Sunday, May 05, 2002

On the farm

Road to Double-A blocked

By John Fay,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Josh Hall is ready for Double-A. But he is stuck in Single-A.

        The reason is the sudden glut of rehabbing major-leaguers in the Reds system.

        “Our goal is to get him to Double-A as soon as possible,” said Tim Naehring, the Reds' director of player development. “But we've got a logjam there right now.”

        Lance Davis and John Riedling are on the Double-A Chattanooga staff.

        Hall, a 21-year-old right-hander, showed he was ready to move up in his last outing for Single-A Stockton. He threw a complete-game four-hitter, allowing one run. He struck out 15 and walked three.

        Overall at Stockton, Hall is 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA. He has struck out 44 and allowed only 28 hits and 11 walks in 37 innings.

        Hall was the seventh-round pick in the 1998 draft. He is starting to show he is a prospect.

        “He's not a guy who lights up the radar gun,” Naehring said. “But he knows how to pitch. He's got a nice breaking ball and a change. He throws all three pitches for strikes.”

        Hall missed the 1999 season after shoulder surgery. He still wasn't 100 percent in 2000. He went 0-5 with a 10.57 ERA for the Gulf Coast League Reds.

        Last year, he proved what he could do when healthy. He went 11-5 with a 2.65 ERA at Single-A Dayton.

        Stockton is not a bad place for Hall, Naehring said. But Chattanooga is better.

        “He's competing at a higher level than he did last year,” Naehring said. “He's continuing to progress.”

        DRAFT UPDATE: General manager Jim Bowden and assistant general manager Doc Rodgers were on the West Coast this week looking at potential picks for the Reds' No. 3 overall selection in the June draft.

        “We've got 12 to 14 guys out right now,” scouting director Kasey McKeon said.

        A local kid of sorts is getting the Reds' attention: Bryan Bullinger, a junior right-hander at Ball State. Baseball America had him rated the fifth-best college pitcher in the preseason.

        “His stock has increased,” McKeon said. “You'd expect that. He's a Northern kid, so he's getting further into his season.”

        Bullinger, who is from Madison, Ind., is on the verge of breaking the Mid-American Conference career strikeout record that has stood since 1976.

        Bullinger has moved up partly because Bobby Brownlie, who was rated No. 1, is having arm problems.

        “His stuff is not the same,” McKeon said. “It's a concern.”

        Ideally, the Reds would like to take a college pitcher. Rodgers watched Stanford's Jeremy Guthrie pitch this week. But McKeon wouldn't rule out a high school pitcher or a position player.

        “Ask me on the first,” he said. That would be June 1, the eve of the draft.

        SECOND STAFF: The Reds have seven pitchers in the minor leagues — Davis, Riedling, Jose Acevedo, Justin Atchley, Jared Fernandez, Scott MacRae and Brian Reith — who pitched for the Reds in the majors last season. Add Brian Bohanon and Craig Dingman, both of whom pitched for Colorado last year, and you have the makings of a staff.


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