Billings Wins Opener

One of the more intriguing prospects in the Cincinnati system is St. John's basketball player Amir Garrett. Now that his schoolwork is done for the year he's ready to pitch for Billings where he opened up their season with a win by allowing one earned run in five innings while striking out six.

Billings got their season started right by rallying for three runs in the first inning. They added two more in the third en route to a 7-1 home win over Great Falls. Amir Garrett opened on the mound and took the win by tossing five innings allowing just one unearned run on three hits while striking out six against only one walk. Werleen Taveras, Nolan Becker, and Abel De Los Santos combined for four innings of scoreless relief with six strikeouts.

Jon Mathews was the first Mustang hitter of the season and he got the party started with a triple. This year's first Reds draft selection, Phillip Ervin followed with a walk. Jonathan Reynoso then drove in one with a single, stole second advancing to third on a run-scoring throwing error, and scored himself on a ground out. In the third inning runs were plated by a two-run single by Ty Washington. The Mustangs added on one more in both of the next two innings from RBI singles off the bats of Daniel Paula and Ervin. Paula finished with two of his team's six hits. Mathews was no stranger on the base paths after walking three times in addition to his triple. Ervin, Reynoso, and Humberto Valor all reached twice with a hit and a walk.

Garrett appeared to have successfully flipped the switch from hoops to hardball for the short season opener. He recently finished his sophomore year playing basketball for St. John's, scoring 5.4 PPG while coming off the bench in nearly all of the Red Storm games this season. The two-sport athlete is an intriguing prospect because he's not closed the door on either sport. What makes him intriguing from the baseball side is his mid-90's fastball. That was never seen before he impressed at a tryout camp because in order to showcase his basketball skills he transferred to a prep school that does not have a baseball program.

The Reds picked him up from the 22nd round of the 2011 draft and he debuted in the Arizona League last year. Though his performance there wasn't anything to write home about he did make a couple of scoreless appearances at Billings before the end of the season. Now he's back in the Pioneer League and off to a good start. Cincinnati would probably prefer that he leave his basketball career behind in order to work full time toward becoming an MLB pitcher. Until that happens they will have to be satisfied to use time available to develop him as best they can.

Garrett stands 6'6" with a 36" vertical leap and 80" wingspan so leaving the hardwood behind may not be easy. The southpaw is 21 years old and would likely be facing higher level competition by now if he had. Cincinnati used a $1 million signing bonus to ink him so they've got notions that he will move up the system and his first start of this season supports those hopes. He'll likely spend most of the season with Billings and with some success he'll be a candidate to move to Dayton by the end of the year. Garrett is a classic high risk/high reward prospect and a bit unique because one day his reward may come in another high-revenue sports league.

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The Reds played a fourth game in their home series against Pittsburgh and allowed three runs in the seventh inning in a 5-3 loss to the Pirates. Joey Votto singled home the first run of the game in the first inning and Jay Bruce regained the lead for the Reds with a solo home run in the fourth, his fifth home run in the last seven games. Zach Cozart led off the seventh with a double and scored on a groundout in the seventh, but it wasn't enough for the comeback. Votto and Shin-soo Choo both had two hits while Cozart reached twice with a hit and a walk. Homer Bailey got no decision from a quality start when he allowed two runs on six hits without a walk in six innings while striking out eight. Aflredo Simon entered in the seventh and was charged with three runs and the loss without finishing it. J.J. Hoover ended the game with two scoreless innings of relief.

Louisville lost 2-1 at Durham. Their only run came when Jason Donald led off the seventh with a double and scored on a groundout. Neftali Soto had two of the six Bats hits while Donald had a walk to go with his double and Nevin Ashley walked twice. Armando Galarraga took the loss for allowing two runs on eight hits over six innings. Logan Ondrusek threw two scoreless frames.

Pensacola was also held to one run in a 3-1 loss at Montgomery. The Wahoos only score came from a solo home run by Theo Bowe in the third. They reached base only six times in the game from three hits and three walks with Yorman Rodriguez getting one of each. Ryan Dennick took the loss for allowing three runs on six hits in six innings while striking out five against one walk. Josh Ravin and Wilken De La Rosa combined for two scoreless innings of relief.

Bakersfield took a three-run lead and held on for a 3-2 home win over High Desert. Shane Dyer got the win for tossing seven scoreless innings over which he allowed only four hits without a walk while striking out five. Kyle Lotzkar entered in the eighth and finished without allowing a run for the save. Yovan Gonzalez doubled home the first run of the game in the seventh and scored on a Juan Silva single. Kyle Waldrop added needed insurance the next frame with a solo homer. Gonzalez finished with two of the seven Blaze hits while Silva reached with a hit and walk.

Dayton allowed runs early and often in an 11-3 loss to visiting Lake County. Nick Travieso took the loss for allowing six runs in two innings. Jesus Adames tossed two scoreless frames. Beau Amaral and Junior Arias had two hits each including a solo homer by Arias in the ninth. Sammy Diaz reached twice with a hit and walk.

The AZL Reds took a five run lead after two innings and won their first game of the season at the AZL Indians by a score of 9-4. They struck early when Cory Thompson led off the game with a double and scored on a groundout. Kevin Garcia opened up the lead in the second with a three-run homer before Thompson singled and scored on a Alberti Chavez double. Ronald Bueno added a couple more with a two-run home run in the seventh before Joseph Duarte and Garcia both plated runs with hits the next inning. Jose Fernandez reached safely three times with a couple of hits and a walk. Thompson and Garcia added two hits each. Jeremy Kivel was considered a reliever, but he got the start and allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits in four-plus innings while striking out six and walking three. Juan Martinez entered in the fifth and allowed two runs while finishing the game and picking up the win.

The DSL Reds took the lead with four runs in the third inning and won 6-5 over the visiting DSL Diamondbacks. Hector Vargas went 3-3 with a walk for the Reds. Miguel Mendez and Jose De Luna added two hits each while Diohanki Mejia finished with a hit and a walk. Junior Arias allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits in five innings while striking out seven and walking one to take the win. Josue Castellano ended the game by striking out five over two scoreless innings for the save.

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