look at the veteran presence in Lehigh Valley. He’s spent parts of the last three seasons with the IronPigs’ parent club, the Philadelphia Phillies, hitting .252 with 18 homers and 41 RBI in 92 career Major League games. Ruf has only played in ten games with the IronPigs this season, so don’t read too far into his .265 average that only includes one homer and a pair of RBIs.

The Prospects

Atop the Philadelphia Phillies’ prospect mountain stands third baseman Maikel Franco, who also happens to be the 17th-best prospect in baseball. Franco has struggled through the first 55 games of his 2014 campaign, as this is his first season at the Triple-A level. He’s hitting .223 with a homer and 22 RBIs, but should snap out of it soon. Franco was a .320 hitter with 31 home runs and 103 RBIs between Double-A Reading and A-Advanced Clearwater last season, earning him All-Star honors in the Florida State League and a Futures Game selection. He’s the only top-ten Phillies prospect currently on the Lehigh Valley roster.

The Ballpark

Name: Coca-Cola Park

Opened: 2008

Capacity: 10,000

Dimensions:  LF – 336′, CF – 400′, RF – 325′

Ballpark fact: The men’s restrooms at the ballpark feature the first-ever urinal video gaming systems, which garnered national attention from Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. 

Best Promotion while Bats are in town: The Phillie Phanatic is making an appearance at Coca-Cola Park tonight. No matter what you think of the Phillies, you can’t not get a kick out of Mr. Phanatic.

The City

Allentown, PA is the third-most populous city in the state behind Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and is located in Lehigh County (now it’s all starting to make sense). The city has a manufacturing-based economy and is home to the world headquarters of PPL and Air Products and Chemicals.  It’s also the subject of Billy Joel’s hit, “Allentown”.   Aside from the IronPigs, Allentown is also home to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, an AHL hockey team that is set to begin play in a brand new arena, the PPL Center, later this year. Famous people from Allentown include Lee Iacocca, actress Amanda Seyfried and retired NFL players Andre Reed and Ed McCaffrey.

We’ll be back next Monday with more when the Bats continue their tour of the IL North in Pawtucket against the Red Sox. Enjoy the weekend, and if you need some live baseball in your life, head to Jim Patterson Stadium to cheer on the Louisville Cardinals in their Super Regional.

* All stats are accurate heading into play on June 5. All prospect rankings are according to MLB.com. Prospect rankings according to Baseball America unless noted otherwise.

The Bats Weekly Podcast: June 3

Bats Weekly Podcasts logo 580x290 The Bats Weekly Podcast: June 3

After 10 home games in the last 12 days, Chris and George are back to bring you all of the relevant information surrounding the Louisville Bats Baseball Club. They recap the previous home stand, talk Mat Latos rehabbing and take a look at what lies ahead. Chris also sits down to chat with Kristopher Negron, a.k.a Spiderman. (Recorded Tuesday, June 3)

Friday Favorites: Jason Bourgeois

Jason Bourgeois 4 by Pat Pfister jr9753ym yk8f408f 580x326 Friday Favorites: Jason Bourgeois

Ben Tompkins was joined by Jason Bourgeois in this week’s edition of #FridayFavorites. (Pat Pfister/pfoto.com)

Louisville, it’s Friday, you know what that means – I’m back with another edition of #FridayFavorites. Joining me this week is Louisville Bats outfielder Jason Bourgeois, a first-year guy with the team but a seasoned veteran amongst the ranks. Farmer Bourg and I had a lot of fun choppin’ it up, so we hope you’ll get a few laughs out and crack a smile as you listen or read along.

So you know how this goes, you can either listen to the segment here on SoundCloud, or because I’m a man of the people and always thinking about our fans first, I’ve transcribed the interview below for your convenience.

If you like this week’s edition and maybe you’ve missed the last two #FridayFavorites with Josh Fellhauer and Chad Rogers, be sure to give them a read or listen. And if you have a player that you want to see one of these done with, hit me on Twitter @bennytomp18.

Ben Tompkins (BT):  So I like to always start with story time, you’ve been in the game for a while so I’m sure you’ve had some fun times going out with teammates and friends – What’s your favorite story going out with the crew?

