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Keeping Up With The Louisville Bats

May 28, 2013 -- 11:33am

Nick Curran
Nick@ESPNLouisville.com 
@NickCurran35 

 

The Louisville Bats are now finished with the first third of the 2013 season.  A third of the way to the finish line, the Bats sit once again at the .500 mark on the season with a record of 24-24.  Louisville continues to make strides offensively in the month of May and has become a very exciting team to watch.

The Reds’ top prospect, Billy Hamilton, continues garner a lot of much-deserved attention from many in the area. Hamilton leads the International League in stolen bases with 25 and is coming off a season in which he stole a professional-record 155 bases between Single-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola.  Hamilton is hitting .274 in the month of May, up from .205 in April, and continues to look more and more comfortable against Triple-A pitching.

Felix Perez has been an absolute stud in the middle of the Louisville order.  Perez leads the team with his .316 batting average and his 31 RBI.  The left fielder had a 24-game on-base streak April 28 to May 23 and a Bats season-high nine-game hitting streak May 8 to May 16. It was also Perez who has provided both  Bats walk-off home runs this season, one April 4 (Opening Night) against Toledo in the ninth inning and one April 18 against Indianapolis in the tenth inning.

Infielder Neftali Soto made his Major League debut with the Reds as he went up May 18th and 19th and has been a big presence for Louisville offensively.  Soto has a pair of eight-game hitting streaks on the season and is hitting .289 on the year with 7 doubles, 4 home runs, and 20 RBI.  Soto is back was 0-for-1 with a groundout for the Reds in Philadelphia May 19 and made his MLB debut as a defensive replacement at first base for Joey Votto May 18 in the Reds’ 10-0 rout of the Phillies.

With Soto going up for a couple days, the Reds optioned sensational starting pitcher Tony Cingrani back to Louisville.  The lefty made his fourth start of the year for the Bats May 23 and did not have his best control, but did not allow an earned run.  Cingrani went 5 innings, allowing just 2 hits with 4 walks and 5 strikeouts.  Cincinnati’s third-ranked prospect coming in to the 2013 season is now 2-0 with the Bats and has thrown 19.1 innings of scoreless baseball.  In his time with the Reds, the left-hander went 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in 6 starts.  Cingrani walked just 9 batters while striking out 41 in 33.0 innings in his first six starts ever as a big-leaguer.

With a third of the season in the books, the Bats offense is looking as productive as it has been all season.  As of this writing, the Bats have recorded 10+ hits in 13 of their last 17 games, including a streak of nine straight.  The starting pitching looks to be bolstered as well with the return of Cingrani and the continued success of right-handers Greg Reynolds, Armando Galarraga, and Pedro Villarreal.  And, with Chad Reineke possible moving back where he started the season, in the bullpen, Bats relief pitching could see a big boost.  With still two-thirds of the season remaining and in the midst of a stretch of 16 of 20 games at Louisville Slugger Field, the Bats may just be playing their best baseball of the season.

Keeping Up With The Louisville Bats

May 15, 2013 -- 10:23am

Nick Curran 

Bats Baseball Radio Network

@NickCurran35

@ESPN680

 

 

 

As we near the quarter pole of the 2013 season, the Louisville Bats find themselves at the .500 mark with a 17-17 record.  Some look at .500 as mediocre.  But, when you look at the season Louisville had in 2012, losing a franchise-record 93 games, being .500 at about a fourth of the way through the year is a pretty solid turnaround.  Louisville was 12 games under .500 at this time last year with little hope the rest of the way.  This year, the Bats are level with plenty to look forward to this season.

Something to keep an eye on as the season continues to progress will be the Bats’ starting pitching.  Lefty Tony Cingrani set the tone on Opening Night at Louisville Slugger Field as he struck out the first seven batters he ever faced at the Triple-A level, struck out 13 of the first 15 hitters, was perfect through 5 innings, and threw 6 hitless innings with 14 strikeouts as the Bats got the win.  That outing jump-started Bats starting pitching for the year and the other guys on the staff have picked up where Cingrani, who got called up to Cincinnati last month, left off.  Righties Pedro Villarreal (1-2, 3.96), Greg Reynolds (3-0, 2.98), Armando Galarraga (1-1, 2.16), Chad Reineke (3-1, 2.27), and Daniel Corcino (1-5, 7.56) have picked up this Bats team even as the offense has been less than stellar at times.  Bats pitchers have turned in 13 quality starts in 2013 and have an ERA of 3.02.

