What?!? Why in the world would they switch Calvin Medlock to the bullpen and keep Steve Kelly and Eddy Valdez in the rotation over him? As for Pelland, I was hoping the Reds would repeat him in Sarasota and give him the chance to dominate that league before moving on to Chattanooga.
Lookouts arriving with new-look team
By David Paschall Staff Writer
The Chattanooga Lookouts will open the 2006 season with familiar pitchers but a new infield from a season ago.
They will have four members of Cincinnati’s 40-man roster — catcher Miguel Perez, first baseman Joey Votto and pitchers Travis Chick and Phil Dumatrait — and three of Baseball America’s top 10 organizational prospects: Perez, Votto and Chick. The Lookouts are aiming to rebound from last season’s 53-83 record, which was the worst since professional baseball returned to Chattanooga in 1976. "We’re looking at a young roster, and it’s a whole new team than last year," Lookouts thirdyear manager Jayhawk Owens said. "We’ve got a lot of young, hungry guys and a lot of our higher prospects. That’s what Double-A is all about, getting some of these young prospects up there and putting the pressure on them."
Lookouts players who drove from spring training in Sarasota, Fla., arrived in Chattanooga on Saturday. Those scheduled to fly into town arrive today. The Lookouts open their Southern League season Thursday night in Jacksonville but play an exhibition game Tuesday night at BellSouth Park against Chattanooga State.
Barring any late changes, the Lookouts will have a starting infield of Votto at first, Javier Colina at second, Anderson Machado at shortstop and Aaron Herr at third. Luis Bolivar is slated to be the utility infielder.
Herr, the son of former St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Tommy Herr, was a first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2000 and played at BellSouth in 2004 with Greenville. Machado has appeared in 20 big-league games, one with Philadelphia in 2003 and the rest with the Reds the past two seasons.
"Colina led the Venezuelan Winter League two years ago in hitting and was the MVP of that league," new Reds player development director Johnny Almaraz said. "Machado is 25 and a good defensive player, and we are putting him there to give him some confidence offensively. Herr has hit 20-plus homers in Double-A before."
Last year’s opening-day infield had Jesse Gutierrez at first, Kevin Howard at second, Jeff Bannon at short and Santiago Perez at third. Gutierrez and Bannon are now with Triple-A Louisville. Howard and Perez are in other organizations.
Miguel Perez, Votto and Bolivar each will be making his Double-A debut, though Perez did play 21 Triple-A games last season and two with Cincinnati.
"It will be a challenge with these kids, because they’re going to get beat up a little bit," Owens said. "For the first time in their life, they’re going to experience failure. It’s a long season, and I’ve got to watch them this first month if they start getting down on themselves."
Backing Perez at catcher will be Ryan Hanigan, who was Chattanooga’s most underrated player last year, hitting.321 in 100 games. The projected outfield has returner Norris Hopper in left, Chris Dickerson in center and Eric Crozier in right, with Rick Asadoorian returning as a fourth outfielder.
Javon Moran is scheduled back in Chattanooga once a wrist injury heals, but Junior Ruiz may not play this year after an offseason automobile accident. Each finished with the Lookouts a year ago.
Dickerson, a cousin of NFL Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson, is rated by Baseball America as the organization’s best athlete. He hit just.236 in 119 games last season with high Single-A Sarasota.
"He’s one we’re going to have to watch closely," Owens said. "It’s going to be a big jump for him. Hopefully he can keep his head above water."
The projected rotation consists of Chick, Dumatrait, Steve Kelly, Tyler Pelland and Eddy Valdez. Chick, Dumatrait and Valdez were with Chattanooga last season, while Kelly went 12-7 with a 2.96 ERA two years ago with the Lookouts, tying for the Southern League lead in wins and earning an invitation to the league’s all-star game.
Highlighting the bullpen will be Calvin Medlock, who went 6-3 with a 3.06 ERA in 17 starts with Sarasota last year and was named Reds minor league pitcher of the year. David Shafer, who made 34 appearances with the Lookouts last season and notched six saves, is expected to get the first crack at closer.