Jason Bourgeois (JB): I would have to say winning the A-ball championship in the Florida State league. It was in Lakeland, Fla., we battled tough, and we just absolutely destroyed the clubhouse. Chairs, tables – It was like a rock band came through there and it was pretty hilarious but we had to pay a fine. *Laughing* They took it out of the last check they were going to send home to us.

BT: How much did they make you pay if you don’t mind my asking?

JB: It was like $25 each person, but when you think about 25 guys, that’s quite a bit of damage.

BT: What were you all poppin’ in there, what was going around?

JB: Bottles, chairs, champagne, and then once we drank that we switched to beers. I mean, it was a lot of fun and after a long season to do that, we kind of took it overboard, though.

BT: What’s your favorite song to play if you’re going out; you’re getting crunk – What’s bumpin’ on the playlist?

JB: Right now?

BT: Right now or it could just be an all-time favorite.

JB: Probably Swagger Like Mine by T.I.

BT: That’s a throwback.

JB:  Yeah man, but that song, it doesn’t matter what type of mood I’m in, I’m always looking to put on my button up and look good and go out.

BT: Looking good, feeling good?

JB: You got it *laughing*

BT: What’s your favorite city you’ve ever played in?

JB: Chicago. Chicago in the summertime man it’s just crowded enough, great places to eat, the weather is nice, there’s a buzz there in both ballparks, but Chicago is definitely my favorite.

BT: Good city, good women, good shopping, right?

JB: Oh no doubt, no doubt.

BT: What’s your favorite spot to hit in Louisville if you’re going out?

JB: Actually for me, Wild Eggs. I pretty much go there every day. It’s cool, it’s nice, the people there are awesome – they probably know my name by now.

BT: What’s your favorite decade of rap?

JB: Oh man, probably the late ‘90s early ‘00s; that’s when I started understanding it a little better. I graduated high school in 2000 and that’s when Jay-Z started to come into form, Cash Money started to come up, Snoop was at an all-time high, so I was just getting a little bit of everything.

BT: What’s your favorite pair of shoes you’re rocking right now?

JB: Right now it would have to be these Kobe’s, and I’m not a Kobe fan let me say that, but his shoes are very comfortable.

BT: They come with a disclaimer, you don’t like Kobe?

JB: Ahh, I have to say that because I’m Houston Rockets all day, every day.

BT: Okay – Godfather, Scarface, American Gangster – Which one are you watching?

JB: American Gangster, Denzel hands down.

BT: You like Frank?

JB: Frank Lucas baby, the truth.

BT: Alright – You own a farm, you’ve got animals, you’ve got pigs and cows – What’s your farmer name?

JB: Hahaha, farmer name… Golly. Farmer Bourg I guess, Farmer Bourg.

BT: *laughing* Alrighty, Farmer Bourg. If you didn’t play baseball, what would you be playing?

JB: Probably tennis.

BT: And last question, this is how I like to end these; it’s kind of a way for inadvertently me to gain advice from some of these guys you know, you’ve traveled and you’ve seen a lot of things so you’ve got a pretty good perspective. What’s your favorite piece of advice or a mantra that someone passed along to you that sticks with you to this day?

JB: Man, there’s so many – Probably keep on pushing. The game of baseball is steady, more downs than ups. It’s the only sport that hitting 30 percent of the time is a good average. No other sport is like that so you’re constantly failing to succeed and you’ve just got to keep going, strap it up and keep on pushing.

BT: Well Jason, I appreciate you sitting down, I think this went pretty well.

JB: Yeah it did man, I had a great time, I really appreciate this.

BT: Well good, continued success in all you do brother.

Louisville, I’ll be back next week. Like I said, if you’ve got a player you want to see one of these done with just let me know – Tweet me @bennytomp18 or @louisvillebats. From the heart of beautiful downtown Louisville and Louisville Slugger Field, I’m Ben Tompkins. I’ll talk to you next week.

Ben Tompkins is a media relations intern for the Louisville Bats. You can follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18 and on Instagram @bennythekid01.

