As the thermometer has warmed up through the month of June and into July, the Louisville Bats have heated up at a corresponding rate. Over the course of June, Louisville posted a sizzling 17-11 record, their winningest month since August 2010. With the team's recent improvement and success, the Bats have propelled themselves right back into the thick of the International League West division race, sitting just three games behind the Indianapolis Indians as they trudge towards next week's All-Star Break.
One of the primary reasons for the team gaining some ground in the standings has been the stellar play of a few recent call-ups who have provided sparks since being brought up from the Reds' Double-A club in Pensacola. Infielders Juan Silverio and Rey Navarro, along with pitcher Justin Freeman, who were all added to the Bats' roster in mid-June, have been much welcome reinforcements to fortify the club as it heads into the dog days of summer.
Called up to Louisville within a few days of each other, Navarro and Silverio have solidified the Bats' infield and provided an additional offensive punch over the past two weeks. Since joining the club on June 18, Navarro has recorded a hit in each of the 12 games he has registered an at-bat, the longest current hitting streak on the team. The switch-hitter, who has started six games each at second base and at shortstop, has hit at a .356 clip since being called up to Louisville.
It was Navarro's 4-RBI night, which included a two-run home run, that helped catapult Louisville to a 6-4 win over Charlotte on June 26. On his first three-hit night in a Bats uniform this past Tuesday night, the 24-year-old smacked the go-ahead, eighth-inning RBI to push Louisville to a much needed 5-4 victory over Indianapolis.
Joining Navarro in the Bats infield has been fellow Louisville newcomer Silverio, whose 5-for-5 Triple-A debut on June 17 led the Bats in a 10-5 thumping over the IL South leading Durham Bulls. While Silverio has cooled off a bit since his scorching first game, he still boasts a .327 batting average while starting seven games at third base and a pair at designated hitter.
Infield hasn't been the only area of the Bats' roster that has been solidified with the recent additions, as Freeman has already found his niche in the Bats bullpen, earning four saves since his arrival from Pensacola on June 16. With Jumbo Diaz getting his opportunity with the Reds, Louisville had a need for a closer, and the right-handed Freeman has been a more than suitable replacement, having not allowed a run until his ninth appearance last night.
Freeman, who has been injured much of the past two seasons, actually started the 2014 campaign with Louisville, but was quickly put on the disabled list, and started his comeback in May with Pensacola. After some serviceable relief work with the Blue Wahoos, Freeman was promoted to Louisville and is already one of manager Jim Riggleman's primary calls when looking to the bullpen in late inning situations.
With the promising play of these three youngsters, combined with the steady play that Louisville has seen all season from players such as Jason Bourgeois, Felix Perez and Ruben Gotay, the Bats seem to have put themselves in prime position to be in the mix of the playoff race as the season progresses into the summer heat.