Lutz Has 4-Hit, 2-HR Game for Pensacola
Donald Lutz started the season out strong at Bakersfield until an ankle injury sidelined him in June. Now he's joined several Blaze teammates in Pensacola where he's learning to hit AA pitching. The Bakersfield Boys had the bets first-half record in the Cal League and now they're in position to make a run at a second half division title in the Southern League.
Pensacola took a four run lead with a three run fourth inning in a 9-5 win at Mobile. Donald Lutz started the rally with a seeing-eye single and was followed by a Brodie Greene single, Tucker Barnhart double, Billy Hamilton sac fly, and double by Josh Fellhauer. Lutz came back the next inning with a solo home run to increase the lead to 5-0. After the Giants cut their deficit to one with a three run eighth he struck again with a two-run shot in the ninth to cap off the Wahoo scoring.
On the mound Chad Rogers got his third AA win in as many starts by allowing two runs on four hits without a walk in six innings. His Pensacola ERA is now 1.59. Drew Hayes walked a couple in the seventh and combined with Wilkin De La Rosa for a scoreless inning. Curtis Parch entered in the eighth and was relieved that inning by Justin Freeman who stopped the San Jose rally. Freeman finished the game with three strikeouts and did not allow a run while recording his 14th save.
Lutz led the way offensively with four hits including two home runs. He drove in three and crossed the plate three times. Barnhart added three hits and an RBI. Fellhauer went 2-3 with two walks and two RBI. Greene and Ryan LaMarre added two hits each. The Blue Wahoos will continue their series at Mobile when they run out Tony Cingrani for the second of a five game set Wednesday.
Lutz started off the season like gangbusters at Bakersfield. He was leading the California League with 17 HR/51 RBI before injuring his ankle when he fouled off a pitch late in June. He was a fixture in the middle of a potent Blaze lineup that hit so well that many of them have since been promoted. He returned last month for rehab in Arizona where he went 9-14 in four games and then packed his bags for an AA debut. He saw several familiar faces when he arrived from former Blaze teammates that had also been promoted. Since arriving in the Southern League he’s struggled the first few weeks against higher level pitching and last night’s outburst raised his average to .205.
Lutz was raised in a military family and aspires to be the first German ever to make it to the major leagues. Because he did not take up baseball until the age of sixteen his skills were raw when Cincinnati first signed him. Still, the Reds saw something that made them give him a spot on their 40-man roster. Their expectations are that his bat will get back on track and continue to allow him to move upward within the organization. Most of his defensive action in AA has taken him away from his primary position at first base. That might be explained by the presence of former Indian first round pick Beau Mills, but one day it might help him avoid being another Votto-block in the Cincinnati system.
The Bakersfield opening day lineup started out the season brilliantly and finished with the best first half record in the California League. At the same time the Reds AAA affiliate at Louisville struggled after turning over much of their roster from promotions and offseason trades. During the course of the season many players from lower levels have moved up to fill that void. Around half of the current Pensacola roster spent time in Bakersfield earlier this season.
Some prospects analysts estimated the Cincinnati farm system as decimated from heavy trading activity this past offseason. Many may be surprised at how quickly the Reds have reloaded. They even continued to convert minor league talent into trade equity recently when they exchanged two pitching prospects to add Jonathan Broxton to their bullpen before the trading deadline. There will likely be some more reshuffling after roster expansion. However, the Redlegs just opened up a six game lead in the NL Central and will probably limit promotions to players they feel will contribute to the pennant stretch this season. Meanwhile Penascola is two games out of first place in their division. If last night was an indication that Lutz is figuring out AA pitching it will be a tremendous help as the Fabulous Bakersfield Boys try to duplicate their success in the Southern League.
Other News from the Farm:
Louisville allowed four runs in the sixth in a 6-2 loss at Charlotte. Henry Rodriguez had two of the Bats’ five hits. Sean Gallagher pitched well before he got knocked out in the sixth for the loss. He finished allowing four runs on 6 hits in 5+ innings. Bill Bray made a rehab appearance and threw a scoreless seventh. Former Bat Scott Carroll got the start and the win for the Knights.
Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:
Hamilton led off the game with a walk and was caught attempting to steal second base. He doubled in the third and did not have an open third base in front of him. The speedster’s stolen base total remained at 139 and he’s been caught 32 times in 114 games.
Bakersfield allowed a walk-off home run in the ninth in a 4-3 loss at San Jose. Juan Duran had three hits for the Blaze and Stephen Hunt and Kurtis Muller added two each. Tim Crabbe got no decision from a quality start when he allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings. Pat Doyle tossed the final two innings and allowed one run which gave him the loss.
Dayton was idle and will open a three game home series against Lake County on Wednesday.
Billings shut out visiting Idaho Falls 3-0. Beau Amaral and Zachary Vincej had two hits and one run each. Andrew Cisco picked up his third win without a loss in a nice outing. He allowed only two hits in five shutout innings while striking out four without a walk. Dan Langfield and Sean Lucas combined for three scoreless innings of relief. Matt Wiley struck out the side in order for his seventh save.
The AZL Reds scored three in the eighth and another one in the ninth, but it was not enough as they lost 7-6 to the visiting AZL Indians. Wilfrel Estevez had three hits and three RBI for the Reds. Pedro Diaz was roughed up for five runs in three innings and took the loss.
The DSL Reds scored the game winner in the seventh in a 2-1 home win over the DSL Rockies. Aristides Aquino scored once and made one of Reds four hits when he doubled in the go-ahead run. Franderlin Romero allowed an unearned run on two hits in five innings. Ramon Sarremeda tossed three scoreless for the win. Josue Castellano retired the side in order in the ninth for the save.