Friday Favorites: Chad Rogers

Chad Rogers 1 gl2cid1z 10krnqar Friday Favorites: Chad Rogers

Chad Rogers joined Ben Tompkins in this week’s edition of Friday Favorites. (MiLB.com)

What’s going on, Louisville? It’s time for another edition of Friday Favorites. I’m Ben Tompkins (@bennytomp18) and today I was joined by Chad Rogers (@sharkrogers), a pitcher and younger guy on the come-up. He’s been grinding for the Bats this season and for the Reds organization for the last three, so when I heard he had a pretty good sense of humor, I figured he’d be a good fit for the Friday Favorites schedule.

This is only the second Friday Favorites of the year and there’s many more to come, but if you missed the last one I did with Josh Fellhauer, you might not be familiar with the layout. Basically I grab a player every Friday and ask a handful of questions that are aimed at putting a smile on your face. We cover everything from favorite stories to music to late night meals and the goal is to give you insights on the players that let you get to know these guys a little better.

You can either listen to the Friday Favs session here on Soundcloud or read the transcription below; the choice is yours.

Ben Tompkins: Normally I like to open up with story time, so over the past few years traveling on the road with the team I’m sure there’s been a few nights to remember, what’s your favorite road story? 

Chad Rogers: We had one that was pretty good with our pitcher Josh Smith, he had been pitching really well and he was kinda up on his high horse and so we took him out for his birthday one night. Our bartender that night, she was a pretty good looking chick and when he got up to use the restroom, a few teammates and I paid for a shot and wrote my number down because he didn’t have my number, and we had the bartender give it to him when he got back. So she gives him my number with the shot and she’s like, “hey cutie, here’s my number” you know, and he just got super big headed and was full swagger, saying to us “you guys see that, I got her, I got her.” We ended up messing with him and I was actually sitting next to him at the bar texting him back and forth and it was pretty hard not to laugh, we ended up telling him the next day.

BT: How many people were around when you broke the news to him and told him, hey this was me, bro?

CR: Well everybody on the team knew, I mean we let everybody know – Our pitching coach (Ted Power) was like, “hey, I heard you met some chick last night,” and he was like “yeah I got game” and we let him wear it for a while but we let him have it.

BT: I was unfamiliar with your story and that you had suffered a shark attack and been bitted, so they told me to make sure I asked about that. But instead of asking you to tell that again, what’s maybe not your favorite, but the dumbest question anyone has ever asked you about it? Because I have to imagine there’s been that guy that asked, “hey did it hurt?”

CR: *laughs* Yeah I mean, there’s always the guy who asks how did it feel? You know, obviously not good when a shark is biting your foot, another one that got asked a lot was “what were you thinking when the shark bit you?” Uhhh, get into shore? Get out of the water? You know, I mean normal things that would go through anyone’s mind if they get bitten by a shark, you know I don’t think anyone is thinking they’re Aquaman and want to swim after them and drag them to shore. I just wanted to get into shore and get to the hospital.

BT: Do you lift, do you hit the gym?

CR: I do.

BT: You’re in the car on the way to the gym, your pre-workout just kicked in – What’s playing on your radio?

CR: Trophies by Drake, I’ll jam that, that gets me up and then it’s whatever from there, I’ll just put my iPod on shuffle.

BT: You’re from Galveston, Texas, who are your favorite professional teams outside of baseball?

CR: Houston Texans, Houston Rockets, Astros and the Atlanta Braves.

BT: So you’re H-Town everything?

CR: Always man, gotta stay faithful.

BT: Have you ever had a guy you’ve faced enough in the minor leagues or in spring training that’s been a favorite of yours to strikeout? Anybody that puts a smile on your face when you hear strike three called?

CR: Nobody I can think of, but I’d say the biggest strikeout of my career so far was Alex Rodriguez last year and that was – that was probably a highlight of my career. It’s just fun, you’re sitting there and you’re six years old watching this guy grow up and play ball and then all the sudden I’m on the mound facing him in a game so that was pretty cool.

BT: What’s your favorite thing to tell yourself on the mound?

CR: Just relax, have a good time you know, once the ball leaves your hand you can’t control anything so don’t try to do too much, don’t press. Just relax, have fun, and go after the hitters.

BT: And lastly, this is my favorite way to end these, what’s your favorite piece of advice or mantra that someone has passed along to you that’s stuck with you?

CR: I would say to just relax, treat it as a game and be as competitive as you can be, have fun and don’t worry about the small stuff.

BT: We’ll let that stuff ride, right?

