Axelrod Tosses Two-Hit Shutout

Recent acquisition Dylan Axelrod has gotten off to a nice start at Louisville including a two-hit shutout Tuesday. He’s had a long minor league journey through three organizations and a stint in the Frontier League. Along the way he spent an entire season with the White Sox last year and is working to get back to the big leagues with the Reds.

Things were looking good for Louisville Tuesday night when they loaded the bases in the first before making an out. Jason Bourgeois started the inning with a single and advanced on a single by Jake Elmore and walk to Thomas Neal. The would-be rally ended in disappointment when Neftali Soto hit into a double play scoring Bourgeios, the only run in the inning. However, that was the only one the Bats would need as they eked out a 1-0 win over visiting Rochester to get them a game closer to .500 on the season at 58-60.

The Bats’ bats were cold for most of the night, producing only five hits and no RBI. Neal reached safely three times with a couple of walks in addition to his single. The real story was on the mound where Dylan Axelrod tossed a two-hit shutout in his fourth start since entering the Cincinnati organization. Three of his outings have lasted over seven innings while allowing two runs or fewer.

Axelrod is recently turned 29 years old and is a 6’0”/195# right-hander that came over from the White Sox organization in kind of a roundabout “non-trade”. It started when former Bat and MLB veteran Chien-Ming Wang opted out of his contract and left the organization to try his luck with the Palehose. To make room for him they dealt Axelrod to the Reds for cash. He’s seen action at the MLB level in the previous three seasons with forgettable results, hence the return to the minors to begin the season.

Actually the odds were remote that Axelrod would ever see MLB action when he was drafted out of Cal-Irvine by the Padres in the 30th round in 2007. They gave up on him in 2009 and he pitched in the Frontier League before being picked up by the White Sox. He had a nice start for them and kept his ERA around a flat two against younger single A hitters over the next couple of years. He might have jumped on some radars in 2011 when he was promoted to AAA midseason and went 6-1/2.27 in fifteen starts which earned his MLB debut after roster expansion. His success didn’t stop there because he turned in a couple of quality starts in the final month of that season.

He did well in AAA the next year while he wasn’t with the White Sox and even did some turns in their rotation but had problems getting out MLB hitters while he bounced back and forth between levels. In 2013 all of his action was with the White Sox where he made 30 appearances/20 starts while struggling to a 4-11 record and 5.68 ERA.

Axelrod goes to work with a low-90’s fastball, decent slider, and occasional curve. His ascent up the minor leagues can be credited to good command and in over 200 minor league games he’s walked 2.4 batters while striking out eight per nine innings. He hasn’t maintained those rates in 2014, but they have been getting better since coming into the Cincinnati organization.

Actually Axelrod could work his way into a position for an unexpected trip to the Reds should they need to reach down into their farm for a spot start over the remainder of the season, similar to Greg Reynolds last year. Tony Cingrani has only recently started throwing again after a long stint on the DL and Axelrod has more MLB experience than either of the current Louisville starters that are on the 40-man, David Holmberg and Brett Marshall.

Unfortunately for Axelrod the Reds currently do not have any more double-headers on their schedule, which was the situation that got Holmberg a trip up I-71 earlier this season. Of course when healthy the Cincinnati rotation is a tough one to crack but they’ve managed to stay in the pennant race while by hovering around .500 this season so pitching help after roster expansion may have a preference of experience over development. Reynolds parlayed his success at Louisville into a career in the Japanese League this season and Axelrod is making a case for getting another shot at tossing some more innings for a big league team somewhere in 2015.

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