PENSACOLA, Fla. - The Blue Wahoos will look much different when the second half of the Southern League season opens play on Thursday, June 19th. Most notably, Gulf Breeze product and Cincinnati's 2013 fourth round pick Ben Lively. The right-hander headlines a list of seven call-ups from Bakersfield that will join the Wahoos to start the second half as Pensacola looks to improve on its fifth place first half finish.
Lively, drafted last year out of the University of Central Florida, was named the starter of the California League All-Star game after leading the league in nearly every pitching category through the first half. He was the league leader in ERA (2.28), wins (10), strikeouts (95) and WHIP (0.92). He was among the leaders in opponent batting average (3rd, .201) and innings pitched (79). Lively began the season allowing just one run over his first five outings. Entering the season he was ranked as the Reds No. 12 prospect according to MLB.com.
The Blue Wahoos will also get the addition of 2012 first round pick and Reds No. 3 prospect Jesse Winker. He was hitting .317 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI over 53 games in the Bakersfield outfield. He ranked among the league leaders in batting average (8th), on-base percentage (3rd, .426), slugging percentage (3rd, .580) and home runs per at bat (2nd, 1/15.77). With the addition of Winker, the Blue Wahoos now have four of the organization's top five prospect on the roster. The others are Robert Stephenson (No. 1), Michael Lorenzen (No. 3) and Carlos Contreras (No. 5).
Joining Winker in the outfield will be Kyle Waldrop and Marquez Smith. Waldrop was Bakersfield's top hitter with a league-best .359 average. He was also among the league leaders in doubles with 20. Smith is returning to Pensacola where he played in 21 games a year ago. He was the team leader in home runs with 15, good for second in the league, and RBI with 67 while hitting .298 for the Blaze.
The bullpen will get the addition of RHP Carlos Gonzalez. He had a tremendous first half out of the Bakersfield bullpen with a 0.57 ERA. He ranked third among California League closers with 15 saves.
Other additions include infielders Ryan Wright and Seth Mejias-Brean. Wright, a fifth round pick in 2011, spent most of his time at second base and hit .311 with eight home runs and 41 RBI. Mejias-Brean, drafted in the eighth round in 2012, has spent most of the year at third base with a .300 average and 11 home runs and 45 RBI.
To make room for the additions, Justin Freeman, Rey Navarro, Steve Selsky and Juan Silverio have been transferred to Triple-A Louisville. Mikey O'Brien was transferred to Single-A Bakersfield. Left-handed reliever Lee Hyde was released by the organization.
The Blue Wahoos will open play on the second half of the season at home Thursday against the first half north division champion Huntsville Stars. It will be a Seville Quarter Thirsty Thursday with additional drink specials made available throughout the game as part of the Wahoo Waddle. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m., gates open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are still available for the entire series at BlueWahoos.com or by calling (850) 934-8444.
- Pensacola Blue Wahoos -
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos are the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Tickets for the 2014 season can be purchased by calling the box office at (850) 934-8444 or in person at the Hill Kelly Dodge Pickup Window. Follow the Blue Wahoos at bluewahoos.com, facebook.com/PensacolaBlueWahoos, and twitter.com/BlueWahoosBBall.