2023 REVIEW: The Louisville Bats finished the 2023 season with a 75-73 (.507) record, 9.0 games behind the International League West Division winner St. Paul Saints and 14.5 games behind the International League and Triple-A champion Norfolk Tides. The 2023 season marked the first winning season for the club since 2011, snapping the franchise record losing streak of 10 straight losing seasons (2012-2022, did not play in 2020). It also marked the most wins in a season for the Bats since 2010 (79-64). Sitting as low as nine games under .500 on April 14 (2-11), Louisville was as high as 12 games over .500 on August 6 (59-47). Louisville reached the .500 mark on May 19 (21-21), the first time the club had done so since July 29, 2016 and finally hurdled the line on May 25 (24-23), marking the first time the team was over .500 since July 27, 2016, a span of 2,493 days and 782 games. The Bats finished the home portion of the schedule 40-35, the most wins at home in a season and the first home winning record since 2011 (40-32). On the road, the club finished 35-38, a five-win increase over last year and the most road wins since 2016 (38-34). Overall, Louisville’s 75 wins marked a 15-game improvement over last year’s 60-90 finish.
ATTENDANCE HIGHLIGHTS: The Louisville Bats welcomed 396,840 fans through the Louisville Slugger Field gates in 2023 with an average of 5,512 fans in attendance per night. Thunder at Slugger proved to be the highest attended game yet again, bringing in 10,941 fans on April 22. This season’s attendance total was lower than 2022’s 424,035 but still a vast improvement from 2021.
HOW MANY BATS WERE THERE: After setting a franchise record with 94 different players in 2022, the 2023 Louisville Bats didn’t disappoint as 84 players suited up in a Louisville uniform this season. In total, the Bats made 288 transactions this season [April - 38, May - 32, June - 61, July - 42, August - 59, September - 51] after making 293 roster moves last season.
BATS TO REDS: Of the 84 players to don a Louisville Bats jersey this season, 53 of them made the journey up I-71 to also make an appearance for the Cincinnati Reds, with 21 being hitters and 32 being pitchers. The 53 players top last year's mark of 52 while continuing to smash the 35 that appeared for both teams in 2021. Additionally, of the 53 players to spend time with both clubs in 2023, 16 made their Major League Debut in Andrew Abbott (6/5), Elly De La Cruz (6/6), Christian Encarnacion-Strand (7/17), TJ Hopkins (6/5), Ricky Karcher (6/12), Casey Legumina (4/15), Noelvi Marte (8/19), Matt McLain (5/15), Connor Phillips (9/5), Lyon Richardson (8/6), Eduardo Salazar (5/24), Carson Spiers (9/3), Levi Stoudt (4/19), Brandon Williamson (5/16), Jake Wong (6/26) and Randy Wynne (6/25).
YOU’RE UP ROOK: This season, the Louisville Bats saw some of its best talent in quite some time. Over the course of the year, 15 Bats players made their Major League debut, nearly doubling the eight debuts in both 2022 and 2021.
