After his introductory press conference, Nick Curran caught up with brand new Bats manager Delino DeShields. The new Louisville skipper shares his thoughts on being in Louisville, balancing developing players and still winning games, Billy Hamilton, college basketball (in true Louisville fashion) and much more.
Soto was 1-for-4 on the night and Ruben Gotay didn’t have a hit but did reach base via walk. That walk turned into one of Puerto Rico’s two runs in the 3-2 loss to Mexico.
Soto is now 3-for-8 overall, all three hits singles, in the first two games of the series. He has also tallied a run in the series.
Gotay has yet to get a hit in the first two games and got on base for the first time yesterday. Hopefully he turns those struggles around and gives Puerto Rico a chance the rest of the way. Their elimination number is now three after a 0-2 start.
Felix Perez and the Venezuelan squad will be back in action today at 12 ET, as they take on the Dominican Republic with a chance to tie for first with Mexico at 2-0. Perez didn’t have a hit in the first game after being named the Venezuelan Winter League Offensive Player of the Year.
The Bats have three players from last year’s team play in the Caribbean leagues this winter. Infielders Neftali Soto and Ruben Gotay both played in Puerto Rico and outfielder Felix Perez played in Venezuela.
Soto played 16 games in the regular season and finished with a .263/.358/.351 slash line with four extra-base hits. He did a good job of staying patient at the plate as he drew nine walks in almost 70 plate appearances.
Gotay had a good winter playing in 39 games and hitting .262. He had 13 extra-base hits and also drew 22 walks, to just 24 strikeouts.
Perez had an excellent winter season playing in 56 games, hitting .356, leading the league in hits with 80, finishing third in home runs with nine and driving in 38 runs. This performance landed him the Offensive Player of the Year Award.
The Caribbean Series began yesterday as Puerto Rico faced off with Venezuela and Soto was 2-for-4 with a walk, Gotay didn’t have a hit in four trips to the plate and Perez also didn’t have a hit in the game, but Venezuela did get the win in the first round matchup.
Former Cincinnati Red and Louisville Bat Daryl Thompson (2006-2011) got the start and win for the Venezuelan squad. He pitched six innings, allowed one run on three hits and struck out five.
Venezuela has the day off on Tuesday but will be back in action on Wednesday against the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico will play on back-to-back days as they face off with Mexico, who defeated Cuba yesterday, at 6:30 EST.
Veteran left-handed pitcher Paul Maholm has officially signed a Minor League deal with the Cincinnati Reds with an invite to Major League camp, the team announced on Sunday. He last pitched in the majors for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014 for 30 games, eight starts and also finished seven games.
Overall for Maholm he has played for four teams including the Dodgers since breaking into the majors in 2005 with the Pittsburgh Pirates (2005-2012). He also has played for the Chicago Cubs (2012), Atlanta Braves (2012-2013).
Looking ahead to Spring Training Maholm will have a chance to earn a spot on the Major League roster, with multiple slots open. He will be in the conversation for the final two spots in the rotation along with Tony Cingrani and Anthony DeSclafani. Also, the possibility of being a swing-man in the bullpen could interest him.
In his career he has faced 122 batters out of the bullpen with a .306 opponent average. His best overall season was split between the Cubs and Braves in 2012 as he pitched to a 13-11 record with a 3.67 ERA in 189 innings. He struck out a career-high 140 batters, compiling a 2.64 strikeout to walk ratio.
Exactly one player in Louisville franchise history played with a last name beginning with the letter “U.” Tom Urbani appeared in 50 games for the Louisville Redbirds between 1992 and 1996 while in the Cardinals organization. He would go on to appear in 81 Major League games (65 with St. Louis and 16 with Detroit) before calling it quits in 1998.
There was, however, another Louisville player, infielder Jose Gonzalez, who changed his name to Jose Uribe (his mother’s maiden name) sometime following his trade from St. Louis to San Francisco. Gonzalez appeared in 275 games for the Redbirds between the franchise’s first year of 1982 and 1984. He went on to a ten-year big league career appearing in 1038 games, 985 of them with the Giants. He died tragically in a car accident in 2006 at the age of 47.
