Monday, June 30, 2014

Reds soar in newly updated power rankings


On the strength of becoming the first team in history to sweep San Francisco in a four-game series at AT&T Park, the Reds have now won five straight, eight out of nine, and 14 of their last 18 games.

Their recent surge has catapulted them into sole possession of second place in the division with a record of 43-38. Although they still remain 6.5 games back of Milwaukee, the Reds are currently tied with Washington and St. Louis for the second Wild Card spot.

It goes without saying, really, but Bryan Price's club is playing its best baseball of the season right now. Subsequently, this also means the Reds are soaring in the recently released power rankings.

Both ESPN and Sports Illustrated released their batches of power rankings on Monday. In ESPN's version, the Reds climbed three spots over last week to No. 12, but they did well to jump five slots to No. 10 in Sports Illustrated's rankings.

Video: Highlights from Homer Bailey's dominant outing versus Giants



For a while, Homer Bailey flirted with a third career no-hitter on Sunday.

Those aspirations were dashed in the bottom of the seventh inning when the Giants collected a couple of base hits. But that didn't prevent Bailey from turning in a dominant overall outing.

All told, the right-hander improved his record to 8-4 by limiting San Francisco to three hits in a complete game shutout. He walked one and struckout seven while throwing 75 of his 107 pitches for strikes. Furthermore, he effectively lowered his earned run average from 4.80 to 4.39 during the game.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Video: Zack Cozart discusses thrilling extra-inning comeback win



In case you went to bed early last night, the Reds pulled off one of their most thrilling victories of the season by coming from behind to topple the Giants, 7-3, in 11 innings.

The extra inning affair was made possible when Brandon Phillips, who celebrated his 33rd birthday yesterday, smashed a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to give Cincinnati a temporary 2-1 lead.

Aroldis Chapman relinquished that lead in the home half of the frame to send the game into extras. Then, in the top of the 11th, the Reds exploded by plating five runs, two of which came off the bat of Zack Cozart with the bases loaded and with two outs.

Seen above is Cincy's shortstop talking about the clutch hit and the win.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Buster Olney dubs Billy Hamilton's improvement as one of 'most shocking storylines' of season


Let's be honest, folks. Entering the season, we all had high hopes for Billy Hamilton.

The fleet-footed outfielder gave us a glimpse of his potential at the end of the 2013 season and it left us all anxiously awaiting the arrival of this one. However, there were concerns with Hamilton, especially whether or not he would be able to hit big league pitching on an everyday basis. More importantly, would he be able to get on base enough?

Through roughly three months of the season, it's safe to say Hamilton has met or even slightly exceeded expectations. Entering play on Saturday, the switch-hitting Hamilton was slashing .277/.310/.397 and was 33-for-43 in the stolen base department. Although his stolen base total is likely less than we anticipated, and you would certainly like to see his on-base percentage be higher than .310, for the most part Hamilton has been every bit as good as advertised.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Reds officially sign Cuban pitcher Raisel Iglesias to seven-year deal


After a period of much speculation, the Reds have finally announced the signing of Cuban right-handed pitcher Raisel Iglesias. The news was first reported by Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.

Although the exact value of the contract is unknown at this time, Sheldon reports that the contract is good for seven years through the 2020 season. Meanwhile, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reports that the deal is worth $27 million with a signing bonus between $5-6 million.

The 24-year-old reliever pitched in front of numerous big league scouts last month in Haiti. And apparently made a good enough impression on the Reds to warrant a long-term deal. Iglesias last pitched for the Cuban national team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Johnny Cueto earns spot on glorious 'MLB All-Great-Hair Team'

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

Any baseball fan who has watched Johnny Cueto pitch over the last few seasons has come to make at least two observations: 1) Cueto is a fantastic major league pitcher and 2) Cueto possesses an impressive mane of hair.

While we won't know whether Cueto earns the right to start the All-Star Game until a couple more weeks, the wait is over to see whether the Dominican native landed a spot on the glorious MLB All-Great-Hair Team, compiled by Ted Berg of USA TODAY's For the Win.

As fate would have it, the Cincinnati right-hander not only made the roster, but he also staked claim to the ace role among the list's starting pitchers.

MLB Week 13 - Nothing Lasts Forever


by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Seriously, did y’all really think Devin Mesoraco was going to hit at least one homer per game until the end of the season?

Mesoraco became the only player in modern major league history to hit, in consecutive games, a solo home run, a two run homer, a three run homer, and a grand slam. It looked like he was going to start another streak with his ninth inning solo home run in Tuesday’s loss.