Andrew Abbott Debut: June 5 (W, 6.0ip, 1h, 0r, 4bb, 6k) CIN Totals: 8-6, 3.87 ERA, 21g (21gs), 109.1ip, 100h, 47r (47er), 44bb, 120k, 16hr, 1hb, 1wp, 1bk
Elly De La Cruz Debut: June 6 (1-for-3, 1-2b, 1r, 2bb, 1k) CIN Totals: .235 (91-for-388), 98g, 15-2b, 7-3b, 13hr, 44rbi, 67r, 35bb, 144k, 2hbp, 35sb
Christian Encarnacion-Strand Debut: July 17 (0-for-3) CIN Totals: .270 (60-for-222), 63g, 7-2b, 13hr, 37rbi, 29r, 14bb, 69k, 5hbp, 2sb
TJ Hopkins Debut: June 5 (0-for-0, 1rbi, 1bb) CIN Totals: .171 (7-for-41), 25g, 1rbi, 7er, 2bb, 17k, 1hbp, 1sb
Ricky Karcher Debut: June 12 (SV, 1.0ip, 0h, 0r, 1bb) CIN Totals: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1g, 1sv, 1.0ip, 0h, 0r, 1bb
Casey Legumina Debut: April 15 (2.0ip, 1h, 0r, 1bb, 3k) CIN Totals: 1-0, 5.68 ERA, 11g, 12.2ip, 16h, 11r (8er), 3hr, 9bb, 11k, 1wp
Noelvi Marte Debut: August 19 (0-for-0, 1sb) CIN Totals: .316 (36-for-114), 35g, 7-2b, 3hr, 15rbi, 15r, 8bb, 25k, 1hbp, 6sb
Matt McLain Debut: May 15 (1-for-4, 1-2b, 1r, 1bb, 1k) CIN Totals: .290 (106-for-365), 89g, 23-2b, 4-3b, 16hr, 50rbi, 65r, 31bb, 115k, 7hbp, 14sb
Connor Phillips Debut: September 5 (4.2ip, 6h, 5r, 2bb, 7k) CIN Totals: 1-1, 6.97 ERA, 5g (5gs), 20.2ip, 18h, 16er, 5hr, 1hb, 13bb, 26k, 2wp
Lyon Richardson Debut: August 6 (L, 3.0ip, 4h, 4r, 3bb, 2k) CIN Totals: 0-2, 8.64 ERA, 4g (4gs), 16.2ip, 17h, 16er, 6hr, 15bb, 12k
Eduardo Salazar Debut: May 24 (1.0ip, 2h, 1r, 1bb, 1k) CIN Totals: 1-0, 8.03 ERA, 8g, 12.1ip, 16h, 11er, 4hb, 5bb, 5k, 1wp
Levi Stoudt Debut: April 19 (L, 4.0ip, 9h, 7r, 1bb, 3k) CIN Totals: 0-1, 9.58 ERA, 4g (2gs), 10.1ip, 16h, 11er, 1hr, 8bb, 9k, 1bk
Brandon Williamson Debut: May 16 (5.2ip, 2h, 1r, 2bb, 6k) CIN Totals: 5-5, 4.46 ERA, 23g (23gs), 117.0ip, 111h, 63r (58er), 18hr, 2hb, 39bb, 98k, 4wp, 2bk
Jake Wong Debut: June 26 (3.0ip, 6h, 3r, 3bb) CIN Totals: 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 1g, 3.0ip, 6h, 3er, 3bb
Randy Wynne Debut: June 25 (L, 2.1ip, 3h, 1r, 1bb) CIN Totals: 0-1, 3.86 ERA, 1g, 2.1ip, 3h, 1er, 1bb, 1wp
The Bats also had one player spend time with the club after making their debut, jumping from Double-A Chattanooga to Cincinnati in Carson Spiers who debuted on September 3 (4.0ip, 5h, 3r, 2bb, 7k). Spiers made four total appearances for the Reds, two starts, and went 0-1 with a save, recording a 6.92 ERA in 13.0 innings of work, giving up 18 hits, 12 runs (10 earned), one home run, seven walks and 12 strikeouts.
REHABBERS PARADISE: This season, the Louisville Bats had 22 different players on Major League Rehab Assignment as nine hitters: C Curt Casali, OF Stuart Fairchild, OF Jake Fraley, IF Jonathan India, IF Matt McLain, IF Kevin Newman, OF Henry Ramos, IF/OF Nick Senzel and IF Joey Votto, and 13 pitchers: RHP Tejay Antone, RHP Fernando Cruz, RHP Justin Dunn, RHP Hunter Greene, RHP Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP Derek Law, RHP Casey Legumina, RHP Ben Lively, LHP Nick Lodolo, RHP Tony Santillan, RHP Lucas Sims, RHP Luke Weaver and LHP Alex Young made rehab appearances throughout the course of the year. In addition, seven players who had rehab stints also spent time with the Bats on the active roster in Stuart Fairchild, Casey Legumina, Ben Lively, Matt McLain, Henry Ramos, Tony Santillan and Nick Senzel.
