Again the Bats lost more than they won this week, keeping a neat one-in-three winning percentage. They should improve once their hitters start doing what they’re capable of. But they’ve paired a .232 team batting average with a 4.97 team ERA- both good for 13th out of 14 IL teams. Not pretty. Pensacola is hitting well, but outside of some of the relievers is struggling on the mound. The Blaze’ winning streak ran out at eleven, but they remain the only one of the four clubs over .500. Dayton dropped four of six, scoring just 16 runs over those games. They have only two players, 2B Ryan Wright and C Yovan Gonzalez, hitting over .250.
AAA Louisville Bats
Record this week: 2-4.
Overall: 9-18. Last.
4/27: Losers of 66.6 (repeating) percent of their games to date in 2012, the Bats headed to Norfolk (BAL) for a four-game series with Jeff Francis on the hill. Francis was hit hard in his previous start, but he came back strong in this one. 3B Mike Costanzo hit a two-run homer (#2, 2-for-3, .258) in the fourth for all the runs Francis needed, as the lefty permitted only an eighth-inning solo homer, a pair of doubles, and three walks over eight innings (W 2-2, 3.30, 9 K, 98 pitches/61 strikes). Louisville takes game one, 2-1. Josh Judy allowed a pair of hits in the ninth, but coaxed the Tides’ Bill Hall (yes, that Bill Hall; he’s had a long, strange trip since he was destroying the Reds every time they played the Brewers between like 2004 and 2007) to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to notch his first save.
4/28: Sean Gallagher came into this game having served up sixteen runs in fifteen innings, although he’d improved with each start. This one was tied at one through six, but Gallagher’s teammates hung a six-spot on Norfolk in the seventh and cruised to a 9-2 win. Gallagher allowed only four hits through seven-plus (W 1-2, 7.36, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 88 pitches/60 strikes) and showed excellent control. Costanzo, who was originally promoted up from Double-A just to cover for the called-up Todd Frazier, continues to hit- he homered for a third time and finished 2-for-4. C Corky Miller also homered, a two-run blast (#2). DH Neftali Soto had a three-run double.
4/29: The Tides took game three, 7-4, after scoring three in the seventh and two in the eighth off Carlos Fisher (L 0-1, 4.50, BS #1, 0.1 IP, 3 ER) and Rehabbin’ Bill Bray (1 IP, 2 ER, plus a homer by a revenge-minded Bill Hall). Louisville did get a third straight quality outing from today’s starter, Chad Reineke (3.58, 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). Soto doubled three times and drove in two (.253) and RF Daryl Jones hit homer #3.
4/30: The Bats scored two in the eighth and two more in the ninth to force a 5-5 tie and head to extra innings, but they never seriously threatened during the free-baseball period and the Tides got the winning run off a wild Travis Webb (L 1-1, 5.91, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 2 K). The 6-5 Norfolk win earned them a series split. Nick Christiani, who had a rough start to his season, closed out April with three scoreless innings of relief (5.27, 3 H, 0 BB, 1 K). Ron Mahay also pitched three scoreless relief innings (3.95). Starter Andrew Brackman really needs to move to the bullpen- he didn’t allow a hit, but walked five of the eight batters he faced while throwing only eight strikes in 34 pitches (9.87, 1 IP, 0 H, 3 ER). Miller is now batting .316 after going 3-for-4. CF Denis Phipps drove in two runs, but he was just 1-for-6 and kept his batting average at .165. LF Felix Perez isn’t hitting either (.226), but he did throw out Norfolk’s Jai Miller at the plate in the bottom of the eighth to set the table for the Bats’ ninth-inning rally.
