View Full Version : Reds minor league notes(Thursday, April 6)

04-06-2006, 07:48 AM
Instead of clogging the board up, I'm going to post all of today's article's into one thread.

Dragons' Wood hopes this is the start of something good
By Marc Katz

Dayton Daily News

DAYTON | ó It should be no surprise that lefthander Travis Wood starts tonight as the seventh season of the Class A Midwest League Dayton Dragons begins.

Usually, the parent Reds have designated one of their top prospects to pitch the opener. Wood, just a 19-year-old who was the Reds' second-round pick in last summer's free agent draft, hasn't tracked what happened to the other opening day pitchers.

It's just as well. The record has been spotty. It doesn't matter to Wood. It didn't bother him to know he was drafted by a team that has a recent history of poor investments in pitchers.

"Basically, you get drafted and don't have a choice," Wood said. "I was a Braves fan, but when Ken Griffey Jr. was traded to the Reds (in 2000), I was a little bit of a Reds fan.

"My first year, coming out of high school, I was just taking it all in. I didn't know I was going to do so well."

Wood pitched in eight games for the Gulf Coast League Reds and, while he didn't post any decisions, his 0.75 era earned him a promotion to Billings, Mont., where he was 2-0 with a 1.82 era.

He was placed with the Dragons for this summer.

"It's all overwhelming to come in here and see how nice it is," Wood said this week as he visited Fifth Third Field for the first time. "I was told I'd be the starter on the last day of spring training. I was excited. I know I've got a lot of stuff to work on."

Another left-hander, Ty Howington, started the first-ever game for the Dragons in 2000, on the road at Lansing, Mich. A delay in finishing Fifth Third Field necessitated the Dragons play a month on the road before their home opener.

Howington, the 1999 first-round pick of the Reds, won that day, but subsequent shoulder and elbow injuries limited his rise in the system until he was released this spring.

Still another lefty, Ryan Snare (second round, 2000) pitched the 2001 opener, followed by Justin Gillman (second round, 2001) in 2002, Eddy Valdez (non-drafted free agent 1999) in 2003, Gillman again in 2004 and Ramon Ramirez (signed as a free agent in 2003) last year.

Snare was traded and briefly made it to the majors with the Rangers, Gillman eventually quit because of arm problems and Valdez and Ramirez are still in the system, Valdez with Class AA Chattanooga, Ramirez with "high" A Sarasota.

Contact Marc Katz at (937) 225-2157.


Tom Archdeacon: Double duty: Outfielder plays for Dragons, recruits for Army
By Tom Archdeacon

Dayton Daily News

It was the first time he'd stepped onto the diamond at Fifth Third Field, and while he relished everything he saw ó the big scoreboard, the lush outfield, the waiting seats that would hold tonight's season-opening crowd of some 8,700 ó he wasn't overwhelmed like some Dayton Dragons new arrivals.

"I guess you could say I've been around the block," Josh Holden said Tuesday. "I've experienced a lot."

He's played in the Superdome, the Liberty Bowl and in front of almost 80,000 at the Meadowlands for the Army-Navy football game a few years ago.

But don't think he's dissing this Dragons experience. Quite the opposite.

In fact, it's because of a fairy-tale sequence of events that he's here. He could be fighting in Iraq right now or even getting ready for a second tour.

And he's had some mixed feelings about that, too. Especially since many of his West Point teammates are at war and a few friends have been injured and killed in action.

The Dragons new outfielder is a 25-year-old lieutenant in the U.S. Army and a pioneer in the marriage of sports and service.

He's the first ó and only ó person using the Army's ground-breaking Alternate Service Option, which allows officers and enlisted soldiers to serve their country and be pro athletes simultaneously.

The policy went into effect just two years ago and wasn't around when Holden came out of Hudson High with first-team All-Ohio football honors ó he rushed for 2,005 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior ó and chose West Point over Miami University football and the New York Yankees, who made him a late-round draft pick.

Playing two sports at Army, he won the Patriot League batting title as a junior (.398) and was a two-year starter at running back, rushing for 153 yards and three touchdowns against Holy Cross and 151 yards and two scores against Houston.

And yet it's the annual Army-Navy games ó one at Giants Stadium, the rest in Philadelphia ó that he remembers most:

"After the game, each team sings its alma mater while the other stands next to them. Senior year is special because you know afterward, you have a higher calling."

