The Cincinnati Reds have only played in two Cactus League games thus far this spring, both against the Cleveland Indians, but certain changes under first-year manager Bryan Price are already evident.
One of those particular changes includes Billy Hamilton’s approach at the plate.
The rookie outfielder has been known to strike out a lot in the past. He struck out 102 times in 504 at-bats at the Triple-A level in 2013. With his speed, Hamilton has to be more patient at the plate and be able to put the ball in play more often. Even routine defensive plays become more difficult when a runner is getting down the line in about 3.7 seconds.
Thus far in 2014, this is more or less what we’ve seen out of Hamilton.
In the team’s first at-bat of the 2014 spring season, Hamilton drew a 10-pitch walk off of Indians’ starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. He laid off of balls outside of the zone and fouled off balls inside of the zone until ultimately jogging down the first base line, but that was the only jogging Hamilton would do.
The 23-year-old speedster was off and running before Bauer could deliver the next pitch. Hamilton not only stole second, but his speed caused catcher Yan Gomes to rush his throw. The ball sailed over second base and into center field. Subsequently, Hamilton advanced to third.
Just like that, the Reds had a scoring threat only 90 feet from home plate.
Thursday’s game began in a similar manner. After working a full count against starting pitcher Justin Masterson, Hamilton lined a single into left-center field. A wide turn around first base caused shortstop Mike Aviles to make an errant throw in an effort to pick off Hamilton. The ball made its way into the seats and Hamilton advanced to third on a two-base error.
Again, there’s a runner only 90 feet from scoring before the No. 2 hitter has to swing the bat.
Although the Reds failed to score Hamilton in both instances, it goes to show what kind of spark he can provide at the top of the lineup.
Hamilton also worked on another aspect of his offensive game this offseason – bunting. He and Double-A manager Delino DeShield spent time at the Reds’ complex in Goodyear, Ariz., in January to go over some of the mechanics of the art.
With two attempted bunt hits in as many games, yet failing to reach base both times, it’s evident Hamilton will continue to work on the skill throughout the spring season.
“It’s more about not getting out of the box,” Hamilton told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. “That’s what most bunters do – get out of the box too fast and not get the bunt down. My main thing is to get the bunt down. I’m thinking bunt first, then run.”
The young prospect also understands what a successful bunt can do to boost his average. For Hamilton, a higher average means stealing more bases, which means giving his teammates an opportunity to drive in runs, which means a better chance of winning more games.
“Bunting is more points on your average,” he said. “My first year in Billings, I had maybe 20-something bunt hits and a great average (.318 in 2010). I’m realizing now that I will have to bunt more for my average to get where I want it to be. It will be part of my game.”
The Reds will play the Indians for the third time in as many games this afternoon. The first pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET at Goodyear Ballpark. After starting in center field the first two games, Hamilton will likely receive the day off. The Reds will send baseball’s newest member of the $100 million club, Homer Bailey, to the mound to face the Indians Josh Tomlin.
Despite a 12-3 loss in the Cincinnati Reds’ second Spring Training game with the Cleveland Indians in as many days, there were positives to take away for the Louisville Bats’ big league affiliate. Most important was Johnny Cueto’s scoreless two-inning start in which he allowed one hit while walking two and striking out a pair.
“I felt great. I felt nothing,” said Cueto, who is looking to make a strong comeback from an injury-ridden season in 2013.
Cincinnati was able to strike first in the second inning when shortstop Zack Cozart doubled to plate Donald Lutz and Chris Nelson, two players that could very well end up in Louisville at some point this season. The runs came off of Indians starter Corey Kluber, who had replaced Tribe ace Justin Masterson after a scoreless first frame.
Cleveland would have an answer in middle innings against two Reds pitchers who figure to be on the Bats’ roster this year. Elliot Johnson’s two-run homer off of David Holmberg evened the score at two in the fourth. Holmberg would exit following the inning. In his two innings of work, the lefty allowed two runs on two hits and two walks while striking out three.
