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OnBaseMachine
04-02-2006, 10:00 AM
Bats' pitching staff has a generation gap
Young rotation and a veteran bullpen
By Brian Bennett
bbennett@courier-journal.com
The Courier-Journal

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Louisville Bats' pitching staff looks kind of like a school bus. The youngsters are up front, and the experienced guys are in the back.

The Bats expect to feature a rotation of five pitchers 25 or younger. The bullpen will be full of veterans, with the notable exception of 23-year-old Ryan Wagner, who was optioned down from Cincinnati yesterday. But since Wagner spent most of the past three seasons with the Reds, he can be considered a veteran as well.

"Our starters are young but very good," manager Rick Sweet said. "And everyone in the bullpen has had success at Triple-A."

Here's a closer look at the staff, starting with the starters:

Justin Germano will get the opening-day start at Ottawa on Thursday.

The 23-year-old right-hander arrived in the Joe Randa trade last July and went 3-2 with a 4.01 ERA in eight starts for the Bats. He doesn't have one dominant pitch but owns great command of four pitches and is nearly a finished product in terms of development.

"I love him," Bats pitching coach Mario Soto said. "I thought he would be the fifth starter for the Reds until they got (Bronson) Arroyo. The guy can pitch."

The Reds think they got a steal when they claimed Michael Gosling off waivers from Arizona in February. He's 25 and left-handed, and though he struggled in relief for the Diamondbacks last year, he posted a 3.33 ERA in five late-season starts.

"I've just got to get a little more consistent," he said. "Toward the end of spring training here I feel I've been throwing the ball better. It's up to me just to go to Louisville and put up good numbers."

Maybe the best sign for Elizardo Ramirez's development is that he hit a guy the other day in a spring game. Ramirez earned the nickname "Easy" for the effortless way he throws darts, but the knock on him has been that he throws too many pitches in the strike zone.

That worked just fine for the 23-year-old righty in Triple-A, where he posted a 3.77 ERA in 21 starts for the Bats in 2005. But major league batters loved the fact that most of his pitches were in the hitting zone, hence his 8.46 ERA in six appearances with the Reds.

Ramirez has worked closely with Soto this spring on making batters chase his pitches.

"I'd rather have a guy throw strikes than have a guy who's wild," Soto said. "He just has to learn how to pitch and when to throw those strikes."

Jung Keun Bong won eight games for Louisville in 2004 but missed all of last season after shoulder surgery and then a broken hand he suffered in his first rehab start. Bong, 25, played for Korea in the World Baseball Classic but threw only 22/3 innings and isn't stretched out to start yet. The left-hander will work on that in Sarasota until mid-April, with veteran Chris Michalak starting until Bong is ready.

Josh Hall has pitched in the majors but not in Triple-A. After a brief stint with the Reds in 2003, the 25-year-old right-hander missed all of 2004 with a shoulder injury. He bounced back with a 3.53 ERA for Double-A Chattanooga last season.

The bullpen is highlighted by Wagner, who reached Cincinnati just months after being drafted in the first round in 2003. He has a live arm and a devastating slider, but he struggled to a 6.11 ERA with the Reds last year.

Other relievers include lefty Brian Shackelford, who had a 2.43 ERA in 37 games for the Reds last year; right-hander Jason Standridge, who had 32 appearances for Cincinnati in '05; curveball artist Tom Shearn; and lefty Ben Kozlowski, a converted starter.

"Looking around, I think I'm the only guy without big-league experience," said Shearn, a key reliever for last year's Bats. "And Wagner coming down is only going to strengthen our pen."

The Bats also will have two experienced closer candidates. Scott Chiasson had 34 saves between two levels in 2001, and Jake Robbins had 29 for Triple-A Buffalo last season.

"I think it's going to be a good pitching staff at Triple-A," Soto said, "and that's also good for the major league club."

Player moves
The Reds reassigned infielder Frank Menechino and outfielders Brian Buchanan, Jacob Cruz and Quinton McCracken to Triple-A camp yesterday. McCracken likely would have been Cincinnati's fourth outfielder, but he injured a foot late in camp.

