Daniel Corcino claimed by Los Angeles Dodgers

Daniel Corcino earned Southern League All-Star honors with Pensacola in 2012.

Daniel Corcino earned Southern League All-Star honors with Pensacola in 2012.

Right-handed pitcher Daniel Corcino, part of the Blue Wahoos’ inaugural team and the anchor of the franchise’s first no-hitter, has been claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Corcino was designated for assignment Monday along with southpaw Ryan Dennick when the Reds added Kyle Skipworth and Josh Smith to the 40-man roster. After placing Corcino on waivers, Cincinnati had 10 days to put him back on the roster or otherwise trade, release or outright him to the Minor Leagues.

In 53 games and parts of three seasons with Pensacola, Corcino went 18-19 with a 3.57 earned run average. The highlight of his Double-A stay came on June 16, 2012, when he fired eight hitless innings en route to the Wahoos’ first no-hitter.

A Southern League All-Star in 2012, Corcino ended the season ranked among leaders in ERA (3.01, 2nd), opponents’ batting average (.216, 2nd) and strikeouts (126, 3rd). He returned in 2014 and led the Wahoos with 10 wins before his promotion to Cincinnati. He holds franchise records in wins, losses, starts (51), innings (287.2), walks (135) and strikeouts (241).

In his only appearance of the season on April 9, Corcino pitched a scoreless frame with two strikeouts, two walks and a hit batter.

Dennick was again designated for assignment when the Dodgers claimed Corcino.

Notebook: Journeyman Walden thrives under Southern sun

Marcus Walden was an Eastern League All-Star in 2013 with New Hampshire. (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

Marcus Walden was an Eastern League All-Star in 2013 with New Hampshire. (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

Pitcher Marcus Walden makes his Reds organizational debut Thursday, but he’s more excited about joining the Southern League — just as soon as the rain stops.

Walden is pitching in his third Double-A circuit, first the Eastern League in 2013 with the Toronto organization and then Oakland’s Texas League affiliate in 2014. The biggest difference in his eyes is the weather.

“Rumor has it this is the best weather in the Double-A leagues,” Walden said. “I’ve been in the Eastern League two years ago, it was a little chilly in the first month-and-a-half and the last month. I’ve been in the Texas League, where it’s really dry.

“But I’m excited to come here and come play, and enjoy this Southern weather.”

Despite a pair of postponements, Opening Day was a good first impression. The Southern League’s climate will work to Walden’s advantage as a ground ball pitcher.

“The humidity is more for guys that move the ball as a pitcher like I do,” Walden said. “I’ve played in Florida for five years now, I understand the way to pitch in humidity.”

A ninth-round pick out of Fresno City College in 2007, the former college closer developed his offspeed pitches with the Blue Jays organization. Reds director of player development Jeff Graupe likes Walden’s ability to produce outs with his sinker early in the count, which has allowed him to work deeper into games.

Walden has a career GO/AO rate of 2.20, meaning the right-hander has produced about twice as many groundouts as flyouts. His arsenal, which includes a changeup, curveball and cut fastball, is defined by movement. When everything is clicking, it’s difficult to tee off against Walden.

“You can’t just get some balls in the air and [expect] the ball’s going to fly,” he said. “You’ve got to square up some baseballs down here in the South.”

Former Wahoos converge in Clearwater

After three years in Pensacola, infielder Brodie Greene is back on his feet with the Clearwater Threshers.

Greene, who played a record 329 games with the Wahoos, was one of the Reds’ final cuts before Minor League rosters were set. He quickly found work with the Phillies’ High-A affiliate in the Florida State League. Greene is batting .250 in two games, including a pair of starts at second base.

There’s another familiar face in the Clearwater infield: Devin Lohman, who was sent to the Phillies in March for future considerations. Lohman has made six starts at shortstop with no errors in 23 chances. After a slow start at the dish, Lohman is batting .200 in his last four games with two runs and another driven in.