The fifth inning featured Reds prospect Daniel Corcino on the mound, and unfortunately his first outing of the spring didn’t produce signs of improvement from a rough 2013 in Louisville. The young righty was chased from the game before he could finish the inning and was credited with four earned runs on three walks and two strikeouts. A Jake Lowery grand slam against Cincinnati prospect Ismael Guillon closed the book on Corcino and gave the Indians a 7-2 lead after five.
Despite losing the game by a lopsided margin, first year Reds manager Bryan Price wasn’t overly concerned.
“We were up in the zone and situations, especially here, you get some balls up in the air and they hit some balls real well,” Price told the media. “You give up 12 runs on 12 hits, that usually means there were some extra base hits and some walks involved also. It’s going to get a lot better. These early outings for me don’t carry a whole lot of credence or any barometer.”
All things considered, the positives for the Reds outweigh the defeat. A strong and healthy Johnny Cueto and an early RBI double from Cozart are promising enough for the second game of spring.
Plenty of possible Bats also had positive showings on the afternoon. Infielders Neftali Soto and Argenis Diaz were both 1-for-2 at the plate, while outfielder Donald Lutz scored one of the Reds’ three runs. On the mound, Jose “Jumbo” Diaz pitched a scoreless ninth inning.
The Reds will see the Indians again this afternoon at 3:05 p.m. ET and will send Homer Bailey (11-12, 3.49) to the mound to face Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin. Notable pitchers expected to throw after Bailey are Aroldis Chapman, J.J. Hoover, Sam LeCure and top prospect Robert Stephenson. Possible Bats that are scheduled to pitch today are Nick Christiani and Jeff Francis.
Here’s the Reds’ starting nine for this afternoon’s game followed by their expected backups:
1. Yorman Rodriguez, Ryan LaMarre – CF
2. Ramon Santiago, Argenis Diaz – SS
3. Joey Votto, Max Ramirez – 1B
4. Jay Bruce, Juan Duran – RF
5. Ryan Ludwick, Donald Lutz – LF
6. Todd Frazier, Henry Rodriguez – 3B
7. Brayan Pena, Rossmel Perez – DH
8. Devin Mesoraco, Tucker Barnhart – C
9. Kristopher Negron, Rey Navarro – 2B
On the weekend, the Reds will play the Colorado Rockies (Saturday) and the San Diego Padres (Sunday). Tony Cingrani (7-4, 2.92) and Mike Leake (14-7, 3.37) are scheduled to start the weekend games on the mound.
Former third baseman Scott Rolen was seen at the Blue Jays vs. Phillies Grapefruit League game in Clearwater, Fla., on Wednesday – not as a player, but as a spectator meeting up with old acquaintances (Rolen played for Philly from 1999-2002 and Toronto from 2008-09).
However, merely seeing the 38-year-old back in a baseball atmosphere begs the question: is the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner eyeing a comeback?
It seems unlikely considering Rolen turned down contracts from the Reds and Dodgers in 2013, but remains a possibility due to the fact Rolen hasn’t officially announced his retirement.
“I’m not going to shut anything down,” Rolen said. “I’ll leave some options open. I wanted to see how it felt after taking a year off and trying to heal and recover a little bit. I don’t know. I’m not going to shut any doors.”
According to Paul Hagen of MLB.com, Wednesday marked the first time Rolen stepped foot on a major league field since Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants. The Reds won the first two games of the series on the road and went on to lose the next three games at home. The Giants went on to defeat the Cardinals and Tigers and win the World Series. Rolen was left standing at home plate, possibly thinking about what could have been, after striking out to end the game and series with the tying runs on base.
He has since virtually disappeared from professional baseball and is reportedly making an effort to spend more time with his wife, Niki, and two children, Raine (9) and Finn (6).
However, the offer is once again on the table for Rolen to return to baseball in 2014, this time as a spring instructor focusing on player development for the Cincinnati Reds – the organization he played for from 2009-2012.
With scheduling conflicts and a family to tend to, it’s uncertain whether or not Rolen will accept the offer, but one thing is for certain: he misses the game.
“I’ll tell you what I miss,” Rolen said. “I miss the accountability. I miss having a job. I miss having a drive, a direction and being tired. I miss being miserable. That’s one of the biggest adjustments.
