A nine-game winning streak in June and the fielding percentage in the league have helped keep the team afloat, but injuries, roster shakeups, and plain bad luck have all contributed to Louisville's slow first half in 2012, as the team has seen over a dozen players make a trip to the disabled or inactive list at some point this year. Close games have also been unkind to the Bats, as the team has lost 11 one-run games, and 13 in their opponent's last at-bat.
With the all-star break here, however, it's only fitting to first mention the Bats' representative at the Triple-A all-star game, catcher Dioner Navarro. The switch-hitting, 28-year old Major League veteran has been an excellent acquisition for the club, as he leads the team with a .335 average and a .403 on-base percentage. Despite missing two stints of time with injury, Navarro has been one of Louisville's most consistent hitters, particularly in the month of June, when he hit a sizzling .419.
OF Joey Gathright, who was signed from an independent league in late May when the injuries started to pile up, has also been a welcome shot in the arm to the Louisville offense. Gathright, who has played parts of six seasons in the majors, is hitting just a shade under .300 for Louisville, and has not committed an error in his 34 starts in center field.
A trio of youngsters in their first full seasons at triple-A have also provided the team with some offensive pop. 1B Neftali Soto, who hit 30 home runs last year as a 22-year-old in double-A, leads the team with nine big flies and 32 RBIs this season. OF Bill Rhinehart, who came to the organization last year when Jonny Gomes was traded, has played in a team-best 78 games, and ranks second on the club with eight home runs and 26 RBIs. Fellow outfielder Felix Perez has also been a stalwart in the Louisville lineup this season, hitting .279, and leading the team with 15 doubles.
Louisville's pitching staff has been equally up-and-down this season, but over the past six weeks, the club has gotten much improved play from its bullpen, led by recent call-up Donnie Joseph. A 24-year-old southpaw, Joseph has been lights out since his call up roughly a month ago, earning four saves while registering a 2.04 ERA. Stellar pitching out of the bullpen has also come from Kanekoa Texeira, JJ Hoover, Jordan Smith, and Nick Christiani, who are all under 27 years of age.
Starting pitching has been a revolving door of sorts for the Bats, as injuries and defections have also hit this portion of the roster. Chad Reineke, Sean Gallagher, and Pedro Villareal have stepped forward over the past few months to anchor the rotation with hit-and-miss results. Reineke, a right-hander who has spent the bulk of the past two seasons in Louisville, leads the team in innings pitched and strikeouts, while ranking one start behind Gallagher for the most starts.
With Louisville looking up at the rest of the league as they enter the second half of the season, it remains to be seen where they will end up in the standings. There's no doubt, however, that the team will continue to build on their positive performances and see more bright spots as the season enters its final chapters.