Chris and George sit down for one last time to recap the season that was for the 2014 Louisville Bats. Be sure to check out our conversations with both longtime Louisville catcher Corky Miller and your 2014 Mary E. Barney MVP, Jason Bourgeois. (Recorded Thursday, Sept. 4)
The Louisville Bats’ 2014 season has been similar to that of a roller coaster; up and down and up and down until it eventually comes to a screeching halt.
Yes, that screeching halt may have come sooner than hoped or expected as the Bats were eliminated from playoff contention with Monday’s 5-0 loss at Toledo, but there’s still plenty for the team to play for in the remaining five games of the season – pride being at the forefront.
“I know what it’s like to see players not have a job and I don’t take it for granted,” said Louisville outfielder Jason Bourgeois. “I come here ready to work every day and I enjoy the guys in the clubhouse and the challenge of going out and competing every day. We want to win. We all play this game to win.”
It’s obvious that making it to the Major Leagues is the ultimate goal of every minor leaguer – if that’s not the case, then they’re probably wasting their time – but the competitive drive, no matter the level, undoubtedly exists in more ballplayers than not.
Although this particular team won’t celebrate an IL Championship or even a playoff appearance for that matter, it could still play a large role in rinsing a bad taste out of the collective mouth of the organization.
Finish with a flurry and this team could avoid setting a franchise record with three consecutive losing seasons.
Finish with a flurry and this team could record two winning months in the same season for the first time since 2010.
Finish with a flurry and this team could defend its home park and finish with a winning record at Louisville Slugger Field for the first time in three years.
The Louisville Bats return to Louisville Slugger Field at 7:05 tonight and play host to the Toledo Mud Hens for the first of three games. The Indianapolis Indians then come to town on Sunday for the final two games of the season. Click here to purchase or get information regarding tickets.
Only 12 games stand between the Louisville Bats and the end of the 2014 season. Are you wondering what the club will make of it? Be sure to listen up as Chris and George bring you all of the relevant information surrounding the organization as we head down the home stretch. (Recorded Thursday, August 21)
It’s a Thursday afternoon, and you’re craving trivial knowledge about the final two cities that the Bats are visiting during their eight-game home. You’ll get it eventually, but first we need to take a brief look at what this road trip means to the Bats now that the final month of the season is upon us and the playoff hunt is still very real.
Here are the basics:
Louisville heads to IL North territory for their final games outside of the IL West this season. They’ll play four in Syracuse starting tonight before heading to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for another set of four games. The Bats are a combined 2-6 against the two teams on the season after both walked away from Louisville Slugger Field with 3-1 series advantages earlier this year.
Syracuse is currently leading the North with a 65-51 record – good for best in the IL – and brings a formidable mix to the table. Brandon Laird leads the offense with a .314 average to go with 13 homers and 66 RBIs. The rotation features a two-headed monster at the top, with IL All-Star starter Taylor Hill (10-5, 2.52) and Aaron Laffey (11-4, 3.20) leading the way. Despite being without a pair of offensive leaders in Steven Souza Jr. (called up to Washington) and Zach Walters (traded to Cleveland), they’ll be a potent offense and difficult staff to face this weekend in New York.
The second half of the trip will take place in Moosic, Pennsylvania, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. While the RailRiders took three of four from the Bats in May, they have struggled to keep up in the tough North. At 57-60 on the year, they sit in fourth place in the division. The Yankees aren’t known for having a particularly fertile farm system, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some players worth watching in Scranton/WB this season.
Infielder Jose Pirela and outfielder Adonis Garcia are the two best all-around talents in the RailRider lineup, and played big roles when the Bats saw them in May. Garcia is currently carrying a team-best .322 batting average with nine dingers and 44 RBI. Pirela is right behind him with a .312 average, eight homers and 48 RBI. While he doesn’t hit for as good of an average, the power bat of Zoilo Almonte – who holds team highs in homers (17 ) and RBI (61) can’t be slept on.
Rotation-wise, the RailRiders don’t have a pitcher on the staff with more than five wins. Furthermore, the best ERA from a Scranton/WB pitcher who has ten or more starts on the year is Joel De La Cruz’ 4.52 mark. This is certainly an area that the Bats, who have proven their ability to produce runs in bunches this season, should look to exploit before they head home.
A final note before we get to the fun (albeit relatively unimportant) stuff, the Bats currently sit just four games back from the top of the IL West despite being in last place in the division. This late in the season, every game counts.
Alas, it’s time for the fun facts about the final two cities to host the Bats in 2014. Here we go.
Located in the heart of New York (it’s literally right in the middle), The ‘Cuse is the fifth-most populous in the state. It was names after the Italian city, Siracusa, which is on the Eastern coast of the island of Sicily. Top employers in the city include Wegman’s Food Markets, Lockheed Martin Corporation and, you guessed it, Syracuse University.
