Bakersfield entered the win column for only the second time this season after a 5-1 decision over visiting Inland Empire. Carlos Contreras got the win after allowing only one run on two hits and a couple of walks over six innings with eight strikeouts. Jake Johnson, Jimmy Moran, and Brooks Pinckard combined for three scoreless innings of relief with Pinckard getting the save.
Yorman Rodriguez had a couple of hits including a two-run home run in the fourth inning that gave the Blaze the lead. Ryan Wright had two hits, a walk, and scored two runs including one that came after he led off the eighth with a triple. Juan Silvero and Juan Duran both reached safely twice via a hit and a walk with Silvero picking up an RBI. The Blaze will go for their third win of the season against the 66er's today at Sam Lynn Field.
After three appearances it appears that Contreras is making a successful transition to starting after coming out of the bullpen and closing games last year. Thus far he's 1-0 with a 1.72 ERA and WHIP under 0.9 over sixteen-plus innings with a K/BB ratio of 21/6. He's given up a couple of homers, but overall has been successful at keeping the ball on the ground with ground/air out ratio of almost two.
Contreras was originally signed by the Reds out of the Dominican Republic as a free agent and is now in his sixth professional season. He did start some games earlier in the Dominican League and his first year stateside in Arizona, but really wasn't very effective in any role while still a teenager. Last year he came from off the radar to put up a solid season closing with a combined 3.12 ERA and twenty saves between Dayton and Bakersfield. That performance prompted the Reds to use a spot on their 40-man roster to protect the 22 year-old right-hander from the Rule 5 Draft.
Contreras is 5'11"/205# and throws a mid-90's fastball. A couple of things a reliever needs to make a successful transition into the rotation are good command and a third pitch. Last year he improved his BB/9 inn rate to around three and a half and will need to keep it at least that low as he advances. Key to that will be development of his curveball as he's already throwing an above average changeup. Of course any pitching prospect that ascends in the Reds organization will eventually get instruction from changeup specialist Mario Soto.
Contreras's results on the field before last year were very forgettable. The Reds were patient and he responded by coming from off the radar to a spot on their 40-man roster. Now they're once again trying him as a starter and last night's effort was his longest outing of the three. In the minors effectiveness is a good way to achieve advancement and it looks like Contreras will make himself a candidate for a promotion to Pensacola this season. In the meantime he'll continue at Bakersfield and even though the Blaze are struggling through a frustrating start to the season Contreras is still giving them a good shot at winning every fifth game.
Other Organizational News:
The Reds returned to the win column last night with a 4-2 victory over Philadelphia at Great American Ball Park. Bronson Arroyo limited the Phillies to five hits in eight innings for the win. He didn't allow anyone to cross the plate before giving up a two-run homer in his final frame. Aroldis Chapman retired the ninth in order with a couple of strikeouts for his third save. Former Reds prospect Jeremy Horst took the loss.
Offensively Brandon Phillips had two hits and plated the go-ahead runs with a two-RBI single in the eighth. He also doubled and scored during a two-run rally the previous inning that broke a scoreless tie. Joey Votto and Jay Bruce both reached safely three times via two hits and a walk. Votto is once again leading the league in BB and has gotten on base in over 55% of his plate appearances.
Louisville dropped a 4-1 decision at Columbus. Jason Donald had two of the Bats' five hits. Armando Galarraga got the start and kept his team in the game until leaving with an arm problem in the fourth inning. Nick Christiani allowed three runs (two earned) over two-plus innings for the loss. Wilkin De La Rosa and Clay Hensley both threw a scoreless frame each.
In a real pitchers' duel Pensacola lost 1-0 to visiting Jacksonville in eleven innings. Daniel Renken allowed five hits and three walks before he was lifted in the sixth inning, but none of them crossed the plate and he got no decision. Josh Ravin, Loek Van Mil, and Curtis Partch combined for four-plus innings for scoreless relief before Chris Manno allowed the lone run of the game for the loss. Bryson Smith had two of the Wahoos' five hits.
Dayton had the day off and will resume their schedule Tuesday at Lake County.
Contreras Transitioning to Rotation
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