PK MILESTONES: Manager Pat Kelly put together his most successful season with the Bats in his third full season in the Louisville dugout, leading the club to its first winning season (75-73) since 2011 and most wins since 2010 (79-64). Additionally, Kelly notched some notable career highlights this season, including winning his 1,900th career game on May 18 with a 13-1 win over Jacksonville and moved into fourth all-time in Bats history in career wins (253). Kelly only sits behind Rick Sweet (539 win, 2005-11), Dave Miley (296, 2000-03) and Jim Fregosi (263, 1983-85). Kelly now has 1,955 career wins as a manager, 45 away from 2,000.
RECORDS WE’RE PROUD OF: In 2023, the Louisville Bats set fire to the franchise record book, setting new season-highs in: Hits – 1,406 / Runs – 902 / HR – 210 / XBH – 544 / BB (hitters) – 732 / At-Bats – 5,047 / HBP – 84 / Fielding errors (fewest) – 76 / Fielding percentage – .985 / OBP .376 / slugging .477 / IBB – 4
RECORDS WE’RE NOT PROUD OF: In addition to all the of the great records the Bats broke this year, there were several records the club would like to forget in: Ks (hitters) – 1,345 / ERA – 6.16 / Runs (allowed) – 943 / Earned Runs (allowed) – 879 / HR (given up) – 221 / Hit Batters – 89 / BB (pitchers) – 793
*Third-highest batting average (.279), highest since 1987 (.289)
*Fourth-most doubles (299), most since 2010 (314)
*Fourth-most stolen bases (148), most since 1999 (168)
*The Bats led the International League in runs this season with 902, becoming the first IL team to reach the 900-run mark since at least 2005.
WAITING IT OUT: There’s nothing like a two hour and forty-two-minute delay to start off a series. That’s how the Louisville Bats kicked off the series on July 18 against Charlotte, the fifth-longest delay in Bats franchise history. It was the longest delay since 2019 at Charlotte (three hours and fifty-three minutes, second-longest). The Bats also had a lengthy delay on the road, waiting 2:19 minutes to resume play on April 29 in Iowa.
A GAME FOR THE AGES: On May 4 in Omaha, infielders Matt McLain and Christian Encarnacion-Strand turned in record book worthy performances. McLain became the eighth player in Louisville franchise history to hit for the cycle, completing the feat in his first four plate appearances. Starting the night with an RBI triple, McLain followed with a double, home run and finally single to etch his name in the history books. Encarnacion-Strand did his part that night as well, going 3-for-5 with three home runs. CES became the eighth player in franchise history to record three home runs in a single game with his two-run shots in the first and third innings and solo shot in his final at-bat in the top of the ninth. McLain’s cycle was the first for a Bats player since Chris Okey did so on June 4, 2022 while Encarnacion-Strand’s three home run game was the first since Brian O’Grady hit three on May 19, 2019. The duo’s combo feat was the first cycle and multi-home run effort in the same game since 2007 when Chris Dickerson hit for the cycle and Joey Votto hit two homers on July 26, 2007.
MVP AND THE M IS FOR MATT: During an on-field ceremony in one of the final home games of the season, the Bats announced infielder Matt Reynolds was named the winner of the team’s Mary E. Barney MVP Award for the 2023 season. Reynolds, 32, hit .266 (118-for-444) with 38 doubles, three triples and 22 home runs, totaling 63 extra-base hits, 90 RBI, 76 runs scored and eight stolen bases. He led the team in home runs, RBI, doubles, extra-base hits, total bases (228), runs scored and SLG (.514) while ranking second in hits, OPS (.865), triples (tied for second), tied for third in walks (60) and fourth in average and OBP (.351) all while playing in 115 games, second most on the team. Reynolds also ranked among Triple-A leaders in extra-base hits (T3rd) and doubles (5th). The Tulsa, Oklahoma native was a stalwart in the Bats lineup all season. Reynolds’ 38 doubles rank fourth all-time for most doubles in a single season while his 63 extra-base hits are tied for second most in a single season and the most since Louisville Slugger Field opened in 2000. He turned in a 25-game on-base streak from June 24 to July 27, the second longest streak for Louisville this season.
