Monday, July 19, 2004

Claussen to make long-awaited debut Tuesday

By Kevin Kelly
Enquirer staff writer

The clamoring can stop. With nothing left for Brandon Claussen to prove at Triple-A Louisville, the Reds have decided to summon the prized starting pitching prospect.

Claussen is expected to join the team today and make his Reds debut against the Brewers on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park.

Brandon Claussen's statistics for the Triple-A Louisville Bats:
Record: 8-6
ERA: 4.66
Games: 18
Starts: 18
Innings: 100 1/3
Hits: 98
Walks: 47
Strikeouts: 111
Why he's coming up: He was 5-2 over his last seven starts for the Bats with a 2.68 ERA.
"I'm excited," Claussen told the Louisville Courier-Journal on Sunday. "It's been almost a year since I've been with the organization, and I'm glad they're giving me a shot."

The 25-year-old left hander, acquired from the Yankees in the Aaron Boone trade last summer, was 5-2 with a 2.68 ERA over his last seven starts at Louisville.

"In the words of the manager and pitching coach in Louisville, he's major-league ready," Reds general manager Dan O'Brien said.

Claussen will take the rotation spot held most recently by Jesus Sanchez.

The Reds designated Sanchez - 0-2 with a 7.53 ERA in three starts - for assignment and recalled outfielder Jason Romano from Louisville before Sunday's game.

A corresponding roster move to accommodate Claussen will be made before Tuesday's game.

In 18 starts covering 100 1/3 innings at Louisville this season, Claussen was 8-6 with a 4.66 ERA and led the Bats in strikeouts (111) and walks allowed (47).

Claussen's control has improved dramatically since mid-June, and particularly in his past three starts when he walked six and struck out 27 in 18 2/3 innings.

"He's certainly refined his game," O'Brien said. "So much of what Brandon is as a pitcher, he's got to have all three of his pitches working. He's got to have good command and control, and continually change speeds.

"He was doing all of those things with great success."

A 34th-round draft pick by the Yankees in 1998, Tuesday will be his second major-league start. Claussen made his major-league debut, and earned the win, against the Mets on June 28, 2003.

"I'm definitely glad I had a little taste of it, so it's not a real big shock," Claussen said. "I'm excited to go up there."

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