Again it’s largely the Bakersfield Blaze show this week, although the Dragons did post a winning record. Above Bakersfield… not so good. The Blaze roared into first place and hold it by a game and a half. I wonder if it’ll hold up following the recent departure of Tony Cingrani and the imminent departure of Billy Hamilton and (maybe) Donald Lutz. We’ll see, I guess.

AAA Louisville Bats

Record this week: 1-6.

Overall: 18-43. Last. Now seventeen games back of Indianapolis (PIT). They presently have eight less wins than any other IL team. And there are 14 IL teams.

5/31: Rained out.

6/1: The Durham Bulls (TB), under .500 at the moment despite being a perennial International League power, rolled into Louisville Slugger Field for a four-game set. They got everything they needed in the first, two runs, off Pedro Villareal (L 2-2, 3.90, 5.2 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) and won game one 3-1. C Corky Miller knocked in 1B Neftali Soto for the only Bats run.

6/2: Six runs in the fifth off Wirfin Obispo (L 0-1, 8.38, 1.2 IP, 4 ER) and Scott Carroll blew open a close one and gave the Bulls an 8-3 win. Sean Gallagher (5.17, 2.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 2 HR) took an early exit; apparently it was by managerial discretion and not injury-related.

6/3: Jeff Francis went out strong in what would turn out to be his final Reds organization start (for now)- shutting out the Bulls on seven hits (W 3-6, 3.72, 1 BB, 4 K, 114 pitches/73 strikes) in a 7-0 win. CF Joey Gathright had three hits and three RBI (.382, steal #2) and 2B Cody Puckett was 2-for-4 with two runs and steal #5. Francis also outdueled right-hander Chris Archer, one of the top Rays pitching prospects.

6/4: A familiar refrain: the Bats put a bunch of men on base, but strand 10 while going 1-for-11 with men in scoring position to fall, 2-1, despite getting four more hits than Durham. Bulls take three of four. Chad Reineke threw seven strong (L 1-4, 4.23, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) but got a loss for his efforts. Soto was 2-for-4 with a double (.230) and DH Felix Perez 2-for-3 (.234).

6/5: On to Syracuse to face the Chiefs (WAS). The freshly-recalled Tim Gustafson drew the start for the Bats against John Lannan, quickly falling behind early by three. Soto hit homer #7 in the fourth to make it 3-1. The Bats got two on with one out in the fifth, with a couple of Lannan wild pitches helping both runners into scoring position. But Kris Negron struck out and Gathright grounded out to waste the opportunity. Gustafson was taken out after four and replaced by Josh Judy, who promptly let the first four men he faced reach (4-1 Chiefs). From then on it was splat city, as Syracuse got four total off Judy (4.78, 2 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 K) and four more off Scott Carroll (6.43, 2 IP, 6 H) en route to a 11-1 rout.

6/6: MAKEUP MADNESS! Pedro Villareal back to the hill in game one, with a struggling Wirfin Obispo set for the nightcap. Only three hits combined for both teams through four innings of the opener, as Syracuse starter Yunesky Maya allowed just one hit and one walk to Villareal’s two singles. Louisville started the fifth with a Corky Miller walk and SS Miguel Rojas’ single, with Corky moving to third mostly due to an E-9. Villareal struck out trying to bunt, then Gathright… grounded into a double play (!!!). Naturally, the Chiefs got a run off Pedro in the fifth. Again Louisville threatened in the sixth, getting singles from Willie Harris and Danny Dorn with one out. Cody Puckett fought through a ten-pitch at-bat, but pitch ten was called strike three. Out came Maya and in came lefty Atahulpa Severino to face the lefty-swinging Felix Perez. After a taken strike, the Cuban lashed a double down the right field line to score Harris with the tying run… but Dorn was thrown out at home to end the inning. 1-1 to the bottom of six. Villareal blitzed through that one 1-2-3. Miller walked leading off the seventh (replaced by fellow catcher and pinch-runner Brian Peacock), and faced with a speed demon on the basepaths, Syracuse manager Tony Beasley blanched and brought on right-hander Hassan Pena to face Rojas. Rojas bunted the runner to second. Pinch-hitter Bill Rhinehart grounded to first, moving Peacock to third, but Gathright rolled one to second to end the inning. Nick Christiani came on for the seventh… but alas, a single, sacrifice bunt, walk, and game-winning double beat him (L 0-3, 3.60) and gave Syracuse the 2-1 win. Villareal’s ERA decreased from 3.90 to 3.50 with the performance (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K).

