Lotzkar Fuels Blaze to Sixth Straight Win

Lotzkar Fuels Blaze to Sixth Straight Win

22 year-old right-hander Kyle Lotzkar was one of the top prospects in the Cincinnati organization before Tommy John surgery robbed him of his 2009 season. His start at high-A Bakersfield thus far is making a statement that he is ready to resume advancement in the Reds organization.

Bakersfield won their sixth straight last night in a 4-1 contest over San Jose at Sam Lynn Ballpark. Kyle Lotzkar picked up his second win by shutting out the Suns for six innings, allowing only two hits and three walks while striking out five. Brian Pearl put in a sixth scoreless outing out of seven appearances and picked up his third save. Devin Lohman, David Vidal and Bryson Smith each contributed a couple of hits to the Blaze attack including Lohman's first home run of the season. Catcher Tucker Barnhardt provided half of their scoring with a two run shot in the fifth.

It was the second quality start of Lotzkar's three appearances. The other one was four innings of two-hit ball in a shortened game that was part of a double header. He is now 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA & 1.000 WHIP; striking out 17 while walking 6. The 22 year-old is trying to get his career back on track in high-A after missing considerable time to injury.

Lotzkar came into the organization out of South Delta (B.C.) H.S. in the 2007 draft from a supplemental pick at the end of the first round. The Canadian went to work in the rookie leagues that same year and posted a 3.10 ERA over nine games. In 2008 he had a mid-3 ERA in low-A before a stress fracture developed in his elbow. That injury eventually led to Tommy John surgery that robbed him of the entire 2009 season. When he was ready to resume his career in 2010 the Reds started him back in the rookie leagues. He dominated his second tour there and put up a 2.03 ERA/0.947 WHIP over 12 appearances. His 60 K's were more than a third of total batters faced. He dealt with a hamstring injury at Dayton in 2011 while a 4.32 ERA/1.140 WHIP earned an invitation to Arizona this spring.

The 6'4" right-hander offers a low/mid 90's fastball with a sharp curve and a changeup. He's shown confidence using all three. It's understandable that the big question now about his future is durability. His strikeout and walk rates will create high pitch counts thus adding to that concern. The challenge for Lotzkar and Reds instructors is to refine his delivery to reduce stress without compromising effectiveness. Outside of that he's a pitcher with a high ceiling on potential. The Reds recognized that when they gave the single-A pitcher a spot on their 40-man roster to protect against the Rule 5 draft. Complicating matters is a desire to advance him rapidly to make up for lost time in his development. They have to like what they've seen thus far in 2012. More outings like last night will make him reappear on lists of top prospects in the Cincinnati organization.

Other news from the farm:

There wasn't much going on at Louisville except a whipping that Indianapolis won 9-1. Dennis Phipps had two of the Bats' four hits and the Indians got to Jeff Francis for five runs in five innings. Jordan Smith made his second appearance of the season after coming off the DL.

Pensacola did not fare much better, losing 7-1 at Montgomery. Curtis Partch (0-2) allowed all seven in the first inning and was lifted in the fourth after walking six. Ryan LaMarre and Joel Guzman had two hits in the losing effort.

Billy Hamilton theft watch:

Hamilton reached first only once last night and never had an empty base in front of him. He's still at 14 steals after 16 games.

Dayton won 5-1 over Quad Cities at Fifth Third Field. Justice French navigated around 7 hits allowed and limited the River Bandits to one run in 5 2/3 IP. He helped himself by striking out six and walking only one. Ryan Wright had two hits in a balanced Dragon attack that had seven batters reach base safely.

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