LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With the Louisville Bats only 10 games into their 2014 campaign, it's far too early to draw many conclusions from their 5-5 start. One thing that is for certain, however, as the schedule moves through its second week, is the scorching start of journeyman infielder Rubén Gotay, who has been one of the team's best offensive weapons in this season's earliest chapter.
Signed in December by the Reds as a minor league free agent with a Spring Training invite, the 31-year old Gotay landed with the Bats for the start of the season, joining a crew of several other veterans assigned with the task of holding down the team's infield.
While starting nine of the team's first ten games, Gotay has been stellar at the plate, leading the team and ranking among the International League leaders in several offensive categories. Thanks to six multi-hit games and a team-high 14 hits, Gotay is second in the league with an astronomical .816 slugging percentage and also ranks first with nine extra base hits. Gotay's 10 RBI and four home runs are also among the league leaders, with his home run total leading the Bats and his RBI tally matching Chris Nelson for the team lead. Thanks to Gotay's four big flies, Louisville is second in the IL in the early stages of the year with 10 home runs.
On the team's 'Thunder Over Louisville' matchup against Columbus on Saturday, Gotay helped spur the Bats to their best offensive output this season when he drove in two runs on a pair of doubles in a 12-4 Louisville shellacking of the Clippers. Last week in Columbus, Gotay did the same to Clippers pitching in their own park, smashing a pair of late inning home runs that helped ignite a furious Bats'comeback rally. An 0-for-3 in Monday night's shortened game at Louisville Slugger Field snapped Gotay's eight-game hitting streak to start the season, but his average still sits at a robust .368.
Thus far with the Bats in 2014, Gotay has split time between second and third base while in the field. That sort of versatility has been a calling card for Gotay throughout his time as a pro, as he has played all four infield positions since starting his career over a decade ago.
Calling Gotay well-traveled throughout his professional baseball career would be an understatement, as the Reds are his ninth organization since being drafted by the Royals in 2000. The switch-hitting Gotay spent portions of four seasons with big league clubs from 2004 through 2008, having his best year in 2007 with the Mets when he hit .295 in 98 games. This past season, Gotay was in the Cardinals organization, earning All-Star honors for his play with their Double-A club in Springfield.
If Gotay can continue to build on his torrid start to 2014, he will likely find a niche with Louisville as a utility infielder near the top of their order. While it would probably take a rash of injuries and some roster juggling to get Gotay back to the Big Leagues, it has to be encouraging for him to enjoy such a solid beginning to the campaign on a team that values his stability in their infield.