Useless Trivia; Mesoraco became the sixth Cincinnati player to his at least one home run in five consecutive games. Here’s the list;

1) Ted Kluszewski – August 11 through 15, 1954 (6 home runs, 9 RBI)
2) George Crowe – August 8 through 14, 1957 (5 home runs, 7 RBI)
3) Johnny Bench – May 30 through June 3, 1972 (MVP Year, 7 homers, 13 RBI)
4) Ken Griffey Jr. – July 8 through 12, 2003 (5 home runs, 6 RBI)
5) Adam Dunn – May 14 through 19, 2008 (5 home runs, 10 RBI)
6) Devin Mesoraco – June 19 through 24, 2014 (5 home runs, 12 RBI)

Video: Watch Mike Leake set new career-high in strikeouts



Mike Leake may have a career in the casino business once his baseball career ends because he was absolutely dealing against the Giants last night.

Watch this two-minute video clip showing the fierce right-hander mow down a career-high 12 batters en route to picking up his sixth win of the season.

All told, Leake limited San Francisco to just one run on four hits over eight solid frames of work, as the Reds took game one of the four-game series at AT&T Park by a tally of 3-1.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pensacola Blue Wahoos rotation dubbed best in minor league baseball


The Reds already boast one of the most prolific starting rotations in Major League Baseball with the likes of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Alfredo Simon, and Mike Leake. And the future certainly looks bright for the sake of Cincinnati starting pitching as well.

According to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, no minor league team features a better starting five than the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Mayo states his case in this complimentary piece about Cincinnati's promising young arms. These arms include top prospect Robert Stephenson, Michael Lorenzen, Daniel Corcino, Ben Lively and Jon Moscot.

As Mayo points out, all five pitchers rank among the top 20 prospects in the Reds farm system by MLB.com. No other minor league rotation can stake claim to this fact.

Here is an excerpt from Mayo's piece that is sure to delight Reds fans:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Reds to host second annual mass wedding at GABP



Back by popular demand, the Reds are set to host a mass wedding for the second consecutive year. The following is a press release from the club which details the festive occasion.

Step up to the plate for your dream wedding at Great American Ball Park for the second annual "I Do's On The Diamond" on Friday, August 22.

Couples will say their vows on the field in front of thousands of fans before the Reds vs. Atlanta Braves game at 7:10 p.m. An officiant licensed by the State of Ohio will conduct the ceremony.

Following the pregame ceremony, couples will join 12 of their closest family and friends to cheer on the Reds and party the night away like a VIP in an exclusive reception featuring an upscale dinner and open bar.

The night will be capped off with unparalleled views of the post-game Rozzi's fireworks show.

Video: Devin Mesoraco ties franchise record with home run



To say Devin Mesoraco is hot at the plate right now would be an understatement because the Reds catcher is on absolute fire.

Case in point came last night when Mesoraco blasted his fifth home run in as many games. The dinger effectively tied a franchise record for most consecutive games with a home run.

The blast marked the 14th of the season overall for Mesoraco and raised his RBI total to 40. He continues to make a strong bid to be included among the players tabbed for the All-Star Game.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pair of Reds minor leaguers earn spot on Futures Game roster

 

Reds fans and baseball enthusiasts everywhere will get a glimpse at the stars of tomorrow when the 2014 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game takes place on July 13. This is when minor league baseball's top talent will be on display at Target Field in Minneapolis ahead of the 2014 All-Star Game.

Representing the Reds will be arguably the organization's top hitter as well as its top pitcher: OF Jesse Winker and RHP Robert Stephenson. Both players have been named to the United States roster for the game while no Reds minor league player was chosen to the World side. But it should be noted that each MLB club must have at least one representative and no more than one.

Stephenson, the team's first round pick (27th overall) in the 2011 draft, is currently ranked by MLB.com as the top prospect in Cincinnati's farm system. Through 15 appearances for Double-A Pensacola this year, the right-hander is 3-5 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. As you can see, the numbers aren't great, but the potential for greatness is certainly there. The 21-year-old posseses a fastball in the mid to upper-90s with a quality breaking ball and a developing changeup. Many believe Stephenson will be a front-line starting pitcher for the Reds in the not-so-distant future.

Video: Devin Mesoraco talks about big performance against Cubs



The Cubs couldn't find a way to retire Devin Mesoraco on Monday.

Cincinnati's catcher managed to reach base five times during the 6-1 victory. He drew two walks and two hit by pitches, but the biggest moment came in the top of the ninth inning when the Pennsylvania native blasted a grand slam just over the wall in left field.

It marked the fourth straight game Mesoraco has homered.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Vegas oddsmakers peg Reds chances at winning World Series at 40-to-1

World Series Odds

The Reds enter Monday's tilt in Chicago as owners of a .500 season record thanks to winning 8 of their last 11 games.

More importantly, Bryan Price's club has climbed to within three games of the Wild Card-leading Dodgers, although they remain 8.5 games back of the division-leading Brewers.

It's still a longshot for the Reds to capture their first World Series title since 1990, but for what it's worth, the oddsmakers in Las Vegas (c/o Bovada) currently lists the Reds odds of winning it all at 40/1. For those keeping score at home, this represents the 16th-best odds (or 14th-worst) among all 30 MLB teams.

