Will Owens and Chris Gehring talk about the past week in Bats baseball. They recap the series split with the Indianapolis Indians, the Bats’ current series in Columbus, and the upcoming series in Toledo. Also, Will catches up with Bats reliever Lee Hyde and talks about his strong performances on the mound.
Felix Perez wanted to do two things—get out of Cuba and play professional baseball. He would do whatever it took to accomplish those two goals. He and a group of people, of whom he’s afraid to identify, fled from Cuba by boat. Their boat ran out of gas, leaving them stranded at sea for three days without food and with limited water.
“Everybody knows how things are in Cuba,” said Perez in 2010 in an interview with the News Observer. “You’re not allowed to get paid. It wasn’t easy to get out of there. I just thank God every day that I got out.”
He hasn’t said how they got to Mexico, after which they went through the Dominican Republic and ended up in Miami. Perez, 20, was set to sign with the New York Yankees and receive a healthy bonus of $3.5 million. Only, he wasn’t 20 as he had said. He was somewhere around 24, maybe 25.
“I didn’t want to do it, but people told me to,” said Perez, who wears thick gold chains around his neck, including several religious pendants, one with an image of Jesus. “Somebody came to me and told me to do this like this so you can get more money. I guess you have to be younger.”
“I just wanted to play baseball, so I listened to other people.”
Listening to other people, assuredly his former agent Jaime Torres—who represents such Cuban stars as Alexei Ramirez and Jose Contreras—got him suspended for one year by Major League Baseball. The Commissioner’s Office lifted the suspension early, saying circumstances existed that allowed them to use discretion in the reduction of the suspension.
Once the suspension was lifted, Perez was free to talk to any team he wanted. The reports on him ranged from great to average. One scout commented that Perez was raw, but a sure-fire five tool talent. Simply meaning, Perez could hit for power and for contact, had excellent baserunning skills/speed, throwing ability and fielding ability. Another said he possessed no standard tool with a low ceiling for improvement.
The $550K he received as a signing bonus with the Reds was quite a fall from $3.5 million, but it didn’t bother Felix. “I’ve learned,” Perez said. “Right now, it’s not about the money… I feel a lot better. I thank Cincinnati for the chance to get back and play baseball.” The club was quick to distinguish Perez from the other Cuban defect they signed, the high-profile Aroldis Chapman.
“We’re not thinking he’s going to be a Hall of Famer, but we think he’s an addition to the organization, a left-handed hitter that hopefully down the road will be of value to the organization,” said Tony Arias, the Reds’ director of Latin American scouting in an ESPN.com interview in 2010. He was, however, expected to rise quickly through the lower organization ranks.
“No matter what he does at Class-A, he’ll need to get to Double-A pretty quick. He needs that challenge,” said Bill Bavasi, Reds vice president of scouting, player development and international operations.
Felix did just that, spending 16 games on the Domincan Summer League team before he was bumped up to the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats. After only 16 games in High-A, Perez was ushered into Double-A Carolina where he finished out the 2010 season. As the competition on the mound got better, Perez saw his numbers go down, but not at an alarming rate. In the Dominican Summer League he hit .429, in Single-A+ he hit .338 and in Double-A Felix was at .266.
Considering it was his first full season playing in the states, 2010 was a success. Not only did he have to readjust to better competition but also to a brand new culture, new laws and a different language. David Bell, his 2010 manager, doesn’t speak Spanish but used his bilingual players to communicate with Perez. The game can translate pretty well too. “It’s kind of a universal language,” Bell said.
The 2011 season would be his first chance, in a full season at Double-A, to prove his worth.
Rock bottom came in June when his average dropped to a season low .204. Over the next month and a half he raised his it back to .257. On July 29, Felix made his Triple-A debut in Louisville after finishing his Double-A season on a tear. Over the final 41 games, Perez hit .446 with a 14 game hitting streak on the tail end. He only played nine games in Louisville before a season ending injury, hitting in five games with one run scored.
Perez played the entire 2012 season here in Louisville and led the team in multiple statistical categories both at the plate and in the field. Felix led the team in batting average (.301), hits (118), and 3-hit games (7). His monthly average improved every month until he hit .330 in August, after going off in July with a .352 average. Perez was also a standout defensive player, committing only five errors (four in right field, one in left field) in 111 games playing all three positions in the outfield.
Through July 2nd of this season, Perez leads the team in multi-hit games (24) and has the longest hitting streak (nine games from May 8-16). He owns two walk-off hits, both were solo home runs, one against Toledo and one against Indianapolis.