The offense has been a bit spottier than the pitching for the 2013 Bats, but there have still been several bright spots.  Outfielder Felix Perez has been the Bats’ most consistent hitter and, as such, finds himself on top of several team statistical categories.  Perez leads Louisville in average (.296), doubles (9), RBIs (20), and OPS (.850).  In addition, Perez has been clutch for the Bats with two walkoff home runs in 2013.  On Opening Night (April 4), Louisville allowed three Toledo runs in the ninth to tie the game.  Perez led off the bottom of the ninth with a blast off the right field foul pole for the win.  Then, April 18 against Indianapolis, hammered a solo home run to right in a tie game in the 10th inning to give Louisville the victory.

Elsewhere offensively, corner infielder and International League veteran Mike Hessman got off to a historically good start.  Hessman hit two solo home runs in each of the Bats first two games this season.  Those two games were also Hessman’s first as a Bat and the slugger became the first in Louisville franchise history to ever hit two home runs in each of the team’s first two games.  In all, Hessman has seven homers in 2013, tied for third in the IL heading into play Friday night, May 10.  The big man is also Minor League Baseball’s active career leader in professional home runs with 391 in his pro career (371 in MiLB, 14 in the Majors, and six in Japan).

 

Billy Hamilton entered the 2013 season ranked by Baseball America as the Reds’ top prospect.  Hamilton is coming off a 2012 season in which he stole a pro-record 155 bases between Single-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola.  The 2013 season marks Hamilton’s first at the Triple-A level.  Entering play Friday night, May 10, Hamilton leads the IL in stolen bases with 17 stolen bases in 20 attempts.  The speedster is also playing center field full-time in 2013, adjusting from playing predominantly shortstop in his pro career up until 2013.  Hamilton’s speed has been on full display roaming the center field area as he’s been able to cover a lot of ground and make several dazzling plays.  Hamilton is hitting .198, but has been having better at-bats as the season has progressed, working the count on pitchers and fouling off several pitches.

Infielder Neftali Soto has been solid in 2013 for the Bats offensively.  Soto posted an 8-game hitting streak from the end of April through the beginning of May, a season-long for Bats hitters this season.  Soto is hitting .280, second-best on the team and has been a solid middle-of-the-order for Louisville since coming off the DL (right quad strain) April 11.

The Bats enter the last three quarters of the 2013 season at the .500 mark and are trending the right way.  Louisville has won its last three games and is 7-3 in its last 10 games.  There’s a lot of optimism as players like Kristopher Negron, Henry Rodriguez, and Denis Phipps may just now be hitting their stride offensively.  The Bats’ roster is a solid mix of young prospects and veterans, which should serve the team well over the 144-game grind.  Things are certainly looking up for Louisville this season and this team should finish much better than its 2012 counterpart.  Solid pitching and an offense that has yet to display its full potential should make for an exciting summer at Louisville Slugger Field.   

 

Bats Baseball .500 But Improving

May 10, 2013 -- 12:16pm

By Nick Curran
Bats Baseball Radio Network
@NickCurran35
@ESPN680

 

As we near the quarter pole of the 2013 season, the Louisville Bats find themselves at the .500 mark with a 17-17 record.  Some look at .500 as mediocre.  But, when you look at the season Louisville had in 2012, losing a franchise-record 93 games, being .500 at about a fourth of the way through the year is a pretty solid turnaround.  Louisville was 12 games under .500 at this time last year with little hope the rest of the way.  This year, the Bats are level with plenty to look forward to this season.

Something to keep an eye on as the season continues to progress will be the Bats’ starting pitching.  Lefty Tony Cingrani set the tone on Opening Night at Louisville Slugger Field as he struck out the first seven batters he ever faced at the Triple-A level, struck out 13 of the first 15 hitters, was perfect through 5 innings, and threw 6 hitless innings with 14 strikeouts as the Bats got the win.  That outing jump-started Bats starting pitching for the year and the other guys on the staff have picked up where Cingrani, who got called up to Cincinnati last month, left off.  Righties Pedro Villarreal (1-2, 3.96), Greg Reynolds (3-0, 2.98), Armando Galarraga (1-1, 2.16), Chad Reineke (3-1, 2.27), and Daniel Corcino (1-5, 7.56) have picked up this Bats team even as the offense has been less than stellar at times.  Bats pitchers have turned in 13 quality starts in 2013 and have an ERA of 3.02.

The offense has been a bit spottier than the pitching for the 2013 Bats, but there have still been several bright spots.  Outfielder Felix Perez has been the Bats’ most consistent hitter and, as such, finds himself on top of several team statistical categories.  Perez leads Louisville in average (.296), doubles (9), RBIs (20), and OPS (.850).  In addition, Perez has been clutch for the Bats with two walkoff home runs in 2013.  On Opening Night (April 4), Louisville allowed three Toledo r