Video: Johnny Cueto fans eight en route to defeating Blue Jays



Johnny Cueto's bid to become the starting pitcher for the National League in the All-Star Game looks even better after Sunday's performance against the Blue Jays.

The right-hander limited Toronto to just one earn run on seven hits while striking out eight batters through eight innings of work. The 28-year-old improved his overall record to 7-5 while lowering his MLB-leading earned run average to a tidy 1.86.

Cueto also now leads the league in innings pitched (116), ERA+ (198), WHIP (0.845), H/9 (5.5) and hairstyle. Barring injury, he will likely have three more starts before the All-Star Break to prove his case to start the Midsummer Classic for the Senior Circuit. If for some reason Cueto doesn't earn the nod, it's a foregone conclusion that he will at least make his first trip to the coveted game.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Reds offering fans portable charging devices for rent


The following is a press release from the Reds. For those of you inclined to burn up the battery on your mobile devices during games, this one is for you...

The Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati-based PlusBlue Solutions are partnering to offer a cutting-edge charging service for fans to use with mobile electronic devices at Great American Ball Park.

The PlusBlue handheld portable chargers will be available to rent on a single-game basis for $10 at the Reds Connect Zone (behind section 109) at every game this season beginning tonight when the Reds host the Toronto Blue Jays at 7:10 p.m.

PlusBlue battery packs are easy to use, compact in size, and compatible with most smartphones and tablets. Charging cables for most devices are included, if needed.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Jim Bowden tabs Billy Hamilton as top rookie in National League




If the season ended today, Billy Hamilton would most definitely be in line to become the first Reds player to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award since reliever Scott Williamson did it in 1999. ESPN analyst and former general manager Jim Bowden must agree with this logic because he recently pegged Hamilton as the best National League rookie in the 2014 class.

On Friday, Bowden published this piece highlighting who he believed to be the top 12 rookies in Major League Baseball. Although Hamilton ranked first among National League players, the speedster ranked just seventh in Major League Baseball overall. In fact, Hamilton was the only player on the list not to hail from the American League.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Two Reds pegged as 'should be' All Star starters by ESPN

2014 MLB All-Star Game Logo.png

In less than a month, the baseball world will turn its collective attention to Target Field for the 2014 All-Star Game. The Cincinnati Reds figure to be well represented when the time comes, however, it doesn't appear like any Reds will earn starting nods via fan voting. They will have to settle for reserve spots instead.

In a way, letting fans decide which players are worthy of starting the All-Star Game is a travesty to the integrity of the game. It's essentially a popularity contest with players who play in large markets and/or have already established a name for themselves holding the upper hand. But it is what it is and I understand why Major League Baseball goes this route.

MLB Week 12 - A Sleeping Offense Awakens?


by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Four weeks ago in my article “Too Many Questions, Not Enough Answers” I wrote about my frustrations with the anemic Reds offense. I pointed fingers, and placed blame on the players, coaches and management of whom I felt were responsible with the lack of desire I saw in this year’s team. I knew this team was capable of more, and was embarrassed at the effortless baseball being played on a day to day basis. I felt the money the Reds are paying these players wasn’t being reflected on the field, and as a lifetime Cincinnati Reds fan I deserved more than what I was seeing every day. Then I asked myself an important question….

“Who am I?”

After last Wednesday’s shutout win versus the Dodgers, Joey Votto said that the Reds offense was close to turning around; the cynic in me said “Yeah, but September will be too late”. As I wrote four weeks ago and it certainly applies today “Egg on my face”.

Photo: Brandon Phillips gives drunk heckling fan signed ball with funny note

 

Brandon Phillips doesn't always take criticism well. Well, at least when it comes from the local media. But he always seems to be a good sport when it comes to interacting with the fans.

On Wednesday, Phillips was consistently heckled by a Pirates fan who had stayed around PNC Park despite most of the crowd leaving when rain set in and caused a delay. Because the stadium was nearly empty, the players could hear the fan loud and clear. After the game, Phillips decided to do something fun (and classy) by giving the fan a signed ball he isn't likely to ever forget.

Here's more on the story from the fan's brother over at Reddit:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Alfredo Simon, Johnny Cueto rank among league's elite in 'Cy Young' predictor


Don't bother pinching yourselves because your eyes didn't deceive you Wednesday night. Alfredo Simon is the first pitcher in the National League to notch 10 wins.

Who could have seen this coming? Simon was supposed to be a plug in the rotation while Mat Latos was sidelined due to injury. Instead, Simon has turned in a season worthy of All-Star consideration thus far. But could a Cy Young Award be within reach too?