“I have to look at a calendar and try to figure out what a calendar looks like. I’ve never done that before. You’re told where to go, where to be, what to do and what your responsibilities are. You put in so many hours of work doing one thing, and then you’re not doing it anymore; you have to fill that space a little bit. I’m a driven person, and you can’t drive 100 miles per hour to the golf course.”
Rolen is a career .281 hitter with 316 home runs and 1,287 RBI in his 17-year major league career. His 517 doubles ranks fifth all-time – only surpassed by three current Hall of Famers in George Brett (665), Paul Molitor (605) and Wade Boggs (578) as well as a future Hall of Famer in Chipper Jones (549). He has a career .968 fielding percentage and made only 186 errors in 2023 games played at third base.
No matter what decision Rolen ultimately makes, he will arguably go down as one of the top 10 greatest third basemen in MLB history and could likely join the 11 third basemen already enshrined in Cooperstown someday.
Mount Rushmore is a national monument in South Dakota that is famous for depicting some of the United States’ most significant presidents. The famous image of the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln chiseled into the stone is one that is engrained in most Americans at a young age.
It’s one of our nation’s greatest monuments, but it has also been the center of focus in the sports world more than once. Every once in a while, an athlete will get asked the infamous question of who they would put on their Mount Rushmore of their respective sport. It’s a question that creates news out of thin air, as fans across the nation immediately debate the inevitable snubs that are always so blatantly disrespected by the athlete who can’t possibly understand the power of Mount Rushmore.
The most recent instance of this phenomenon came when NBA superstar LeBron James was asked to name his Mount Rushmore. He came up with a respectable answer of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson. But like so many other things James says, it didn’t end there. In the same article, Kevin Durant replaced Oscar Robertson with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Since LeBron shared his top four, somebody had to ask Kobe Bryant about his at All-Star Weekend, and the Mamba said that his Rushmore included Michael, Magic, Bird and Celtics legend Bill Russell.
Athlon Sports recently got in on the Mount Rushmore fun by naming golf’s best four (Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead), while ESPN had everyone beat when they named a Mount Rushmore for every state in the union way back in 2009. If you’re wondering who made Kentucky’s list back in ’09, ESPN went with Muhammad Ali, Adolph Rupp, Secretariat and Rick Pitino.
Yes, Secretariat was the only horse/non-human listed in the entire 50-state breakdown, which is obviously appropriate.
Sports Mount Rushmores are loads of fun, but why would anybody limit the excitement and endless spirited arguments to just games played with a ball? What about the Mount Rushmore of music? Movies? TV sitcoms? For fun, here’s a stab at each of them:
Movies: Gone With the Wind, Star Wars, Titanic and Avatar
Music: The Beatles, Mozart, Jay Z and Frank Sinatra
TV Sitcoms: Friends, Seinfeld, The Office and How I Met Your Mother
See how impossible it is? There’s likely a good amount of people who read those three categories and came up with alternatives to all of them almost immediately. When it comes down to it, asking one person to shoulder the weight of a Mount Rushmore proclamation is simply unfair.
Here at the Louisville Bats (and Adidas), impossible is nothing. That’s why we put our heads together and asked our fans on Twitter who would make the Louisville baseball Mount Rushmore. Much discussion ensued, but here are the highlights:
The first ballot cast got us off to a solid start.
@LouisvilleBats Jim Fregosi, Pee Wee Reese, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto
— Wesley Eversole (@wesths05) February 26, 2014
An All-Redbird entry.
@LouisvilleBats Willie McGee, Vince Coleman, Todd Zeile, Ray Lankford.
— Geronimo Pena (@ULCards1) February 26, 2014
One of the more balanced ballots.
@LouisvilleBats The late Jim Fregosi, my man Allen Battle, the MVP Joey Votto and, of course, Corky Miller.
— Chadwick M. Fischer (@Fischwick) February 26, 2014
Don’t think that it wasn’t seriously considered.
— ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@UnkRam) February 26, 2014
Four Corkys. RT @LouisvilleBats: Recent talk about “Mount Rushmores” got us thinking… Who would make your Louisville baseball Rushmore?