Now, what is the connection between Mr. Urbani and Mr. Gonzalez/Uribe? Both share January 21 as a birthday–Urbani in 1968 (Happy 47th) and Gonzalez/Uribe in 1959. Like so many things in baseball, just another odd coincidence.
Corky Miller has been named to the coaching staff of the Cincinnati Reds’ Class A affiliate Dayton Dragons, the team announced Wednesday. Miller, 38, will join manager Jose Nieves, pitching coach Tom Browning and hitting coach Luis Bolivar on Dayton’s staff.
After spending two stints in the Reds organization from his original signing in 1998 through 2004 and from 2009 through the 2014 season, Miller became a fan favorite on both the Triple-A and Major League levels. He retired as the Bats’ all-time leader in games played with 548, besting former Louisville Redbird Bill Lyons’ mark by four games. He played in just 216 Major League games (153 with the Reds), but was invaluable to Cincinnati for handling pitchers as they made their ways to the big club.
Miller is expected to also do some roving around the system as a catching instructor during the season, Reds Director of Player Development Jeff Graupe said in the original announcement posted by the Dragons. This is not unlike what Miller did for the better part of 2014 after going inactive on May 22, spending time between Billings (Rookie) and Dayton.
Aside from the franchise’s games played record, the catcher also is the Bats’ all-time leader in doubles (99) and is third in at-bats (1,703), fifth in hits (416), fourth in home runs (50) and second in RBI (236). His No. 8 became the first number ever retired by the Louisville franchise on August 31, 2014 at the game dubbed Corky Miller Night.
Speculation for much of Miller’s latter years with the Bats was that he would eventually find his way into a coaching role before, somewhere down the line, earning a managerial job (hopefully in the big leagues). This is certainly the first step.
The news fans in Louisville were wishing to hear since the end of last season was that Miller would be added to the Bats staff (or even, perhaps rather boldly, that he would have been named manager before Delino DeShields was named to the position). Still, this is the perfect starting spot for the former catcher. It is not the most glamorous or highest paid coaching job in the world, but there is no pressure and he will have time to develop his coaching abilities in the minors much like any player develops their playing abilities. Also, fans in Louisville should not be too concerned as it is likely Miller will see time in the Derby City at some point during 2015.
Minor league coaches and managers move… a lot. Anytime there is a change to the big club’s staff, the dominoes fall and minor league staffs are also shuffled. The Reds declining to bring back third base coach Steve Smith opened the door for Jim Riggleman, the Bats manager of the past two seasons, to move up, which opened the door for DeShields to move up, etc. The ascension to a Major League managerial job (for most managers) has many stops along the way and sometimes goes through multiple organizations. This is just where it all begins.
Monday, the Reds released their 2015 Spring Training roster. The big news for fans who have followed the Bats in recent years is OF Felix Perez earning his first invite to Big League camp. Perez has spent the past three-plus seasons with the Bats hitting .278 with his sweet left-handed swing while routinely showing off a cannon arm in right field–all helping him to earn fan-favorite status in the Derby City. Also included in the non-roster invitees list are former 40-man roster members OF Ryan LaMarre and IF Neftali Soto. Both were on the 40-man roster in 2014 (Soto, in fact, started the season with the Reds), but have since been outrighted to the minors. Local product RHP Nate Adcock (North Hardin High School) signed with the Reds this offseason and also received a camp invite.
Here is the full roster (click to enlarge).
In the first bit of notable offseason news, the Reds announced last night that they had traded Chris Heisey to the Dodgers for righty pitching prospect Matt Magill. The team also announced they would not tender contracts to Logan Ondrusek or Curtis Partch, making them free agents. All three now-former Reds were drafted by the club and had spent their careers in the organization, including time with the Bats.