According to ESPN's Cy Young Predictor, which uses a complex formula and past history to give an in-season snapshot of the Cy Young race, both Simon and Johnny Cueto rank among the league's elite for the coveted award. Simon currently occupies the 7th spot with a 10-3 record, 3.05 ERA, and 55 strikeouts in 88.2 innings pitched. Meanwhile, Cueto curiously ranks just 9th with a dazzling ERA of 1.92 and 111 strikeouts in 108 innings pitched. His 6-5 record is no doubt what is keeping him from ranking higher on the list (which is absurd but it is what it is). For those of you who don't be much stock into the predictor, please know that it has correctly identified the winner for both leagues seven times out of eight in the last four years.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Video: Another look at Todd Frazier's game-winning blast



Todd Frazier is beginning to make it extremely difficult to avoid choosing him for the All-Star team.

The latest evidence of Frazier's All-Star candidacy came Tuesday night when the Reds third basemen smoked a 440-foot blast off Pirates closer Jason Grilli in the ninth to give his club a 6-5 lead. The New Jersey native's 15th home run of the season proved to be the decisive blow for Cincinnati as Aroldis Chapman slammed the door in the bottom half of the inning.

Frazier's current stat line stands at .273/.348/.514 with 15 home runs, 39 RBI, 15 doubles and 42 runs scored. He's been by far Cincinnati's most productive and consistent hitter in 2014 thus far. This might not be saying too much, given how lackluster the offense has been at times, but he's productivity is something that cannot be ignored when discussing a possible trip to the Midsummer Classic.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

An updated list of which draft picks the Reds have signed so far


The MLB First-Year Player Draft has come and gone for the Reds and the next step in the process is to get their draft picks signed to professional contracts. With 41 selections, this step is obviously easier said than done. And especially when you consider every team has an allotted budget to spend on its draft picks.

For 2014, the Reds have been assigned a draft pool limit of $6.9734 million. And the penalties for exceeding this benchmark are quite harsh. I'll touch a little on that in a moment, but first here's an updated list of Reds draft picks that have signed thus far (number in parenthesis represents round player was taken).

RHP Wyatt Strahan (3rd) (pictured above)
1B Brian O'Grady (8th)
RHP Brian Hunter (9th)
LHP Seth Varner (10th)
RF Jimmy Pickens (15th)
C Garrett Boulware (16th)
LHP Jacob Moody (17th)
RHP Conor Krauss (20th)
LHP Ty Sterner (23rd)
LHP Brennan Bernadino (26th)
RHP Jake Paulson (27th)
SS Josciel Veras (30th)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Report: Reds nearing deal worth $15 million with Cuban pitcher



According to a report from Max Wildstein of Call to the Pen, the Reds are nearing a deal worth $15 million over 5-6 years with Cuban pitcher Raciel Iglesias.

You may recall the Reds being one of several teams to watch the right-hander pitch on May 31 in Haiti. At that time, it didn't seem like the Reds were going to be among the favorites to land the hurler. But it appears circumstances have changed, obviously.

The scouting report on Iglesias is that he boasts a fastball in the 92-95 mph range while complementing it with a sweeping breaking ball that ranges from 76-81 mph. Many scouts believe he has the potential of throwing in the upper 90s once he packs on some muscle and weight in the U.S.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post recently labeled Iglesias as a reliever who could help a club in a pennant race as soon as this year. And having fellow Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman around should definitely help with any cultural transition Iglesias needs as well.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Video: Billy Hamilton sparks lopsided win with lead-off home run



Statistically, the Reds possess one of the least potent offenses in Major League Baseball. But you would never believe it by simply watching their performance Sunday against the Brewers.

All in all, Cincinnati collectively pounded out 19 hits en route to denting the dish 13 times in its triumph over Milwaukee. Billy Hamilton served as the catalyst after smacking a lead-off home run to get the fun started. For Hamilton, it marked his fourth home run of the season and second in two games.

Does this mean the offense is on the brink of finally firing on all cylinders? Time will tell, I suppose. But Sunday's beatdown of the first place Brew Crew definitely gives us reason for hope.

Numbers show just how woeful Reds offense has been



We all knew heading into this season that the Reds would be offensively challenged. But even the most pessimistic fans couldn't have predicted how atrocious Cincinnati's ability to score runs has been.

It's been said before that numbers don't lie. And this adage definitely holds true with the Reds. Entering play on Sunday, Cincinnati's offensive unit ranked near the very bottom in most every major statistical category.

Take a look and see for yourself:

Runs - 29th (233)
BA - 26th (.238)
OBP - 27th (.300)
SLG - 24th (.370)
OPS - T-26th (.670)
HR - T-19th (56)
Total Bases - 28th (821)
BB - 22nd (180)
XBH - 23rd (176)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Research shows Reds fans among most loyal in baseball


It's been said before that everyone likes a winner. While this old adage is certainly true, it appears some people are more loyal than others. Specifically, when it comes to fans of Major League Baseball teams.