CR: Oh yeah, let it ride.

That’ll do it for another edition of Friday Favorites, Chad continued success in all that you do and Louisville, I’ll be back with you next week. I have a tentative schedule of players that I plan to do these with but I am open to suggestions if you like these and there’s someone that you want to hear from. Keep up or catch up with me on Twitter @bennytomp18, keep coming to see us at Louisville Slugger Field, and it’s grind day from Friday to next Friday so keep on hustling.

Ben Tompkins is a media relations intern for the Louisville Bats. You can follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18 and on Instagram @bennythekid01.

Bats OBP lacks something to be desired

Jason Bourgeois 1 by James Moses 2 Bats OBP lacks something to be desired

Jason Bourgeois is one of the players leading the Bats on offense. (Photo by James Moses)

The Louisville Bats have struggled to get runners on-base through the first quarter of the 2014 season. This has resulted in them having the second-lowest OBP in the International League, yet they are one of the league leaders in runs this season.

Having such a low OBP at .314 hasn’t stopped the Bats from winning games, as they sit at 22-23 in the young season.

The Bats are fifth in the IL with 200 runs, but are tenth in the league with just 147 walks. The majority of the Bats runs have come from extra-base hits as they are fifth in the IL with 85 doubles. This has been a major part of the offense for Louisville as Jason Bourgeois and Felix Perez have led the team in the category.

Bourgeois currently has 16 extra-base hits this season, one of which is a homerun, and has just 21 RBIs. His relatively low RBI total is because of where he bats in the batting order, often the leadoff spot. Perez has 19 extra-base hits this season (a triple and 5 homers), to go with 28 RBIs. He often bats third in the batting order.

Louisville sits in the middle of the pack at seventh with 376 hits this year. Of those 376 hits, 125 have been extra-base hits, meaning they have hit 251 singles this season. They rank in the lower half of the IL with the amount of singles they have hit.

The Bats rank fourth in homers and third in RBIs, which has allowed them to stay near the top of the league in runs they have produced. With their 32 homers in 2014, Ruben Gotay leads the team with nine and has had more than one multiple-game hitting streaks. He is second on the team with 46 hits, just two behind Bourgeois.

In the most recent series the Bats played they produced 12 extra-base hits and reached on 19 walks in a road series against one of the IL leaders, the Durham Bulls. The Bats took three-of-four in Durham and won their first series in Durham since 2005.

The Bats went 6-2 on their recent road trip and have taken a step in the right direction, but must continue to raise their OBP if they wish to compete with the powers in the IL.

 

The Bats Weekly Podcast: May 21

Bats Weekly Podcasts logo 580x290 The Bats Weekly Podcast: May 21

There’s a lot going on in the land of the Louisville Bats and co-hosts Chris Gehring and George Nunnelley are here to tell you all about it. Let’s recap the club’s eight-game road trip and take a look at the upcoming eight-game home stand. (Recorded Wednesday, May 21)

Everything you need to know about Durham

Hit Bull Win 580x435 Everything you need to know about Durham

Welcome back to another version of “Everything you need to know” here on The Bats Signal. The giant Bull pictured above can only mean one thing, and it’s that the Louisville Bats are in Durham, North Carolina to play – you guessed it – the Durham Bulls. We may as well get it out of the way right now that the Bulls were indeed the subject of the famous baseball flick “Bull Durham”, where the “Hit Bull, Win Steak” Bull came from. The original bull still resides somewhere in Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Anyway, let’s get right into some baseball as the Bats prepare to begin the second half of their eight-game road trip against another IL South foe.

Here’s everything  you need to know about the reigning Governor’s Cup champion Durham Bulls and Durham, North Carolina.

The Veterans

Mike Fontenot is the first veteran that we’ll take a look at for the Tampa Bay Rays’ top minor league affiliate. The well-traveled infielder has played in parts of seven Major League seasons after breaking in with the Chicago Cubs in 2005. In 582 big league games, Fontenot has hit .265 with 27 homers and 163 RBIs. He last played with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012. So far this season, Fontenot has hit .273 in 34 games with Durham.