Game two… well, there’s not much to tell, barring five effectively wild no-hit innings from Obispo (5.52, 4 BB, 5 K, 80 pitches, 44 strikes). The Bats got one hit and lost 1-0 when Syracuse’s Jim Negrych doubled in the run off Travis Webb (L 2-4, 5.01).

Transactions: 6/1: RHS Brett Tomko placed on the DL retroactive to 5/31 with shoulder tendinitis. RHS Tim Gustafson promoted from Pensacola. RHP Andrew Brackman activated from the DL and sent to Bakersfield. 6/4: LHS Jeff Francis (3-6, 3.72) released/opted-out of his contract. 6/6: INF Mike Costanzo optioned from Cincinnati; UT Kris Negron called up. Celebrate that with this video of Negron flashing leather.

OF Joey Gathright has hit well- although the Bats still aren’t doing much winning.

Around the minors: Former Reds farmhand JC Boscan, your prototypical light-hitting journeyman catcher, called up by Atlanta. Back to AAA for RHR Enerio Del Rosario, who had trouble missing bats while with the Astros. Minnesota released RHP Daryl Thompson, 26, after he went 1-5 with a 4.71 ERA for AAA Rochester. The Twins also let go injured LHR Phil Dumatrait; Dumatrait, 30, announced his retirement. He’d actually had his most major-league success just the year before, putting up a 3.92 ERA in 45 relief appearances for the Twins. The Pirates picked up RHR Doug Salinas, who had been previously let go by Texas. Salinas, 23, was 5-2 with a 4.47 ERA for Bakersfield last year in 47 appearances. The Padres called up C Yasmani Grandal; at press time, Grandal was 0-for-1 in one game.

The Reds are listed as having signed RHP Ibrahin Redan, who I can’t locate much about beyond a probable country of origin (either the Netherlands or Curacao). More as it develops.

AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos

This week: 2-5.

Overall: 27-33, fourth place in the South Division, still six games behind Mobile (ARI).

5/31: Rained out.

6/1: MAKEUP MADNESS! Despite not drawing any of the three Jackson megaprospects in this doubleheader, the Blue Wahoos were swept 6-1 and 2-1 as the Generals (SEA) take four of five in the series. Daniel Corcino was knocked out of game one after three innings (L 2-3, 3.79, 3 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K) while Justin Freeman was pinned with the defeat in the nightcap after a two-run tenth inning (L 2-4, 3.86, BS #3). C Chris Berset had knocked in that game’s lone run in the top of the tenth, but Jackson simply rallied. Not a lot of offense for Pensacola, as they got a total of seven hits in seventeen innings of play. Mark Serrano (5 IP, 3 H, 5 K), Donnie Joseph (1.1 IP, 3 K) and Curt Partch (2.2 IP, 5 K) all pitched great.

6/2: The Wahoos blew a 6-2 lead late, as Jacksonville (FLA) scored seven in the final three to win 9-6 and stick Freeman (L 2-5, 5.13, 0.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER) with the loss again. Tim Crabbe struck out nine in five innings (4.00, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 BB).

6/3: Pensacola got the tying run in SS Didi Gregorius as far as second base in the ninth, but 1B Joel Guzman grounded out to send the Wahoos to their fourth straight loss, 5-4. The Suns got two, only one earned, off Joseph in the top of the ninth (L 4-2, 0.93, 0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). This game was mostly notable for the debut of lefty Tony Cingrani, up from Bakersfield after dominating the Cal League. He did pretty well, working 6.2 innings on 99 pitches (5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K). Drew Hayes let in both of the runs charged to him.

