Rodriguez Homers in First AAA Start

After promotions and trades decimated last year's Louisville lineup Henry Rodriguez was left with perhaps the most MLB-ready bat in the Cincinnati system. Although the Venezuelen is a six year veteran of the minors he's still only 22 years old. He was hitting .348 before going on the DL at Pensacola earlier this year. After rehabbing in the Arizona League he made his AAA debut this week.

Louisville scored in five consecutive innings capped off by a two-run homer by Henry Rodriguez to break a five game losing streak to Indianapolis with a 7-5 road win last night. Rodriguez went 3-5 with three RBI and two runs in his second game at the AAA level. Corky Miller had three hits and drove in two. Leadoff hitter Kristopher Negron added two hits.

On the mound starter Chad Reineke got no decision after allowing three runs on seven hits in five innings. He also struck out seven while walking two. J.J. Hoover threw 2+ scoreless innings to get the win. Donnie Joseph allowed one run in the ninth, but still got the save. Louisville will return home Friday to open a three game series against Toledo.

Rodriguez had his first three hits as a Bat after coming to Louisville off a rehab assignment in the Arizona league. He had previously been at Pensacola where he was hitting .348 until he went on the DL on May 10. He was coming off a productive 2011 campaign when he hit .320 while splitting his season between Bakersfield and Carolina.

Rodriguez is a lifetime .310 minor league hitter and is now in the sixth season of his professional career. He started playing in his native Venezuelan Rookie League as a seventeen year-old after the Reds signed him to a free agent contract. After that he was in the Dominican League until the Reds moved him stateside during the 2009 season. Even though he's a veteran of the minor leagues he's still only 22 years old.

Coming into the season high on his list for development was improved discipline at the plate. Oddly enough he previously had a healthy walk rate before moving stateside. That fell to below 6% since he was promoted out of the rookie leagues. At Pensacola this year he drew nine walks in 144 plate appearances. Fortunately his flashy batting average enables him to keep an on-base percentage over .350.

Rodriguez also packs a surprising punch for such a diminutive stature. The switch hitter is listed at 5'10"/150#, but managed to hit 27 HR's over the two years prior to this season. In the field most of his action has been at second base, but he's been primarily used at third in 2012 where he's committed only two errors in 33 games.

Rodriguez started out the season hitting .350 at spring training and was given a spot on the Reds 40-man roster. He was generally regarded as a top-15 prospect in the Cincinnati system. After last year's AAA team was decimated by trades and promotions, he might have the most MLB-ready bat of all the prospects left in the Cincinnati system. If he hits well with the Bats he could get the call to the bigs to provide a bat off the bench after roster expansion.

Other News from the Farm:

Pensacola allowed three in the eighth inning before losing 6-2 to visiting Birmingham. Yordanys Perez had two hits including a solo home run. J.C. Sulbaran was charged with the loss despite throwing a quality start and allowing three runs in six innings.

Bakersfield fell behind when they allowed four in the top of the ninth and came up short in an attempt to come back in the bottom of the inning when they lost 6-5 to visiting Stockton. Billy Hamilton went 3-5 and scored three times. Theo Bowe and Donald Lutz added two hits each including the first home run by Lutz since returning from a rehab in Arizona. Tanner Robles made his first start at high-A a superb one by throwing six shutout innings and allowing only three hits while fanning six and walking two. Brooks Pinckard was charged with a blown save and the loss.

Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:

Hamilton led off the bottom of the first with a single and immediately swiped second before scoring on a single by the next hitter Bowe. He led off the fifth with a double and advanced to third on a balk before Bowe plated him with a sac fly. He singled again in the ninth and took second on a throwing error. After that he stole third and Bowe plated him for the third time in the game with another single. He's now stolen 103 bases in 80 games.

After a blowout win, Dayton was the victim in another blowout on Thursday when they lost 11-2 to visiting South Bend. Yorman Rodriguez had three hits for the Dragons. Wes Mugarian lost his first start since a promotion from Billings when he was charged with five runs and failed to finish the fifth inning.

Billings scored four in the sixth inning in a 7-2 win over visiting Helena. After a three-home-run game on Wednesday Robert Maddox came back to smack another one while going 1-3 with a walk. Ismael Guillon had an impressive start by throwing four shutout innings of two-hit ball and striking out six against only one walk. Carlos Ramos relieved him and got the win. Jimmy Moran added 2+ scoreless innings of relief to finish the game.

The AZL Reds allowed four in the fourth and lost 4-2 at the AZL Royals. The Reds offense was limited to only two hits. Three of the four runs charged to starter Wandy Peralta were unearned and he picked up his first loss.

The DSL Reds broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the eighth and held on for a 2-1 win over the visiting DSL White Sox. Aristides Aquino had three hits for the Reds and drove in one. Jose Fernandez added two hits to the offense. Starter Jose Rosario struck out four while throwing four shutout innings and allowing only two hits. Jose De Sousa threw 1+ innings to get the win and Josue Castellano retired the only batter he faced for the save.

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