Fontenot may have played at a few different places in his Major League career, but his big league passport doesn’t have anywhere near the wear and tear as Wilson Betemit‘s. Betemit came onto the scene with the Atlanta Braves in 2001, and has played with seven different organizations over his career. He has 75 Major League homers in his 11-year career, and has hit .267 in 805 big league games. In 36 games with the Bulls in his first year with the Tampa Bay organization, Betemit is hitting .255 in 36 games with eight home runs and 21 RBIs.

One of the pitchers to note from the Durham bullpen is closer Kirby Yates, who is the only man standing between Louisville’s Jose Diaz and the top of the International League in the saves category. Yates is only 28 years old, but he’s yet to make his Major League debut. This season with the Bulls, the right-hander has converted a league-leading 11 saves and carries a minuscule 0.50 ERA to go along with it.

The Prospects

Shortstop Hak-Ju Lee kicks off our look at some of the top Rays prospects currently residing in Durham. Spending his first full season with the Bulls this season, Lee has struggled out of the gates as the top prospect in Durham. He’s only hitting  .193 in 20 games with five RBIs. That’s not to say he can’t be productive, as he’s earned numerous All-Star accolades throughout his climb up the Tampa Bay chain.

Southpaw Enny Romero is the 4th-best prospect in the Rays organization. He’s made eight starts so far this season in his first full year at the Triple-A level and has produced some mixed results. Romero is 2-4 with a 4.75 ERA, but has posted three starts in which he has allowed a run or less to start the season. Like Lee, Romero has been an All-Star elsewhere down on the farm and has twice been a Futures Game selection.

Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier is the final player to watch on the Bulls roster and comes in at number ten in the Rays’ minor league pool. While he’s not the hottest prospect for Tampa Bay, he’s swung the hottest bat for Durham in the opening part of 2014. Kiermaier is leading the team with a .322 batting average and has also smacked three homers with 10 RBIs. He leads the Bulls with ten stolen bases.

The Ballpark

Name: Durham Bulls Athletic Park

Opened: 1995

Capacity: 10,000

Dimensions:  LF – 305 ft. CF – 400 ft. RF – 327 ft.

Ballpark fact: After the 2013 season, DBAP underwent $16 million in renovations, which will be showcased when Durham hosts the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game this July. 

Best Promotion while Bats are in town: 2-for-1 ROOsdays – Every Tuesday home game, get two Terrace Reserved tickets for the price of one when you mention Kangaroo Express or show the Kangaroo Express app at time of purchase.

The City

Durham, North Carolina is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the county seat of Durham County. It’s famous for being on “Tobacco Road”, and before Bull Durham was a movie, it was a tobacco company that catalyzed much of the economic growth in Durham in the early 1900′s. It’s even nicknamed the Bull City. Famous people from Durham include Major Leaguer Brian Roberts, Baseball Hall of Famer Rick Ferrell, NBA coach John Lucas II and former NFL quarterback David Garrard.

Duke University and its famous Blue Devils call the city of Durham home, and the University is the city’s largest employer with over 27,000 employees. Other major companies that have a large presence in Durham are IBM and GlaxoSmithKline. While Duke athletics own the sports landscape during basketball season and the school year, the Bulls are the only other major sports organization in the city.

* All stats are accurate heading into play on May 17. All prospect rankings are according to MLB.com. Prospect rankings according to Baseball America unless noted otherwise.

 

The Bats Weekly Podcast: May 13

Bats Weekly Podcasts logo 580x290 The Bats Weekly Podcast: May 13

Chris and George are back to recap an exciting eight-game home stand and take a look at the ensuing road trip. Also, George talks with Corky Miller about his pursuit of Bill Lyons’ games played record. (Recorded Tuesday, May 13)

Everything you need to know about Norfolk

B Harbor Park 16x24 COLOR full 580x386 Everything you need to know about Norfolk

Harbor Park, home of the Norfolk Tides. (aerophotoamerica.com)

After an eight-game home stand in the Derby City, the Bats travel to Norfolk, VA on Tuesday where they’ll begin a four-game series with the Tides, the triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The Bats make a quick turnaround from their last series with Norfolk in which they won three of four games. Louisville will seek to end their final series with the Tides on a strong note and continue to climb back into contention in the IL-West.

Here’s a look at Bats probable pitchers for the mid to late week series at Norfolk, and everything else you need to know about the Tides.