— Amy (@amyeditress) February 26, 2014
There were plenty of great suggestions, but since the sculptors of Mount Rushmore only gave us four spots to work with, we had to make some tough decisions. Here’s the final (is it ever final?) Louisville baseball Mount Rushmore. For now.
Jim Fregosi – The late Fregosi led the Louisville Redbirds to back-to-back American Association championships and had an extensive Major League managerial career. He managed the 1993 National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies and was also a Gold Glove winner in his playing days.
Corky Miller – As much as we would love to, we can’t put Corky’s face on Mount Rushmore four times. One will have to do for the beloved catcher, who holds the franchise record for seasons in Louisville and most games with an incredible Fu Manchu mustache.
Rick Sweet – Sweet managed the Bats to three straight International League West Division titles (’08-’10) and was named IL Manager of the Year in 2008 and 2009. Some of the notable names that Sweet managed in Louisville include Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce.
Joey Votto – The Reds’ brightest star only spent one season in Louisville, but since he is an MVP at the Major League Level, he is one of the best players ever to grace the diamond at Louisville Slugger Field. That has to count for something. In 2007, Votto was an IL mid-season and post-season All-Star, the IL Rookie of the Year and a Futures Game selection. In 2008, he would play his first full season with Cincinnati.
Since Pee Wee Reese is already immortalized with a statue of his own outside of the ballpark downtown, he was left off of the Rushmore. That doesn’t diminish his vast accomplishments in the game of baseball as a pioneer, World Series champion and Hall of Famer. A native of Kentucky, Reese played two seasons for the Double-A Louisville Colonels from 1938-1939.
So, there it is. One more Mount Rushmore to be proven wrong and argued time and time again. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this thorough examination of one of America’s finest slabs of granite. We sure have.
There are so many Rushmores to be named, yet so little time to name them all. Much like there are snubs from each Rushmore, there are so many Rushmores that haven’t been given the proper attention and scrutiny.
Today, we are left with only a select few. Maybe one day we will finally know who belongs on other important ones like fast food, toothpaste and Dairy Queen Blizzards.
Maybe one day.
The Cincinnati Reds defeated the Cleveland Indians 8-3 in the two team’s first game of the Cactus League at Goodyear Ballpark yesterday.
A ton of potential coupled with uncertainty surrounds Billy Hamilton this spring, and it didn’t take long for the rookie speedster to show what he could do from the leadoff spot this season. The whole ballpark knew Hamilton was going to run after drawing a 10-pitch walk in the first at-bat of the game, but nobody could do anything about it. Indians catcher Yan Gomes’ throw sailed into center field as Hamilton stole second base and allowed him to advance to third. However, after also walking Brandon Phillips, a Joey Votto strike-‘em-out, throw-‘em-out and a Jay Bruce flyout to left field allowed pitcher Trevor Bauer to get out of the inning with no harm done. Bauer is one of Cleveland’s options to fill the team’s fifth spot in the starting rotation.
Reds pitcher Alfredo Simon, who started the game in the event Mat Latos won’t be healthy by Opening Day, threw two innings of scoreless baseball, allowing no hits and one walk.
“All of my pitches were working really good,” Simon said.”I just tried to throw the first pitch for a strike and then keep going. I worked on my two-seamer. It was working really good.”
The Reds were the first team to get on the scoreboard in the third inning. Votto’s RBI-single to center field off of pitcher T.J. House scored Brayan Pena from second base. Two batters later, Ryan Ludwick drove in Votto on a base hit to left field and extended the Reds’ lead to 2-0.
The Indians came back to tie the game in the fifth inning. Ryan Raburn doubled to left off of Reds pitcher Tim Crabbe. Catching prospect Tony Wolters then scored Raburn on a RBI-single and, later in the inning, David Adams grounded into a bases- loaded double play with no outs to tie the game, 2-2.
However, the tie didn’t last long as the Reds added two more runs in the top of the sixth. Catching prospect Tucker Barnhart drew a bases-loaded walk and outfielder Donald Lutz followed with a run-scoring groundout as Cincinnati regained the lead, 4-2.
