Louisville allowed the tying run in the bottom of the ninth and another one in the tenth when they lost 5-4 at Columbus. The Bats jumped on top 2-1 in the first inning on Neftali Soto’s eleventh home run and added on with a solo shot by Corky Miller in the fifth. They still clung to a lead after the giving up three in the seventh before the Clippers made good on their comeback. Xavier Paul knew the way to first base, going 4-5 on the evening. He’s now 12-25 (.480) over his last six games since joining the Bats. Miller added two hits to the attack.
On the mound Tim Gustafson was sharp and threw 5+ shutout innings allowing only one hit. Normally reliable Donnie Joseph came in to pitch the ninth and blew the save. Another reliable reliever, Kanekoa Texeira took the loss when he allowed the final run in the tenth. Columbus has won the first two of a four game set and the Bats expect to send Sean Gallagher to the mound as they attempt to end the two-game skid.
New addition Todd Redmond did not don a Bat uniform very long because he was in the Cincinnati bullpen Tuesday taking the roster spot vacated by Joey Votto who underwent successful arthroscopic knee surgery. One would figure that his stay with the Reds will be short because they are now carrying 13 pitchers on the active roster. He is more likely temporary insurance because they had to go to their bullpen in the fourth inning on Monday and Tuesday starter Johnny Cueto missed his turn Sunday because of a blister on his throwing hand. Manager Dusty Baker will probably want an extra bat available and Jay Bruce is the only left-handed hitter on the entire team. Right now is a very good time for Xavier Paul to have four-hit games.
Paul started this season at Syracuse before the Reds picked him up four days after the Nationals granted him free agency on July 3. The left-handed hitter is now batting .332 in 65 International League games in 2012. Getting on base against AAA pitching has not been a problem for Paul who has hit .321 in over one thousand at-bats at the highest minor league level. Unfortunately he’s not been able to sustain it in the 183 MLB games he’s played. However his lifetime average hasn’t been that bad, batting around .250 in over 400 plate appearances. Only about 50 of those have been against southpaws against whom he hit less than .150.
Another hindrance to Paul’s MLB career has been a loss of plate discipline in the bigs. Though his average hasn’t been too bad his on-base percentage is still below .300. Against major league pitching he’s walked only once every 17.9 plate appearances on average. The differential between his average and on-base percentage is only around .040’, which is roughly .020’ lower than his AAA gap. His MLB strikeout frequency is 22% of his plate appearances, compared to his 18% AAA rate. He’s slugged over .500 at AAA with 32 homers, but that dropped to .341 as a major-leaguer.
Paul is now 27 years old. He was selected by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2003 draft after he was named Louisiana’s Mr. Baseball while playing for Slidell H.S. He made his major league debut in 2009 but spent most of that season on the DL with an infection in his knee and a broken ankle. Inflammation in his spine robbed him of further MLB action after roster expansion call-ups in 2010. Pittsburgh picked him up off of waivers last year and he played in 121 games for the Bucs before they released him this past off-season. Thus far in 2012 he’s been knocking the cover off the ball trying to earn another shot in the big leagues.
Paul is listed at 5’9”/200# and throws right-handed. All of his action defensively has been in the outfield, playing all three positions. His glove is reliable, making only three errors in 143 MLB games. However his range is suspect and his number of putouts/9 innings was around half of the league average during that time. His lifetime fielding percentage is .982 and he’s gunned down 8 base-runners.
Paul has been around long enough that he’s no longer considered a prospect and he projects as a utility outfielder at best at the major league level. Right now he is not on the Reds 40-man roster, but they do have an open spot. It’s no secret that the Baker has been wanting an extra left-handed bat available on his bench all season long. Willie Harris was a late addition to his opening day roster and minor league journeyman Mike Costanzo made his major league debut earlier this season. Those two combined to go 6-62 (.097) while wearing a Reds uniform. He could also use additional outfield depth since it appears that most of Todd Frazier’s action will be at first base while Votto is out.
The arrival of Paul into the Cincinnati organization ended their experiment with Joey Gathright who was hitting around .300 at Louisville before his release. It would be reasonable to assume that the Reds were interested in the veterans because of the possibility one of them might contribute to their pennant race this year. Paul has proven that he can hit minor league pitching. 400 AB’s scattered over three injury-riddled seasons is not much action for throwing in the towel on a young player’s chances at being a legitimate big league hitter. Perhaps he may soon get another shot to show that he is more than just a “4A” player.
Other News from the Farm:
Pensacola lost at home 5-4 to Jacksonville in ten innings. In his first at-bat since a promotion from Bakersfield Donald Lutz homered for the Wahoos to lead off the second inning. David Vidal added another solo shot in the fourth. Ryan LaMarre and Miguel Rojas added two hits each. Rojas has gone 6-13 over the past four games. Wirfin Obispo got the start and allowed three runs in four innings. Mark Serrano allowed the game winner and took his second loss.
Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:
Hamilton arrived at first base on a single in the fifth and promptly stole second before scoring on a hit by the next batter. He reached on a fielding error in the seventh, but the Jax pitcher picked him off first. He was intentionally walked in the ninth inning to load the bases. Hamilton now has 110 SB in 132 attempts over 89 games.
Bakersfield lost at High Desert by a score of 4-2. The Blaze managed only four hits on the night and their runs were provided on a two-run homer by Travis Mattair in the first inning. Tanner Robles took the loss despite turning in a quality start. He allowed three runs on eight hits in 6+ innings while striking out six and walking only one.
Dayton had an off-day and will resume their season resumes Wednesday when they host Clinton.
Billings made up their Monday rain-out by splitting a double header against visiting Grand Junction. They won the first game 15-2. Seth Mejias-Brean, Jesse Winker, Wagner Gomez, and Brandon Dailey had two hits each. The Mustang offense hit three home runs in the blowout. Going deep were Mejias-Brean, Gomez, and Robert Ramirez. Ismael Guillon allowed two runs in five innings while striking out seven for the win. Carlos Ramos threw two scoreless innings of relief.
The visitors came back in the nightcap to shut out the Mustangs 6-0. Mejias-Brean had two more hits and raised his average to .333. Sal Romano allowed all six runs on ten hits before he was lifted in the fifth and took his third loss.
The AZL Reds lost 4-2 at the AZL Angels. Tanner Rahier had two hits for the Reds. Wandy Peralta allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits in 3+ innings for the loss.
The DSL Reds were in a 6-1 hole after one inning and lost 14-6 at the DSL Padres. Ariel Baez had three hits for the Reds and leadoff hitter Ronald Bueno was 2-3 with two walks. Starter Soid Marquez was chased on the first inning and charged with five earned runs for the loss.