5/1: On to Durham to face the struggling Bulls (TB), and for the second straight game the Bats rallied to tie and then lost in extras. SS Kris Negron homered in the top of 9 (#1), but Josh Judy, who’d blown the save earlier, gave up the winning run in the bottom of the tenth to lose it 5-4 (L 1-1, 2.92, 2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER). Starter Brett Tomko survived twelve baserunners in five innings (3.51, 7 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 103 pitches/61 strikes). DH Danny Dorn is under the Mendoza Line at .198, but he did hit his fifth homer of the season. Negron had a triple to go with the homer (.226) and Soto, Costanzo, and Miller each had a pair of hits.
5/2: A fourth consecutive defeat, 7-5. Trailing 5-0 going to the eighth, the Bats gave it a run- but came up short. RF Bill Rhinehart, off to a slow start (yes, another Bat not hitting to the level he’s capable of), hit his first homer and finished 2-for-4 (.208). New callup Miguel Rojas was 2-for-4 in his Bats debut and Costanzo went up over .300 with two more hits of his own. Francis wasn’t fooling as many this time around (L 2-3, 3.96, 6.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 107 pitches/67 strikes).
Transactions: 4/27: RHR Kanekoa Texeira activated from the DL. LHR Bill Bray became Rehabbin’ Bill Bray. 4/30: INF Miguel Rojas promoted from Pensacola to replace INF Paul Janish, placed on the DL with a fractured wrist. Rehabbin’ Bill Bray was removed from rehab and sent back to Goodyear. 5/1: C Dioner Navarro placed on the 7-day DL with kidney stones. Ouch. C Brian Peacock promoted from Pensacola.
Around the minors: The Reds released right-hander Jordan Hotchkiss, who won organizational Pitcher of the Year honors in 2010 by going 10-5, 2.43 in 129.2 IP (mostly at High-A). He missed most of last year, making just three starts. He was a 31st-round pick in 2007 out of Brevard (NC) College. Cincinnati signed journeyman catcher Koyie Hill, 33, to play at Pensacola to start. Hill was the Cubs’ primary backup over the last three years, but he owns a .211/.275/.298 career big-league line over parts of eight seasons.
In other news, the Angels released 1B Jorge Cantu. The 30-year old was on his fourth organization since leaving the Reds in 2007. Cantu was a regular in 2008-2009 with the Marlins, socking forty-five homers and driving in almost two hundred runs, but suddenly lost his batsman’s mojo and was on the road again shortly thereafter. The Mets signed OF Fred Lewis, let go by Cleveland a short time earlier. San Diego activated C Yasmani Grandal from the DL.
AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos
This week: 3-2.
4/26: The Blue Wahoos entered game two of this road series in Jacksonville having dropped eight of their last ten. This one wasn’t a problem, though, as 3B Henry Rodriguez (.322, 4-for-5, 2 R, RBI) and 1B Joel Guzman (.304, 4-for-5, 3 RBI) hit like crazy and Tim Gustafson (3.68, 3 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) and Mark Serrano (W 2-0, 4.24, 3 IP, 1 H, 6 K) permitted the Suns just three hits over six innings. Pensacola won easily, 9-3.
4/27: The offensive onslaught continues, as seven BWs get two hits apiece in an 8-2 rout. Guzman hit a two-run homer, #3. Starter Daniel Corcino threw 5.1 shutout innings (W 1-1, 3.24, 3 H, 3 BB, 3 K) for his first Double-A victory.
4/28: Tim Crabbe settled down after giving up three in the first (L 1-1, 4.44, 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K), but Pensacola got only Cody Puckett’s two-run homer (#1, 2-for-3, .279). Drew Hayes gave up two more in the seventh as the Suns won it 5-2.
4/29: JC Sulbaran (L 1-3, 5.13, 4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K) is outdueled by several Jacksonville pitchers, 4-0. Pensacola got six hits, but only one for extra bases. The Suns win the series 3-2.
