Don’t judge a book by its cover: David Holmberg

David Holmberg 2 by James Moses 2 Dont judge a book by its cover: David Holmberg

David Holmberg has been stellar since May 17. (James Moses)

Louisville left-hander David Holmberg came over to the Reds organization on the third of December in a three team trade involving the Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Reds traded away Major League catcher Ryan Hanigan to the Rays and got back Holmberg in the deal from the DBacks. He made his Reds organizational debut on April 8 as he pitched five innings, allowed two runs and got the loss against Columbus. Not a bad start, but it would lead to a string of frustrating outings.

Over his next three starts, stretching over nearly a month due to a disabled list stint, Holmberg was unable to make it out of the fourth inning in any start. He allowed at least five runs in each of his starts and saw his winless streak rise to four. His ERA rose to 13.50 and he was stuck in a groove that he needed to get out of. He made one more start on May 17 as he pitched four and two-thirds, allowed one run and got a no-decision. His winless streak was up to five straight starts, but his ERA was down to 10.50.

On May 23 he was back on the DL with a left shoulder strain missing nearly a month before being activated to pitch against Gwinnett on June 11.  Taking it easy directly off the DL he pitched four innings, allowed three runs, two earned, and received another no-decision. It was that start that seemed to turn things around for the lefty.

He would take the ball five days later at Louisville Slugger Field against the Durham Bulls and have his then best performance of the season. He threw a season high six innings, allowed zero runs, walked two, and struck out a season high six batters. Everything was different for Holmberg on the mound, except the result. He earned another no-decision and was still winless as a member of the Bats and the Reds organization.

He has made two more starts since facing the Bulls on June 16 and has done much of the same on the mound. He has kept the Bats in the game while on the mound, but is still winless. Sunday night against the division leading Indianapolis Indians, he pitched six and two-thirds, allowed zero runs, on three hits, and struck out four. His second start in which he hasn’t allowed a run and you guessed it, he is still winless. The difference between his first four starts and his last five has been that the Bats have won the game in each of his last five starts.

Holmberg’s Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) since coming off of the DL on June 11 is 3.55. On a Major League scale that is above average. The point of using FIP in this situation is to show just how good Holmberg has been over his past four starts. FIP by definition measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a given time period, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average. In simpler terms it means what a pitcher can control, strikeouts, walks, hit by pitches and home runs. If we were to include his start against Durham on May 17 before hitting the DL for the second time, his FIP from May 17 to today is 3.43. That would put him closer to the GREAT range on a Major League scale according to FanGraphs.com.

The phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover” applies in this situation with Holmberg. Don’t judge a pitcher by his win-loss record. Holmberg may be 0-4 in the scorebook, but by all means he has been one of the best pitchers in Minor League Baseball over the past month and a half. His luck will begin to change and he will eventually earn that coveted first win of the season, but look deeper and you will see he has been one of the best to take the mound for the Bats in their hot run since the beginning of June.

Reds’ top pick Howard could follow Lorenzen’s fast track

Nick Howard 580x325 Reds top pick Howard could follow Lorenzens fast trackWhether or not the 2013 MLB Draft was any sort of blueprint or indication of the Cincinnati Reds’ tendencies in the early rounds is hard to confirm, but there are definite similarities between this year’s class and last year’s draftees.

In particular, the Reds like to take starting pitching in the first round. Recently, they’ve taken plenty of it. For the past four drafts, Cincinnati has elected to pick starting pitching in the first round. It started in 2011 when the team selected Robert Stephenson in the first round and followed with Nick Travieso in 2012 and Michael Lorenzen in 2013.

The Reds seem to have an affinity for college talent at the top of the draft as well, with their top two picks of 2013 and 2014 coming from the college ranks. Last June, they tabbed outfielder Phil Ervin from Samford and the right-handed Lorenzen out of Cal State Fullerton.

This season, Cincinnati’s top pick came in the form of another big arm when they selected Nick Howard, another right-handed pitcher, from Virginia. Howard’s Cavaliers just finished their College World Series run, but the 6’4″ hurler may be able to take a path similar to Lorenzen’s when he signs on with the Reds in the coming weeks.

Howard has a similar pedigree to Lorenzen, too. Earlier this year, he was named a third-team Louisville Slugger All-American as a reliever. Lorenzen was a first-team All-American in 2013 with Cal State Fullerton. Howard has pitched in 27 games and holds a Virginia record in saves with 19. Lorenzen’s 35 career saves are a school record as well. While at Virginia, Howard’s been a two-way player and carries a .303 batting average over his three year career. Lorenzen was an outfielder in college, and posted an impressive .335 average during his final season with the Titans in 2013.