Felix is not currently on the Reds 40-man roster but if this level of play continues he will undoubtedly be fighting for a spot. “He has hit .300 for two seasons now, so he’s doing something right,” says Matt Andrews, the voice of the Louisville Bats. MLB scouts have categorized Perez as an above-average hitter with an ability to perform in clutch situations. One scout told me, “His decision making in the outfield, how he plays the balls in the corners, allows him to turn a hitter’s double into a single.”
While Felix is critical of Cuba, there is one thing about his homeland that gets his praise. “If there’s one thing I’m proud about Cuba, it’s that they showed me how to play baseball the right way,” he said. If he keeps playing the way he was taught, with grit and determination, we may be hearing that catchy walk-up song “Chacarron Macarron” at Great American Ball Park.
By Daniel Farish
With only a few days remaining in the fan vote for this year’s Triple-A All-Star game, the Bats need your help. Currently, Louisville doesn’t have anyone leading their position in fan votes. The International League leader in stolen bases, Billy Hamilton, is fighting with Gwinnett’s Joey Terdoslavich for a spot in the outfield. Billy has 21 more stolen bases than anyone else in the league and we think he deserves a starting role.
Another Bat has a legitimate shot of getting a ticket to Reno as well. Starting pitcher Greg Reynolds is tied for the most wins in the league with 9-0. He also owns the lowest ERA in the IL.
To get Billy and Greg to Reno, submit your votes here. Remember, voting ends June 26 at midnight and you can vote up to 25 times!
Billy Hamilton was recently clocked going from home to first on a bunt in 3.70 seconds. By converting feet/seconds (90/3.7 = 24.32 ft/s) to miles/hour, we can say that Billy can run at a speed close to 16.6-MPH. However, a runner will be faster going from a lead off than from a bunt attempt. Therefore, we’re going to say that Billy runs 17-MPH. In comparison, Usain Bolt was recorded at 28-MPH in a 100-meter dash.
Sports Science aired a segment in 2011 about stealing bases. They found that an above average base runner averages more than 15 MPH going from first to second on a steal attempt. We are going to use their findings, but substitute the approximate speed of Billy (17).
Sports Science estimates that a base runner with a 12-foot lead, going 15-MPH, will take 3.50 seconds to reach second base. As we’ve seen, Billy is a tad bit faster than even the above average runners. At 17-MPH and with a 12-foot lead off, it will take Billy approximately 3.13 seconds to get from first to second.
Sports Science collected data from MLB pitchers and catchers and found these averages:
- From the stretch, a typical pitcher’s throwing motion takes .80 seconds.
- A 90-MPH takes .45 seconds to reach the catcher.
- The average catcher takes .90 seconds to get a throw to second out of his hand.
- The average throw from a catcher reaches second bases in 1.10 seconds.
What’s that add up to?
From the pitcher’s motion to the ball reaching second base, roughly 3.25 seconds elapse. Obviously, there are tons of variables such as Billy’s jump, catcher’s accuracy, pitch location, the tag, and Billy’s slide. But without all those variables, our numbers show that on average, Billy will beat a throw to second by .12 seconds. It’s no wonder that he leads the league in stolen bases by 20 and is on track to steal around 80 bases this season.
You can view the segment here.
So basically what we’re trying to say is, Billy is fast.
No words needed for this.
Every home game the Bats press box staff enjoys food from a long list of sponsors. So far this season, the Bats are 17-21 at home. So we got to thinking, which food provider has the best record and who has the worst record?
Skyline Chili has the best record this season recording only one loss, a 12-inning, 13-11 loss to Columbus. Bowls of chili and pans of cheese coneys flood the press box on game night, along with mountains of cheese. You just can’t get enough cheese.
Beef O’ Brady’s
Beef o’Brady’s offers up delectable wings, chicken wraps packed to the brim and bags of fresh Lay’s potato chips. The most memorable thing? Rice Krispie Treats! Press box workers have been known to hoard the desserts as if they were edible gold.
McAlister’s, Spinelli’s & Jimmy Johns
Record: Each provider is 2-3
McAlister’s most popular item here in the press box is not the deli sandwiches, chock full of ham, turkey and roast beef. It’s the single servings of potato salad topped with paprika. Those disappear quicker than the sandwiches, which don’t last much past the third inning.
Everyone knows Spinelli’s for their uniqueness. Whether it’s one of a kind pizza, the locations that hold the same name but each has its own feel, or their 5am closing time, Spinelli’s has filled a niche in Louisville that no one else could. They provide 8 or 9 different types of pizza here at Louisville Slugger Field, but that’s not anyone’s concern. It’s the smell of deep fried Oreo’s that fills the press box and gets the attention of everyone in the room.