FROM START TO FINISH: Just three players started and remained on the Bats active roster for the entirety of the 2023 season: right-handed pitcher Ryan Nutof and catchers Chuckie Robinson and Jhonny Pereda. Nutof led the Bats with 59 appearances on the year while Robinson caught 100 games (playing in 101) and Perada split time between three positions across 67 games (34 as C, 17 as 1B, 16 as DH). In 2022, Louisville had a single player on the active roster for the whole season in Lorenzo Cedrola, who played in 124 of 150 games.
AWARDS SEASON: Announced on October 4, the Louisville Bats had its first player recognized as a postseason All-Star since 2019 (Aristides Aquino) in Christian Encarnacion-Strand who was named the International League’s All-Star designated hitter. In CES’ 67 games in the IL (4/23-7/15), he led the league in home runs (T1st, 20), hits (92), RBI (62), runs (65) and total bases (177). He also ranked among league leaders in extra-base hits (2nd, 43), doubles (T3rd, 21), slugging (5th, .637), OPS (6th, 1.042) and hits (7th).
Prior to his All-Star honor, Encarnacion-Strand was one of three Louisville players in 2023 to earn weekly honors, joining Matt McLain and Connor Phillips as International League Player of the Week honorees. McLain became the first Bats player of 2023 and first since July 25 - 31, 2022 (Robert Dugger, IL Pitcher of the Week), to earn a weekly award as International League Player of the Week for his efforts May 1 - 7. Over the week, McLain hit .440 (11-for-25) with four doubles, a triple, two home runs, 11 RBI, five runs and a stolen base, highlighting the week with a cycle on May 4.
Encarnacion-Strand became the second Bats player to win a weekly award when he was named IL Player of the Week following his performance from June 5 - 11. On the week, CES hit .526 (10-for-19) with two doubles, three home runs, eight RBI and nine runs.
Phillips was the third and final weekly honoree for Louisville this season with his IL Pitcher of the Week nod for July 17 - 23. Phillips made one start that week, tossing 7.0 shutout innings on 7/21 versus Columbus, giving up just three hits while striking out 11 and walking only two. The effort was good for Phillips’ first career Triple-A win while also marking a new career-high for strikeouts in a game.
GRAND SLAMS: In a year full of power and runs, there is no greater display of both than a grand slam. The Louisville Bats hit five grand slams on the year, coming off the bats of just three different players. Michael Siani hit the first of the year on April 18 versus Charlotte. Christian Encarnacion-Strand became the second Bats player to hit one on May 31 versus Worcester before Jason Vosler claimed the rest. Vosler launched three grand slams this season, tied for the most by a single Bats player in a season with Brandon Larson who hit three in 2002. Vosler hit each of the last three Bats’ grand slams of the year, coming on June 23 (Game 1) in Charlotte, August 16 in Iowa and September 6 versus St. Paul. Louisville’s five grand slams in 2023 are tied for the second most in a single season (2008, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1992), sitting behind the franchise record of seven in a season (2012, 2007, 2000, 1984).
INSIDE THE PARK HR: Another feat achieved by the Bats this season was the elusive inside-the-park home run. Matt McLain checked this off the list on April 13 in Toledo, marking the first inside-the-park home run by a Bats player in nearly two years with the last coming from Mike Freeman on August 28, 2021 in Indianapolis. McLain is just the sixth Bats player to hit an inside-the-parker on the road in franchise history and is the 12th Bats player in the Louisville Slugger Field era (since 2000) to accomplish the feat.
Louisville also gave up an inside the park home run this season. Gilberto Celestino was the culprit, doing so at Louisville Slugger Field on September 7 versus St. Paul. Celestino’s inside-the-parker was just the third one allowed in the LSF era, and only the second surrendered at Louisville Slugger Field. It was the first inside-the-park home run allowed since Craig Stanberry (Indianapolis) did so on August 7, 2006.