Recently, two researchers from Emory University wanted to see which fan bases are more prone to jump ship or stay loyal during rough times. The researchers ultimately arrived at the following question as part of their 2014 MLB Fan Analysis: Which teams' attendance is most closely correlated with its success?

Using a set of data from 1998 to 2013, and controlling certain variables such as price and market size, the researchers were able to boil their findings down to something they like to call win elasticity.

The win elasticity provides a measure of the importance of quality in driving demand. For example, if the statistical model finds that a team's demand is unrelated to winning rate, then the implication is that fans have so much of a preference for the team that winning and losing don't matter. For a weaker team (brand) the model would produce a strong relationship between demand and winning.

Friday, June 13, 2014

An update on Carlos Marmol's absence


Earlier this week, the Reds placed troubled reliever Carlos Marmol on the restricted list for "leaving the team without permission." There wasn't much additional information provided on the unusual announcement other than that of the speculatory variety. But Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish may now have some more insight on Marmol's situation.

According to Cotillo, who spoke to Marmol's agent (Paul Kinzer) on Friday, the 31-year-old pitcher is simply taking a break away from baseball and Kinzer adds that he does not expect the Reds to release his client.

Marmol has only been with Cincinnati's organization for a few weeks after signing a minor league deal last month. He appeared in three games for Triple-A Louisville before deciding to step away.

Despite reports to the contrary, Kinzer adamantly insists that Marmol left the team on good terms and is doing so on the account of personal reasons.

Identifying which Reds players are having All-Star worthy seasons


Despite being three games below .500 and eight games out of first place, the Cincinnati Reds have a relatively large crop of players who could potentially garner All-Star nods.

The most obvious candidate for All-Star consideration is right-handed ace Johnny Cueto. Entering Friday, Cueto ranked first among all starting pitchers in innings pitched (102), BAA (.160), and WHIP (0.77), was second in ERA (1.85) and strikeouts, and fifth in WAR (3.4). We have seen Cueto display dominance in the past, but injuries have had a habit of derailing otherwise sensational individual campaigns. When healthy, it's fair to peg Cueto as one of the best starters in baseball right now. And the world could get to see that first-hand if he's tabbed to start the All-Star game for the National League.

Aside from Cueto, the Reds also have several pitchers on the brink of All-Star status. Alfredo Simon has been nothing short of amazing while filling in for the injured Mat Latos. Who would have believed at this point in the season that Simon would be tied for the league lead in wins (9) while sporting a WHIP of 1.09 and ERA of 2.95? Not me and I'd assume none of you either.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

MLB Week 11 - Remembering Nuxy

Joe Nuxhall 1957.png

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Last week I wrote about the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. This past Tuesday, June 10th another 70th anniversary passed, the day the youngest player in major league history stood atop the mound at Crosley Field and faced the mighty St. Louis Cardinals. At 15 years and 316 days old, Joe Nuxhall took the ball, with the Reds trailing 13 – 0, and had a less than stellar debut. Nuxhall would say later about his debut, “I was pitching against seventh, eighth, and ninth graders, kids 13 and 14 years old. All of a sudden, I look up and there’s Stan Musial and the likes. It was a very scary situation.”

The “Ol Lefthander” started strong, retiring the first batter he faced, Cardinal shortstop George Fallon, and then promptly surrendered five runs, on two hits, five walks and a wild pitch before Reds manager Bill McKechnie saw enough. Nuxhall was sent to the minors the next day. Joe didn’t let the disappointment of his debut get him down; he worked himself back to the majors and subsequently into all Cincinnati fans hearts as a legendary radio announcer who belongs in the Broadcasters Wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Banned Dodgers fan lands behind bars after causing trouble at Reds game

troy sexton.jpg

A rabid Los Angeles Dodgers fan found himself behind bars Wednesday after being charged with criminal trespass, burglary, and obstructing business during Tuesday's game at Great American Ball Park.

The man, West Virginia native Troy Sexton, was previously banned from Great American Ball Park due to an incident stemming from 2008. According to court documents obtained by the Cincinnati Enquirer, Sexton's involvement in that 2008 incident caused so much commotion that it delayed the game. Sexton was subsequently charged with resisting arrest and disorderly contact. The resisting arrest charge was eventually dropped after Sexton agreed to plead guilty to the disorderly conduct charge. As a result, Sexton spent one night in jail and paid $341 in fines and court costs.

As of Wednesday, the 40-year-old was being held at the Hamilton County Justice Center with his bonds set at $40,000. Sexton is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday for a hearing involving the three charges stemming from Tuesday. These include two misdemeanors (obstructing business and criminal trespass) and a felony charge (burglary) that carries a maximum prison sentence of three years.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Photo: Yasiel Puig conquers his greatest fear at Cincinnati Zoo


Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers are making their lone visit to Cincinnati this week and what better way to spend their free time than by checking out the Cincinnati Zoo (besides eating a Frisch's Big Boy of course).

