Bats Win Shutout

Felix Perez's bat is getting hot in what is now his third season at Louisville. Now 29 years old he's considered more "organizational depth" than "prospect" even though he has yet to make an MLB debut. He got attention a few years ago when he was a high-profile sign for the Yankees, but that contract was voided and he's been trying to regain his luster since.

Louisville had four pitchers combine for a shutout in a 4-0 win at Norfolk. Devin Mesoraco, on a rehab assignment, got their scoring started when he led off the sixth inning with a home run, Felix Perez followed with a single and scored later with a wild pitch. The Bats added on with an RBI-double from Argenis Diaz in the eighth and a sac fly from Chris Nelson in the ninth. Perez, Jason Bourgeois, and Thomas Neal each had two of their team's eleven hits.

On the mound Curtis Partch got the start and allowed two hits/two walks over three scoreless innings. Chad Rogers relieved him with three more scoreless frames for the win. Ryan Dennick tossed a perfect seventh before Adam Russell closed out the last two innings for the save.

Perez has gone 13-36 (.361) over his last nine games to raise his average to .285 with a .319 on-base percentage. This is his third full season at Louisville and it seems every season he gives reason to wonder if he'll get an MLB debut. He cracked .300 in 2012, the Reds opted to bring up Donald Lutz all the way from AA after a couple of outfield injuries last year, and he missed a chance this year when Cincinnati recalled Roger Bernadina after he had cleared waivers to replace injured Jay Bruce.

No one can say he didn't wait long enough if/when he finally gets the call. Actually he's now 29 years old and many may think that's a pretty big "if". Looking back, the Yankees are likely glad they had their $3 million dollar deal voided when they signed him out of Cuba in 2009 before it was discovered he lied about his age. After a year suspension he signed with the Reds for $550,000 the next year and has hit .280 from then until now, the start of his fifth professional season.

Perez swings a left-handed bat and can play all three outfield positions. Once he might have been projected as a fourth outfielder on the MLB level, but now it appears that projection has left the station. Still, it seems that any prospect should expect to advance if he keeps on hitting even if he's had the label of "minor league filler" hung on him.

The Reds have used spring training invitee Bernadina to fill in for injured Skip Schumaker before Bruce hit the DL. He's had his moments, most recently hitting .291 as a part-time player for Washington in 2012. However, he's started out a paltry 4-36 (.111) with twelve strikeouts for the Reds this year. All the other outfielders on the Cincinnati 40-man roster and not on the active one are considered more Rule 5 protection than candidates to contribute to the parent team this season. The only one of them higher than AA right now is Ryan LaMarre and he's currently on the DL after a 3-26 (.115) start for the Bats.

In the meantime the only thing Perez can do to help himself is hit which he is indeed doing well over the past week. He brings athleticism to the field and last year cracked ten home runs. It was really a bit puzzling back two years ago on a couple of occasions when the Reds were down an outfielder and call-ups went to infielders Kristopher Negron and Mike Costanzo. They both crashed the 40-man roster then and the possibility is there that Perez can do the same in 2024. Until he does Louisville fans can enjoy him contribute to their success in the International League.

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