All-Time Inside-the-Park HR by Louisville at LSF:
4/17/04 – Reggie Taylor vs. Norfolk 2. 7/30/10 – Wilkin Castillo vs. Charlotte 3. 8/21/16 – Juan Perez vs. Indianapolis
4/20/17 – Juan Perez vs. Scranton/WB 5. 4/30/18 – Nick Senzel vs. Columbus 6. 8/10/21 – Jose Barrero vs. Nashville
LSF Era Inside-the-Park HR by Louisville on the Road:
8/21/09 – Chris Heisey at Indianapolis 2. 8/10/11 – Kristopher Negron at Toledo 3. 6/3/13 – Billy Hamilton at Toledo
7/31/18 – D.J. Peterson at Toledo 5. 8/28/21 – Mike Freeman at Indianapolis 6. 4/13/23 – Matt McLain at Toledo
LSF Era Inside-the-Park HR allowed by Louisville:
- 6/22/01 – Karim Garcia at Buffalo 2. 8/7/06 – Craig Stanberry vs. Indianapolis 3. 9/7/23 – Gilberto Celestino vs. St. Paul
10-RUN GAMES: Only being shutout in four games, Louisville had 23 games in which the club scored 10-or-more runs - going 19-4 in such games. The Bats 23 10+ run games were tied for the fifth most in the International League this season and the most by the club since at least 2005, breaking the previous high of 16 (2008).
PITCHING PERFORMANCES: Through all the impressive offensive feats by the Louisville Bats this season, the club had its fair show of noteworthy pitching performances as well. Michael Mariot led the charge with impressive outings and made quite the impression when he joined the club on June 10. Mariot earned the win in his season debut in Columbus, tossing 5.0 innings, allowing two runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. He followed the outing with his home debut on June 17 versus St. Paul with arguably the best start of the year by any Louisville pitcher, tossing 8.0 innings of one run baseball, scattering five hits while striking out five and issuing a single walk to take home his second win in as many starts. His 8.0 inning outing was the single game high for the year for a Bats pitcher and marked the first 8.0+ inning start by a Bats pitcher since August 2, 2018 when Cody Reed threw 8.2 innings against Columbus (W, 4h, 1r, 1bb, 10k). Mariot continued to dominate early, winning his third start in a row on June 23 (6.0ip, 3h, 0r, 0bb, 2k) capping the stretch off with four wins in five outings on July 14 (3.0ip, 2h, 1r, 2bb, 3k).
Outside of Mariot’s 8.0 inning start, three Bats pitchers threw 7.0 innings in an outing in Andrew Abbott (May 30), Brett Kenndy (June 22) and Connor Phillips (July 21). Out of all 148 starts by Bats pitching this season, 13 were starts of 6.0+ innings with all 13 resulting in a quality start.
When it comes to strikeouts, the Bats pitching staff, as a whole, was average this season. Christian Roa, a late addition to the rotation, was a highlight, leading the team with 83 strikeouts on the year in just 13 appearances (11 starts). Roa’s best performance came on September 15 in Durham when he recorded a professional career-high 12 strikeouts in 5.0 innings of work. His 12 Ks also marked a Bats single game high and was the most strikeouts by a Bats pitcher since TJ Zeuch struck out 12 on August 2, 2022 in Indianapolis. His 12 strikeout game was sandwiched between other high-volume games as Roa became just the third Bats pitcher since 2005 to tally 8+ strikeouts in three consecutive starts (9/9-9/21), joining Andrew Abbott (2023) and Mike Gosling (2006). Connor Phillips was the only other Bats pitcher to record double-digit strikeouts in a game, tallying a professional career-high 11 in his start on July 21.
