Rahier Starting to Make the Grade

After going through a challenging debut in the Arizona League last year not many expected for 19 year-old Tanner Rahier to be at Dayton right now. Last year's second rounder has had a challenging start in the Midwest League this season but his bat is starting to come around.

Dayton tied their home game against South Bend in the fourth before the visitors commenced to blow it open the next inning in what turned out to be an 11-1 defeat. Even though their only run came with the assistance of a couple of errors they did tally nine hits, but Silver Hawk pitchers did not allow a walk. One of the bright spots in their attack was Tanner Rahier who collected three hits. Jeff Gelalich and Joe Terry had two hits apiece with Terry also reaching on an error before scoring a run.

On the mound starter Sal Romano ran into trouble in the fifth and took the loss. He allowed six runs on ten hits in five innings. Tony Amezcua allowed only one run in three innings and Wes Mugarian tossed a scoreless ninth.

Rahier is certainly a unique prospect because of his experience before last year's draft. He underwent an intensive non-traditional conditioning program that included a lot of manual labor. He also took the "Bryce Harper route" when prepping and forewent the opportunity to play high school ball after his freshman season in favor of competing in a wooden bat league. Whatever he did, it was enough to prompt the Reds to invest a second round selection on him.

After looking at Rahier's stat line of last year and the sub-.200 average in the Arizona League some may have felt that the teenager would be more of a candidate for extended spring training ala 2011 second rounder Gabriel Rosa who was shut down last season with hip problems. Instead he's playing regularly in a full season at Dayton and though he's started off slowly, hitting only .218, he's gone 13-35 (.342) over his last ten games while belting three home runs and driving in eleven.

The consensus after last year's draft was that Rahier was a steal for the 78th overall pick after he was previously expected to be called somewhere around the supplemental first round. He was drafted as a shortstop but there were some concerns about his ability to stick at the position. Thus far nearly all his action in the field with the Reds has been at third base where he's made 21 errors in 81 games.

Rahier projects as having sufficient power for the corner position. He's very athletic with a strong arm and has been clocked at over 90 m.p.h. coming off the mound. He projects as a line-drive hitter with gap power and ability to go deep when he pulls. He's impressive physically with good speed and strong hands but had a reputation as overly aggressive in the batter's box. During his debut he walked in almost 10% of his plate appearances in the Arizona League but thus far in 2013 he's not been able to repeat that frequency. As his discipline improves one would expect his strikeouts to decline from the 20% rate that he's whiffed since turning pro.

Though he might not have been expected to be playing at this level during this phase of his development, recently his bat has been making some noise like it belongs here. Perhaps in the future the Reds might give him a look at shortstop which could further enhance his prospect value, but right now that job with the Dragons will be manned by Zach Vincej who is coming off an impressive debut at Billings after a highly decorated college career. Rahier is still only nineteen years old, so there's no pressure to advance him any further right now. In the meantime it will be interesting to see how his bat comes around against Midwest League pitching.

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The Reds continued their interleague schedule against their in-state rival by traveling up the road to Cleveland where they lost to the Indians 5-2. Things started off well enough for them when Joey Votto plated a run with a solo home run in the first inning, but they would not score again until Xavier Paul added another homer in the ninth. Brandon Phillips had two of the Reds' nine hits while Shin-soo Choo reached with a single and a walk. Bronson Arroyo was lifted in the sixth and was charged with all five runs and the loss after allowing eight hits including three home runs.

Louisville scored in each of their first six innings and held on for a 10-7 win over visiting Columbus. The Bats homered four times starting with Josh Fellhauer in the first inning and followed by Nevin Ashley, Konrad Schmidt, and Mike Hessman. Hessman finished with three hits and a walk while Fellhauer reached safely with two hits and two walks. Nevin Ashley also had two hits and Billy Hamilton reached twice with a hit and a walk. Armando Galarraga started off with four scoreless innings and finished with the win after allowing four runs (three earned) in five. Yohan Pino finished with two scoreless innings for the save.

There was a lot of baseball at Pensacola, but not much offense. The Wahoos split a pair of 1-0 games in a doubleheader against Jacksonville. They lost the first one while combining for only five hits. Tucker Barnhart and Michael Gilmartin both reached twice with a hit and walk. Starter Ryan Dennick allowed only one run on two hits and three walks in five innings, but that was enough to pin the loss on him. Wilken De La Rosa finished with two scoreless frames.

In the second game Bryson Smith and David Vidal led off the sixth inning with a pair of doubles to provide the only run of the game. Again the Wahoos only had five hits while Vidal also reached safely with a walk. Shaun Ellis made his first start of the season a good one by tossing four scoreless innings, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out four but he was not left in the game long enough to get a decision. Brian Pearl is back at Pensacola and he, Lee Hyde, and Drew Hayes each threw a scoreless inning with Hyde getting the win and Hayes the save.

Bakersfield scored twice in both the seventh and eighth innings to open up a four-run lead and held on for a 6-4 win at San Jose. The Blaze put single runs across in the first two innings from a double by Steve Selsky and a Ryan Wright single. Yorman Rodriguez doubled home two more in the seventh before Juan Silverio and Juan Perez ended their team's scoring with RBI hits in the eighth. Rodriguez finished with two doubles and a walk. Wright and Perez added two hits each and Selsky reached twice with a hit and a walk. James Allen got the win by allowing two run on only two hits and a couple of walks in six-plus innings while striking out five. Brooks Pinckard relieved him in the seventh and did not allow a run before leaving after the eighth. Kyle McMyne retired the only batter he faced for the save.

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