The Orange may be the biggest sports show in town, but the Chiefs and fellow minor league franchise Crunch (AHL Hockey) round out the sports entertainment options in the city. Famous Syracusans include actor Tom Cruise, basketball player Andray Blatche, ABC News anchor David Muir and Olympic gold medal swimmer Kim Black.
The sixth largest city in Pennsylvania and county seat of Lackawanna County, Scranton is a city that boomed in the mid-1930′s thanks to the coal mining industry. Today, it may be most recognizable as the home and setting of the NBC sitcom The Office. Scranton is also home to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penguins, the AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Notable people from Scranton include Vice President Joe Biden, NBA coach and broadcaster P.J. Carlesimo, Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin and famous television host Bill O’Reilly.
That’ll do it for our authoritative preview of the upcoming road trip for the Bats. Listen in to Matt Andrews on 790 KRD for the action and make sure to check out the Bats Weekly Podcast to hear more about the road ahead for the Bats.
The Bats are coming off a split four-game series with Rochester and diving into the last 26 games of the season. Listen up for all of the relevant news and notes surrounding the organization as we head into the home stretch. Also, Chris sits down to chat with Bats infielder Rey Navarro. (Recorded Wednesday, August 6)
Listen in to catch up on the Bats previous 4-5 homestand and take a look at what lies ahead as they try to bounce back from being no-hit by Tyler Cloyd in last night’s series opener at Columbus. Also, George sits down to catch up with Louisville leadoff man and center fielder, Jason Bourgeois. (Recorded July 31)
OK, we know that we don’t need to convince Bats Nation to vote Buddy Bat for best mascot. We get to watch him work 72 nights a year and more, and we know that he’s the GOAT. So before we get to the bulk of our case, here are all the essentials you need if you’ve already decided that Buddy is the best mascot in MiLB.
1. CLICK HERE to vote online now.
2. You can tweet to vote as well by following these steps: Follow @MiLB, tweet the hashtag #MascotMania and include #VoteBuddyBat. Retweets count, too, so follow us @LouisvilleBats and retweet away.
If you’re still not convinced, you will be after reading the following things that make Buddy Bat the best mascot in MiLB. Buckle up.
1. Buddy regularly finds himself with celebrities.
2. Buddy is romantic.
3. Buddy is the only one that can pull off “Superman riding a horse” for Halloween and still hold his own next to a phenomenal Corky Miller costume.
4. Speaking of Corky Miller, Buddy knows him.
5. He’s great with the kids
6. Buddy could be a bullpen arm if he wasn’t so good at his day job.
7. Buddy has been spotted repelling down large buildings.
8. He also likes to skydive with the Army’s Golden Knights.
9. When he’s not on the field, he’s in the community.
10. Finally, Buddy is number one. In his own mind, sure. But most importantly, in our hearts. #VOTEBUDDYBAT
| Paid for by the Campaign for Buddy Bat 2014 |
It’s good to be back! Chris and George return after the All-Star Break to sum up the Bats’ season thus far, have some fun with a few theoretical superlative awards and, of course, talk about the #RealSelfie craze going on in the clubhouse. Also, Chris sits down to chat with Louisville manager Jim Riggleman. (Recorded, July 17)
While Major League Baseball inevitably steals the spotlight each summer, the minor leagues always play an entertaining supporting role. The age-old question that accompanies the minor league system goes something like this:
“Who are my team’s top prospects and when will I see them with my team?”
It’s a relatively impossible question to answer with accuracy, but plenty of people get paid to try. That’s why we’re going to take our crack at it here on the Bats Signal and see what the Reds have cooking down south in Pensacola.
Before we get to the Cincinnati prospects that are still in Pensacola, we’d be remiss in excluding the Blue Wahoos that have already made it to Louisville this season. Infielders Juan Silverio and Rey Navarro have been excellent additions to the Bats lineup since they arrived in June, while reliever Justin Freeman has been solid out of the bullpen in his return to Louisville Slugger Field this season.
For more on how the trio of former Wahoos have given the Bats a shot of energy during the dog days of summer, click here.
While the Pensacola of the past continues in Louisville’s present, a new crop of exciting prospects have arrived at Cincinnati’s southern-most stop on the farm. Without further ado, here’s the rundown of who Reds fans need to keep an eye on down on the Florida panhandle.
Top Reds prospect Robert Stephenson is the obvious starting point here, and he’s produced some mixed results in his first full season. Despite his 4-6 record, he is carrying a 3.97 ERA that is on its way down, and Stephenson is still considered to be a top arm in all of the minor leagues. Baseball America’s Mid-season Top 50 was recently released, and Stephenson came in at #20 on the list, the highest mark for the Cincinnati chain.
Perhaps the most impressive pitcher this season at Pensacola has been right-hander Michael Lorenzen. A year older than Stephenson, Lorenzen came from the college ranks, which may explain why he’s been a bit more polished to this point in his career. Lorenzen boasts a team-best 2.45 ERA through 16 starts, making him a prime candidate to potentially see late-season time in Louisville this summer.
