For the second time in the past week Bakersfield has ended a game with a walk-off walk. Last night they beat the San Jose Giants 8-7 in a series opener at Sam Rice Ballpark when David Vidal drew a bases loaded pass in the bottom of the ninth. DH Donald Lutz led the way for the Blaze offense going 4-5 with two doubles and three runs scored, including the game winner. Billy Hamilton went 2-4 to raise his average to .396 and Devin Lohman reached base four times while scoring three runs. Reliever Brian Pearl pitched a scoreless ninth and evened his record at 1-1.
The 23 year-old Lutz raised his AVG/OB/SLG to .308/.407/.519. He is coming off a season at low-A Dayton where he finished at .301/.358/.492 with 20 HR & 75 RBI. That earned him an invitation to Arizona where he hit .320 with a couple of homers this spring. Previously the 6’3”/235# Lutz has been used as a first baseman. Thus far in 2012 most of his playing time has been in left field. That’s probably a good career move for any hitter planning to stay in an organization with Joey Votto. He’s committed no errors since the move, but has only has 8 put-outs in 10 games.
After Lutz started his professional career he hit .257 with 9 HR in 370 AB over three seasons in the rookie leagues. He did show good discipline by walking in 8.4% of his plate appearances. The Reds probably considered that he did not starting playing baseball until he was sixteen when they promoted him to Dayton. He might be the first ever Reds prospect signed out of Germany where his father was in the military. Most of his competition was on the ice while playing hockey before entering a German baseball academy. That led to an MLB academy in Italy where he was quickly signed after being observed by Reds scout Jim Stoeckel.
Lutz was a raw product when he started in the Cincinnati organization. He’s got some work to do defensively, wherever he settles, and needs to improve against left-handed pitching. Still, it’s a safe bet that all other prospects hitting .300 in the California League have been playing the game a lot longer than seven years. He’s shown vast improvement and the Reds are certainly looking forward to seeing how he continues to develop in 2012.
Other News on the Farm:
Louisville got pounded by Toledo 10-4 at Louisville Slugger Field. Cincinnati native Andrew Brackman was lifted in the fifth and lost his second straight. After hitting a homer Wednesday, third baseman Mike Costanzo came back with two more hits last night in his second game with the Bats. He was recently promoted from AA Pensacola where he was hitting .333 with three dingers.
Host Pensacola lost to Jacksonville 4-3. Starter J.C. Sulburan (1-1) was charged with his first loss of the season. He allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on 6 hits and a walk. He did manage to miss a lot of bats, striking out 11 in 6 IP. Unfortunately a couple of swings that did not miss drove the ball over the fence. Reliever Donnie Joseph extended his season long scoreless streak to seven appearances. Another southpaw, Clayton Tanner is right behind him allowing no runs in six games.
Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:
Hamilton was caught stealing for the fourth time in the first inning last night. Later in the eight he was prevented from stealing second when a balk moved him over. That didn’t keep him from adding a bag to his season total because he swiped third. He’s now stolen 12 in 13 games.
Dayton dropped a 5-4 decision after visiting Quad Cities scored the go-ahead run in the 13th inning. Second baseman Ryan Wright had three hits to lift his average over .300. Kyle Waldrop and Junior Arias added two each. Stalin Gerson turned in a quality start for the Dragons, allowing 3 earned on 5 hits and a walk while striking out 6 in 6 1/3 IP. Reliever Dan Jenson threw three innings and kept his ERA at 0.00, however an unearned run caused him to pick up his second loss of the season.