Holden's plan was to become an Army Ranger, but while at Fort Sill, Okla., a friend told him about a Cincinnati Reds tryout in Tulsa.

There, he so impressed Reds scouts that he was offered a contract over 149 others. He took a one-month leave to play 26 games in the rookie Gulf Coast League, then figured baseball was done, because West Point grads must serve five years of active duty.

But with almost 40 percent of the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan being reservists, National Guard and second-tour regular units, the Army has taken innovative measures to bolster recruiting.

The Alternative Service Option requires athletes to first do two years of active duty ó Holden was an artillery officer ó serve six years in the Selected Reserve, reimburse the government for education and be subject to call-up at any time.

Thanks to that, Holden played at Billings, Mont., last season and now is in Dayton, where he'll also do some Army recruiting.

"Initially I worried about this," he said. "I thought I belonged with my friends in Iraq. But they've said I can do more for the Army by doing this. It's a way to let people know the Army has special people."

People who not only have been around the block, but can get around the basepaths.


04-06-2006, 07:50 AM
Scott puts fire in SaraReds

SARASOTA -- Sarasota first-year manager Donnie Scott sprung forward in his chair, his eyes widened and he said what he expects when his ballclub opens its second Florida State League season tonight at 7 in Ed Smith Stadium against the Minnesota Twins' Fort Myers Miracle.

"If you don't have a lot of energy, aren't a positive and enthusiastic person, don't even bother coming around," Scott said. "If you do have those qualities and like to make good things happen, then we'd like to have you."

Scott's aggressive nature has been passed on to his players who are looking forward to beginning the season after spending the past three weeks working out and playing spring training games in the adjacent City of Sarasota Sports Complex.

New Cincinnati owner Bob Castellini has said he will commit to improving the franchise's minor league system.

There's plenty of optimism with tonight's right-handed starting pitcher Homer Bailey, the 19-year-old phenom out of La Grange, Texas. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Bailey, who pitched impressively in several spring games for the parent ballclub, has a consistent fastball in the mid-90 mph range.

Then there's Jeremy Schmidt, the right-hander who played at Sarasota High and Manatee Community College.

"We feel we have a very competitive club that knows how to play and gives us a complete package," Scott said. "We're very excited because we know we have a lot of team speed, our defense is extremely solid and our hitters can really hit."

"We're going to go out and get dirty, play the game hard to make things happen. There's nothing better than that. The ballclub will let me know what kind of team we have, but we know if we give up extra bases and outs, we're going to be in trouble."


04-06-2006, 07:53 AM
Brand new start

Lookoutsí Dumatrait opens important week, season tonight
By David Paschall Staff Writer

Chattanooga Lookouts pitcher Phil Dumatrait considers starting tonightís opener in Jacksonville an honor, but itís not his biggest thrill of the week.

Friday morning, the 24-year-old lefty will fly to Bakersfield, Calif., to be with his wife Krista, who is scheduled to give birth to their first child. Dumatrait already knows itís a boy and that his name will be Maddox, but he admits the timing of his sonís arrival is a little unique.

"Itís all in Godís hands, and this is when he wanted this to happen," a smiling Dumatrait said Wednesday as the Lookouts held their annual media day. "It makes for a wild week. Iíve got the cell phone on to see if it happens a little early, but the doctor is scheduled to induce Friday, and Iíll be there." Dumatrait said his focus tonight will be on the defending Southern League champions. The Suns are led by third baseman Andy LaRoche, who is rated among the top 20 overall prospects by Baseball America.

Lookouts manager Jayhawk Owens can appreciate what Dumatrait is experiencing.

Owens was in Triple-A with the Colorado Rockies in 1997 when he suffered an ankle injury at Fresno and was flown back to Denver. The very next day in Denver, his wife delivered their first child, a son named Walker, two weeks ahead of the due date.

"Had I not gotten hurt, I would have missed it," Owens said. "Hopefully Phil can use this to his advantage. Heís going to have butterflies in his stomach ó everybody does on opening night no matter how long you play this game. It may do him some good as far as not trying too hard.

Dumatrait will stay in Bakersfield for at least a week, so he will miss his scheduled start Tuesday against Carolina at BellSouth Park. Pitching coach Bill Moloney has mapped out a workout schedule for him while he is away.