6/4: Guzman atoned for his failure of the night before by grounding a game-winning single up the middle in the bottom of the 11th, pushing Pensacola past Jacksonville 3-2. Freeman pitched a 1-2-3 11th for the win (3-5). Kyle Lotzkar whiffed ten in seven excellent innings (3.03, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB). Partch struck out five more over three scoreless (6.44). RF Josh Fellhauer was 4-for-5 (.325) and Gregorius 3-for-5 with two runs scored (.284).

6/5: JC Sulbaran whiffed ten Suns in six-plus (W 4-4, 4.40, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB) and the Wahoos smacked fourteen hits as they evened the series, 9-2. 3B David Vidal is up to .247 after going 3-for-3 (2B, 2 R, RBI). RF AJ Means was 3-for-4 (.354) and CF Ryan LaMarre hit homer #2 . 2B Brodie Greene had a single, triple, and two RBI (.239) while Gregorius singled, doubled, and scored two (.288).

6/6: Pensacola went 0-for-8 with men in scoring position, with only a Fellhauer sacrifice fly in the eighth able to get them on the board. They fall, 2-1, despite three hits from LaMarre (.283) and good pitching from Daniel Corcino (L 2-4, 3.77, 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K), Chris Manno (2.38, 2 IP, 1 BB, 3 K) and Drew Hayes (4.62, 2 IP, 1 H, 3 K).

Transactions: 6/1: RHS Tim Gustafson up to Louisville for fill-in duty. 6/2: LHS Tony Cingrani promoted from Bakersfield. 6/3: RHR Erik Miller activated from extended spring training, likely just temporarily.

Unattributed reports have noted RHS Daniel Corcino, 1B Joel Guzman, LHR, Donnie Joseph, CF Ryan LaMarre & 3B Henry Rodriguez (who is back from injury in the next 1-2 weeks) as the Blue Wahoos’ Southern League All-Stars.

High-A Bakersfield Blaze

This week: 5-2.

Overall: 34-25, first place! A game and a half over San Jose (SF).

5/31: The Blaze triumph for a second straight game against the Giants on the road to win the series! Three in the top of the 12th, two on a single by just-promoted C Danny Vicioso, gave the win to the struggling Brooks Pinckard (W 1-2, 10.91, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K) and the save to Jamie Walczak (#2, 1 IP, 1 BB, 6.10). Vicioso also doubled in a key run in the ninth. Dan Renken pitched great (4.11, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) although Chris Joyce gave up a pair of solo homers and Kyle McMyne another- both were punished with blown saves. SS Billy Hamilton finished 3-for-6 with three runs scored and two more steals (57, .319) and yet another classic episode of Hamiltonball in the first inning:

Bakersfield Top of the 1st
• Billy Hamilton singles on a bunt ground ball to pitcher Ryan Bradley. Billy Hamilton advances to 2nd, on throwing error by pitcher Ryan Bradley.
• Devin Lohman flies out to left fielder Ryan Lollis. Billy Hamilton to 3rd.
• Bryson Smith singles on a ground ball to center fielder Chris Lofton. Billy Hamilton scores.

RF Theo Bowe kept the beat rolling, going 2-for-4 with two walks, two runs, and steal #11 (.393). CF Bryson Smith had two hits and two RBI (.340).

6/1: SWEEP! Bakersfield moves into first place after whomping the Giants, 10-4! San Jose took the early lead off Chad Rogers, but utilityman James Ewing, playing right field this time, drove in five runs (3-for-5, .245) and Hamilton went 2-for-3 with three walks, two runs, and three steals (60)… including this with Theo Bowe (see below for a great article with more details about this game):

Bakersfield Top of the 5th
• James Ewing singles on a line drive to center fielder Ryan Lollis.
• Theo Bowe singles on a bunt ground ball to first baseman Ricky Oropesa. James Ewing to 2nd.
• Billy Hamilton singles on a ground ball to center fielder Ryan Lollis. James Ewing scores. Theo Bowe to 3rd.
• With Devin Lohman batting, Theo Bowe steals (12) home. Billy Hamilton steals (59) 2nd base.
• With Devin Lohman batting, Billy Hamilton steals (60) 3rd base.
• Devin Lohman strikes out swinging.
• Bryson Smith singles on a ground ball to center fielder Ryan Lollis. Billy Hamilton scores.

