Bats Unleash Bats

The injury bug has bitten nearly every aspect of the Cincinnati team this season. Particularly troublesome right now is their situation behind the plate where ailments are hampering both catchers. Meanwhile minor league free agent Devin Ashley is putting together a solid season at Louisville and providing an option should the Reds need to put in a call to the farm.

Louisville took a lead with a three-run second inning at Toledo and continued rolling to a 12-0 victory over the Mud Hens. Felix Perez got the party started with an RBI double and later scored on a throwing error. Mike Hessman added on with an RBI double in the next frame. Perez struck again in the fifth to blow the game open with a three-run home run. It was a day for Bat hitters to fatten up stats as they added four more in the seventh inning which included a three-run homer by Nevin Ashley before Henry Rodriguez plated their final run with a single in the eighth. Five Louisville hitters had multi-hit games led by Denis Phipps with three of them that led to two RBI and three runs. Perez, Ashley, and Rodriguez all reached safely three times with two hits and a walk each. Neftali Soto added a couple of singles to the attack and Billy Hamilton walked twice.

Armando Galarraga was strong on the hill and picked up the win for tossing six shutout innings over which he gave up only two hits and three walks to push his ERA under three. Kanekoa Texeira relieved him with two perfect innings before Pedro Villarreal finished by retiring the side in order in the ninth.

Ashley brought his season's average up to .290/.361 OB/.478 SLG on the season. Now that Devin Mesoraco is contending with muscle spasms and Ryan Hanigan is slowed by a wrist ailment he could be entering the radar for a long-awaited MLB debut before he turns 29 years old next month. The Reds made a call to the farm earlier this season when Hanigan went on the DL and that went to 37 year-old Corky Miller. After Hanigan's return Miller was removed from the 40-man roster and cleared waivers to return to Louisville where he's hitting .203 this season.

Coming into the season Cincinnati's plans were to give generous action to both Hanigan and Mesoraco and probably didn't expect much contribution from a third catcher before roster expansion. When the need arose they likely considered skills behind the plate first. Miller fits the bill for that and the long time Cincinnati farmhand also has experience working with many of the pitchers on the Reds staff that were previously at Louisville.

However, Ashley also has the reputation for strong skills behind the plate. He came into the organization from a minor league free agent contract after leaving the Tampa Bay system where he ascended up the pipeline, making their postseason roster in 2010, though he saw no playoff action. He bumped his head offensively after reaching their AAA level while dealing with a hand injury. When the Rays added Luke Scott his spot on their 40-man roster came at Ashley's expense and when they designated him he opted to pursue other opportunities.

Now he could be on the verge of competing at the highest level. It appears that the Reds are content to let their current catchers continue playing at less than 100% until the all-star break and their condition after that will likely determine if they make any roster moves. Currently they are using 39 of their available spots but that does not include Ryan Ludwick and Nick Masset who are both on the 60 day DL. They are hopeful of regaining the services of at least one and perhaps both of them later in the season. Their addition would put them over the capacity of their 40-man roster and room would be made by designating someone for assignment. That situation has probably influenced their reluctance to call up MLB veteran Jose Arredondo who was a big part of their bullpen's success last season and surprisingly cleared waivers before he started this season at Louisville.

Still, an expectation of getting some offensive contribution from Ashley without compromising defensive play has to gain their consideration as they mull the situation in the near future. Like other teams the Reds use some of their spots on the 40-man for prospects that aren't expected to see MLB duty this season to protect against losing them to the Rule 5 draft.

Unfortunately for Ashley right now it appears that one of the bigger obstacles for his advancing is the potential risk of losing a player that Cincinnati would prefer to keep. That risk would be lessened if Miller were recalled again because he's already cleared waivers once this season without a claim. Still, they are in a pennant race and need someone behind the plate. Hanigan recently caught a game right after receiving a cortisone shot, which normally keeps players out of action for a couple of days and Mesoraco's movements are noticeably affected by his ailment. Ashley is building his case for an opportunity to help the parent team and now it's up to them to find a way to take advantage of it.

Other Organizational News:

The Reds avoided a sweep with a 6-2 win at Milwaukee behind a strong outing by Mike Leake who pitched into the ninth inning while allowing two runs on four hits and four walks. He picked up the win to improve his record to 8-4 while sporting a 2.69 ERA. Aroldis Chapman entered in the final inning and retired both batters faced to end the game but did not qualify for a save. Shin-soo Choo kept the base paths busy with three hits and a walk which led to him crossing the plate twice. Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips had two hits apiece and combined for five RBI. Joey Votto reached safely three times from a hit and two walks while Xavier Paul drew a walk in addition to his single.

Pensacola scored two runs in the ninth that gave them a 5-3 win at Montgomery. The Wahoos took a brief lead when Tucker Barnhart led off the second inning with a walk and eventually scored on a sac fly. Barnhart struck again with a solo home run in the fourth and later in that inning Ryan LaMarre tied the score with an RBI-double. LaMarre provided the go-ahead runs with a two-run homer in the final frame. Travis Mattair collected three hits in the game and scored twice. Barnhart, LaMarre, Corey Wimberly, and Brodie Greene added two hits each with Wimberly also drawing his team's only walk. Shaun Ellis got the start and no decision for allowing three runs in three innings. Chris Manno relieved him with three scoreless frames before Lee Hyde tossed one-plus innings without a run with timing good for the win. Trevor Bell did not allow a run in the ninth which earned him the save and kept his ERA at zero after eleven appearances between Louisville and Pensacola this season.

Bakersfield tied their game in the sixth only to allow two runs in the bottom of the inning in their 5-3 loss at Lake Elsinore. Danny Vicioso stroked three hits to raise his average to .294. David Vidal had two hits and a walk, Juan Perez collected two hits and an RBI, and Steve Selsky reached safely from a hit and two walks. Shan Dyer was lifted in the sixth inning and allowed all five runs for the loss.

Dayton scored early and often while rolling to a 12-6 win at Cedar Rapids. The Dragons led off the game with three singles before cleanup hitter Jesse Winker popped a grand slam. Seth Mejias-Brean went 5-5 with three RBI. Joe Hudson had three hits including a couple of doubles and also drew a walk. The top of the lineup did their job with Sammy Diaz and Jeff Gelalich stroking three hits each while leadoff hitter Beau Amaral reached from a hit and three walks. Sal Romano turned in a quality start and got the win for allowing two runs on five hits in six innings while striking out five without a walk.

Billings got hammered for nine runs in the third inning in their 10-6 loss at Grand Junction. The Mustangs started off well when Avain Rachal delivered a two-run single and scored off a hit by Taylor Terrasas. They added on the next inning when Juan Morillo led off by reaching second base from an error and scored when the next batter, Ty Washington, singled. Terrasas, Gabriel Rosa, Jonathan Reynoso, and Phil Ervin each had two hits in the game. The big Rockies rally in the third knocked out starter Jose Guzman who took the loss for allowing nine runs (seven earned).

The AZL Reds blew open their game with a seven-run rally in the fifth inning en route to winning 12-6 at the AZL Royals. Aristides Aquino collected three hits and a walk while scoring three times. He's now gone 6-9 with two walks over his last two games. Alberti Chavez also had three hits while Logan Uxa, Kevin Garcia, Jose Fernandez, Oviel Florentino, and Jose Duarte added two apiece. Starter Juan Martinez allowed one run on four hits and three walks over five innings to pick up the win.

The DSL Reds were idle and will host the DSL Giants on Thursday.

The DSL Rojos game was postponed by rain and they will visit the DSL Cardinals on Thursday.

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