On Thursday night I made my first-ever trip to Louisville Slugger Field to watch the Reds’ AAA affiliate, the Louisville Bats, battle the Gwinnett Braves.
The main attraction was the Reds’ phenom left-hander Aroldis Champman, who was making his second start since getting promoted from AA.
After being sidelined for a week by a blister on his throwing hand, Chapman was worth the price of admission.
Chapman lit up the radar gun right out of the gate with his first six pitches being measured at 99, 99, 101, 100, 98 and 103 MPH. I never saw 103 before, not even back in the day when using Nolan Ryan on Nintendo’s RBI Baseball.
Control, which has plagued him since his time in Cuba, once again surfaced but he still overwhelmed nearly every batter he faced. The final line was impressive as he yielded three hits and a walk while striking out seven over five innings. In total, 57 of his 90 pitches went for strikes as he struck out two batters in three innings.
His two wild pitches brought back flashes of Ebby Calvin LaLoosh from the movie Bull Durham, but it did bring fear to the opposing hitters.
I hope the Reds take their time with Chapman, but count me as a believer as the sky is the limit.
Also in action was former first-round pick Yonder Alonso. He raised his average to. 267 by going 1-for-3 and scored a run.
After getting some looks in the outfield, he started at first base. He was hit hard in the knee by a pitch in the bottom of the 8th innings, but managed to stay in the game.
--Louisville Slugger Field is super nice and an amazing place to catch a game. Tickets ranged from $7 to $11 and there is not a bad seat in the house.
--Concessions were slightly less than what I was used to at Great American Ballpark and there were plenty of options. I didn’t have the courage to try the Fried Bologna though.
--I really enjoyed the beer garden in dead center field, which was extra busy as Thursdays are $1 beer night. There are also some nice family areas with playgrounds and even a full sized Carousel that lit up the outfield.
--Former Reds’ great Eric Davis was in the house and in a Reds’ uniform in the dugout. He was very active in instructing the young players one-on-one throughout the game. He stayed behind afterwards and signed autographs for fans.
Minor Leagues, MLB