Drafted in 2006 out of Messiah College in Grantham, Penn., Heisey spent the second half of 2009 and the first month of 2010 with Louisville. He hit just .205 over that span with 13 homers and 50 RBI in 92 games. He was called up to Cincinnati on April 30, 2010 when Chris Dickerson went on the DL and made his Major League debut on May 3. He was one of 10 Reds to debut in 2010 (along with Ondrusek) and produced four pinch-hit homers that season. Heisey became a solid outfield option playing all three spots, but mostly left field. The outfielder also made rehab appearances with the Bats in 2011 and 2013. He finished his Reds career a .247 hitter in 543 games.
Ondrusek was drafted in 2005 out of McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas. He earned 12 saves in 13 opportunities with the 2009 Bats on the tail end of their schedule, posting a solid 1.74 ERA. He started the 2010 season with Cincinnati and debuted on April 5. The righty was optioned to Louisville in each of 2010, 2012 and 2013. He also made one rehab appearance with the Bats in 2014, tossing a scoreless inning. Ondrusek amassed a 3.89 ERA in 281 appearances (271.0 innings) in five seasons with the Reds.
The Reds drafted Partch in 2007 out of Merced Junior College in California. He made both the jump from Double-A to Triple-A and from Triple-A to the Majors in 2013. In 2014, he started the season with the Reds and was optioned to the Bats and recalled to Cincinnati five times during the campaign, though only appearing in six big league games. He was optioned to Louisville for a sixth time in mid-August and was not recalled again after rosters expanded. He finished his career with the Reds with a 4.80 ERA in 20 games. With Louisville over parts of two seasons, he recorded a 4.56 ERA with 8 saves in 65 games.
Magill spent all of 2014 with the Dodgers’ Triple-A club in Albuquerque, going 7-6 with a 5.21 ERA in 36 games (12 starts) in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. The 6’3″ 25-year-old debuted with the Dodgers in 2013, making six starts, but only pitched 28.0 innings (4-2/3 innings per start) and went 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA. Reds President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Walt Jocketty was quoted in the Reds’ news release as saying, “We are excited to be adding a player with a power arm who has a chance to help our club next season.”
Magill will certainly have a chance to make the Reds club out of spring training in 2015, but it seems likely that he could see some time under pitching coach Ted Power in Louisville before returning the the big leagues and pitching in homer-happy Great American Ball Park.
The Louisville Bats used a lot of baseball players during the 2014 season. No, really… it was ridiculous. This year, a total of 68 players appeared in a game for the Bats, with three more being on the roster and not appearing. (Those three are Bobby Keppel, Tony Cingrani and Carlos Contreras.) That’s a total of 71 players, nearly three times the size of a full 25-man roster. The team used just 51 players last season. The most players used in a season since Louisville began affiliation with the Reds in 2000 is 74 in 2003. Louisville also totaled 204 transactions in 2014, 13 shy of the club record (217 in 2007).
There are various reasons for why so many players would appear on a minor league team in a single season. These range from injuries to the big club, Major League rehabbers, doubleheaders either for the Bats or the Reds, etc. Whenever there is one move, other complimentary dominoes fall to fill out the rosters of each of the minor league clubs (usually).
Despite there being so much turnover to the team’s roster, your Bats media relations staff was able to obtain photos of 62 of these 68 players that played for the Bats this year thanks to our awesome photographer, Pat Pfister, and some help from a few others.
With the season complete, we thought it would be nice to give fans a look at the Bats players all in one place. First the position players and then the pitchers. Let’s get to it.
There were just a few guys of who escaped our collective camera lenses.
Ray Chang appeared in just one game with the Bats in the opening series on the road in Toledo before spending the rest of the season with Pensacola.
Trevor Bell made one rehab appearance for the Bats on June 6 at Lehigh Valley, but did not make another appearance for the rest of the season.
Edgar Gonzalez made two appearances with the Bats, both on the opening road trip, but spent the rest of the season on the DL with a back injury.
J.J. Hoover made four appearances with the Bats in the end of August after spending most of the first five months of the season with the Reds. He was recalled by Cincinnati on September 1.
Carlos Marmol was released by Miami on May 19 and signed a minor league deal with the Reds on May 28. He made three appearances with the Bats, all on the road, before leaving the team and being placed on the restricted list.