5/1: Back home to face Jackson (SEA). The Generals got to starter Tim Gustafson early and often (4 IP, 8 H, 4 ER) but the BWs came back, finally tying the score at 4 in the sixth on Puckett’s second home run. Wirfin Obispo retired nine straight (2 K, still 0.00) in relief of Gustafson and Justin Freeman added a scoreless eighth. Donnie Joseph took care of the final two (W 3-0, 0.00, 2 H, 1 K) and now has pitched 10.1 scoreless innings to start the season. Pensacola won it in the bottom of the tenth, 5-4, when new signee Koyie Hill reached on an infield hit, moved to second on an errant pickoff throw and scored on Puckett’s single. Puckett finished 3-for-4 (.307) with three RBI.
5/2: Rained out.
Transactions: 4/28: C Koyie Hill activated (see above). 5/1: C Brian Peacock up to Louisville. 5/2: INF James Ewing up from Bakersfield.
High-A Bakersfield Blaze
This week: 3-3.
4/26: After a day’s rain delay, the Blaze picked back up with nine-game winning streak intact. Tony Cingrani didn’t disappoint, one-hitting Stockton (OAK) for six innings (W 2-1, 0.39, 1 BB, 8 K) in an easy 8-1 Bakersfield victory. The Blaze savaged Ports starter AJ Cole, acquired in the offseason in the Gio Gonzalez trade, for seven runs in four-plus innings. 1B Donald Lutz was 2-for-4 with homer #5 and a triple (.329). SS Billy Hamilton was 3-for-4 with four stolen bases (23) and a pair of runs scored (.377).
4/27: Billyball carried the Blaze to its eleventh straight victory, 7-0. Hamilton stole three more bases (26) while going 3-for-4 with two walks, two runs, and a RBI. Lutz had two hits and two RBI and RF Yorman Rodriguez managed the same (.194). LF Juan Duran (.159) and CF Bryson Smith (.266) each added a pair of hits. Kyle Lotzkar ran his record to 3-0 with 5.2 shutout innings (1.25, 3 H, 3 BB, 4 K) and his bullpen of Blaine Howell, Pat Doyle, and Brian Pearl finished it out.
4/28: Modesto (COL) broke the streak at 11, hammering starter Dan Renken (L 3-1, 5.14, 4.2 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 9 K) 7-4. Curt Partch (2.1 IP, 2 H, 3 K) and Dan Wolford (1 IP, 1 BB) relieved well, but the Blaze couldn’t make it back. Lutz homered again (#6) and Smith had an impressive 4-for-4 night, including his second home run. Unfortunately, his teammates only added two hits combined. Hamilton went hitless, but still swiped second and third after walking in the third (28).
4/29: The Nuts busted John Holdzkom (L 0-1, 5.19, 1 H, 2 ER, 3 BB) in the sixth to break a 2-2 tie for good and win again, 7-4. Pat Doyle retired six straight with four Ks in relief of Holdzkom (4.91) but there was to be no rally. Hamilton still can’t be stopped (.398, 3-for-4, R, steal #29, CS #6). Starter Chad Rogers worked five (2.63, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K).
5/1: Lancaster (HOU) came to visit Sam Lynn Stadium, hanging on to win 5-4. Bakersfield rallied for three in the ninth, but Smith followed AJ Means’ two-run single with a game-ending groundout. DH Travis Mattair homered earlier on for the Blaze (#6). Hamilton put his average over .400 with a single and double- and no stolen base attempts. Starter Josh Smith took the loss (1-3, 6.85, 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K).
5/2: Tony Cingrani can play stopper as well, halting a three-game Blaze losing streak with five shutout innings (W 3-1, 0.32, 4 H, 1 BB, 9 K) in Bakersfield’s 7-2 win. 2B Devin Lohman was 2-for-3 with homer #2 (.273). Lutz followed Lohman’s bomb with #7 of his own. Means popped a two-run shot in the eighth (#1). Mattair doubled twice. Smith had two hits and two RBI (.303) and 1B Stephen Hunt, struggling in 2012 (unlike 2011, when he hit like crazy for the first couple months at this level), had a double and triple to get to .200.