In fact, by the eighth, the Giants were so tired of trying to contain Hamilton that he advanced to second on “defensive indifference”. In a game the Blaze were *leading* by four runs. Anyway, Bowe’s three hits put him over .400 while Rogers held on through six for the win (3-2, 2.37, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K). Mike Griffin took care of the seventh and eighth (4.74) and Brian Pearl the ninth (1.32, 1 K).

6/2: Modesto (COL) came to Sam Lynn Stadium, and went home for the night as the victims of the Blaze’ sixth straight win, 3-2. Josh Smith shut out the Nuts for six (W 4-4, 4.27, 4 H, 2 BB, 8 K) and Pearl notched save #9. Hamilton had a single, triple, and RBI to go with bag #61 (.329) and C Tucker Barnhart tripled in a run (.231).

6/3: Bakersfield built a 4-1 lead after three, but Modesto rallied- finally taking it, 5-4, with a run in the eighth off Justice French (L 0-1, 3.58, 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K). Starter Andrew Brackman, rehabbin’ it (I believe), worked 4.2 (7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). 3B Niko Vasquez hit his first Reds organization homer and 2B Devin Lohman connected for #7. Hamilton added two more hits and steal #62.

6/4: Lohman homered again, this time smashing a three-run bomb (#8) in the bottom of the seventh to rally the Blaze to a 7-6 victory and a series win! C Danny Vicioso added three hits (.455) and Hamilton got steal #63. Jamie Walczak, starting on bullpen day, was the victim of some shoddy defense (3 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) but Dan Wolford fired two hitless (W 5-3, 4.25, 1 BB, 4 K) and Griffin bridged it to Pearl for save #10.

6/5: The Blaze thought they had all they needed following CF Bryson Smith’s RBI single in the first, but Visalia (ARI) got single runs in the ninth and tenth off Kyle McMyne (L 0-1, 6.75, BS #3, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, E) to steal it 2-1. Dan Renken had his best start of the year to date (3.60, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K). 1B Dominic D’Anna had two hits to raise his average to .239; he’s also walked nine times in 13 games, pushing his OBP up near .400.

6/6: Sharky chomped through the Rawhide (W 4-2, 2.24, 7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) while Hamilton stole four bases (67) and reached base three times (1-for-3, 2 BB, R, .322) in a 5-1 victory. D’Anna hammered his second home run and 3B Travis Mattair was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two walks (.239). Pat Doyle whiffed three of four to get save #1 (4.46).

Transactions: 6/1: RHP Andrew Brackman activated- rehab? 6/2: LHS Tony Cingrani up to Pensacola.

Really nice bit on Red Reporter about a fan’s visit to Sam Lynn Stadium.

Here’s one of the best things I’ve read all season about Billy Hamilton- you have to be a subscriber (if you aren’t, it’s worth it) about Hamilton’s game on June 1st.

Nice article on the excellent results achieved by RHR Brian Pearl- I didn’t know he was a converted position player. He’s also a Tommy John survivor as well.

RHS Josh Smith was named the California League Pitcher of the Week for the span ending 6/3; he won both his starts, permitted just two runs, and whiffed 12 in 12 innings.

Low-A Dayton Dragons

This week: 4-2.

Overall: 24-35. 17 out; 1.5 up from last week.

