With the heating up of the weather typically comes the heating up of hitting, but many players in the Reds organization aren't waiting on the weather. Every team in the organization, with the exception of the Carolina Mudcats, has a league average or better offense. In some cases, like the Reds and the Bakersfield Blaze, the offense is tops in the league. The Blaze offense has been particularly potent thus far. We keep telling you to take hitting performances there with a grain of salt, as the Cal League is particularly hitter friendly, but the team's performance has been incredible by any standard. The Cal League currently averages 5.44 runs per game, per team. That's pretty high, but the Blaze are currently averaging 8.18(!) runs per game, over 1.5 RPG more than the next best team. They have a team OPS of .933, over 100 points higher than the next best team. They have a team OBP of .422. So, who has been the most Blazing?
Even with the usual caveats about the extreme hitter's environment, Grandal's performance has been very impressive. One underrated aspect of his game is his plate discipline, but he's been showing that off thus far, walking 10 times to only 14 whiffs. That is very good in any environment. His power has been impressive as well, as he has 5 doubles and 5 HR amongst his 16 total hits. Finally, his 1.208 OPS is second in the league. Who is first? None other than Bakersfield's own...
You may not know about Campbell, as he was in the Braves organization until 2009 and played independent ball last year. A former 2nd round draft pick, Campbell stalled out in AA and was signed in the offseason, likely to simply be organizational filler. Why am I telling you all of this? So you won't get too excited about his .484/.558/.774 line thus far. He's 25 years old and a non-prospect, but holy cow. That's an unbelievable start to the season.
D'Anna was the Reds 31st round pick last year, and therefore is probably not worth getting too excited about. But I've always been intrigued by him, and he's certainly off to a fast start this year. His line so far through 14 games in Dayton is .347/.458/.469, and he features 9 BB to only 9 Ks so far. (Have I mentioned I love players that walk a lot?) The power hasn't shown up much yet, but if it does, look for a promotion to Bakersfield for the 22 year old.
As is often the case with relievers, Joseph's total numbers are skewed by 2 bad outings. In fact, before Sunday I was considering him for the 'fresh' list, because since his opening day fiasco he had thrown 5 innings allowing just 1 run and striking out 8. Unfortunately, on Sunday he allowed a three-run homer in 2 innings of work, pushing his ERA on the year to 10.13. He's still striking out a lot of batters, but I'd like to see him keep the ball in the yard a little bit better.
After a mediocre half-season in 2010 and a non-descript spring training, Perez's cold start is making him look more and more like organizational filler. The 26 year old did hit his first homer of the year on Sunday, but is still sporting an OPS below .500. He doesn't look to have much, if any, power, and his on-base skills look middling as well. Considering he's not even struggling in AAA, but rather in Carolina, the future doesn't look extremely bright for the Cuban.
Boxy seems to have overcome his aversion to coming out of the bullpen. In 6 appearances this year, totaling 8.2 IP, Boxberger has yet to allow a run and has only given up 2 hits. He has walked too many (6) but he is missing a ton of bats, totaling 13 strike outs. It seems increasingly likely he'll stay in the bullpen moving forward, and if he can get the walks down, this could be yet another guy that makes CoCo expendable in 2012.
Follow the jump for a recap of the weekend's action.
- Louisville was rained out on Friday. On Saturday the team won 6-4 behind another well-rounded offensive performance. Seven different players had at least one hit, and the team was led by Zack Cozart and Todd Frazier, who each had 2 hits, including a double. Frazier also hit his 3rd homer. Tom Cochran, Jerry Gil, and Daniel Ray Herrera combined for 3 shutout innings of relief. Drunky Ray even got the save. Sunday the Bats pounded Toledo 9-0. Homer Bailey made what will likely be his final rehab start, going 5.1 shutout innings, walking just 1 batter and striking out 6. Dave Sappelt, Yonder Alonso, Cozart, Michael Griffin, and Kris Negron each had multiple hits. Alonso and Negron homered. In other news, after a terrible start, Todd Frazier now has his OPS up close to .800. I'd kinda like to see him with the Reds rather than Valaika.
- Carolina lost on Friday, 5-4. It was a true team-pitching effort as 6 pitchers got in the game and none threw more than 3 innings. Mike Costanzo and Miguel Rojas each had 2 hits. Costanzo's included a triple, and he also walked. Saturday the Mudcats lost 8-5. For some reason Daryl Thompson is still starting, and he gave up 5 runs in 4 IP. Miguel Rojas had 3 more hits in this one. Sunday the team finally won, 4-3. Justin Lehr (remember him?) got the start, and Donnie Joseph had the aforementioned terrible outing, blowing the save in the 7th, but the offense came back with a run in the bottom of the 9th to win it. Jose Arredondo got the win. He has thrown 7.2 rehab innings and has struck out 10. He's been particularly brutal against righties, having faced 17 batters and K-ing 8 of them. He might be a nice little boost to the bullpen in a week or 2. Offensively, there wasn't much. Felix Perez's homer was the only XBH.
- Bakersfield won on Friday, 15-1. Josh Ravin gave up just the 1 run in 6 innings of work. Five different batters had multiple hits, but Henry Rodriguez was the best, going 4-6 with 4 RBI. Saturday the team won 8-2. Once again it was a hit parade, as every batter collected at least 1 hit. Eric Campbell was 3-5 with a double. Pedro Villareal kept his early season dominance going, throwing 6 innings of 1 run baseball, striking out 4 and not walking a batter. His ERA through 4 starts is 2.16. Sunday the team was off.
- Dayton squeaked one out on Friday, 5-4. Dominic D'Anna had 3 hits, Donald Lutz was 2-5 with a homer, and Jaren Matthews was 2-3 with a triple and walk. The team committed 2 more errors. They've now committed 27 through just 17 games, second-most in the league. We talked about how the lineup is much improved over last year, but unless the defense improves as well, they are going to have a hard time winning too many games. This was evident on Saturday night as the team lost 3-2. Great Lakes scored the winning run walk-off style on a ball that was terribly misplayed in RF by Matthews. That ruined a very good start by Josh Smith, who went 6 innings, giving up just 1 run while striking out 4. Devin Lohman and Donald Lutz each had 2 hits. Lutz also collected his 5th homer on the year. Sunday the team had the day off.