Hoover Ready for Another MLB Shot

At the beginning of this season the Reds had three relievers unavailable on the DL. At that time no one expected their pen would have a problem with overcrowding this season. Nick Masset is now making rehab outings to rejoin a bullpen with the lowest ERA in MLB. Meanwhile J.J. Hoover has been lights-out at Louisville since Bill Bray's return forced him back to AAA.

Louisville tied their game against Toledo with two runs in the fourth and rallied for three more the next inning in a 5-3 win at Louisville Slugger Field. Mike Costanzo went 2-2 with two doubles, two walks and an RBI. Neftali Soto also had two hits and drove in a run.

On the mound Nick Masset finally made a rehab start that was scratched earlier this week and gave up two runs in 1+ inning. Todd Redmond relieved him and allowed one run in 5+ innings to get the win. Kanekoa Texeira came in to face former Bat Danny Dorn in the eighth and ended the inning by inducing a double play. J.J. Hoover retired the side in order in the ninth for the save.

While Masset continues to rehab in order to rejoin the Reds bullpen this season J.J. Hoover has been a dominant closer in the International League. The right-handed trade return for Juan Francisco has a 1.41 ERA in 25 appearances with a WHIP of 0.719. He also has a 4-0 record with eleven saves while blowing only one (from an unearned run). It is expected that the 24 year-old right-hander will don a Reds uniform again after roster expansion.

His major league debut with the Reds earlier this season was a successful one. He kept a flat three ERA with a 1.056 WHIP in seventeen outings. The reason he was sent down to AAA was that the Reds ran out of bullpen spots when veteran southpaw Bill Bray returned from the DL. Hoover responded by throwing the ball like he's very much ready for his next MLB opportunity as soon as the Reds can provide one.

Probably the only thing that kept Hoover from challenging for a spot on the back end of an MLB rotation was that he's spent this year in two organizations, Atlanta and Cincinnati that were already deep with starting pitchers. Given the make-up of his game some think that he projects more as a starter, which he was in 61 of his first 100 minor league appearances in the Braves system. His fastball reaches the low 90's and he mixes it up with several off-speed pitches. He has variety to show different stuff to hitters when working through the lineup multiple times.

Still, sometimes results on the diamond override projections. Though he's had success starting his best work as a professional has come out of the pen. Last year at Mississippi the Braves converted him to a reliever. He kept a sub-one ERA and struck out 47 in 24 innings with the M-Braves and AAA Gwinnett.

He's kept it up since coming to the Reds. The Cincinnati bullpen has been strong all season and figures to give manager Dusty Baker even more options after roster expansion with the addition of Hoover and Masset. An old adage says that you can never have too much good pitching and Hoover is making a statement that he is ready now for an MLB bullpen somewhere. He will have a chance to prove it with the Reds again this September.

Other News from the Farm:

Pensacola cruised to a 6-1 win at Huntsville. Ryan LaMarre, Brodie Greene, and Tucker Barnhart each had two hits for the Wahoos including a home run by Barnhart. Their scoring was capped by a three-run homer by Donald Lutz. On the mound Wirfin Obispo picked up the win with an outstanding outing. He allowed only four hits and one walk while throwing seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts.

Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:

Hamilton reached on a fielder's choice in the fifth and stole second. That was the only time he was on base in the game. He now has 128 steals in 108 games.

Bakersfield fell behind by nine and lost at home 10-6 to Visalia. Travis Mattair had three hits including two for extra bases and drove in two runs. Devin Lohman, Ryan Wright, Juan Duran, and Kurtis Muller added two hits apiece to the Blaze offense. Daniel Renken was roughed up for six runs (five earned) in four innings for the loss.

Dayton took a lead on a solo homer by Juan Silva in the ninth only to allow the tying run in the bottom off the inning and a walk-off homer in the tenth in a 6-5 loss at Great Lakes. Joe Terry had three hits for the Dragons. Wes Mugarian got the start and allowed one run on one hit before a rain delay in the second inning took him out of the game. El'Hajj Muhammad allowed the game winner for the loss.

Billings took a two run lead on a home run by Robert Maddox in the fourth before losing 5-2 at Great Falls. Zachary Vincej had three hits and is now batting .429 in thirteen games. Daniel Pigott added a couple of singles. Dan Langfield got the start and allowed one hit and no runs in 2+ innings while striking out six. Carlos Ramos blew a save and took the loss when he was charged with four runs in 1+ innings.

The AZL Reds were idle and will travel to play the AZL Indians today.

The DSL Reds completed a suspended game from last month at the DSL Cubs1 and lost 5-3. Oviel Florentino had two hits and drove in a run for the Reds. Franderlin Romero got the start and took the loss while allowing three runs on five hits in three innings.

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