Muller on a Tear for Dragons

22 year-old outfielder Kurtis Muller began the season as a backup at high-A Bakersfield. After a slow start the Reds moved him to Dayton where he's had six multi-hit games in his first eight appearances. The late-round 2010 selection out of the University of Iowa will work to extend his successful return to the Midwest League while waiting for another opportunity at Bakersfield.

West Michigan salvaged a split in a four games series last night by shutting out Dayton 8-0. The Dragons failed to cross the plate in spite of a three-hit effort by Kurtis Muller and two more from Sean Buckley. On the mound Dan Jenson had a poor outing, allowing six runs in three innings before taking his fifth loss.

Muller started out the season slowly as a backup at Bakersfield before returning to Dayton for a game on May 21. All he's done since arriving in the Midwest League is make a strong case that he should have been given more of a chance when he was in high-A. In 8 games for the Dragons he's gone 15-34(.441) while slugging .676 with a couple of home runs. Six of his eight appearances have been multi-hit games.

Muller came into the Cincinnati organization when they selected him in the 22nd round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Iowa. During his final year in college he led the Hawkeyes in several offensive categories including average, steals, and on-base & slugging percentages while playing errorless defense. He also starred for the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League, a summer collegiate baseball team located near his hometown of Sun Prairie, WI.

After the 2010 draft Muller went to work in the Arizona Rookie League and hit .317 in over 200 plate appearances. Last year was split between Billings and Dayton when he saw his overall average drop to around .250. In spite of this, his on-base percentage remained about the same (.372) as he developed plate discipline and increased his walk frequency from 1X/13.7PA to 1X/9.4PA. He's also shown skills at making contacts over his brief professional career by striking out only once every 7.5 PA on average.

The 22 year-old Muller is listed at 5'10"/170#. He hits and throws right-handed. Defensively all of his action has been in the outfield. Because of his speed most of that experience has been in center where he has yet to be charged with an error in 100 games. He was once timed running 60 yards in 6.53 seconds. His 2 PO/game suggests a range lower than one would expect with that kind of speed, but as long as he keeps hitting he should have ample opportunity to polish his skills with the glove.

Muller projects as a possible top-lineup hitter. Now that Theo Bowe has started hitting well since his promotion to high-A the outfield at Bakersfield is getting a bit crowded. Bryson Smith is having a strong year in center while Donald Lutz has split action between first base and left field. Juan Duran has gotten off to a poor start but 6'7" 20 year-old will get an extended look because of the upside for power he showed previously. Meanwhile Yorman Rodriguez is waiting in the wings. He hasn't hit well this season, but he does represent a $2.5M signing bonus which set a record for a Venezuelan prospect, so the teenager will get more opportunities to show his potential. Meanwhile all Muller can do is continue to hit. His return to the Midwest League has been a successful one thus far. His current streak suggests that he's capable of doing the same thing when he returns to California.

Other News from the Farm:

Louisville lost at home 6-2 to former MLB pitcher Zach Duke and Syracuse. Veterans Willie Harris and Joey Gathright had four and three hits respectively while Kristopher Negron and Daniel Dorn added two each. Jeff Francis was charged with four runs in 6+ innings and took his sixth loss.

Pensacola dropped their second in a row after opening a five game set at Jackson in a 4-2 contest yesterday. Brodie Greene was the only Wahoo with two hits. J.C. Sulburan allowed four runs in six innings and was charged with his fourth loss.

Bakersfield took a 4-0 lead over visiting Inland Empire and held on to win 5-3. Travis Mattair had three hits for the Blaze while Devin Lohman, Nico Vasquez, Juan Duran, and James Ewing had two each. Tony Cingrani's start was brief but still stingy as the southpaw allowed only one run in 5+ innings. He did hand around long enough to get his fifth win before giving way to Kyle McMyne who retired all five batters he faced. Brian Pearl pitched around an error and a bases loaded situation to finish the game for his eighth save.

Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:

Hamilton walked in the second inning to load the bases. He had another double-steal inning after an infield hit in the seventh by swiping second and third. He now has 54 steals in 48 games.

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