The Threshers travel to Daytona to face the Reds’ affiliate starting May 7.

Reds’ busy Monday impacts Pensacola players

Kyle Skipworth is the sixth player to earn a Major League call-up straight from Pensacola. (Barrett McClean/Pensacola Blue Wahoos)

Kyle Skipworth is the sixth player to earn a Major League call-up straight from Pensacola. (Barrett McClean/Pensacola Blue Wahoos)

After nearly 600 professional games, it takes a lot to surprise catcher Kyle Skipworth.

Maybe recent developments in Cincinnati will change his mind.

The Reds selected the Blue Wahoos backstop’s contract before the Cubs series Monday while Devin Mesoraco stays back in Cincinnati. The Reds’ starter is having an MRI on his left hip to find the cause of recent discomfort.

Skipworth stressed the importance of having a daily plan, but his plans are changing this week.

“The biggest thing I’m expecting of myself is I’m going to be 100 percent committed to having a plan and a routine day in and day out,” Skipworth said before the season began. “I think when everybody says, ‘I want to put up this certain number or this exact number,’ you know, and then tension and anxiety tend to set in when you’re halfway through the season, you’re at, ‘Oh my God, I’m not going to reach that goal.’

“So for me really this offseason and through Spring Training [the plan] has been, I’m going to go day by day, pitch by pitch with the same exact consistent routine and plan and keep my head down, and when I look up at the end of the year, I think good things are going to happen from doing that.”

Skipworth, one of the last Spring Training cuts by the Reds, got a long look behind the plate. In 19 games, he batted .240 with a home run and five RBIs while throwing out a pair of would-be baserunners.

He started three games with the Wahoos, batting .250 with a home run. In his last at-bat, Skipworth knocked a solo home run that cleared the scoreboard.

Skipworth could easily return to Pensacola after his stint with Cincinnati. Part of the allure of the Reds’ system came with the chance to catch on a regular basis, which he couldn’t do with prospect Tucker Barnhart in Triple-A Louisville.

“I feel like you play this game long enough, you don’t get surprised with anything after a while,” Skipworth said of a return to Double-A to start the season. “It was the opportunity with Cincinnati to come back here and be a starter again and play every day, and I really couldn’t pass that opportunity up.”

Skipworth is the sixth player to earn the call straight from Pensacola. He’ll make his Reds organizational debut in Chicago, but his Major League debut came with Miami. Skipworth made four appearances with the Marlins in 2013, the highlight of seven years in the organization before joining the Reds in free agency.

The catcher isn’t the only player trading a Minor League uniform for a Major League one. Right-handed pitcher Josh Smith, the workhorse of the Wahoos’ 2013 rotation, also earned a promotion to Cincinnati and overcame long odds:

Smith didn’t miss a start and became the team’s most consistent pitcher after a rough debut. Sitting at 0-2 with a 17.47 ERA in two short outings, Smith followed with three straight wins. He finished 11-9 with a 3.26 ERA, including 14 quality starts.

A midseason Southern League All-Star, Smith still holds single-season team records for wins and innings pitched (160.0) and ranks second in strikeouts (139). That figure led the Southern League and was second-best in the Reds’ system. He will be the 18th player to make a Major League debut after playing for the Wahoos.

“It’s nice to have a true length guy in our bullpen with Josh Smith, also a guy we felt like deserved it through his performance in years past,” Reds manager Bryan Price told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay. “”Without a DL, we can’t use roster players until Wednesday.”

Price is referring to Major League Rule 11(b)(1), where a player optioned to the Minor Leagues cannot be recalled until 10 days after he reports. Barnhart, a 40-man roster member optioned to Louisville in spring, didn’t meet the mark when the Reds made roster moves Monday. If Mesoraco was placed the disabled list, Barnhart could have easily earned the call.