In his first year of professional baseball, the now 22-year old Lorenzen rose rapidly through the lower levels of the Cincinnati chain, playing at three different levels before arriving at his final stop of the season with the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos. In total, Lorenzen appeared in 22 minor league games as a reliever, posting an ERA of 3.00 in 21 innings of work.

Now in just his second year with the Reds organization, Lorenzen is back with the Blue Wahoos as a starter after being invited to his first Major League camp this spring. In 14 starts with the Blue Wahoos, he is 4-4 with a 2.61 ERA this season.

While it’s unknown whether or not the Reds have plans for Howard to develop that quickly, he certainly seems to be a candidate for taking the aggressive track. Cincinnati senior director of amateur scouting Chris Buckley told MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that the team sees Howard as a starter, and he comes to the organization as a polished collegiate player much like Lorenzen did a year ago.

The Reds have an excellent track record of drafting or signing rotation-worthy arms (see Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Johnny Cueto). If early returns are any sort of indication, there are plenty more on the way in Stephenson and Lorenzen, who are teammates in Pensacola. They both could see time in Louisville before the season begins en route to joining the Reds in the coming seasons.

Now that his college career is over and a professional career is on the horizon, Nick Howard is hoping to join that group of prospects as soon as he can.

A LONG TIME COMIN’ | Jumbo’s Journey to the Bigs

Jumbo 580x363 A LONG TIME COMIN | Jumbos Journey to the Bigs

Jose “Jumbo” Diaz made his Major League debut with the Cincinnati Reds on Friday. (Pat Pfister)

It’s not often you see 30 year olds make their Major League debut. At that point in your career, you’ve typically been in professional baseball for about 10 years and are arguably past the prime of your playing days.

However, that’s not the case with right-handed reliever Jose “Jumbo” Diaz, who made his debut with the Cincinnati Reds after appearing in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, June 20.

Diaz made headlines this offseason after appearing at Spring Training nearly 70 pounds lighter than he was when he stepped off of the mound in 2013. Did the weight loss translate into the dedication the Reds needed to see in order to purchase his contract?

Maybe; maybe not, but it certainly didn’t hurt his chances. However, whether or not the physical transformation was the deciding factor, Diaz’ numbers during his time with the Louisville Bats speak for themselves, and it’s been that way for the past year and a half.

The big right-hander came to the Derby City prior to the 2013 season after signing a minor league contract with the Reds on Nov. 20, 2012. Since then, he’s been nothing short of automatic in the Bats back-end of the bullpen.

In 44 appearances last season, Diaz posted a 3-4 record with a 1.66 earned run average. The 1.66 ERA was the lowest by a Louisville reliever with a minimum of 50.0 innings pitched in franchise history. He converted 13 of 14 save opportunities and posted a 2.86 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Still, it wasn’t enough to get the call every ballplayer with big league aspirations waits for. So, what did Jumbo do? He went back to the Dominican Republic, lost the aforementioned weight and returned to the States in the best shape of his professional career.

Additionally, he improved his numbers from last season. Through his first 30 appearances of 2014, Diaz allowed only five earned runs and posted a 2-2 record with a 1.35 ERA. He converted 18 of 19 save opportunities, sitting atop the International League in the category, and turned in a 3.10 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Ultimately, and most importantly, he got “the call.”

His first Major League appearance didn’t go as planned after allowing a pair of home runs that accounted for three runs in the Blue Jays come-from-behind win on Friday, but Jumbo’s finally in the big leagues, and that’s enough to make a lot of people happy.

“Infectious personality and always happy,” former Louisville Bats teammate Lee Hyde tweeted on Friday. “You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that’s played with him that isn’t really happy right now.”

The Bats Weekly Podcast: June 19

Bats Weekly Podcasts logo 580x290 The Bats Weekly Podcast: June 19

The Bats are two games above .500 for the first time since April and are making a move in the wildcard! Be sure to check in with Chris and George and get caught up on anything you missed during the club’s 6-2 homestand. Also, listen to our chat with Donald Lutz. (Recorded Thursday, June 19)

The Bats Weekly Podcast: June 11

Bats Weekly Podcasts logo 580x290 The Bats Weekly Podcast: June 11

The Bats are back in town from a 4-4 road trip in Lehigh Valley and Pawtucket and Chris and George, along with special guest Matt Andrews, are here to get you caught up to speed. (Recorded Wednesday, June 11)

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.