Cleveland added another run in the bottom half of the inning, but it was all Cincinnati from there. Chris Heisey sent a 2-1 pitch from reliever C.C. Lee over the left field fence for a two-out, two-run home run.
In the eighth inning, Lutz tripled to center field off of reliever J.C. Ramirez and the Reds scored two more runs.
Heisey continued his hot start to the spring season with a double in the ninth. The Reds went on to push two more runs across in the inning and won by game by five runs.
“It looked good,” Price said of the team’s first game. “I think we walked seven times, saw a lot of really good cripple hitting (in favorable counts), some good consistent at-bats, ran the bases aggressively and did some of the things we wanted to do in that department. Pitchers threw strikes for the most part. It was a pretty clean game for Game one in the Cactus League.”
Cincinnati scored five runs with two outs, stole two out of three bases, went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base.
The two teams will play again today at 3:05 p.m. ET at Goodyear Ballpark. Johnny Cueto looks to come back from an injury-prone 2013 season and will toe the rubber for the Reds against Justin Masterson for the Indians.
Today’s lineup vs. the Indians looks quite a bit different than the one manager Bryan Price posted yesterday. Here it is:
1. Billy Hamilton – CF
2. Skip Schumaker – LF
3. Brandon Phillips – 2B
4. Chris Heisey – RF
5. Donald Lutz – DH
6. Chris Nelson – 3B
7. Zack Cozart – SS
8. Neftali Soto – 1B
9. Corky Miller – C
Starting Pitcher: Johnny Cueto
The game will begin at 3:05 p.m. ET at Goodyear Ballpark. You can watch it on MLB.TV or listen to it on 1360 WSAI Cincinnati. It will also air on MLB Network at 5 p.m. ET.
We’ll have a recap of yesterday’s Cactus League opener posted shortly.
The Cincinnati Reds officially begin the spring season at 3:05 p.m. ET with a Cactus League opener against the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear (Ari.) Ballpark.
It not only marks the first game of Spring Training, but it also marks the beginning of a new era with first-year manager Bryan Price now at the helm.
He’s made it seem through interviews as if he’s not afraid to take some risks and shake things up. Now, the wait is over; we’ll finally see if the new skipper is true to his word this afternoon.
Here’s the lineup Price will go with:
1. Billy Hamilton (CF) — Sub: Skip Schumaker
2. Brandon Phillips (2B) — Sub: Kristopher Negron
3. Joey Votto (1B ) — Sub: Neftali Soto
4. Jay Bruce (RF) — Sub: Chris Heisey
5. Ryan Ludwick (LF) — Sub: Donald Lutz
6. Todd Frazier (3B) — Sub: Chris Nelson
7. Zack Cozart (SS) — Sub: Ramon Santiago
8. Devin Mesoraco (C) – Sub: Tucker Barnhart
9. Brayan Pena (DH) — Sub: Roger Bernadina
Starting Pitcher: Alfredo Simon
Not many surprises here. Price said earlier this week Simon would start the game on the mound. With the injury to Mat Latos, he’s still unsure of what the starting rotation will look like on Opening Day and wants to get a feel for who will fill the void, if necessary.
The only surprise – if you can call it that – is Cozart hitting in front of Mesoraco – I presumed they would be flip-flopped. Also, as reported yesterday, Price will hit Bruce in the cleanup spot and Ludwick behind him against the right-handed Trevor Bauer.
It’s the first game of Spring Training. With that being said, don’t expect to see the starters in the game for too long – Price said earlier this week he’d play them for about five innings.
Here are other position players available off of the bench: Jack Hannahan, Felix Perez, Henry Rodriguez, Jason Bourgeois, Corky Miller, Max Ramirez, Argenis Diaz, Rey Navarro, Juan Duran, Ryan LaMarre and Yorman Rodriguez.
And here who is available out of the bullpen: Lee Hyde (L), Chad Rogers (R), Tim Crabbe (R), Curtis Partch (R), Pedro Beato (R) and Trevor Bell (R). As you can see, it looks like Price wants to get some of the more inexperienced guys some early-spring action.
