BATS AND PIGS SQUARE OFF: The Louisville Bats and Lehigh Valley IronPigs start a four-game series at Coca-Cola Park in what will be the Bats' first non-divisional series of 2018. Last season, the Bats went 0-4 in Allentown in a series in late May. Louisville would take two of three from the IronPigs at Louisville Slugger Field a few days later in early June. Louisville playing at Lehigh Valley on April 12 is the earliest in the year the Bats have played an out-of-division opponent since 2008, when they opened the season at Syracuse and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre from April 3-10.
HOLY OFFENSE, BATMAN: The Bats have scored at least 7 runs in back-to-back games for the first time in over a calendar year, when they put up at least 7 runs in 3 straight games from April 7-9, 2017, scoring 7, 8 and 10 runs in those games, respectively. The Bats are currently riding a two-game win streak in which they beat Columbus by 7-1 and 8-2 after scoring just 10 runs in the first 4 games of the season combined.
KEY CONTRIBUTORS: Louisville's offense has been red-hot as the team gets ready to hit the road. Several players have gotten off to great starts in 2018:
• Sebastian Elizalde is batting .350 (7-for-20) with 4 runs, 2 doubles, 1 home run and 6 RBI on the young season. The 2017 Mary E. Barney Louisville Bats MVP winner has registered multi-hit games in his last two games.
• Rosell Herrera is also batting .350 (7-for-20), with 3 runs, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 5 RBI and 2 walks. The outfielder has proven to be a great pick-up for Cincinnati so far, reaching base in 4 of his first 5 games in the Reds' organization.
• Tyler Goeddel has also been excellent, batting .316 (6-for-19) with a run scored in 4 straight games. He's the first Bat to score in 4 straight since Brandon Dixon did it July 16-19, 2017.
STRAIGHT DEALING: Louisville's pitching staff has been excellent so far in 2018, tied for 2nd in the International League with a 2.67 ERA. On the heels of Robert Stephenson 's brilliant start (W, 7.0 IP, 3H, 1ER, 3BB, 10K), the Bats' starting rotation owns a 3.62 ERA in 32.1 innings, while the bullpen has a 1.25 ERA in 21.2 innings of work.
WE ARE .500: The Bats (3-3) are .500 six games into the season. Last season, the latest into the year that Louisville was .500 or better came after 10 games when they were 5-5. Louisville has not finished a season .500 or better since they finished 73-71 in 2011. The Bats last finished above .500 in the month of April in 2016, when they went 12-9.
TOP PROSPECT: Through his first 6 games at the Triple-A level, Nick Senzel is batting .160 (4-for-25) with 3 runs scored, a double and stolen base, with six strikeouts and two walks. In Tuesday night's game against Columbus, Senzel walked for the first time in 2018, having previously gone 49 plate appearances (including 29 in Reds Spring Training) without drawing a base on balls. The infielder was rated as the #7 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball-America after being rated as the #9 prospect prior to the 2017 season. The former number two overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft is the first Top 10 B-A prospect to appear in a Louisville uniform before making his MLB debut since LHP Aroldis Chapman in 2011, and the first position player since OF Jay Bruce in 2008.
MLB EXPERIENCE: On the 25-man roster as of April 12, Louisville currently has 11 players who played in the Majors at any point last season (Astin, Stephens, Stephenson, Turner, Kivlehan for Cincinnati; Crockett for Cleveland; Floro for Chicago (NL); Nicolino for Miami; M. Williams for New York (AL); Selsky for Boston; Sanchez for Atlanta). Finnegan also pitched for Cincinnati last season, bringing the total to 12. Other players on the roster with MLB experience include Ben Rowen (last appeared with MIL in 2016), Tony Cruz (KC, 2016), Hernan Iribarren (CIN, 2016) and Tyler Goeddel (PHI, 2016), bringing the total players with MLB experience on Louisville's roster to 15 out of 25, and 16 out of 26 with Finnegan included.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.