Louisville Comes Back for Win

Cincinnati has been no stranger to the injury bug over the first month of this season. Currently four members of their opening day roster are on the DL including catcher Ryan Hanigan. The catching pipeline for the Reds has been tested early this season after the Reds signed some free agents to minor league contracts over the off-season to provide depth.

The Louisville Bats erased two two-run deficits in a 6-4 win at Lehigh Valley. The tied the score in the fourth inning on an RBI double by Denis Phipps and run-scoring groundout by Armando Galarraga. Nevin Ashley knotted it again with a pinch hit two-run home run in the sixth before Ray Chang gave his club its first lead with a solo homer the next frame. Billy Hamilton added on in the eighth by singling and motoring around the bases on a Neftali Soto single. Soto reached safely three times in the contest with a couple of singles and a walk. Denis Phipps added a couple of doubles to the Bat attack while Henry Rodriguez had a hit and a walk. Ryan Hanigan made a rehab start and went 1-2 with a walk.

Galarraga got the start and allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks over seven innings. Nick Christiani relieved him with a scoreless frame that had proper timing to get him the win. Jose Arredondo and Yohan Pino combined for three more scoreless innings of relief with Pino picking up the save.

In his limited playing time thus far the 28 year-old Ashley has started off the season with a.267 AVG/.353 OB%/.433 SLG in nine games while dealing with shoulder tendonitis that took him out of action for eleven days. Before this year he played six seasons in the Tampa Bay organization after the Rays obtained him with a sixth round selection in the 2006 draft out of Indiana St. He has yet to make a MLB debut but he was on Tampa's 2010 playoff roster (though he did not play) and their 40-man before they designated him for assignment to make room for free agent Luke Scott before last season. He came to the Reds as a minor league free-agent before this year.

While with the Rays his best season was 2011 when he hit .263/.358 OB but his bat was compromised after a promotion to AAA that year. He came back last season to hit .245/.357 at Durham while missing much of the season with a hand injury. He does add value behind the plate and has gunned down an impressive 37% of opposing base-stealers over his career. He has also been recognized by the Rays as their minor league defensive player of the year. Anyone that knows Ashley will have no problem remembering his wife's name. She probably went through her entire life without expecting her first name to be especially unique before meeting her future husband. Now she is known as Ashley Ashley.

The Reds catching pipeline has been tested early this year. It started when a hand injury that had a severe effect on Ryan Hanigan at the plate before he went on the DL after twelve games. Of course the Reds are banking on Devin Mesoraco for the future and though he's hitting only .237 now he's getting on base at a .329 clip as their primary receiver. Absent from the food chain is the twelfth overall pick from the 2010 draft, Yasmani Grandal who left for San Diego in the Mat Latos trade before last season and is currently serving a 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs.

In the meantime Corky Miller has been added to the 40-man roster and is backing up Mesoraco, starting out 2-16 with four walks while with the Reds this season. Miller is a 37 year-old veteran that has spent most of his sixteen professional seasons in the minors since the Reds signed him as an undrafted free agent in 1998 and has never played in more than 39 MLB games in a season while bouncing around in six organizations since and has a career MLB average under .200.

Also in the organization is 28 year-old Konrad Schmidt who came over from Arizona where he played four years in the Diamondbacks system. He's hitting .164 after twenty games at Louisville. Last season he batted .277/.338 with seven homers for AAA Reno and has had a couple of cups of coffee at the MLB with the D-backs in the past.

Before the season depth was expected from veteran Miguel Olivo, but an unimpressive spring led to his release and he's since latched on with the Marlins where he's hitting .160. Top catching prospect Tucker Barnhart has started off nicely by hitting .289/.375 at Pensacola this season but the 22 year-old is still a year or two away from MLB-ready. The Reds got a nice contribution from veteran Dioner Navarro late last season but it was no surprise that he left for another organization with a better opportunity to make an opening day roster and he's currently seeing action with the Cubs.

Best scenarios for the Reds are that Hanigan is soon ready to return to the form or Mesoraco shows that he's ready to assume the lion's share of the duty. Due to the disappointing rookie campaign from Mesoraco the 32 year-old Hanigan is coming off a season with MLB career highs in games played and plate appearances. Catching is a position that is notoriously slow for young players to master at the MLB level and healthy Hanigan makes a good situation by reducing pressure as he provides steady play while the youngster is developing and ample opportunity for more action when he's ready.

In the meantime the Reds will make do with the above cast of prospects/suspects. Their 40-man roster is currently full so there isn't likely to be any further adjustments before Hanigan returns. Should they need to use Miller's spot elsewhere he'd likely clear waivers and return to his original job of catching AAA pitchers at Louisville. The Reds have been hit hard with the injury bug over the first month of the season as they've gotten off to a 19-15 start. Hopefully for them Hanigan's rehab appearance last night is an indication that their regular catcher is close to returning.

Other Organizational News:

The Reds won at home against Atlanta in dramatic fashion with back-to-back home runs by Mesoraco and Shin-soo Choo providing a 6-5 walk-off victory. Things started off rough for them after the Braves rallied for three in the first inning. They scratched the scoreboard with a solo homer by Choo in the third and an RBI single by Donald Lutz in the fifth. Brandon Phillips cut the deficit to one in the eighth with a sac fly before Mesoraco entered as a pinch-hitter in the final inning and Choo delivered his second long-ball of the game. Starting pitcher Homer Bailey got no decision after allowing four runs on five hits. He ran up his pitch count with four walks and seven strikeouts before leaving after five innings. The Reds bullpen came up big with Sam LeCure, Sean Marshall, and Jonathan Broxton combining for four perfect innings with Broxton picking up the win.

Pensacola got back into action with a 5-4 win in thirteen innings at Jacksonville. Both teams scratched runs across the plate in the elongated game and no one scored more than one in a single frame. The Wahoos cracked the scoreboard in the fourth inning from an RBI single by Barnhart. Bryson Smith scored on a groundout after leading off the seventh with a double and brought a go-ahead run across in the ninth when he led off with a single and scored on a hit by Steve Selsky. The fish played small-ball again to take another lead in the twelfth when Brodie Greene led off with a single and scored on an error. Greene delivered the game-winner in the final inning by singling in Michael Gilmartin who led off with a walk. Greene, Smith, and Barnhart each had two of their team's twelve hits with Barnhart also reaching via a walk. Devin Lohman, LaMarre, and Gilmartin all reached safely twice with a hit and walk. Starter Chad Rogers allowed only one run on four hits in five innings but he ran up his pitch count with three walks and eight strikeouts. Lee Hyde tossed one-plus scoreless innings of relief, Loek Van Mil added a scoreless frame, and Josh Ravin threw two of them. Wilken De La Rosa pitched the final two innings and allowed a run that charged him with a blown save, but hung around to pick up the win.

Bakersfield allowed five runs in the fourth inning that broke open a tie game en route to a 10-3 home loss to San Jose. The Blaze took the lead from a three-run rally in the second inning that included a two-run triple by Juan Silverio and RBI double by Yovan Gonzalez. Juan Duran reached safely three times with a pair of hits and a walk while Silverio provided two more of the seven Bakersfield hits. Starter Jonathan Moscot took the loss after he was roughed up for seven runs (six earned) in three innings. Brooks Pinckard and El'Hajj Muhammad combined for four scoreless innings of relief.

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