On Wednesday, Puig was among a handful of Dodgers players to go exploring in the Queen City land of exotic animals. And judging by this photo posted to the Cincinnati Zoo Instagram page, it looks like the youngster was able to overcome his great fear of snakes.

Kudos to Puig for being brave enough to let that slithering thing wrap itself around his neck. Because there's no way I would voluntarily do that.

Via Sports-Kings

Carlos Marmol placed on restricted list after going AWOL


Just two weeks removed from signing a minor league contract, Carlos Marmol has already found himself in trouble with the Reds. And the reason for his strife may come as a surprise.

According to the team's assistant director of media relations, Marmol has been placed on the restricted list due to leaving the club without permission. Marmol was most recently assigned to Triple-A Louisville where the enigmatic reliever allowed three runs and six walks in 3.2 innings of work. Before Louisville, Marmol spent time in Miami before the Marlins released him last month.

The stigma surrounding Marmol's career is hard not to notice. The Dominican has always struggled terribly with throwing the ball over the plate. But there have also been reports to suggest Marmol might struggle just as much at times in the clubhouse and off the field.

For a guy whose professional career could be nearing the end, Marmol sure isn't doing himself any favors by walking out on his current squad.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Joey Votto activated from the disabled list

Joey Votto on June 25, 2011 (1).jpg

For the first time since May 15, Joey Votto will be in the Cincinnati Reds starting lineup when the club takes the field for battle.

This is because the 30-year-old was activated from the disabled list prior to Tuesday's home tilt against the Dodgers. Donald Lutz was optioned to Triple-A Louisville in order to make room for Votto on the 25-man roster.

The return of Votto is a much-need shot in the arm for the Reds, who have had tremendous trouble generating offense lately (and for much of the 2014 campaign for that matter). Votto will look to bolster a Cincinnati offense that currently ranks second-to-last in Major League Baseball in overall runs scored (215). Only the Padres have scored fewer this year (195).

Keith Law breaks down Reds draft class


The dust is beginning to settle now that it has been a few days since the conclusion of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft. This means the floodgates are about to open with "experts" publishing their premature evaluations about each team's draft class.

Yesterday, I brought to your attention a grade given to the Reds by the lead writer on prospects from the Bleacher Report. Today, I bring you instant analysis from ESPN Insider and minor league prospects guru Keith Law.

Here is what Law had to say about the Cincinnati's 2014 draft class:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Reds receive grade for 2014 draft class


I would like to preface this post by saying that grading any professional sports draft immediately after it occurs is ludicrous. But trying to immediately evaluate an MLB Draft is downright idiotic. These assessments take time and lots of it.

The truth is we won't fully know how well teams did in the 2014 draft until 10-15 years down the road. And it means we are just know gaining clarity on how well (or poorly) teams did in the early-2000s drafts. With that being said, it's still fun to try and this is why I present to you the grade given by the Bleacher Report's MLB Prospects Lead Writer Mike Rosenbaum of the Reds draft class.

Here's what Mr. Rosenbaum had to say about giving Cincinnati a "B" grade for its 2014 draft class. Note: Let's store this away in the archives and revisit it come 2025, eh?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A simple breakdown of Cincinnati's 2014 draft class


Well, the 2014 First-Year Player Draft is officially in the books. The draft concluded Saturday evening after over 1,200 selections had been made in a span of three days. Now it's time to see which players the Reds wound up with and predict which ones we might ultimately see in Cincinnati one day.

The entire list of all 41 of Cincinnati's draftees can be viewed here. As for the rest of us who merely want a simple breakdown of how the Reds drafted, here you go.

C - 4
1B - 2
2B - 2
SS - 2
3B - 4
LF - 0
CF - 3
RF - 1
RHP - 15
LHP - 8

Notes:

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Pete Rose to manage independent league team for one game


Fans who want to see Pete Rose back in baseball will soon get their wish.

According to ctpost.com, Rose is set to serve as guest manager for the Atlantic League's Bridgeport Bluefish for one game on June 16. This is when the Bluefish will oppose the Lancaster Barnstormers at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard.

The idea for Rose to manage wasn't finalized until Friday afternoon

"This year is the 25th anniversary of the last time Pete managed," Bluefish general manager Ken Shepard said. "So this really is a very special moment. Pete has not managed in professional baseball since the Cincinnati Reds in 1989. And we are just so excited to be able to be the team that hopefully could help in the process of furthering a relationship to see Pete be back in the good graces of Major League Baseball. And whether you agree with Pete's banning from the game, his current inability to be in the Hall of Fame is something that people love to talk about. There are passionate people on both sides of the argument. And we are glad and hope that we'll be right in the center of that for the next week or so."

Reds load up on pitchers and infielders in first two days of draft


The Reds continued their run on nabbing right-handed pitchers and infielders in the 2014 MLB Draft in day two of the three-day event.

