Penscola Victims in 3-Hitter

It's difficult to tell what the Reds saw in Ryan Dennick to motivate them to acquire him in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft after a few seasons of mediocrity pitching out of the bullpen in Kansas City's system. Draft him they did and the southpaw has since been an effective starter at AA Pensacola, bringing his ERA down to 2.82 on Friday.

Pensacola allowed a run in the sixth inning and that would be the only one to cross the plate in their 1-0 defeat at Chattanooga. Ryan Dennick took the loss despite holding the Lookouts to one run on six hits and a walk while striking out five in six innings. Josh Ravin and Chris Manno combined for two innings of scoreless relief. Blue Wahoo Bats were held to only three hits.

This is the first season in the Cincinnati organization for Dennick after the Reds acquired him from Kansas City in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. Previously he made it up to the AA level in the Royals system with nearly all of his action coming out of the bullpen. In 2012 he spent the season at Northwest Arkansas and finished with a mid-four ERA after pitching 74 innings.

Dennick has been used in the rotation for Pensacola this season and Friday's performance brought his 2013 ERA down to 2.82 after nine outings. He's pitching more to contact this year, lowering his strikeout rate from 8.8 per nine innings last season to 6.4/nine this year. That has paid dividends with a reduction in walks from 3.6/nine to 2.0/nine and his K/BB ratio has increased from 2.4 to 3.2.

Dennick is a 6'0/185# southpaw out of North Olmstead, OH and was selected by the Royals in the 22nd round of the 09 draft out of Tennessee Tech. While in college he was primarily a reliever his final season before moving into the rotation late in the year. He started out professionally after the draft in the rookie leagues and finished with a mid-two ERA. 2010 was his first full professional season and he's never finished with an ERA below 4.3 in any of the three seasons since which wasn't enough to make the Royals want to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

Perhaps it's not easy to get excited about a pickup in the minor portion of the draft and they often turn out to be fillers in lower levels of the organization, acquired more to fill holes within the system instead of expectations they will make an impact at the major league level. The Reds also acquired shortstop Michael Gilmartin from Oakland after Zach Cozart, Didi Gregorius, and Billy Hamilton were removed from their pipeline from a promotion, trade, and position change. However, any preconceived expectations, or lack thereof, that arrived with Dennick can be overcome by him effectively getting hitters out. Thus far, whatever prompted the Reds to move him into the rotation is looking like a good call.

The first thing Dennick needs to do is earn a promotion. At 26 years of age he's getting a bit long in the tooth for a pitcher that has yet to make a AAA debut. The Louisville rotation is deep and there's a lot of competition from his current teammates at Pensacola. He's older than the other starting pitchers for the Wahoos and if he can remain effective the Reds may be inclined to give him an audition with the Bats later this season to help them with some decision-making during the offseason.

Though his time has ended with his first employer the organizational change seems to be a good one for Dennick thus far. While starting this season he's already thrown only 23 fewer innings than he did all of last year and his ERA is 1.8 runs lower. Perhaps a return to the bullpen might open the door for further advancement and give him a chance to make a case that he's a legitimate candidate for a spot-starter at the MLB level. For now the only thing he can do is continue to get batters out as he continues to work for a AAA debut.

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The Reds opened up a home series against the Cubs with a 7-4 win. They fell behind early after allowing three runs in the second inning, but stormed back with a five-run rally in the fourth which included a solo home run by Joey Votto and a three-run shot by Ryan Hanigan. Brandon Phillips added some insurance with a two-run homer in the eighth. Votto, Phillips, and Zach Cozart each had two of the ten Cincinnati hits while Todd Frazier reached with a single and a walk. Bronson Arroyo got the win from a quality start, allowing three runs off of six hits in six innings. Aroldis Chapman punched out three strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning for the save.

Louisville allowed two runs in both the third and fourth innings in a 4-3 loss to visiting Pawtucket. The Bats took an early lead in the first when Billy Hamilton manufactured a run by walking, advancing on a balk, stealing third, and crossing the plate on a groundout. Denis Phipps added a run when he led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run and Josh Fellhauer stroked an RBI double in the ninth. Phipps and Neftali Soto had two hits each while Emmanuel Burriss reached safely twice with a walk and a hit. Armando Galarraga allowed all four runs (three earned) along with six hits and four walks in six innings for the loss. Curtis Partch and Kevin Whelan combined for three scoreless innings of relief.

Bakersfield allowed three runs in the sixth inning and came up short in their comeback attempt while losing 3-2 to visiting Stockton. The Blaze didn't cross the plate until the eighth inning when Juan Duran led off with a double and later scored on a sac fly. Yorman Rodriguez and Marquez Smith provided a scoring threat in the ninth by leading off with a single and double. Bakersfield put one across with another sac fly, but the tying run was left on base at the end of the game. Smith reached safely three times with a couple of hits and a walk while Rodriguez stroked two hits. James Allen allowed only four hits in five innings, but he also gave up three walks and three runs that pinned the loss on him. Jimmy Moran and Brooks Pinckard both threw two scoreless frames of relief.

Dayton fell behind when they allowed three runs in the fifth inning en route to a 5-2 home loss to Western Michigan. Both Dragon runs came in the sixth inning which was led with hits by Beau Amaral, Joe Terry, and Jesse Winker. Amaral and Tanner Rahier both finished with two of their team's eight hits while Terry reached with a hit and a walk. Sal Romano took the loss by allowing four runs in five-plus innings.

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