The game will be aired on 700 WLW Cincinnati or MLB.TV and also available on the MLB.com At Bat app. Also, it will be played on a delay beginning at 5 p.m. ET on MLB Network.
Bruce to move up in Reds’ lineup
Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce is coming off one of the best overall seasons of his professional career after hitting for a .262/.329/.478 slash line to go along with a team-leading 30 home runs and 109 RBI in 2013.
According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, Bruce is the only player in the National League to hit more than 25 home runs in each season since 2010 – with 25, 32, 34 and 30, respectively. Additionally, he’s hit more doubles and homers (201) in the past three seasons than any player in the Major Leagues not named Miguel Cabrera.
However, Bruce will attack the 2014 season from somewhat of a different vantage point.
First-year manager Bryan Price has decided the typical five-hole hitter will see considerably more swings from the cleanup spot this season.
Former manager Dusty Baker was reluctant to hit two left-handed hitters in Joey Votto and Jay Bruce back-to-back and in turn placed Ryan Ludwick between the two sluggers in 2012 and 2013. Also, when Ludwick went down with a torn labrum in his right shoulder on Opening Day, it was Brandon Phillips, not Bruce, who took Ludwick’s slot in the order.
This year, Price is less worried about the late-inning, lefty-specialist match-up and more worried about jumping on teams and taking the early lead.
“My theory is, if we’re thinking a lot about innings 7-8, maybe we’re not focusing enough on 1-6,” Price told the media. “If we deliver the knockout blow early, we don’t have to worry too much about the match-up lefty [reliever] being in the ballgame. I’d like to be more aggressive in the front end of the game and see if we can get the starter out of there and get into the bullpen. That sets a great tone for the series.”
Subsequently, Phillips will move up in the order and hit second, presumably behind Billy Hamilton, while Bruce hits cleanup against right-handed starters and Ludwick hits cleanup against left-handed starters.
However, Bruce doesn’t seem to mind the lefty-lefty match-up based on his uncommon success in the past. In fact, he leads all Major League hitters with 44 home runs against left-handed pitchers since 2010 – four more than Albert Pujols. Additionally, his two-home run game against NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw was two more home runs than the 165 left-handed hitters who faced Kershaw in 2013, according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark.
If Ludwick is unable to provide the run production needed from the cleanup spot, don’t be surprised if Price eventually goes with Bruce no matter the pitching match-up.
Mesoraco’s time to shine in 2014
Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco will assume a role he is unaccustomed to thus far during his two-year Major League career: that of the club’s No. 1 catcher.
After an offseason trade that saw veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan go to Tampa Bay and a free agency acquisition that brought catcher Brayan Pena to Cincinnati, Mesoraco will become the Reds’ first option behind the plate in 2014.
“Devin is the No. 1 catcher,” first-year manager Bryan Price told members of the media on Saturday. “He’s going to catch more than he’s caught in the past here. We feel like he’s ready to lead our staff.”
In 2013, Mesoraco appeared in 97 games and earned 84 starts while splitting time with the now-departed Hangian. Former manager Dusty Baker gave Mesoraco the duty of catching starters Mat Latos and Mike Leake while Hanigan caught starters Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Bronson Arroyo.
However, the early stages of 2014 already have a different feel with Price now at the helm.
“Brayan is going to be our second guy,” he said. “Unless there is a reason to do it, I don’t have an intention to line up our starters with one catcher throughout the course of the entire year.”
Mesoraco burst onto the scene at the Triple-A level in 2011. The then 23-year-old appeared in 120 games and hit .289 with 53 extra-base hits including 36 doubles and 15 home runs to go along with 71 RBI. He was rated by MLB.com as the 20th best prospect and second-best prospective catcher in all of baseball. He was also rated as the top prospect in the Reds organization.
With a lot of hype to live up to, Mesoraco made his Major League debut during a September call-up to Cincinnati in 2011. Through two seasons, it’s safe to say the former 15th overall pick of the June 2007 First-Year Player Draft has yet to arrive.
Mesoraco has appeared in 175 games at the highest level and hit a mere .225 with 16 home runs and 62 RBI – numbers that don’t come close to comparing with the best in the business.