Rounding out our group of pitchers to watch is one of Pensacola’s newest Blue Wahoos, righty Ben Lively. His tremendous success at Class A-Advanced Bakersfield earned him a call up in June after going 10-1 with a 2.28 ERA for the Blaze. He was named a California League Midseason All-Star for his efforts. While the success on the West Coast hasn’t yet translated to the Gulf Coast (he’s 0-3 with a 4.38 ERA in five starts with Pensacola), Lively is worth keeping an eye on as we head down the stretch of the 2014 season.
Rossmel Perez isn’t an infielder (he’s a catcher), but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll let him kick off the list of infielders anyway. Perez has been Pensacola’s best hitter that hasn’t already graduated to Louisville this season. He’s posted a team-best .316 average with three homers and 35 RBIs. While the likes of Tucker Barnhart and Bryan Anderson have filled the catcher’s position well this season, Perez may be one to look for in Louisville next year.
There’s certainly added sentimental value on this blog for former Louisville Cardinal Ryan Wright, though he’s done plenty to make him worthy of this list on the field as well. The second baseman that won All-America honors as a Card has just reached the doorstep of returning to Louisville as a pro. He started the season with Bakersfield, but received a June call-up after hitting .313 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs in 55 games with the Blaze. He’ll likely be in Pensacola for the remainder of the season, but is another Blue Wahoo who could become a Bat by 2015.
Jesse Winker headlines a crowded group of talented outfielders at the Double-A level of the Reds organization. A 2014 California League All-Star and Futures Game selection, Winker has skyrocketed up the ladder of baseball’s top prospects. Baseball America ranked him 29th in all of the minor leagues in their Mid-season report, and Winker’s torrid first half has certainly helped him earn that recognition. With Bakersfield this season, he hit .317 with 13 homers and 49 RBIs. In 20 games with Pensacola since his June call-up, Winker has hit .213 with a pair of home runs and eight RBIs.
Juan Duran is one of two Blue Wahoos outfielders currently listed on the Reds’ 40-man roster. His sturdy 6’7″ frame would suggest that he’d be a candidate to hit for power, and so far this season he’s delivered on that potential. Duran has hit 11 homers this season, driving in 39 runs in 79 games with Pensacola this season. Duran will only turn 23 in September, so the Reds may be content with letting him develop at his own pace.
Even younger than Duran is Pensacola’s other 40-man outfielder, Yorman Rodriguez. Rodriguez will turn 22 in August, and has already made a steady climb through the Cincinnati ranks. Because of his age, he’s another player that likely won’t make it to Louisville this season, but could in 2015. Rodriguez is batting .246 with five homers and 25 RBIs this season.
Jesse Winker’s Bakersfield teammate from the beginning of the year, Kyle Waldrop, rounds out our look at the Blue Wahoos’ roster. Waldrop was one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball during the first half of the season for the Blaze, hitting .359 with six homers and 32 RBIs in 65 games in the California League. It goes without saying that he was a California League All-Star, and was named the Top Star for the game. Like Winker, Waldrop was called to Pensacola in June. He’s hit .269 since the call-up in his first Double-A action of his career, adding two homers and 11 RBIs.
The Cincinnati Reds have proven to be a highly productive farm system in the past, with countless homegrown players currently contributing at All-Star levels in the bigs. If the current Blue Wahoos are any indication of the future of the franchise, things certainly continue to look bright.
In the top of the sixth inning on Wednesday night at Louisville Slugger Field, Rule 7.13 came into play for the first time this season.
Rule 7.13 by definition states: unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.
Click on the following link to view the play: Rule 7.13
Reading the rule above, and seeing the play, Anderson looked to be at no fault in this particular play in my opinion. He had the ball in his possession when the runner Worth was attempting to score. “The throw took me up the line and took me to that spot and there was no where for me to go,” said Anderson.
This is where the rule becomes very debatable because it is in the judgment of the Umpire to make the call and to determine if the catcher was blocking the plate or not. Home plate umpire Brian De Brauwere made the call that Anderson was blocking the plate on Wednesday. “I saw Bryan slide to his left to take away the lane from the runner [Worth], before he possessed the ball, so that is why I made the call,” said De Brauwere.
I am in no way blaming De Brauwere for making the call he did, but I do believe that the “experimental” rule needs to be adjusted. The rule in place now, puts the catcher, umpire and runner in a bad position, because of the different amount of plays that can happen at or around home plate. If the MLB can change the rule just a bit, I believe it will be a rule that will keep the runner and catcher safer in the future.
This rule is one of the most debatable rules in all of baseball, so let’s hear your opinion! Post in the comments below whether you agree with the call, or believe that Anderson was at no fault in the matter.