5/31: After a tough but reasonably hopeful April (.207, HR, 10 RBI, 5/5 SB), 20-year old 3B Junior Arias had cratered in May (9-for-72, .125, 2 RBI). But he knocked in a pair of runs with a single in his first at-bat in this one to raise his average to .174. South Bend tied the score in the fourth, then blasted Tanner Robles (4.60, 4.1 IP, 11 H, 6 ER) with a four-spot in the fifth to take a 6-2 lead. Dayton fired back, as CF Kurtis Muller (who came into the season with two pro homers in well over four hundred at-bats) hit his fourth bomb in ten games (2-for-3, 2 R, .475!) and LF Steve Selsky and 1B Sean Buckley (3-for-4, 2B, .216) contributed RBI hits. This narrowed the score to 6-5. Lucas O’Rear gave up one in the seventh (6.39, 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K) and the Dragons ended up down two going to the home ninth. Then, this:

Dayton Bottom of the 9th
• Pitcher Change: D. J. Johnson replaces Matt Sample.
• Brandon Dailey doubles (5) on a line drive to left fielder Tom Belza.
• Juan Perez singles on a line drive to center fielder Ender Inciarte. Brandon Dailey scores.
• With Kurtis Muller batting, wild pitch by D. J. Johnson, Juan Perez to 2nd.
• Kurtis Muller singles on a line drive to center fielder Ender Inciarte. Juan Perez scores. Kurtis Muller to 2nd on the throw.
• Joe Terry singles on a line drive to center fielder Ender Inciarte. Kurtis Muller scores.

The world rights its karmic debt to the Dragons (from this). By the way, Arias would get one more hit, finishing the night 2-for-4 (.177). Michael Dennhardt retired seven of nine (two Dragons errors) to get his first pro win (W 1-1, 2.31, 2.1 IP, 1 K). The Boston College alumnus, who turns 22 on the 1st, has pitched well in his first seven pro appearances despite striking out only four batters in 11.2 IP.

6/1: South Bend got some revenge here, slamming the Dragons’ bullpen for seven between the sixth, seventh, and eighth inning. They win easily, 11-6. Stalin Gerson (L 3-4, 4.07, 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K) started. Arias hit homer #2 and drove in two runs. C Yovan Gonzalez was 3-for-4 (.287).

6/2: A pair of errors, one on the pitcher himself and another on Arias- allowed Bowling Green (TB) to score the tiebreaking run in the seventh and win it 3-2, pinning the loss on Mike Dennhardt (L 1-2, 1.98, 2 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K). Jake Johnson worked six (2.57, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K). 1B Sean Buckley’s batting average continued its slow ascent (2-for-3, 2B, .220) and RF Steve Selsky continued his steadiness (2-for-4, 2B, .284).

6/3: Dan Jensen gave up a pair of solo homers among four hits in his 1.2 innings- but got the win anyway (3-5, 4.70), as Dayton drew eight walks en route to a 5-4 victory. Starter Dan Tuttle, just off the DL, worked four (4.50, 1 H, 3 BB, 3 K). Carlos Contreras got save #5. The eight walks helped atone for an offense that collected only six hits.

6/4: Radhames Quezada made it back-to-back strong performances, notching the win (3-6, 4.06, 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) 6-2. El’Hajj Muhammad came on in the sixth to strand two runners (3.00, 1.2 IP, 1 BB, 1 K). RF Kyle Waldrop was 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI (.274) while LF Juan Silva drove in three with a single and double (.227). 2B Ryan Wright added two hits and two runs scored (.319).

6/5: Off.

6/6: Tanner Robles fought off wildness to hold Lake County (CLE) to three hits in six innings (W 4-3, 4.45, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 3 WP, HB) and Dayton got four in the fourth to take the series opener, 5-2. Dennhardt knocked down two hitless innings (1.72) and Ryan Kemp survived three baserunners in the ninth for save #3. 3B Joe Terry doubled twice (.233) and Buckley knocked in a pair with a double.

Transactions: 6/3: RHS Dan Tuttle activated from the DL. RHR Jimmy Moran back to Billings.

The Dragons’ May Players of the Month are 2B Ryan Wright and RHR Ryan Kemp.