To make room for Skipworth and Smith on the 40-man roster, Daniel Corcino and Ryan Dennick were designated for assignment. Corcino made one appearance for Pensacola, pitching a scoreless inning Thursday with two walks and two strikeouts.

In Pensacola, catcher Chris Berset returns to fill Skipworth’s void. Infielder Ray Chang and right-hander Drew Hayes were also activated. With Robert Stephenson on the temporary inactive list due to a personal matter, the Wahoos have 12 pitchers, two catchers, six infielders and five outfielders.

Notebook: The gang’s all here

The Wahoos’ Opening Day roster includes 19 players from Pat Kelly’s Bakersfield squad. (Barrett McClean/Pensacola Blue Wahoos)

When Blue Wahoos skipper Pat Kelly moved up from Bakersfield to manage Pensacola, he brought the rest of his Blaze team with him.

Nineteen players on Pensacola’s Opening Day roster saw time in Bakersfield in 2014. The Blaze won the first-half North Division title and boasted the California League’s best record before a handful of players were shipped out to Pensacola.

So what made that Bakersfield team so successful?

“For one, very skilled players,” Kelly said during Spring Training. “Offensively, we had a great club. We scored a lot of runs. Pitching was good enough to keep us in the ballgame. We had power, we had speed.

“And the other thing we had, we had baseball players. They knew how to play the game, they played the game right. They loved playing, and they weren’t afraid to grind it out every night. From a manager’s standpoint, that’s all you can ask for.”

There are advantages to having a close-knit group. Kelly knows which lineup combinations worked best in Bakersfield, and he plans to bat Amaral first and infielder Zach Vincej eighth. Communication is also a plus, from catchers understanding a pitcher’s tendencies and tempo to the infield operating efficiently.

Beau Amaral, who landed in Bakersfield after a cup of coffee with Pensacola, fit right in with his new team.

“They looked like a playoff team ready to go,” Amaral said. “I think that the team chemistry and all the guys hanging out together, on and off the field, was big. Everyone just competes, and that’s what it comes down to every day.”

Players discuss Shuckers

For years, I’ve written series previews on the Wahoos’ opponents. It’s one thing to hear it from a beat writer, but what better source than the players who know the Milwaukee affiliate firsthand?

Pitcher Kevin Shackelford spent two seasons with Biloxi’s former iteration, the Huntsville Stars, including 40 relief appearances in 2014. He also played 12 games with High-A Brevard County, where he shared a field with infield prospects Orlando Arcia and Yadiel Rivera.

“They have a very good middle infield with Yadiel and Arcia,” Shackelford said. “[Outfielder Nick] Ramirez, he can obviously hurt you with the deep ball. They probably have one of the better catchers in the league, at least from what I’ve seen, with [Adam] Weisenburger.”

Weisenburger, rated the Brewers’ best defensive catcher by Baseball America, is joined by a star-studded cast. Milwaukee stacked the deck for Biloxi’s first season of professional baseball since 1908. The roster includes eight of MLB.com’s top Brewers prospects and 10 on Baseball America’s list.

Josh Fellhauer, a three-year Wahoo traded to Milwaukee in July, recognizes Biloxi’s pitching threat.

“The staff is really good,” Fellhauer said Thursday night, a 4-0 Shuckers victory. “From starters to back end of the bullpen, mid-relief guys, we’ve got some arms that can throw.”

The Shuckers, whose rotation combined for a 3.22 ERA during 2014, haven’t allowed an earned run through the first 15 innings of the series. Entering Saturday, they are one of just three teams in Minor League Baseball without an earned run to their name.

Skipworth impressed by Montreal

Baseball isn’t dead in Montreal, at least by catcher Kyle Skipworth‘s account.

“Unbelievable,” Skipworth starts. “I think that’s really the only word I could use to describe it.”

To end the spring campaign, the Reds traveled to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium for a pair of exhibition games against the Toronto Blue Jays. Skipworth was one of a handful of Minor League players to make the trip.