Fabian Williamson made one appearance with the Bats on July 11 and pitched two innings. He spent the rest of the season with Pensacola where he pitched in 50 games.
Tony Jaramillo was the Bats hitting coach for the second straight season.
Thanks for hanging in there. We can’t wait until April when we will learn the crop of fun new guys that we will get to watch for 144 games in 2015.
Following the expiration of the four-year player development contract between the Cincinnati Reds and Bakersfield Blaze at the end of the 2014 season, the Daytona Cubs announced Thursday they would now be the Advanced A affiliate of the Reds.
— Daytona Cubs (@daytonacubs) September 18, 2014
And more from the release:
“One of our initiatives during the re-affiliation process was to work our way back east,” [Reds Director of Player Development Jeff] Graupe said. “We took the time to gather as much information on our potential partners as possible, and quickly identified Daytona as our top priority. We were impressed by Andy Rayburn, Josh Lawther and their staff, and couldn’t be happier to affiliate with such a first-class organization.”
Daytona joins AAA-Louisville, AA-Pensacola, A-Dayton, and A-Billings as Reds Minor League affiliates. Radiology Associates Field at Jackie Robinson Ballpark, formerly Daytona City Island Ballpark, has housed baseball since 1914, and Daytona General Manager Josh Lawther is excited to both continue and further the tradition of Minor League Baseball in Daytona Beach.
“We’re ecstatic to have the Reds now call Daytona home,” Lawther said. “They continually spoke very highly of our community, ballpark and fans, and we look forward to a highly successful relationship both on and off the field.”
With the move to Daytona, all of the Reds’ affiliates are back east of the Mississippi River again, save the Billings Mustangs (Rookie) who have been with the Reds since way back in 1974. (In fact, the Reds’ and Mustangs’ affiliation is the fifth-longest active relationship between any MiLB club and its parent club.) The move makes sense just for the travel benefits. It’s over 2,000 miles from Bakersfield to Pensacola where the Reds’ Double-A affiliate, the Blue Wahoos, play at Bayfront Stadium. It is just a mere 447 miles from Daytona to Pensacola.
As mentioned in the release, the [soon-to-be-renamed] Cubs play their home games at Jackie Robinson Ballpark, which lies on beautiful City Island in the Halifax River. The stadium has the namesake of Jackie Robinson as it held the first racially integrated game in baseball history. You can read more about the ballpark on the Cubs’ website here.
The Reds and Blaze began their partnership in 2011 after Cincinnati was briefly affiliated with the Lynchburg Hillcats in 2010. Previously, from 2005 through 2009, Cincinnati’s Advanced A team was the Sarasota Reds. The Sarasota franchise has since been purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates and moved to Bradenton where they became the Marauders. Both Bradenton and Daytona compete in the 12-team Florida State League.
Reds minor leaguers will be leaving behind Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield which, for all intents and purposes, is a good thing. The yard opened in 1941 and has received only very minor (pun) upgrades since. The facilities are not quite up to MiLB standards and there have been talks about moving the team. The field itself is quite unique. The center-field wall stands only 354 feet away (the shortest in all of MiLB) and the diamond and is the only one in MiLB facing due west, meaning that the sun sets in the batters’ line of vision to the pitcher. The ballpark has a massive batters eye to minimize the effect on the hitters, but even still Bakersfield games often start at 7:30 or 8 p.m. local time. The Blaze deem themselves “the last game of the night” because of the late starts. Another quirk lies in the location of the dugouts… nearly halfway down each foul line. Because of this, the on-deck circles are a bit of a walk from the dugout and you can usually see two or three on-deck hitters.
The move from Bakersfield to Daytona doesn’t mean a whole lot for the Louisville Bats. In the four years that Cincinnati’s Advanced A affiliate was in Bakersfield, exactly two players were transferred directly from there to here, those being catcher Yovan Gonzalez in 2013 and RHP Mikey O’Brien in 2014. With the move, though, it will make it easier for the Reds to adjust their minor league rosters when one team needs more pitching to help for a doubleheader or a taxed bullpen.
Like the Bats, Daytona’s club will open their 2015 season at home on April 9.