The Louisville Bats are in the midst of their final eight game homestand of the season. They currently sit at 44-71 and have a 21-22 record in the second half of the season. They are 11-12 since the All Star Break. There’s a lot to get caught up on, so let’s get started with this week’s Bats Sunday Notebook.
Donnie Joseph Traded
The Cincinnati Reds made a big splash in the twilight hours of the trade deadline, getting reliever Jonathan Broxton from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for two minor leaguers. One of the minor leaguers the Reds sent to Kansas City was Donnie Joseph. In 18 games with the Bats, Joseph was 4-1 with five saves and a 2.86 ERA in 22 innings of work.
“Everyone in the Reds organization thought highly of Donnie,” Bats manager David Bell said. “He’s already a good pitcher and a lot of people think he’s going to do well in the big leagues.”
In 52-1/3 overall innings between Pensacola and Louisville, Joseph was 8-3 with 18 saves and a 1.72 ERA. He struck out 68 and walked just 17.
Brett Tomko released
Another big move, as far as the Bats are concerned, made this week was the outright release of right hander Brett Tomko on Thursday. Despite his 0-6 record in 12 starts, Tomko had been one of the most consistent starters the Bats had this season. Tomko boasted a 3.78 season ERA in his 12 starts and gave up three or fewer earned runs in 11 of those starts.
Tomko was frustrated with the runs support he received this season. In his first ten starts, the Bats managed to score just 20 runs, one of them on an RBI single from Tomko. Six of his final eight starts with the Bats were quality starts.
“It’s tough to lose him both personally and professionally,” Bell said. “He’s had a long and successful career.”
The goal was for Tomko to return to where his major league carrer started in 1997—with the Cincinnati Reds.
“We thought (Tomko’s return to the bigs) was going to happen here,” Bell said. “unfortunately, he had some setbacks with injuries. He’s determined to get back. Hopefully he finds the right situation.”
Didi on fire
Didi Gregorius has been every bit of impressive since his promotion to the Bats July 10. In 23 games with the Bats, Gregorius is hitting .295 with five doubles, one triple, five homers and 12 RBIs. The Reds’ no. 8 prospect has hit safely in 18 of his 23 Triple-A games, including a nine game hitting streak July 21-29. Gregorius’ five homers are just two short of his season total from all of last season.
“I just try to put a good swing on the ball,” Gregorius said. “They say you have to have power to hit home runs but for me, if I make a good swing on a hard throwing pitcher, the ball can go.”
Gregorius currently sits seven points shy of his overall .289 batting average he finished with last year. It also appears he will play 125-130 games this season, showing how durable he is despite his young age.
Felix Perez was struggling early in the season. In April and May combined, he was hitting just .227 with four doubles, one homer, and 11 RBIs in 44 games. Since the beginning of June, Perez is hitting .331 with 15 doubles, two homers, and 17 RBIs. He has hit safely in 34 of 47 games and has rose his batting average to .286, good for the team lead.
“He’s been swinging the bat real well lately,” Bell said. “It started with him improving his defense and base running and the last thing is his offense. It’s all kind of coming together for him now.”
Perez, 27, has been playing in the United States for just two years prior to this season. He hit just .252 in 101 games between Carolina and Louisville last season. His hot streak this year may be a good sign for the Cuba native.
Give me a break, Phipps!
Going into the All Star Break, Denis Phipps was hitting an awful .157 with seven doubles, five home runs, and 20 RBI. Since the Break, Phipps is hitting .319 with six doubles, four homers, and 12 RBIs. His average is up to a season high .213. After the break, David Bell decided to shake things up and put Phipps in the leadoff spot and it has paid instant dividends.
“He can really hit in any spot in the order,” Bell said. “When he’s swinging the bat well, you hate to have him leading off and not get the RBI opportunities, but he’s done well in (the leadoff) spot. There are other guys in the middle of the order that need to be there so it kind worked out that way.”
Hoover cleaning up
JJ Hoover has been outstanding all season for the Bats. Without a doubt the Bats’ most dominating bullpen arm, the 24 year-old is 4-0 with nine saves and a 1.50 ERA. He has 43 strikeouts in just 30 innings pitched while giving up just 11 hits and 11 walks. In July alone, Hoover fanned 21 in 16 innings and gave up just seven hits.
Hoover, who was acquired from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Juan Francisco just before the season started, spent the beginning of the season with the Reds. In 17 games with the big league club, Hoover was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA. He struck out 19 and walked just eight in his 18 innings of work with the Reds.
The Road Ahead
The Bats close out their final eight game homestand of the season this week. After a game with Charlotte Sunday, the Bats welcome the Toledo Mud Hens back to town for a four game set. After that, there are only eight home games left. So be sure to get out to Slugger Field and catch a game or two. You can purchase tickets at the Bats’ ticket office at the stadium or by calling (502) 212-2287.