“That place was loud, it was raucous,” Skipworth continued. “If I could imagine what a playoff World Series atmosphere would be like, that’s what it would be like.”

The city’s response was immediate and intense. Starving for baseball since the Expos’ departure in 2004, Montreal fans showed up in full force for the exhibition. 96,545 attended the weekend set, an uptick from the 2014 series between the Blue Jays and Mets.

“[The stadium] had an unbelievable echo,” Skipworth said. I think the bleachers were metal, so seventh, eighth, ninth inning, they were stomping on it. It was unbelievable.”

Notebook: Fellhauer on the side of history again

After three seasons with the Wahoos, Josh Fellhauer is wearing Biloxi blue.

Josh Fellhauer, who spent three seasons with the Wahoos, was traded to Milwaukee in July. (Michael Spooneybarger/Pensacola Today)

It’s still a bit strange to see Josh Fellhauer wearing Biloxi blue. The feeling is mutual.

After 159 games in a Pensacola uniform, Fellhauer was in the visitor’s dugout of Pensacola Bayfront Stadium for the first time. Across the diamond, his friends and former teammates were now competitors. Fellhauer had faced them in Spring Training scrimmages before, but this was a new feeling.

“it was good seeing them and it was totally different playing against each other,” Fellhauer said. “There were a lot of emotions going on, and it was something that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”

For the second time in his career, Fellhauer is part of a brand-new franchise. He was the Wahoos’ starting right fielder in Pensacola’s inaugural game, a 3-1 victory over Montgomery on April 5, 2012.

“Starting with a new team, a new affiliate, everyone is so excited for you to be there,” Fellhauer said. “It doesn’t matter how you play, if you’re doing bad or you’re doing well. They just want to show up and watch you guys play and support you.”

The Shuckers, who are about to embark on a 60-day road trip, haven’t stopped in Biloxi yet. The team spent a few extra days in Arizona before arriving in Florida Tuesday. But much like his former city has, Fellhauer expects Biloxi to reap the benefits of Minor League Baseball.

“It just shows you how much a sport like baseball is great for the surrounding cities and the people that just love the sport,” Fellhauer said.

Somsen on the rise

Don’t look now, but Layne Somsen could be the Wahoos’ X factor out of the bullpen.

A 22nd-round selection out of South Dakota State, Somsen is the third member of the 2013 draft class to reach Pensacola. He’s in good company: First-rounder Michael Lorenzen will soon make his Triple-A debut and fifth-round pick Ben Lively was the 2014 Reds Minor League Player of the Year.

“Layne has the ability to command all of his pitches for strikes, which is necessary at the AA level,” Reds farm director Jeff Graupe said. “He has an advanced sense of pitch ability for his age and this along with his physical ability helped him move quickly through our system.”

Somsen hails from Yankton, tucked just inside the South Dakota side of the Missouri River. The long winters in the town of 14,000 forced the three-sport athlete inside for most of his playing career.

“It’s tough growing up in the North for us, because we obviously get longer winters and it’s naturally colder up there,” Somsen said. “We’ve got to play most of our baseball indoors during the winter and throw indoors and stuff. So [we’re] kind of at a disadvantage to start with, but it makes you mentally tough playing out in the cold.”

This isn’t Somsen’s first trip below the Mason-Dixon line. He spent the 2012 summer collegiate season in the Coastal Plain League, where he was named Pitcher of the Year for the Fayetteville (S.C.) SwampDogs.

“I’m used to the humidity, and I actually don’t mind it,” Somsen said. “It keeps you a little more loose.”

Somsen made his Double-A debut Thursday, allowing one run in two innings while striking out three. Just one game into the season, the reliever’s role is still up in the air.

“Honestly, I was told that I’m going to do a little bit of everything,” Somsen said. “I could be a one-inning guy, a long relief guy or I could start some of the games too when we need a spot start.”