However, there have been signs in the past that show Mesoraco has the tools to continue to grow – take his ninth-inning, game-tying home run off of one of the game’s best closers in Craig Kimbrel last season for instance.
Maybe the coaching staff’s trust in the young catcher will be enough to instill the confidence needed for Mesoraco to produce on a nightly basis. We’ll find out soon enough.
Price names unlikely starter for Cactus League opener
Cincinnati Reds first-year manager Bryan Price named reliever Alfredo Simon the starting pitcher for the team’s Cactus League opener vs. the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.
Simon, who hasn’t started a game since 2011 with the Baltimore Orioles, made a career-high 63 relief appearances with the Reds in 2013 and posted a 6-4 record with a 2.87 ERA.
He began his career as a starting pitcher at the minor league level, but has predominantly appeared out of the bullpen in the recent past.
Price’s decision, although it may seem bold, undoubtedly stems from starting pitcher Mat Latos’ recent injury coupled by the fact Simon has performed well in the past.
“We have to look really hard at the guys that are next in line,” Price said on Monday. “If we were to have any setbacks possibly where Mat wasn’t ready to start the season, we have to look at the group that we have here, which would include Simon. He’s got a starters background. He’s got a very durable arm so we want to look at him in longer stretches. We know he can pitch out of the bullpen.”
Latos underwent surgery on Feb. 14 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He is currently ahead of schedule in terms of rehabbing and is already throwing on flat ground at 100 feet, but Price and company don’t want to take any chances.
The Reds also signed veteran pitchers Chien-Ming Wang and Jeff Francis and traded for prospect David Holmberg this offseason. With the uncertainty surrounding Latos’ health, expect to see these three get their chance to earn the spot in the early stages of the spring as well.
There’s not a ton of rumblings from Goodyear, Ariz., thus far today, but then again, they’re two hours behind us so I guess it’s early.
However, Baseball America released its annual top-100 prospect list yesterday, and a couple of players in Cincinnati’s organization made the cut. You probably won’t be surprised to hear who it was.
Stephenson, Hamilton appear on another top-100 list
There’s been a lot of chatter around the Reds organization, and all of baseball for that matter, about prospects Robert Stephenson and Billy Hamilton this offseason, and rightfully so.
The two continue to impress not only general manager Walt Jocketty and first-year manager Bryan Price, among others, but the professional baseball industry as a whole.
Yesterday, Stephenson and Hamilton were voted into yet another list of top-100 prospects, this time by the writers of Baseball America. Stephenson, who will turn 21 years old next week, appeared at No. 19 on the list and was followed by Hamilton at No. 43.
This season marks Hamilton’s fourth consecutive and final season on the list of BA’s top-100 prospects. He is scheduled to spend his first full season with the big league ball club and will thus surrender his prospect status; I’m sure you won’t hear any complaints from him.
Hamilton first cracked the top-100 list in 2011, appearing at No. 50, and has moved around from No. 48 (2012), to No. 20 (2013) and back to his current ranking of No. 43 in the subsequent years.
His speed, which has registered 346 steals over the past three seasons and led him to be called the fastest player many scouts have ever seen, will certainly continue to turn heads, but what he is able to do with the bat will ultimately determine just how good this 23-year-old outfielder can be.
Stephenson first appeared on BA’s top-100 list prior to last season as he appeared at No. 56. His plus-fastball, which hovers around the 96-99 mph range, and plus-curveball are considered the best among pitching prospects in the Reds organization, according to Baseball America.
His quick rise through the minor league system, which has seen him play at five different levels over the last two seasons, will likely continue in 2014 as he will presumably take the mound at Louisville Slugger Field for the Triple-A Louisville Bats this season. As he gets the opportunity to fine tune his raw skills with the big league staff during his first Spring Training in Goodyear, Ariz., who knows, maybe his current projection date of 2015 is a little too far in the future.
Both Stephenson and Hamilton also appeared on MLB.com’s list of top-100 prospects in January; Stephenson at No. 19 and Hamilton at No. 37. Their list of top-20 Reds prospects is scheduled to be released on March 27.