The Expansion Call-Ups

It's now expansion time and the Reds expect to add six players to their active roster. Included in the group is top prospect Billy Hamilton who is expected to join the team Monday and make his MLB debut.

It's the last day of August which means MLB rosters will expand up to 40 tomorrow. Cincinnati has announced that they will add six players from Louisville as they enter the pennant stretch. Five of them have seen some action with the Reds this season: Curtis Partch, Derrick Robinson, Henry Rodriguez, Neftali Soto, and Corky Miller. Awaiting the team when they return from their road trip will be top-rated prospect Billy Hamilton who is expected to make his MLB debut.

Actually the roster moves got started yesterday when the Red brought up MLB veteran Zach Duke from Louisville to add another southpaw in their bullpen. The 30 year-old Duke had previously pitched in 200 NL games, mostly with the Pirates. He arrived at Louisville in June after the Nationals released him. His performance out of the Bats bullpen has been quite remarkable since, allowing runs in only three of 26 appearances. The former all-star finished his International League season with a 1.30 ERA over 27+ innings and he was not charged with a run over one and two-thirds innings in his Reds debut at Colorado last night.

Duke's arrival before the end of August makes him eligible for the post-season roster which may be an option the Reds take if Sean Marshall is not able to return from injury. His spot came at the expense of Nick Christiani who made one scoreless appearance in his MLB debut and could re-join the team later. Justin Freeman was designated for assignment to provide Duke's spot on the 40-man roster.

Robinson has been with the Reds most of the season and was squeezed off the active roster when Ryan Ludwick returned from shoulder surgery. He came into the organization from Kansas City's after signing a minor league free agent contract before the season. The soon-to-be 26 year-old switch hitter will likely resume seeing frequent action off the Reds bench and his hitting .254/.325 OB in almost 200 plate appearances since making his MLB debut this season.

The 26 year-old Partch is a hard-throwing right-hander that made eleven appearances with the Reds after he got the call to debut in early June. Six of those yielded no runs including a four-inning outing at Wrigley Field over which he gave up only one hit/no walks and struck out four. His ERA was inflated to almost six, but nine of his twelve runs allowed came from a couple of games when the Reds team allowed double digit runs in lopsided losses. In his last outing he was tagged for five runs, but Cardinal hitters roughed up the Reds starter for seven before he entered in a 13-3 blowout. Parch was effective in a handful of appearances at Pensacola to start this season and kept a low-four ERA in 24 appearances with Louisville.

Before the season some considered Rodriguez as the most MLB-ready bat of all the Cincinnati prospects. This is the second season he's gotten an expansion call and he had a cup of coffee with the Reds earlier this year. The 23 year-old switch-hitter will provide additional infield depth after hitting .274/.319 OB in his second season with the Bats.

Soto also had a brief stint with the Reds when he debuted earlier this season. The 24 year-old has played all over the field during his minor league career with most of his action at first base. This year he's spent more time at third as the Reds have groomed him to be a utility corner infielder. He hit .270/.312 OB at Louisville while connecting on 15 home runs.

A third catcher typically joins a team after roster expansion and the Reds have made it clear that veteran Corky Miller is their number three man behind the plate. He's already seen action in fourteen games with the Reds earlier this year when Ryan Hanigan was injured. Historically Miller has not provided much offense at the plate and the 37 year-old has a lifetime average below .200. However, no one questions his skills behind the dish and he brings value with his experience having caught most of the pitchers on the Reds staff.

Perhaps the most anticipated addition is that of top prospect Hamilton. Of course he's gotten a lot of attention for consecutive seasons with triple digit stolen bases. The "Fastest Man in Baseball" was limited to "only" 75 swipes this year and incredibly he was caught only fifteen times against AAA competition. He hasn't had as many opportunities as past seasons while going through a learning curve reaching base against higher level pitching. Right now he's swinging the bat better than he has all year, hitting .283/.324 OB since the all-star break in mid-July. He'll soon turn 23 years old and there has been a lot of speculation for him inheriting the center field/leadoff job next season after Shin-soo Choo completes the final year of his contract. At his age perhaps he's been on a track that was a bit too fast and it remains to be seen how much MLB action he gets next month. At the very least he could provide speed off the bench that would be very disruptive to opposing defenses even if he doesn't get a legitimate audition for regular duty in 2014.

Opportunities for the newcomers might be limited since the Reds are currently trailing in the division race and figure to have urgency placed on all of the remaining games. On the other hand, given their situation they aren't likely going to add players unless they feel they can help the team win games now. It should be quite a thrill for these young players when given a chance to help their team in a pennant stretch drive this season.

Other Organizational News:

The Reds dropped the opener in their series at Colorado by a score of 6-3. They took a one-run lead in the top of the fourth, but fell in a hole when they allowed five in the bottom of the inning. Bronson Arroyo took the loss for allowing six runs in three-plus innings pitched. Brandon Phillips and Ryan Hanigan led the Reds with two hits each while Ryan Ludwick clubbed a solo homer in the fifth.

Louisville lost a two-run lead in the eighth and allowed the game-winner in the next inning in their 4-3 loss at Indianapolis. Kristopher Negron led the Bats with two hits including a two-run homer. Tim Crabbe had a nice start, allowing only one unearned run in five-plus innings while navigating around five hits/four walks. Loek Van Mil entered in the ninth and recorded only one out before the game ended for the loss.

Pensacola fell behind when they allowed five runs in the second inning en route to a 10-2 loss at Mobile. The Wahoos were limited to five hits and Daniel Renken was roughed up for nine runs (seven earned) in four-plus innings for the loss.

Bakersfield lost a four-run lead in the third inning, but came back to win 7-4 at Visalia. Juan Duran had three hits for the Blaze including a two-run homer. Juan Perez added two hits including a triple and two RBI. Juan Silverio also had two hits in the game. Shan Dyer got the start and was a victim of errors, allowing four runs in three-plus innings, all unearned. Brooks Pinckard did not allow a run in two-plus innings for the win and Carlos Gonzalez tossed a scoreless ninth for the save.

Dayton cruised to an 8-0 win at Great Lakes. Don't close the books on Ismael Guillon's season yet. The southpaw finished up a no-hit outing by allowing only one hit in six shutout innings while striking out nine with only one walk for the win. Five Dragons had two hits each in the game: Beau Amaral, Sammy Diaz, Daniel Piggott, Jon Matthews, and Robert Ramirez.

Billings scored three runs in the seventh inning, but it was not enough for a comeback as they lost 8-7 at Great Falls. Carlos Sanchez had two hits/three RBI for the Mustangs including a two-run homer. Aristides Aquino added a couple of singles and drove home one. Nick Routt allowed one run over the first three innings for no decision. Daniel Wright was tagged for four runs in two-plus frames for the loss.

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