Farmers Only: 2013 Pensacola Blue Wahoos Preview

Michael Chang

Looking forward to another season of writing recaps of games against the Biscuits!

The 2012 Pensacola Blue Wahoos were nothing if not consistent. After a first half record of 34-35, they finished the season at 68-70 which, for all you people without a basic grasp of rudimentary mathematical principles, means they had a 34-35 record in the second half as well.

A couple of surprising guys on the Wahoos, mostly due to roster crunching at the higher levels. Joining newly promoted manager Delino DeShields in Florida will be Logan Ondrusek, who was rightly left off the 25-man, and Ryan LaMarre, who was like 14th on the CF depth chart in Louisville. This team should be very good defensively, but the offense may leave something to be desired.

Roster

Starting Pitchers: Chad Rogers, Tim Crabbe, Josh Smith, Daniel Renken, Yohan Pino.

That top four sounds like it should've been the caption for the picture that got Bill Hanstock in so much trouble from the Yahooligans. The fifth spot will probably go to Pino, late of the Blue Jays org, signed as a minor league free agent this offseason. He's filler, nothing more, and if a spot is needed for an actual prospect, I'm sure he'll get demoted or cut or thrown to the Yahoo! comments section or something. Recovering sharkbait Chad Rogers is likely the ace here, and if there's an injury at either of the top two levels, he's a safe bet to be the first guy promoted from AA.

Bullpen: Ryan Dennick, Drew Hayes, Lee Hyde, Kyle Lotzkar, Chris Manno, Curtis Partch, Josh Ravin, Josh Smith, Loek Van Mil, Logan Ondrusek (DL)

Lotzkar will attempt to keep all his ligaments and tendons in tact with a move to the bullpen after his first full healthy season since the Nixon administration. He and Josh Ravin are the only two Wahoo pitchers on the Reds' 40-man. This is a very tall bullpen. Loek Van Mil is 7'1, dwarfing the 6'8 Logan Ondrusek. Curtis Partch is a ginger.

Catchers: Tucker Barnhart, Danny Vicioso

Tucker Barnhart will be the starter back in Pensacola, after finishing last season there. He had a relatively uninspiring 2012, but he's never been a big offensive asset. Hopefully he can keep taking walks and making contact, but his glove is what will carry him. Sid Vicioso split last year between Dayton and Bakersfield, and looks to be the backup.

Infielders: Ray Chang, Brodie Greene, Devin Lohman, Travis Mattair, David Vidal

Vidal is the best prospect of the bunch, with upside and pop in his bat (18 HR last season) to go along with an impressive glove at third. Moose Mattair antlered 19 wangers last year in Bakersfield, and looks to be the everyday first baseman. Chang's a minor league journeyman, and Greene and Lohman will make up the middle infield.

Outfielders: Theo Bowe, Ryan LaMarre, Donald Lutz, Bryson Smith, Steve Selsky

This is a pretty stacked outfield. It'll be interesting to see how the playing time shakes out, as all 5 have a real argument to be a starter. Beyond the three Prospects Ranked by the Community (Bowe-24, Lutz-17, LaMarre-16), Bryson Smith rocked out (but didn't really walk out) in his 50 games at Pensacola last year (.307/.333/.425) and Steve Selsky was the organizational hitter of the year after slashing .317/.377/.515 combined.

Coaching Staff: Manager Delino DeShields, Hitting Coach Dick Schofield, Pitching Coach Tom Brown


Guys to Watch

Chad Rogers
In his first year as a starter, Rogers tore up the hitter-friendly Cal League for awhile before an August promotion to Pensacola, where he kept doin' the damn thing to the tune of a 1.99 ERA in 6 starts, with a 23:6 K/BB ratio. He's a groundball pitcher with above average control, and could be a sneaky good prospect. I wouldn't be shocked if he put up very good numbers, being a pitch-to-contact guy with a very good defense behind him.

Kyle Lotzkar
Lotzkar's biggest hurdle has always been his own body, and last year was a good step in the right direction. He stayed healthy all year and easily topped his career high in innings. The organization has converted him to the bullpen, a move I've been advocating for awhile now, and I think his above average stuff will play up there, as well as cutting down the wear and tear on his delicate frame. If he stays healthy, he could be a fast mover, with a late-season call-up not out of the question, assuming good results.

Tucker Barnhart
Barnhart's a switch-hitting catcher with a great glove and a solid strike zone awareness. He won't ever hit for much pop, but he could be Diet Ryan Hanigan if things go well.

David Vidal
Vidal's always had pop, and scouts are impressed by his glove at the hot corner. He struggled a bit after getting the promotion to Pensacola a little before midseason, but his BABIP was a touch low (.277), and it could've just been growing pains. He could stand to take a few more walks and strike out a bit less, but you can say that about a disconcertingly large sample of Reds prospects.

Donald Lutz and Ryan LaMarre
These are probably two of the most recognizable names on the Wahoos roster. LaMarre, a plus defender in center field, was the odd man out in Louisville, while the Knockwurst will continue to learn LF because Joey Votto exists. If Lutz himself is to be believed, he seems to be taking to the OF nicely, and he runs shockingly well for a giant oak tree, which should help the transition.

BA BEST TOOLS

Best Power Hitter: Donald Lutz
Best Defensive Catcher: Tucker Barnhart
Best Defensive Infielder: Devin Lohman
Best Defensive Outfielder: Ryan LaMarre

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