For the next few days, we here at Red Reporter are going to be taking a look at how things went with the Reds’ four minor league teams. We’ll be discussing some notable pitchers and hitters and who stood out on each side of the ball. Up today: The Louisville Bats.
Minor League Baseball went through a re-shuffling this season and that meant changes to divisions across all levels. Since Major League Baseball is hell bent on making everything about the game less fun, Louisvlle competed in the newly named Triple-A East, along with other East coast teams such as Sacramento, Las Vegas, and Albuquerque. Anyway, Louisville finished in the bottom half of the Triple-A East with a record of 51-68. This normally would not have been enough to make the playoffs in the past, but this season was different. They had a “Final Stretch”, where everybody played a 10-game schedule and crowned a separate champion when it was over. Louisville finished 4-5 in the final stretch, as their last game was canceled due to weather. Here are some notable stats and performances from the 2021 Louisville Bats.
The Louisville Bats had a decent season on the mound in 2021. They finished in the top half of Triple-A East with a team ERA of 4.14 and were 5th in the league in strikeouts. They were had a 4th best SO/9 of 9.84. Riley O’Brien led the Bats with 22 starts on the season. He put up a 4.55 ERA in 112.2 innings of work. While he struggled with command, walking nearly 5 batters per 9 innings, he still put up a decent SO/9 of 9.67. He pitched the entire season in Triple-A, until he was called up on September 28 to make his MLB debut. Another mainstay in the Bats’ rotation was Michael Mariot. He made 18 starts for Louisville, putting up a 4.02 ERA in 103 innings of work.
As far as top prospects go, Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo both made it to Triple-A this season after stellar performances in Double-A Chattanooga. Unfortunately, Lodolo dealt with a blister issue and a shoulder injury and was limited to only 6 innings of work in Louisville. Greene was able to make 14 starts in his time in Louisville before being shut down in mid-September. After dominating in Chattanooga, he struggled a little more in Louisville but still had a solid season for his first taste of AAA ball. He threw 65.1 innings for the Bats, putting up a 4.13 ERA. He struggled more with his command in Louisville, walking 3.44 batters per 9 innings, though he kept a high strikeout rate of nearly 11 per 9 innings. He was also tagged for 11 home runs in those 14 starts. Other starting pitchers of note include Tony Santillan and Vladimir Gutierrez, who spent significant time with the Reds this season after great performances in Louisville.
In the bullpen, a couple of pitchers stood out for Louisville. The first is Dauri Moreta, who made 24 appearances for the Bats, allowing only two (2) runs in 26.2 innings. He only allowed 18 total base runners while walking 4 and striking out 21. Phillip Diehl also had a solid season in Louisville’s bullpen. He made the most appearances out of any Bats’ pitcher, throwing 54.2 innings. He put up a 2.94 ERA with a SO/9 of 11.69 and a walk rate of less than 2 per 9 innings. Riever Sanmartin was a pitcher who split time between starting and relieving, putting up a 3.94 ERA in 82.1 innings. He also earned a call-up to the majors at the end of September.
At the plate, Jose Barrero probably had the best season of a Louisville hitter. He picked up right where he left off after his call-up from Chattanooga and just hit the hell out of the ball. He had a slash of .306/.392/.594 with 10 doubles and a team-high 13 home runs. He also walked 20 times against 38 strikeouts. While this hasn’t translated to his short time in the majors, yet, his AAA performance shows why the Reds have such high hopes for him at shortstop. TJ Friedl also had a good season at the plate, hitting .264/.357/.422 in 113 games. While he doesn’t pack quite as much power as Barrero, he showed a strong ability to make contact. He only struck out 65 times in nearly 400 at-bats while walking 44 times. He also led the Bats with 13 stolen bases. He earned a call-up at the end of the season and smacked a couple of dingers for the Reds.
Other notables include Alejo Lopez and Alfredo Rodriguez. Lopez had a great start to the season in Chattanooga and continued making good contact in his time with Louisville. He hit .303/.386/.486 while showing a great eye at the plate. He walked 33 times while striking out only 21 times. He was able to get a couple of stints with the Reds this season, most notably back at the beginning of July when he went 4 for 5 in his first Major League start. Rodriguez slashed .283/.333/.354 in 117 games with the Bats. That SLG of .354 was, amazingly, the best of his career. Former second round pick Chris Okey also spent the entire season with Louisville and, as a testament to how bad things have been for him so far, he put up a career-best slash of .237/.330/.379. This was his first season with an OBP over .300. Everything is coming up Okey, I guess.
There were plenty of future Reds who made their way through Louisville this season. Whether they made their way to the Major League roster in 2021 like Vladimir Gutierrez and Jose Barrero, or were biding their time for a 2022 appearance like Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene, there were some bright futures on display in this Louisville Bats squad.