Notebook: Amaral leading by example

Amaral led off the lineup in all seven of his Pensacola starts.

Beau Amaral led off the lineup in all seven of his Pensacola starts.

After a turbulent 2014, Beau Amaral has a well-defined role to start the 2015 season: lead off Pat Kelly‘s lineup and hold down the fort in center field.

These were constants in a season that took him from Low-A Dayton to Pensacola in April and out to High-A Bakersfield in May. It gave Amaral a generous number of airline miles and a better look at more advanced pitching.

“It was good to be able to see that competition,” Amaral said. “I think it’s going to help me going into this year, kind of have an idea of what this kind of baseball’s like.”

Amaral batted first in 77 of 112 games, including all seven of his starts in Pensacola. Kelly used the outfielder near the bottom of the Bakersfield order but sees him as the Wahoos’ leadoff hitter.

“We’re trying to develop him as a leadoff guy, get him more into that role,” Kelly said. “We’d love to see him bunt a little bit more, steal some bases.”

The Wahoos stole 55 bases in 2014, the lowest mark in the Southern League. Amaral, who finished fourth among Reds Minor League players with 23, looks to reverse that course.

“I’ll just get on base any way I can, whether it’s bunting or drawing a walk, making a pitcher throw a bunch of pitches,” Amaral said. “Anything to do to kind of irritate the other team is my goal.”

Amaral will also anchor a young outfield, which has a combined 31 games of Double-A experience under its belt.

“He’s really going to help us in that outfield,” Kelly said. “We’ve got really solid hitters on the corners, not necessarily real good defensive players. So [the] center fielder’s gonna really have to cover a lot of ground, and I think Beau will really do a good job for us.”

Despite the relative youth of the unit, Amaral doesn’t expect a steep learning curve.

“I feel like you can’t look at it as how many games we have. Baseball is the same on defense, doesn’t matter what level you’re at,” Amaral said. “We’ve all played a lot together and we know what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are.”

Winker off to the races

You may remember the bet between Billy Hamilton and Jesse Winker: If the Wahoos outfielder steals more bases than the speedster hits home runs, Billy pays for Jesse’s new Jordans.

Last year’s contest ended in a stalemate, which Winker doesn’t intend to repeat. So how quickly will he try to steal second base?

“As soon as I get on first,” Winker laughed.

Winker hasn’t stolen more than six bases in a season, and he’s still chasing his first theft in Double-A. Nonetheless, he remains confident — and maybe a bit cocky — heading into 2015.

“Toward the end of the season, I’m going to start looking into what Jordans I want from him,” Winker said. “Right now, Billy’s on a little bit higher salary than me, so I’m going to maybe get two pairs from him.”

Wahoos add pitcher Johnson

Although he wasn’t on the Wahoos’ preliminary travel roster, right-handed pitcher Jake Johnson is in uniform for Pensacola. When he enters, he will make his Double-A debut.

“Jacob is a solid, ground-ball pitcher who continues to improve,” Reds director of player development Jeff Graupe said. “He is a tremendous worker with advanced pitch ability and command.”

In 43 games with Bakersfield in 2014, Johnson was 5-1 with a 2.75 ERA. An 11th-round selection in the 2009 draft, the Panama City native has transitioned into the bullpen after shoulder surgery in 2011.

Also announced Thursday, outfielder Juan Duran will start the season on the temporary inactive list.

Blue Wahoos announce 2015 roster

Robert Stephenson returns for his second full season in Pensacola.

Robert Stephenson returns for his third season in Pensacola.

The 2015 Blue Wahoos roster is set, led by top prospects Robert Stephenson and Jesse Winker.

Two members of the Reds’ 40-man roster and five of MLB.com’s top 30 Reds prospects will start the season in Pensacola. Notably, No. 1 prospect Stephenson will anchor the rotation with No. 2 prospect Winker patrolling the outfield.

