New Faces Looking to Give Bats Second Half Spark

By Jason Stella | July 15, 2012 8:29 PM ET

With the all-star break now in the rear view mirror and the season nearing the home stretch, the Louisville Bats have added an influx of new blood on to their roster, with four players donning a Bats' uniform for the first time in their careers over the past 10 days. While it remains to be seen what the long term results will be, the immediate returns have been nothing but positive for Louisville.

The wave of new talent started back on Independence Day when 22-year old infielder Henry Rodriguez was called up to triple-A for the first time. In his first start at shortstop, Rodriguez made an instant impact with a three-hit, three-RBI performance that included a home run to help the Bats down Indianapolis 7-5. Rodriguez, who hit .348 in 33 games with Pensacola, has continued his hot hitting since coming to Louisville, raking at a .351 clip in nine games while playing second base and shortstop.

On July 12th, another young middle infield prospect, Didi Gregorious, made his triple-A debut in impressive fashion on the first game after the all-star break. The 22-year-old, left-handed hitting Gregorious went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in his first game with the Bats. He has also started the last three games for Louisville, helping the team to victories in all three, including three hits in the club's record-setting 23-1 win on Friday night.

On the same day that Gregorious made his debut with the Bats, the Reds organization signed free agent outfielder Xavier Paul and assigned him to Louisville. Paul, who was having an excellent season for the triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, asked for his release from the Nationals organization late last week, and was quickly signed by Cincinnati to provide some offensive firepower and outfield depth.

After hitting .315 with eight homers and 44 runs batted in for Syracuse in 60 games, the 27-year-old Paul has continued to hit well since joining the Bats, getting seven hits and four RBIs in just four starts with Louisville, all in right field.

With Rodriguez and Gregorious recently coming to triple-A to man the middle of the Bats' infield, the team faced some decisions in regards to other infielders on the roster. Louisville's depth of infielders, combined with their need for starting pitching, led to the organization trading SS Paul Janish to the Braves for starting pitcher Todd Redmond.

The 27-year old Redmond, who has spent each of the past four seasons with the Braves' triple-A squad, is 6-6 this season with a 3.58 ERA in 18 starts. His presence should provide the Bats with a steady starter in a rotation that has seen lots of pitchers enter and exit due to injuries and roster transactions.

It will be interesting to see how the new faces gel with the current Louisville roster, but thus far it looks like the fresh, new talent has been nothing but a positive for a squad that is looking to be more competitive over the second half of the season.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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