Louisville, KY - Cincinnati's top prospect, IF Yonder Alonso, joins the Bats Wednesday as they open the first round of the Governors' Cup Playoffs against the Durham Bulls in North Carolina tonight. LHP Travis Wood squares off against RHP Jeremy Hellickson at Durham Bulls Athletic Park at 7:05 p.m.
The Bats and Bulls are squaring off for the fourth time in the post-season since Louisville joined the International League in 1998. Durham defeated the Redbirds in 1998, 3-0, defeated the Bats in 2003, 3-1, and then eliminated the Bats, 3-1, last season. The only IL Championship came in 2001 when the RiverBats were named champs after defeating Norfolk in the first round (3-2) and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons (1-0) in the finals; the finals were shortened that year due to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Alonso, drafted seventh overall in the first round of the 2008 draft, will be making his Triple-A debut when he appears for the Bats. The first baseman began the season with Single-A Sarasota (49g, .303-7-38) and was promoted to Double-A Carolina on June 1 (28g, .287-2-14). Alonso was placed on the disabled list June 18 with a fractured right hamate in his hand and played six rehab games with the GCL Reds (8/4, 8/17-8/21) before being reinstated from the DL Aug. 22. He went to Sarasota for two games (8/22-23) and then back to Carolina (8/24-pres) to finish the Mudcats' season. Overall, he hit a combined .289 (84-291) with nine homers and 52 RBI.
Outfielder Jay Bruce, who is with the Bats on Major League rehab, will remain with the team through at least their series with Durham. Bruce fractured his right wrist while diving for a ball and has been on Cincinnati's disabled list since July 26. Catcher Ryan Hanigan left Louisville to join the Reds on their road trip and will not be with the team in Durham. Hanigan was with the Bats on Major League rehab to recover from a concussion he suffered Aug. 23; hit safely in all five rehab games with the Bats.
The Bats return home for games three through five Friday, Sept. 11; games four and five will be played, if necessary, Sept. 12-13. The winner of the Louisville/Durham series will play the winner of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Gwinnett series that also opens Wednesday.