Dayton Wins in Walkoff

It’s difficult to speculate how excited Cincinnati was to find Garrett Boulware still waiting when they chose him in the 16th round last draft. Some expected him to go higher so he projected good value for the late pick and since arrival he’s realized said value at the plate.

Dayton came out on top of an exciting finish to win 4-3 over visiting West Michigan Saturday. The Dragons scored the game’s first run in the second inning on an RBI-single from Garrett Boulware but then fell behind by a run before Boulware struck again in the sixth to tie the game with his second run-producing hit. It appeared the White Caps would pull out the victory when they scored in the top of the ninth, but the home team came back to score two from an RBI-hit by Wendell Soto and a game-ending error off the bat of Ronald Bueno that plated the winning run.

Boulware and Soto each had two of their team’s eight hits. Also reaching safely twice were Brian O’Grady, Jimmy Pickens, and Narciso Crook who all finished with both a hit and walk each. On the mound Mark Armstrong got no decision from allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits while pitching five -plus innings and striking out five against only one walk. Jacob Ehret relieved him in a big way, by retiring all eight hitters faced including six via strikeout. Brian Hunter gave up an unearned run in the ninth, but his team’s offense took him off the hook and he was awarded the win.

Boulware’s two hits lifted his average over .300 on the young season and thus far he’s reached base frequently enough for a .378 on-base percentage. Though he’s been splitting time behind the plate with Jose Ortiz, he’s still tied for the team lead with seven RBI. This isn’t the first season he’s shown that he knows the way to first because he reached at a .361 clip over 44 games at Billings last season after Cincinnati selected him out of Clemson in the 16th round of the draft.

Behind the plate he’s committed eight errors in 52 games and thrown out fifteen of 79 opposing base-stealers, but he’s got a strong enough arm to expect an improvement on that rate. He did allow a passed ball Saturday, the ninth of his young career and he has played some in left field collegiately. As for right now, the potential to have a catcher with strong on-base skills make him a more interesting prospect.

The 22 year-old Boulware does have a strong build (6’2”/200#) that is preferred for a catcher and bats right-handed. Prior to attending Clemson he was considered one of the top high school players at his position when San Diego drafted him in the 42nd round in 2011. While with the Tigers he had a career average of .295/.372 OB and was on the Johnny Bench award watch list in both of his final two seasons. He was also a team co-captain, second team All-ACC, and during his sophomore season he was only the second catcher to win his team’s MVP award since 1979.

Looking back, waiting so late in the draft was probably a surprise and Cincinnati got great value with their sixteenth round pick. Without an early pick investment there’s no pressure to get him on the field thus he’s forged his way into the lineup with his advanced plate discipline. He may take over the bulk of the duty behind the plate for the Dragons, but Ortiz has been a solid hitter in the rookie leagues in the past. Whatever role Boulware ends up with Dayton this season, it appears the Reds will be happy with this late-round selection and he’s headed for some consideration for a promotion to the next level in 2016.

Cincy Hardball Top Stories