This is a critical season for the 6-foot-2, 170-pounder, who was Bostonís first-round pick in 2000 before getting traded to the Reds in July 2003. After missing all of 2004 following Tommy John surgery, Dumatrait threw 127 innings last season for the Lookouts and ranked among the leagueís top 10 with a 3.17 earned run average.

His record was a tough-luck 4-12. "In the games he pitched well we didnít hit, and in the games he didnít pitch well, we didnít hit well either," Moloney said. "To have that record and keep battling like he did was outstanding. He did very well with what we call Ďminimizing the damage.í Unfortunately he threw a lot of pitches in his starts, which caused him to go not as deep into games as we would have liked."

Dumatrait walked 70 batters last season and threw 13 wild pitches, which is why he is back in Chattanooga.

"Last year, there would be times he would be at his pitch count in the fourth inning with 80 to 85 pitches," Owens said. "Thatís not going to help us at the major league level. He has got to get in the fourth inning with 45 or 50 pitches."

Said Dumatrait: "With it being my first year off of Tommy John, the main thing was throwing all year and staying healthy, and I accomplished that. My walks were a little up, and that has to change."

With Travis Chick and Eddy Valdez also back from last year and Steve Kelly back from the 2004 club, Owens believes pitching is the unquestioned strength this season. He also believes the bullpen, which returns Brad Salmon and David Shafer and adds the talented Calvin Medlock, is improved.

"Last year we had the worst ERA, but with these guys thatís not going to happen," Owens said. "Iíll go ahead and say it: We have a very strong pitching staff."

E-mail David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com

http://www.tfponline.com/QuickHeadlines.asp?sec=s&URL=http%3A%2F%2Fepaper%2Ewehco%2Ecom%2FWebChannel %2FShowStory%2Easp%3FPath%3DChatTFPress%2F2006%2F0 4%2F06%26ID%3DAr02500

04-06-2006, 07:57 AM
Slugger Field, yes indeed
Team expects power numbers to be up this year
By Brian Bennett
The Courier-Journal

Louisville Bats manager Rick Sweet had a small request for his biggest hitters during batting practice at spring training last month.

"Uh, guys, could you maybe try not to hit any home runs?" Sweet asked.

The center-field fence of the Bats' practice field rubs against the back wall of the big-league stadium at the Cincinnati Reds' spring complex in Sarasota, Fla. Sweet feared that a long fly over the fence would strike an unsuspecting major league player on the noggin.

Such precautions signaled a change for the Bats, who in recent years haven't fielded many hitters who could hurt anything except the team's winning percentage.

No Louisville player has finished among the top 25 International League home run leaders the past two seasons. Last year's team produced more doughnuts than Krispy Kreme, scoring the second-fewest runs in the league.

This year, though, Louisville Slugger Field might actually live up to its name. The Bats, who open their 2006 season tonight at Ottawa, are blessed with several power hitters who could make home runs as much of a stadium staple as the fried bologna sandwich.

"I think we'll have a very good offensive team," third baseman Earl Snyder said. "A pitcher can't look through our lineup and say, 'Now, I get a break.' "

Let's start the slugging roll call with Snyder. Triple-A power, thy name is Earl.

The 29-year-old has launched 65 homers the past two seasons in the IL, including a league-best 36 for Pawtucket in 2004. He has averaged more than 25 bombs the past seven seasons despite not looking like a monster masher; Snyder is listed at 6 feet and 210 pounds.

"You don't have to be a big muscle guy to hit home runs," he said. "It's about technique, getting a good pitch and putting a good swing on it.

"I'm not a big guy. I'm no Rob Stratton."

Few people are. Stratton might be the most entertaining batting practice performer in Bats history with his moon shots to outer reaches of the ballpark. If only he performed in more actual games.

Achilles' tendon problems have limited the 6-2 275-pounder to 42 games the past two seasons. He has hit 16 homers in that span.

"It's hard to believe what he could do if he could stay healthy," Sweet said.

Outfielder Brian Buchanan is the rare player who makes Stratton look small. A 6-4, 230-pound veteran, Buchanan has a home run hitter's frame but not the resume you'd expect. He had 27 homers at Triple-A in 2000 but hasn't hit more than 14 in a season since then while bouncing between the minors and majors.

"I don't really have a home run swing," he said. "I'm more of a gap-to-gap guy. It's hard to hit home runs. Just because you're big doesn't mean you can do it."