The roster includes 15 members of the 2014 team, as well as 11 players who finished the season with the Wahoos. Infielder Juan Perez, a late Double-A call-up in 2012, and Chad Rogers, the 2013 Opening Day starter, also return to Pensacola.

Stephenson, the No. 25 prospect in baseball as ranked by MLB.com, will get the ball for Opening Day. The Wahoos’ rotation includes southpaw Wandy Peralta and right-handers Tim Adleman, Marcus Walden and Daniel Wright.

Manager Pat Kelly, who sees the bullpen as the club’s biggest strength, will carry eight relievers. Daniel Corcino is back in a Wahoos uniform after a strong campaign. Corcino finished 10-11 with a 4.13 ERA in 26 games before earning a promotion to Cincinnati.

Winker, MLB.com’s No. 27 prospect, returns for his first full season in Double-A. The outfielder was placed on the disabled list on July 24 and didn’t see the field after tearing a tendon in his right wrist.

After winning the Arizona Fall League batting title, Winker looks to keep his bat hot in Pensacola. He is joined by Kyle Waldrop, the Reds Minor League Hitter of the Year. Waldrop enjoyed a breakout season in 2014, batting .338 between High-A Bakersfield and Pensacola. He is listed as an infielder and should see significant time at first base.

The infield looks very similar to the Wahoos’ everyday crew from the second half of 2014. Marquez Smith, Ryan Wright and Seth Mejias-Brean, all California League North Division champions with Kelly, will jockey for starting roles in their first full seasons.

The outfield will be fairly young as a unit. Beau Amaral, who appeared in 10 games for the Wahoos, expects to play a more prominent role. Amaral is accompanied by Sean Buckley and Juan Silva, who will make their Double-A debuts.

Here is the roster as announced by the Reds:

Pitchers (13)

RHP Tim Adleman
RHP Daniel Corcino
RHP Carlos Gonzalez
RHP Drew Hayes
RHP Ben Klimesh
RHP Kyle McMyne
LHP Wandy Peralta
RHP Chad Rogers
RHP Kevin Shackelford
RHP Layne Somsen
RHP Robert Stephenson
RHP Marcus Walden
RHP Daniel Wright

Catchers (2)

Yovan Gonzalez
Kyle Skipworth

Infielders (7)

Ray Chang
Seth Mejias-Brean
Juan Perez
Marquez Smith
Zach Vincej
Kyle Waldrop
Ryan Wright

Outfielders (4)

Beau Amaral
Sean Buckley
Juan Silva
Jesse Winker

Three Wahoos break camp with Major League teams

caption

Didi Gregorius will bat ninth and start at shortstop for New York on Opening Day.

When Major League teams take the field for Opening Day, you’ll find a few former Wahoos among them.

Shortstop Didi Gregorius, center fielder Billy Hamilton and left-handed pitcher Tony Cingrani earned spots on Opening Day rosters to start the 2015 season. Hamilton and Cingrani are joined by Jim Riggleman, the Wahoos’ first manager who now serves as the Reds’ third base coach.

Gregorius is tasked with the once-in-a-century challenge of replacing a legend. The former Wahoos shortstop takes the reins from Derek Jeter, joining the Yankees after a three-team trade in December.

He batted .271 in 20 Spring Training games, missing three games in the final week of camp with a sprained left wrist. A career .184 hitter against southpaws, Gregorius saw extra left-handed pitching and batted .250 in 16 at-bats.

Gregorius was part of the Blue Wahoos’ Opening Day roster in 2012. The Southern League All-Star batted .278 in 81 games with Pensacola and joined Triple-A Louisville in July. He was traded in December to Arizona, where he played 183 games in two seasons with the Diamondbacks.

2015 will be Cingrani’s fourth season in Cincinnati. The southpaw was a favorite for a Reds’ rotation spot but will bring heat out of the bullpen.