Instead, Chris Denorfia will be the Reds' fourth outfielder, having been recalled from Louisville. Non-roster invitee Andy Abad also made the Reds' roster.

Brian Bennett can be reached at (502) 582-7177.

http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060402/SPORTS07/604020511/1036

NatiRedGals
04-02-2006, 10:06 AM
Really?! See how can we be ranked dead last when half our guys have not reached prime lol i swear when we hit later years our club is gonna have some amazing rookies!:starwars:

OnBaseMachine
04-02-2006, 10:20 AM
Just because they are young doesn't necessarily make them good. None of those five project to more than just fifth starters in the majors.

SoTxRedsFan
04-02-2006, 10:29 AM
Just because they are young doesn't necessarily make them good. None of those five project to more than just fifth starters in the majors.
Screw Projections...

NatiRedGals
04-02-2006, 10:35 AM
Thank You nothing is written in stone!

DannyB
04-02-2006, 10:43 AM
I`m starting to think Soto was a good choice for the Bats.

dougdirt
04-02-2006, 10:56 AM
Word is that they want everyone in the minors to learn a changeup. If Soto really does teach the best changeup around, wouldnt it be better to have him in say, Dayton?

captainmorgan07
04-02-2006, 11:12 AM
projections are overrated

OnBaseMachine
04-02-2006, 11:13 AM
OK, since everyone hates the word projection, how about I just say their stuff stinks? None of the five have the stuff to be great major league starters.

Joseph
04-02-2006, 11:18 AM
He's only in AAA while Vern Ruhle is recovering/getting treated for cancer. Once Ruhle returns to the bigs, then Hume goes back to the bullpen, and the guy out there now goes back to AAA and Soto goes elsewhere.

NewEraReds
04-02-2006, 12:26 PM
my guess is soto will travel to all the levels during the season, stopping in each for a certain amount of time. but who knows. gotta find a place for him though, imo

pedro
04-02-2006, 12:33 PM
Well, it is better than the last few years, which doesn't really amount to much.

but hey, you got to start somewhere.

NewEraReds
04-02-2006, 12:36 PM
hopefully in a few years the rotation will be

bailey
wood
gardner
pauly

or whatever, the top 2 is what matters ;)

and then we follow that up with better drafts and development so we are filling in the levels behind them with talent as well.

pedro
04-02-2006, 12:41 PM
hopefully in a few years the rotation will be

bailey
wood
gardner
pauly

or whatever, the top 2 is what matters ;)

and then we follow that up with better drafts and development so we are filling in the levels behind them with talent as well.


If two of those guys pan out, the Reds will be extremely lucky. That is not a condemnation of the Reds but an acceptance of the likelyhood of any minor league picther ever making the bigs.

NewEraReds
04-02-2006, 01:02 PM
If two of those guys pan out, the Reds will be extremely lucky. That is not a condemnation of the Reds but an acceptance of the likelyhood of any minor league picther ever making the bigs.
thats not in the bigs, thats for lville, the TOPIC OF THIS THREAD

Mario-Rijo
04-02-2006, 02:06 PM
OK, since everyone hates the word projection, how about I just say their stuff stinks? None of the five have the stuff to be great major league starters.

I agree with OBM that none of these guys translate into a superstar, at least they are not likely too. However there have been occassions where guys with solid but unspectacular pitches w/ great control have become great pitchers. Greg Maddux is one that comes to mind.

jmcclain19
04-02-2006, 02:10 PM
Well, it is better than the last few years, which doesn't really amount to much.

but hey, you got to start somewhere.

Exactly - it's like being the skinny kid at the Krispy Kreme Convention.

It's not saying much, but at least it is something.

pedro
04-02-2006, 02:12 PM
thats not in the bigs, thats for lville, the TOPIC OF THIS THREAD

Well Ok Then. THANKS FOR THE CLARIFICATION.

Sabo Fan
04-02-2006, 03:40 PM
I still have a faint hope that Josh Hall can be a useful major league pitcher, his best shot now likely being a bullpenner. I really thought that he showed some real promise when he was at Dayton and then injuries dimmed his star considerably. Hopefully he can get things back on trap and maybe with a little help from Soto he can be a help to this Reds bullpen after Weathers and Merker are dealt away at some point this season.