After making three picks in the first two rounds Thursday, Cincinnati made eight more selections in rounds 3-10 on Friday. Of the 11 draft choices the Reds have made at the time of this writing, five have been right-handed pitchers, five have been infielders and one has been a left-handed pitcher.

Here's a list of who the organization has drafted thus far:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Photo: Sam LeCure's new haircut is a must-see

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Sam LeCure already has an unrivaled reputation around the organization when it comes to facial hair. But the right-handed reliever doesn't want to stop there. 

Apparently, LeCure is doing his best to join legendary hairstyles as well.

LeCure posted this photo to his Twitter account Friday afternoon and rest assured it is a must see. I'm not a professional hair stylist by any means, so I cannot say what the name of this hairdo is, but LeCure is seemingly calling it the "front pony." Furthermore, LeCure has vowed not to shave it off until the Reds lose again. So here is to hoping the Reds win every game for the next month.

Via @mrlecure

MLB Week 10 - Honoring Heroes


by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Dateline June 5, 1944; Reds off today after yesterday’s doubleheader sweep of the Boston Braves to run season record to 24 wins compared with18 losses. Team is traveling to Pittsburgh to start a key early season series at Forbes Field against the Pirates of whom the Reds are currently tied for second place, four games behind the league leading St. Louis Cardinals. With World War II raging in Europe and the Pacific, we’re hearing rumors of a possible invasion in an attempt to liberate France from the tyrannical Nazi regime. Word trickling in from the front is saying any invasion will be dependent upon the current weather conditions affecting the English Channel. I guess we’re not going to surprise the German army, we just pray to the Almighty God that the invasion is successful.

The term hero is a word often bantered about to describe feats occurring on the athletic field. Bobby Thompson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” home run to lead his New York Giants to the World Series over the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951 is often described as heroic. So was the effort of an injured Willis Reed, whose brief appearance in game 7 of the 1970 N.B.A. Finals inspired his New York Knicks to the championship. Many say the “Miracle on Ice” 1980 U.S.A. hockey team’s improbable victory over the Soviet Union was nothing less than heroic. Let us not forget the image of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kirk Gibson hobbling around the bases after his dramatic walk off home run in game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Sure those events and others like them were courageous, valiant, and even mythological, but they pale in comparison to the D-Day invasion.

Video: Experts breakdown Reds first overall pick Nick Howard



In case you missed it, the Reds opted to go with University of Virginia hurler Nick Howard with their first overall pick (19th overall) in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft on Thursday.

Seen in the video above are the experts breaking down the selection immediately after it happened. The general consensus from these guys is that they like the choice. However, the same cannot be said for Christopher Crawford of ESPN Insider, who has his doubts.

There are those who believe that Howard can start, but I have my doubts, based on his arm action and lack of a consistent third pitch. As a reliever, I could see him being a closer in the Jonathan Papelbon mode -- though Papelbon had better velocity at this point -- but as a starter, he'll need to seriously improve his command and show he can throw his change more consistently. Luckily for the Reds, the rotation is in pretty good shape, and they can use the bullpen as a fallback. Not ideal to have a bullpen fallback with the 19th pick, though.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reds use first round draft pick to select Virginia hurler Nick Howard


The Cincinnati Reds entered Thursday's first round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft with the 19th overall selection and decided to use their pick on University of Virginia right-handed pitcher Nick Howard.

The Maryland native is in the midst of his junior campaign at Virginia where he earned First-Team All-ACC honors. Howard served primarily as the Cavaliers' closer in 2014 en route to posting a 2.15 ERA in 29.1 innings pitched. He limited opposing hitters to a .184 batting average while striking out 50 and walking just 12. In 2013, Howard posted a 6-4 record and 3.38 ERA in 61.1 innings pitch (12 starts).

Here is the scouting report from Baseball America:

Video: Todd Frazier is a wizard at unique pre-game handshakes




Todd Frazier is without a doubt one of the most energetic and enthusiastic players on the Cincinnati Reds. If you don't believe that, take a look at Frazier's insistence on getting all of his teammates included on pre-game handshakes.

According to Jim Day of FOX Sports Ohio, Frazier has 12 of these unique handshakes for 12 different teammates. The rest of the club, including manager Bryan Price, gets a hearty forearm bump instead.

When the 28-year-old isn't bashing elbows, he is smashing baseballs at the plate. Through 232 plate appearances, Frazier has 11 home runs, 14 doubles, and 30 RBI while slashing .271/.345/.498. If he keeps it up, Frazier could very well find himself on the National League All-Star roster come mid-July.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Reds pitching prospect slated to start minor league All-Star game


Reds pitching prospect Ben Lively has been pegged as the starting pitcher for the California League when it squares off against the Carolina League on June 17 in an All-Star Game.