Plagued with shoulder issues, Cingrani’s spring was very promising after missing most of the second half. He posted a 1-0 record and 1.32 ERA in seven games (13.2 innings) while holding hitters to a .176 average.

Cingrani was electric in his brief stint with the Wahoos, finishing 5-3 with a 2.12 ERA before his September call-up. Between High-A Bakersfield and Pensacola, Cingrani was a combined 10-4 with a 1.73 ERA and organization-best 172 strikeouts. He earned Minor League All-Star honors from Baseball America and was named the Reds Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

The speedy Hamilton will make his second Opening Day start in center field for Cincinnati. Nursing a minor right shoulder injury midway through camp, Hamilton batted .235 in 17 Spring Training games with two stolen bases. The speedster is expected to lead off the Reds’ lineup again this season.

Hamilton set a Reds rookie record in 2014 with 56 stolen bases in 79 attempts. The outfielder led National League rookies in RBIs, multi-hit games, runs, hits, total bases, doubles and extra-base hits. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom.

Hamilton stole hearts and bases in 2012, leading both the California and Southern League in steals. He set a professional record in Pensacola on August 21 and finished with 155 thefts.

As always, the Reds open the season at home against Pittsburgh. Gregorius’ Yankees also start at home, hosting Toronto.

Spring Training Notebook: Minor League coaches check in

Delino DeShields will manage the Louisville Bats after two seasons in Pensacola.

Delino DeShields will manage the Louisville Bats after two seasons in Pensacola.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — At first glance, it seems like a misprint. How did Blue Wahoos manager Pat Kelly, a Minor League catcher for 12 seasons, become a pitching coach?

Kelly was groomed for the role, his first as a coach, during Dave Duncan’s tenure with the White Sox in 1984. Duncan followed a similar career arc, never throwing a pitch in his 14 professional seasons but enjoying a prolific career as a pitching coach.

“I think one of the hardest things for young managers to do is to handle pitching staffs, and I felt like I always had an advantage,” Kelly said. “One, being a catcher, and then two, spending three years as a pitching coach.”

Kelly made his managerial debut in 1986, where his Charleston Rainbows staff’s 3.69 earned run average was fourth-best in the South Atlantic League.

“It turned out to be very good for my managing,” Kelly said. “I had a much better feel for that part of the game, which I thought helped me as a manager.”

His rotation included future Padres and Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers, who is now a special assistant to Reds GM Walt Jocketty.

Loaded in Louisville

In his first season at the helm, Delino DeShields expects to see an abundance of players streaming through Louisville.

“It can be a volatile level at times, a lot of movement,” DeShields said. “The rosters can change a lot more.”

And change it did, nearly to the tune of a franchise record. Louisville logged 204 transactions with 71 players appearing on the roster in 2014.

“Your team can be different from week to week in Triple-A, so that’s going to be a challenge,” DeShields said.

His Opening Day roster in Louisville will closely resemble the one he had in Pensacola a year earlier. Right-handed pitchers Michael Lorenzen and Jon Moscot will anchor the rotation while outfielders Donald Lutz and Yorman Rodriguez will stay fresh in pursuit of a Major League call-up.

No pitcher too big to fail

It may sound contradictory, but the best thing a Minor League pitcher can do is fail.

“That’s the learning process,” pitching coach Tom Brown said. “You have to get to a point where you fail. You really do. Very few guys are dominant all the way through.”

Brown points to Daniel Corcino, with whom he worked closely as the Wahoos’ pitching coach in 2012. Corcino scuffled in Louisville the next season, posting a 7-14 record and 5.86 ERA between the rotation and bullpen.

“Corcino got to Triple-A and found out the stuff that we’ve been trying to tell him that he had to do, and he wouldn’t do because of his success. You look around, you go, ‘I’m just dominating people, I’m throwing no-hitters, I don’t need to do that.’

“He got to Triple-A and went, ‘Wait a minute, I really do need to have to do that.’ He’s made some great adjustments and he’s really done a good job.”