Transactions: 5/1: INF Josef Terry, 22, activated. He hit .216 in 13 games in the AZL last year after the Reds picked him up; originally he was an eighth-round pick in 2010 by the White Sox. INF James Ewing up to Pensacola. RHR John Holdzkom moved to the Billings roster and RHR Mike Griffin made the reverse trip.
Notes: 1B Don Lutz was named the California League’s Offensive Player of the Week for April 23-29, going 10-for-27 with three homers and eight RBI.
LHS Tony Cingrani was mentioned in the BA Prospect Hot Sheet’s Helium Watch, April 27 edition: “Rice pitchers everywhere have heard the whispers of how Owls pitchers struggle once they hit pro ball. Reds lefthander Tony Cingrani is doing his part to erase the stigma. The 22-year-old finished 10 innings short of qualifying to win the Pioneer League ERA title last year when he went 3-1, 1.75. After skipping low Class A, he's been even better in his first four starts in the California League. He's now 2-1, 0.39 with only 14 baserunners (nine hits and five walks) in 23 innings. At 6-foot-5, Cingrani uses excellent extension to make hitters feel like his 92-94 mph fastball is on them extremely quickly.”
From a National League scout re: Billy Hamilton (credits to Kevin Goldstein of BP): “I look at his swing and I just can't imagine him striking out 130-something times like he did last year,” said a National League scout. “Offensively he's ready for Double-A. He kind of needs to be out of here already at the plate,” he added, while relaying an unheard of 3.83 home-to-first time from the right side. “He's the fastest player I've ever seen,” said the scout. “The havoc he creates is remarkable. The defense is around the grass all around when he's up or they don't have a chance.” As for when Hamilton gets to Double-A, that could be a while, as the scout said that while the bat is ready, the glove is far from it, and a position change could be in order. “He's not as steady as a shortstop should be, and he just doesn't have the arm for the position, and are you really talking advantage of his speed tool there?” the scout asked. “He'd be unbelievable in the outfield.”
Fun bit about Billy Hamilton’s exploits from the BP Unfiltered blog.
Low-A Dayton Dragons
This week: 2-4.
4/26: The Dragons evened this three-game set with Wisconsin (MIL) at a game apiece with a 3-1 win. 1B Danny Vicioso singled in 2B Ryan Wright to tie the score in the top of the ninth. An inning later, CF Jefry Sierra and Wright delivered RBI hits to break said tie. Kyle McMyne retired six straight Timber Rattlers between the ninth and tenth for the win (2-0, 0.84, 3 K). Starter Justice French struck out eight over six innings (2.60, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB). Brooks Pinckard also retired six straight (2 K, 0.00).
4/27: Dayton got just four hits off TRs starter Drew Gagnon, losing by 3-0 shutout. Radhames Quezada ( L 0-3, 2.88, 4 IP, 3 ER) took the defeat.
4/28: Seven runs in the second propelled the Dragons to victory over Beloit (MIN), 7-3. Dan Tuttle pitched well (W 1-0, 1.54, 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K). 1B Sean Buckley socked a three-run homer (#2) and LF Juan Silva was 3-for-4 with two RBI (.197).
4/29: Three days after he dominated and got the win, Kyle McMyne served up the decisive run in the bottom of the ninth to the Snappers. They win 4-3 despite committing three errors to Dayton’s none. Starter Tanner Robles worked five (2.83, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). Silva had two more hits and C Nick O’Shea added two as well (.239, RBI).
4/30: Beloit won the series with a 7-0 whitewash. Stalin Gerson (L 1-2, 4.05, 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) started and lost.
5/2: Back home to Fifth Third Field against Lake County (CLE) as the Dragons try to turn it around. It didn’t happen here, though, as the Captains got 13 hits off Justice French (L 3-2, 3.31, 5 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) and won it 5-3. Wright had a triple and homer (#1, 2 RBI, .286) and Silva was 1-for-1 with three walks (.232).