Tue. 5/13: RHP Tim Crabbe (2-3, 3.93)

Wed. 5/14: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (2-4, 4.95)

Thurs. 5/15: LHP Jeff Francis (4-3, 3.33)

Fri. 5/16: RHP Josh Smith (5-0, 2.58)

The Veterans

Second baseman Alexi Casilla has entered the baseball pipeline in 2005 and since 2008, he’s played in at least 60 major league games. This marks his first season with the Tides after coming by way of the Minnesota Twins. In his last three seasons with the Twins, Casilla played in 265 games, posting a .245 average (180-for-734) with four homers and 61 RBI. Through 27 games this season, Casilla is hitting .292 (28-for-96) with a homerun and eight RBI.

Brad Brach, a 28-year-old righty has provided a quality start to the 2014 season for the Tides. Brach is 3-1 on the year and through 16.1 innings, he’s acquired a 3.68 ERA, permitting eight runs on 20 hits with an impressive 33-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Brach was drafted in the 42nd round of the 2008 draft (1275th overall) by the San Diego Padres and was rated the best reliever in three consecutive seasons starting in 2009 by the Midwest League, California League, and Texas League.

A familiar face to the Reds organization, left fielder Xavier Paul brings a veteran presence to the Tides. After making his Bats debut in 2012, Paul was quickly called up to the Reds where he played the remainder of the season in addition to last year. He played 97 games with the Reds last season, posting a .244 batting average (51-for-209) with seven bombs and 32 RBI. This year, Paul is batting .243 (17-for-70) with five bombs and 15 RBI.

The Prospects

Norfolk fields a team that includes 11 players currently on the 40-man roster. The Orioles were ranked 12th amongst MLB organizations in 2014 by BaseballProspectus.com, an eight-spot improvement from 2013.

Righty Kevin Gausman who was drafted in the 1st round (4th overall) by the Orioles in 2012, was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 26 and No. 20 prospect after the 2012 and 2013 season, respectively. He’s made one start this season for Norfolk and appeared in six games, posting a 2.08 ERA and allowing seven runs on 23 hits with 26 strikeouts and 14 walks in 26 innings pitched.

Another youthful right-hander, Mike Wright, has appeared in seven games this year, acquiring a 3.52 ERA and permitting 19 runs on 40 hits with 30 Ks and 10 walks. Wright was ranked No. 9 amongst Orioles prospects by MLB.com entering the 2013 season, after being drafted in the 3rd round (94th overall) by the Orioles in 2011. In his May 6 start against Louisville at Louisville Slugger Field, Wright earned the win as he posted a 2.91 ERA and allowing three runs on five hits with a pair of strikeouts and a walk.

The Ballpark

Name: Harbor Park

Opened: 1993

Capacity: 12,067

Ballpark fact: The stadium features a 225-seat restaurant known as “Hits at the Park” which offers a full view of the playing field.

Best promotion while Bats are in town: On Tuesday, Norfolk will have their “Turn Back the Clock” night where fans can enjoy hot dogs, popcorn, and soft drinks for $0.50 each.

The City

Norfolk is located at the core of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, named for large natural harbor of the same name located at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. The city is one of the oldest in Hampton Roads and is considered to be the historic, urban, financial, and cultural center of the region.

The city also holds a deeply rooted reputation for being a strategic military and transportation port. Norfolk is home to the largest Navy base in the world, the Naval Station Norfolk. Additionally, the city hosts one of NATO’s two Strategic Command headquarters.

The Chrysler Museum of Art is the region’s premiere art museum and is considered by The New York Times to be the finest in Virginia. The city also has a unique National Maritime Center called Nauticus, which features hands-on exhibits, interactive theatres, aquaria, and digital high-definition films. Since 2000, Nauticus has been the home of the battleship USS Wisconsin, the last battleship to be built in the United States.

The Bats will wrap up their season home-and-home with Norfolk on Friday and then travel down to Durham, North Carolina where they will begin a four-game series with the Bulls. After a day off for the club, the Bats will open up another eight-game home stint with the Buffalo Bisons and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

We’ll be coming back at you on the 30th when the team hits the road again for a two-game series with Columbus. Until then, stick to the script, Louisville.

* All stats are accurate heading into play on May 12. All prospect rankings are according to MLB.com.*