Corcino bounced back with Pensacola in 2014, straightening out his delivery and improving his control. Of Corcino’s 26 appearances, 11 spanned six innings or more while allowing one run or fewer.

Brown expects Corcino to rejoin the Reds’ bullpen soon. Corcino made his debut on August 26, his 24th birthday, and logged 18.2 innings with a 0-2 record and 4.34 ERA.

No fooling: Three predictions for the Wahoos’ roster

I hope April Fools’ Day found you in good spirits:

Will Ferrell isn’t playing for the Blue Wahoos — not on Opening Day, and probably not ever. But here are three statements on the prospective Pensacola roster that are a lot more truthful.

There won’t be much representation from the Reds’ 40-man roster.

To be fair, this isn’t bucking a trend. The Wahoos started the 2012 and 2013 seasons with just three members of the Reds’ 40-man roster. Pensacola carried five 40-man members on Opening Day 2014, as well as a trio of rehabbing Reds.

Juan Duran, who was optioned to Pensacola on March 10, may be the team’s only 40-man representative. He earned the designation in November 2013 and batted .243/.297/.464 in his first season with the Wahoos.

Only two players on the 40-man roster don’t have experience above Double-A. That includes Cuban defector Raisel Iglesias, who is expected to start the season in Cincinnati.

Kyle Skipworth could be the Wahoos’ everyday catcher.

I’m basing this off a March 13 story from the Cincinnati Enquirer. While that’s not a guarantee, C. Trent Rosecrans writes a convincing piece.

Skipworth’s story is a fascinating one. With the sixth pick of the 2008 draft, the Marlins tapped the high school catcher just after the Giants selected Buster Posey.

The comparisons are easy to make. Posey is a National League MVP, two-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion who’s been making never-work-again money since 2013. Meanwhile, Skipworth fell off Baseball America’s radar in 2012 and made a low-key debut in Triple-A New Orleans the next season.

Still, his optimism is admirable:

I just feel my road is a little more winding than others. I feel like I’m taking a little bit of a longer route, which in the end, I think is going to be good for me.

Let’s also clarify that “everyday catcher” doesn’t literally mean every day. This would be more along the lines of starting three or four games of a five-game series.

Plenty of names are in the mix for playing time behind Skipworth. Chris Berset has spent parts of three seasons in Pensacola, but no longer than 42 games in 2014. Yovan Gonzalez made his Double-A debut in August and could step into a bigger role. Ramon Cabrera spent the last three years in the Eastern League, but will his new organization start him in Triple-A?

Either Pensacola or Daytona will have a stellar starting rotation.

It’s a good thing I don’t actually make these decisions. The Reds have a pair of first-round pitchers whose Opening Day team is as good as a coin flip to me.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: The Reds draft a college closer with a good bat and move him to the rotation with promising results. No, it’s not Michael Lorenzen, but No. 19 pick Nick Howard has been drawing the same rave reviews as the pitcher that preceded him.

Like Lorenzen, Howard could start his first full professional season just two steps away from Cincinnati. The Virginia closer went from the College World Series to Low-A Dayton, finishing 2-1 with a 3.74 earned run average in 11 games. He also made six starts in the Arizona Fall League, where he pitched to a 4.43 ERA but held right-handed hitters to a .171 average.

After two rounds in Dayton, 2012 first-round selection Nick Travieso is due for a promotion. Exhibit A is a nine-game stretch to close the season where he went 7-0 with a 1.22 ERA. Opposing hitters were batting .164 during that dominant stretch.

This performance came on the heels of a scuffling 2014 season as the high school reliever adjusted to the rotation. The double-dip in Dayton served him well, culminating in Reds Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors.

Again, this isn’t my day to run the organization. Both Howard and Travieso will find their way to Pensacola, but it’s just a matter of when. Their Double-A debuts may be just a weekend away.

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