Louisville Wins First

Louisville came back from a couple of season-opening losses to win their first game of the season against Toledo Saturday in shutout fashion. Yorman Rodriguez led the offense and Michael Lorenzen did not allow a run in his AAA debut to power the Bats.

Louisville got into the win column Saturday with a 5-0 shutout over visiting Toledo. The Bats drew first blood in the third when Yorman Rodriguez singled and scored on an RBI ground ball single up the middle by Bryson Smith. They weren’t finished because he scored later on a two-run double from Eugenio Suarez. That was all the home team would need, but they added on a couple more when Rodriguez hit a solo homer the next inning and then delivered his third hit of the game and scored on a double off the bat of Ivan DeJesus in the sixth.

Rodriguez led the attack going 3-4, DeJesus walked twice in addition to the double, and leadoff hitter Iving Falu reached twice via a hit and a walk. When Louisville gave the ball to Michael Lorenzen to start the game it was put into good hands. The 23-year old right-hander made his AAA debut by shutting out the Mud Hens over seven innings while allowing only three hits/two walks. Pedro Villarreal entered in the eighth and finished the shutout with two scoreless frames.

Perhaps this is the year that Rodriguez has a breakout season. He’s been a high profile player in the Cincinnati system since 2008 when the Reds signed him to a foreign free agent contract for what was then a record amount for a Venezuelan prospect. He’s had his ups and downs since, some could have been blamed on youth, and his employer has not been bashful to promote him up against older competition along the way. He spent most of his season at Pensacola last year where he hit .262 AVG/.331 OB with 9 homers which earned him an expansion call to the parent team where he went 6-27 with only one walk. His performance Saturday raised his average to .300 on the young season.

Lorenzen lasted late into the exhibition season with the Reds before he was assigned to Louisville. It’s now his third season in the Cincinnati organization after the Reds selected him with the 38th overall selection in the 2012 draft in the competitive balance round. Though he was an outfielder collegiately he also saw action on the mound as a closer for Cal St. Fullerton. Cincinnati has made no secrets of their intentions since signing him by using him exclusively as a pitcher, first out of the bullpen before converting him into the rotation at Pensacola last year. He responded with a 3.13 ERA over 120 innings.

No doubt it was Lorenzen’s mid-90’s velocity that interested Cincinnati into investing the high selection. Surprisingly his strikeout rate (6.3 K/9 inn) was lower than expected, but he was successful at inducing ground balls with an effective sinker. He did give up some hits, but he was helped at preventing many of them from crossing the plate by limiting opponents to only nine home runs. Since it was his first season starting they were careful with his innings in the second half, but if his first appearance this season is any indication Louisville fans can expect him to work deep into games.

A blowout loss on opening day suggested it might be a long season for Bats fans, but now there’s reason to be excited over a couple of their players. Rodriguez is already on the 40-man roster, so it will not be difficult to give him another call-up to the Reds, though they would probably prefer leaving him alone to get regular action for a while. There’s been no need to put Lorenzen on the 40-man but that could be arranged if the need arises. Now at the top level of the Cincinnati development these two are in many top-10 Cincinnati prospect lists and have come out of the gate with intentions on staying in them. A strong campaign in the International League this season could force them onto the active roster for opening day next year, if not sooner.

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