Sunday, August 17, 2003

Flurry of call-ups has Louisville scrambling

Down on the farm

By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Reds' decisions to bring several new faces into the clubhouse in recent weeks have had a direct effect on the farm system.

"One move to the major leagues may, in fact, cause four or five moves at our minor-league level," said Tim Naehring, Reds director of player development.

As one would expect, the affiliate affected most is Triple-A Louisville.

The Bats had used 65 different players and has gone through what is believed to be a club-record 153 transactions this season through Thursday.

Including pitcher Seth Etherton, recalled to start Saturday's game against the Astros, the Reds have promoted 10 Louisville players since July 29.

Perhaps as a result of the activity, the Bats' lead in the International League's West Division has gone from 11 1/2 games at the All-Star break to 5 1/2 entering Saturday.

"With all that activity comes a question of competitiveness," Naehring said. "My biggest challenge is trying to stay a step ahead of the game."

NEW FACES: The Reds signed and traded for a handful of players to help keep the farm system stocked.

"You only have a certain number of players that are basically drafted and signed into the system at the lower ends," Naehring said. "The most important thing, obviously, is the development of those players. So you don't want to take a person out of a situation where he's already challenged."

In the past two weeks, the Reds signed experienced players such as outfielder Michael Coleman, infielder Calvin Pickering and infielder Kevin Baez to minor-league contracts. They also traded a player to be named to the Rockies for pitcher Chris Michalak July 30.

All were assigned to Louisville.

BY THE NUMBERS: The trades that sent infielder Aaron Boone, outfielder Jose Guillen and relief pitchers Scott Williamson, Kent Mercker and Gabe White packing netted the Reds seven pitchers.

Two more will be named later.

Six of those seven are now pitching for Reds minor-league affiliates.

Brandon Claussen (Yankees), Matt Belisle (Braves) and Joe Valentine (A's) are at Louisville. Jeff Bruksch (A's), Charlie Manning (Yankees) and Phil Dumatrait (Red Sox) are at Single-A Potomac.

Entering Saturday, they were a combined 7-1 with a 3.29 ERA. They had 62 strikeouts and 32 walks in 76 2/3 innings over 15 games.

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