Jimmy John’s is always a solid choice. You know what you’re going to get. Subs that are stuffed with meat, surrounded by some of the best bread in all of sandwichdom. Add in the Jimmy Chips and you have yourself a great lunch.
Roosters & Chick-Fil-A
Record: Each provider is 1-4
While the two major chicken providers have a deplorable win-loss record (combined 2-8), they have a fantastic food satisfaction record.
Rooster’s absolutely brings it, with five different kinds of boneless wings (Mild, Medium, Hot, BBQ, and Carolina Gold) and a boatload of potato wedges. Add in the ranch (or bleu cheese) as a dipping sauce and you have a delectable meal throughout the night.
Chick-Fil-A is riding a 4-game losing streak on the field and a perfect record in the press box. As consistent as a sunrise and a sunset, you know what to expect: Chick-Fil-A sandwich, cole slaw, Lay’s chips and a cookie. People have been known to rip through the box lunches that are left and steal the cookies. Yes, they’re that good. Chick-Fil-A recently stepped up its game, putting the pickles on the side in a container for those of us who don’t like them on the sandwiches.
Wick’s & Wild Eggs
Record: Wild Eggs (2-0), Wick’s (1-1)
These two didn’t qualify for the standings because of their limited starts but they bring the heat nonetheless.
Wild Eggs only caters our morning games, but they knock it out of the park. Last time they catered we were spoiled with eggs, bacon, omelets, buffalo chicken breakfast enchilada and French toast. Along with the French toast are syrup, powdered sugar and cinnamon. Absolutely addicting.
Wick’s has some of the best deep dish pizza in the city. The Mighty Meaty Wick is a press box favorite, with pepperoni, bacon and ham underneath a blanket of cheese and then cooked to perfection. Two pieces of Wick’s and you’re feeling pretty full.
Press Box Voting
After an extensive and exhaustive polling of the press box workers it was determined that Chick-Fil-A is the most popular catered food, gathering 28.5% of the votes. Second was Wicks at 23.8% and Skyline third with 19%. Every caterer we have received multiple votes, which proves just how well we are fed up here on game days. Jealous? You should be.
There’s no doubt that Tony Cingrani, who is now in his second stint with the Cincinnati Reds this season, is destined to be a part of the big club’s rotation by the time his maturation process has met it’s peak. He’s been the man that the Reds have called on while Johnny Cueto’s lat strain has been nursed back to health.
In seven starts in Cincinnati this season, Cingrani has been exactly what the doctor ordered in replacing the now-healthy Cueto. He’s sporting a 3.15 ERA as a starter and has struck out 46 batters in 40 innings of work. Those numbers prove his worth as a rotation mainstay in the future, but where the Reds may need him most in the present is in the bullpen.
Most recently, that’s where the promising lefty has found his home. In two bullpen appearances (June 17 and 19), Cingrani has yet to allow a run and has struck out five in 1.2 innings of work. While the new role is a departure from the norm in 2013, it’s not entirely foreign. Cingrani made his Major League debut last season as a reliever for the Reds and only allowed one run in an abbreviated three-game, five-inning stint. Unsurprisingly, he struck out nine over that period.
Cingrani’s “stuff” translates well to a bullpen role in the short term during a season where the Reds are in position to contend. He has an electric fastball with off-speed options that are effective enough to change the pace on opposing hitters. With an all-righty starting rotation in Cincinnati, his left-handedness adds even more value out of the ‘pen.
Nick Masset is currently on the Reds’ 60-day disabled list, and with Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall being added to the 15-day DL in the past week, Cingrani could see some extended duty working as a key late-inning cog in the Cincinnati bullpen.
Another former Bat making his way as a Reds reliever is 6’5″ righty Curtis Partch. He made his Major League debut on June 9th and was welcomed by a grand slam off the bat of St. Louis Cardinal Matt Holliday. In his three appearances since that debut, Partch has settled in and given the Reds quality innings. He’s only allowed one earned run in seven innings, and has struck out eight.
On June 13th, Partch gave Cincinnati four innings of scoreless relief in what would ultimately be a losing effort after 14 innings against the Chicago Cubs. He struck out four and only allowed one hit while not allowing a walk in that appearance.
Despite making 102 starts in his seven-season minor league career, Partch doesn’t figure to have quite the high ceiling that Cingrani does as a rotation arm. Still, his weapons are similar to those of Cingrani. Partch’s fastball has similar velocity in the mid-90s and has proven to be an effective tool to get outs in relief.
While both former Bats have taken different paths to their current spots in the Reds’ bullpen and may have very different futures in the organization, Cingrani and Partch figure to be key pieces of an injury-ridden Cincinnati staff in the coming weeks.