The Reds are hoping for big things out of first baseman Jesse Gutierrez. A 27-year-old Triple-A rookie, Gutierrez describes himself as a line-drive hitter. But he put up 17 home runs at Double-A in 2004 and was on his way up the system before a season-ending knee injury last May. He was one of the Bats' best home run hitters this spring.

Then there's Jacob Cruz. The Reds' main pinch hitter the past two seasons -- he set a club record with 20 pinch hits in 2005 -- Cruz will get an everyday role with the Bats. In 53 Triple-A games between 2003 and '04, he hit well over .300 with 10 home runs.

"We're going to have an intimidating lineup," Cruz said. "I think six or seven runs a game is going to be the average for our offense."

There certainly should be more souvenirs for fans in the bleachers this year. But is the home run still as popular and as valuable as it used to be? In a post-steroid, post-"Game of Shadows" era, can fans who throw syringes at Barry Bonds still enjoy a home run without suspicion? Home runs were down 8 percent in the big leagues last season in the first year of steroid testing.

"The skepticism will come when someone starts hitting upwards of 40 or 50 home runs in a season, especially if they have never done it before," said Peter Roby, director of Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society. "But I don't think the recent history will affect a fan's appreciation of an individual home run. They'll always get a thrill out of it."

When the Reds went looking for minor league free agents this winter, Sweet said the organization looked mostly at on-base percentage, walks-to-strikeout rate and RBIs, all of which he said were more important than home run totals. Still, Sweet couldn't deny the psychological appeal of the home run.

"Every time Stratton comes to the plate, everybody stops and watches," Sweet said. "It's very exciting to watch players like that hit. You just shake your head, because not many people can do that."

Anyone doubting the home run's enduring popularity needed only to hang around the Bats' public workout Tuesday night. As the last group of players took their practice cuts, a small gathering of fans suddenly began cheering for backup catcher Ryan Jorgensen to hit one out. They groaned as several fly balls landed just short of the left-field wall. Finally, Jorgensen cleared the yard and pointed his fists at his new booster club.

Clearly, fans still dig the long ball, no matter who is hitting it. And this year, for a change, there are plenty of Louisville sluggers to watch.

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


04-06-2006, 08:35 AM
Thanks for the articles

NC Reds
04-06-2006, 02:21 PM
For those interested, remember to check www.minorleaguebaseball.com during the night for updates. I am especially interested in how Wood and Homer adjust to new leagues.

04-06-2006, 02:35 PM
You can also listen to the games online tonight.
Click on the links to go listen to the games at the appropriate start times.

Dayton Dragons start at 7:00 (http://daytondragons.com/tracker/index.html?t=ad&ad_id=8&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.broadcastmonsters.com%2FDayto n%2Fdragons.asx)

Sarasota Reds Game starts at 7:00 (http://www.sportsjuice.com/broadcaster2.aspx?bid=MTQ5-g%2fzH4cwYBjA%3d#)

Chattanooga Lookouts start at 7:00 (http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/app/milb/multimedia/audio.jsp)

Louisville Bats start at 6:05 (http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/app/milb/multimedia/audio.jsp)

04-06-2006, 03:10 PM
The Bats rotation as posted on Marc's blog:

Here's Louisville's starting rotation, in order:

Justin Germano
Michael Gosling
Elizardo Ramirez
Chris Michalak
Josh Hall

Doc. Scott
04-06-2006, 03:50 PM
35-year-old-veteran-of-twelve-organizations Chris Michalak? Surely they jest. What about Ben Kozlowski? Is he now a reliever?

04-06-2006, 04:16 PM
I was thinking the same thing Doc...but it would appear so.

Danny Serafini
04-06-2006, 04:22 PM
Can't remember where I saw it, but yes, Kozlowski is being converted to relief.

Doc. Scott
04-06-2006, 04:33 PM
Well, surely Michalak is the first one to move out of the rotation if Dumatrait or Kelly is dominant in AA. Unless one of the other four is totally crapping the bed out there.

04-06-2006, 06:14 PM
Well, surely Michalak is the first one to move out of the rotation if Dumatrait or Kelly is dominant in AA. Unless one of the other four is totally crapping the bed out there.
Maybe JA can drop by and fill us in. :D

04-06-2006, 06:31 PM
Maybe JA can drop by and fill us in. :D

Michalak projects to be retired here pretty soon. But Steve Kelly projects to follow Ty Howington in the Lincoln Saltdogs rotation, so we shoved him down a level.