Lively, Cincinnati's fourth round pick in the 2013 draft out of the University of Central Florida, has posted an impressive 9-1 record and 1.95 ERA in 12 starts for the Single-A Bakersfield Blaze this season. Lively has limited opposing batters to just 50 hits and 13 walks in 74 innings pitched. Furthermore, the Florida native owns 86 strikeouts and a K/BB ratio of 6.62.

Lively currently ranks as the 12th-best prospect in the Reds farm system according to MLB.com.

Also on the roster for the California League All-Stars are Blaze outfielder Kyle Waldrop and Jesse Winker. Winker is rated as the organization's third-best prospect.

Photo: Milb.com

Video: Pablo Sandoval's foul ball destroys laptop of Reds beat writer



MLB.com beat writer Mark Sheldon entered Great American Ball Park on Tuesday with a fully functional laptop. By the end of the night, Sheldon's laptop worked no more.

We can blame Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval for this destruction after he struck a foul ball that obliterated Sheldon's computer. You can check out the reaction by Sheldon in the video clip above. And rest assured it was priceless.

Tough break for Sheldon.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Latest mock draft has Reds tabbing college catcher in first round



With the MLB Amateur Draft set to commence on Thursday, mock drafts can be found everywhere as "experts" attempt to project which players will be chosen by which teams. To be honest, predicting where players will fall is an absolute crapshoot. But it's fun to talk about at least.

As fate would have it, our beloved Cincinnati Reds possess the 19th overall pick in the draft. The club has opted to go with right-handed pitching more times than not in recent years (Mike Leake-2009, Robert Stephenson-2011, Nick Travieso-2012), but the latest mock draft published by ESPN's Keith Law on Tuesday suggests the Reds will use their first round pick on a player who wears a mask. According to Law, the Reds are destined to select Kennessaw State Owls backstop Max Pentecost (6'1, 190-pounds) at pick No. 19.

Here's what Law had to say about his projection:

Joey Votto chosen with 18th pick in annual franchise player draft

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For the last four years, the panel of ESPN's baseball "experts" have conducted a Franchise Player Draft, which essentially requires them to pick any player in professional baseball they would want to start a franchise with.

With the 18th pick in the draft, ESPN Insider Chris Crawford selected Joey Votto. Votto was the only Reds player taken in the dubious draft process.

Here is Crawford's justification for the pick:

No, Votto doesn't have the prototypical power numbers for a first baseman, but no hitter in all of baseball gets on base as well as Votto does, and he's fifth in WAR since 2011. A lock for 50 extra-base hits and 100 walks is extremely rare, and that's exactly what I'm getting in Votto, along with a glove that won't kill you.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Reds take inexplicable tumble in updated power rankings


Despite winning four out of five games on the road to close out the week, the Reds inexplicably slipped three spots in the latest batch of MLB Power Rankings from ESPN.com.

Cincinnati began the week with two losses to the Dodgers before avoiding a sweep in Los Angeles and picking up three wins in Phoenix against the Diamondbacks. With Joey Votto and Mat Latos scheduled to come off the disabled list soon, one could argue that the Reds currently have more momentum at this point than they have all season.

Unfortunately, beating up on one of baseball's worst teams (record-wise) didn't impress the voters this week, thus explaining Cincinnati's No. 21 ranking.

Video: Reds smash four solo home runs to down Arizona



On the strength of four solo home runs, the Reds were able to sneak past Arizona on Sunday to win the game (4-3) and the series, effectively capping off a winning road trip.

The fun was started by Zack Cozart when he homered off Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley in the third inning. A few batters later, Todd Frazier played longball himself.

In the fourth, Ryan Ludwick blasted a ball just inside the third base foul pole to give Cincinnati a 3-0 lead. In the fifth, Chris Heisey absolutely demolished a baseball over the center field wall, which turned out to be the game-winning run.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Johnny Cueto tabbed as one-third season Cy Young winner


You don't have to convince many people around Cincinnati who the best pitcher in the National League has been through the first one-third of the 2014 season. It's Johnny Cueto and then everyone else.

Our friend Dayn Perry at CBS Sports is well aware of this and that is why he recently pegged Cueto as his pick for the National League Cy Young Award (through one-third of the regular season). Here is what Perry had to say about Cincinnati's ace:

This award belonged to Adam Wainwright before his Friday night stinker against the Giants. Now it falls to Cueto, who, that previous qualifier notwithstanding, is quite worthy. Presently, he leads the NL in innings and the majors in strikeouts. More to the point, Cueto boasts an ERA of 1.83, and opposing hitters are batting just .148/.207/.251 against him. He's also logged 10 quality starts in 11 trips to the mound.

Entering Saturday's start in Arizona, Cueto led all league starting pitchers in WHIP (0.753), strikeouts (85), complete games (3) and ranked third in WAR (2.7). For my money, I'll take Cueto in a one-game scenario over any other pitcher in the game right now. How about you?