Selsky Making Way in AAA

Steve Selsky powered Louisville in a 6-2 win Thursday and the late-rounder is off to a strong start in AAA this season. He’s hit at every level during his pro league career while providing solid defense at both corner outfield spots and first base. He’s a solid minor leaguer and his next question is if he will be able to maintain his hot bat long enough to get a call from the Reds.

Louisville rode a four run rally to a 6-2 win at division leader Indianapolis Thursday and though they are still in the cellar, their 8-13 record is now only 3.5 games out of first place. Steve Selsky got the party started when he led off the second with a solo home run and the Bats kept batting long enough to manage a reverse order cycle in the inning. The next hitter, Yorman Rodriguez, tripled, Bryson Smith walked, and Jermain Curtis doubled home their second run before Ryan LaMarre singled home two more. The Indians closed the gap when they plated two in the next frame, but the Bats increased their lead in the fifth when Hernan Iribarren, Ivan DeJesus, and Selsky led off with singles before Kyle Skipworth drove a run home with a sac fly. Finally LaMarre scored the game’s final run when he doubled in the ninth and came around on hit by Iribarren.

Selsky and Iribarren led their team with three hits each and LaMarre added two. On the mound former Oriole Daniel Cabrera made his first appearance in the U.S. since 2012 and pitched the first three innings for the Bats allowing two runs (one earned) over the first three innings. He didn’t last long enough for the win which was earned by Drew Hayes who relieved him with three shutout frames, allowing only one hit and one walk with three strikeouts. It was a nice day for the Louisville pen because they combined for six scoreless innings after Sam LeCure didn’t allow a hit for two of them and Nate Adcock closed down the ninth.

Selsky has never been a high profile prospect since Cincinnati selected him in the 33rd round in 2010. They were able to sign him at a discount then because he completed a senior season at the University of Arizona after Colorado selected him with a late pick the previous year. Unfortunately injuries sabotaged his return to the Wildcats and prevented much improvement on his draft stock. However that hasn’t prevented from doing a couple of things since turning pro: hitting and advancing up the Cincinnati system.

He really made a name for himself in 2012 after a midseason promotion to Bakersfield when he lit up California League pitching for a .348 average with fifteen homers over the second half of that season. He struggled to start the next season at Pensacola which caused a return to high-A, but in his defense he was demoted after fewer than 100 plate appearances. He picked up where he left off after returning to the Blaze and hit close to .300 with thirteen homers which punched his ticket to return to the Southern League the next season. He fared well during his return in 2014 by cracking the .300 AVG/.400 OB levels, but mysteriously his power dwindled down to only one homer.

That didn’t prevent him from reaching AAA for 55 games last season and though his average dropped down to .240 he showed he still knew the way to first base with an on-base percentage of .359. His outburst Thursday lifted his average up to .310 on the young season with a .355 on-base percentage. He’s also stroked eight extra base hits in seventeen games including two homers to inflate his slugging percentage to .517.

The Bats played him at first base on Thursday and he’s seen a lot of action there in the past. However, most of his service has been in the outfield and he brings good leather to either one of the corner spots. The right-hander stands 6’0”/203#, has good speed and a strong arm which makes the outfield a better fit and his ability to come into the infield at first base is a bonus.

Now the 25 year-old Selsky is awaiting the big call for a debut at the MLB level. Logically, it would seem he has a strong case because the current Reds bench is thin, both reserve outfielders hit left-handed, and he could provide a right-handed bat to back up Joey Votto. However, recent history shows it won’t be easy. Felix Perez had three decent seasons at Louisville and never got that call and now he’s playing in the Mexican League.

Still, Selsky is a survivor and he’s been ignoring expectations of a 1,015th overall selection for five years. At first it was no surprise to see him arrive with polished skills after playing for top-notch collegiate program. However, he’s since maintained his plate discipline and is now showing he belongs at the AAA level. Time will tell if that gets him an MLB debut, but currently Skip Schumaker and Brennan Boesch are a combined 6-33 with only one walk and if that doesn’t improve and Selsky manages to stay over .300 he’ll make himself harder to ignore.

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