The Bats pitching staff got the strikeouts flowing late in the season, combining for four 15+ strikeouts games in the final third of the season (7/28, 8/17, 9/9, 9/15). Louisville’s season high was 16 until September when Roa ignited the charge in back-to-back starts. On September 9 versus St. Paul, Roa started the game with nine strikeouts as the bullpen added eight more for an impressive 17 strikeout game. One week later on September 15 in Durham, Roa struck out 12 in 5.0 innings before the bullpen continued to sit batters down, totaling 21 strikeouts on the night. The effort was the team-high for the year as well as the most strikeouts for Louisville in a game since 2019 (April 20, 22k at Indianapolis). Since 2001, the Bats have turned in just four games with 20+ strikeouts: 9/15/23 at Durham, 4/20/19 at Indianapolis, 5/19/17 vs Columbus (23) and 4/5/14 at Toledo (20).
BREAK OUT THE TAPE MEASURE: When you hit a franchise record 210 home runs in a season, you’re bound to see some spectacular things. On August 10 in St. Paul, Henry Ramos hit a baseball farther than almost everyone in Triple-A, blasting a 495 ft. bomb. The home run was the longest by any Bats player this season, the second longest in all of Triple-A this year and the second longest home run in Triple-A since MLB began tracking Triple-A distances in 2021 (behind Jo Adell, 514 ft., 6/20/23).
After Ramos’ tape measure blast, Christian Encarnacion-Strand tagged the next longest home run of the season, and the longest by a Bats player at Louisville Slugger Field, with a 471 ft. homer on May 11 versus Columbus. Encarnacion-Strand’s long ball earned him a place on the longest home runs hit at LSF list, ranking him T8th with Devin Mesoraco.
On the year, Louisville hitters combined for nine home runs registering 450+ ft. Of the club’s 210 total home runs, 92 were measured at 400+ ft. by the MLB’s tracking system, nearly 44% of the team’s homers.
WHAT’S AN ERROR?: Louisville set a new franchise record for fewest errors in a season (76) and highest fielding percentage (.985) this season, with the previous low for errors being 90 set in 2019. In September, the club went a season-long 10 consecutive games without committing an error, tied for the longest streak since 2013 and only the second time since at least 2005 Louisville has done so. Louisville had 90 error-free games this year, 61 percent of their games.
MONTHLY WINNING: This season, the Bats put together three consecutive full months without a losing record for the first time since 2009 (June-Aug.) after going 19-7 in May, 13-11 in June and 12-12 in July. It’s only the seventh time in franchise history, and fourth since 1990, in which the club has gone .500-or-better in three consecutive months, excluding Sept. (2003, 1990, 1984, 1983 and 1982).
TAKE US BACK TO MAY: May 2023 will go down as one of the more impressive stretches of play by the Bats since 2000. Thanks to electrifying prospects, close wins, an explosive offense and improved pitching, the Bats went 19-7 in May, the most wins by the club in a month since July 2010 (22-6). It’s the seventh time since 2000 Louisville has won 19-or-more games (August ‘08, 23-7; July ‘10, 22-6; June ‘06, 22-7; May ‘01, 21-9; June ‘00, 20-10; May 2023, 19-7; August ‘09, 19-10). The Bats’ seven losses are also a franchise record for fewest losses in May. Louisville had the best record in all of Triple-A that month, the third-most wins by a team in a month this year (Oklahoma City, 20 in April and Round Rock, 20 in August). The clubs’ 53 home runs are the most by the team in a month since at least 2005 (MLBAM era) and only the second time Louisville has eclipsed 50 home runs in a month (July 2019, 50).
BRING OUT THE BROOMS: The Bats opened the month of August doing something they have never done before. Hosting Omaha from August 1 through 6, Louisville won all six games, sweeping the Storm Chasers. The six-game sweep was the first of its kind for Louisville since Triple-A switched to the six-game schedule structure in 2021. Louisville came close to a six-game sweep twice earlier in the season, winning the first five games in Columbus before game six was canceled due to rain. The Bats also won the first five games in Syracuse before falling in the Sunday contest.
OFFENSIVE HIGHS: The Bats scored a season-high 19 runs at Charlotte on June 25, as well as tying a season-high in hits (21). Louisville soared past Charlotte 19-7 - tied for the largest margin of victory in 2023. Louisville’s 19 runs were the most in a game by the club since July 13, 2012 (22 versus Gwinnett). The two 21-hit games this season mark the most hits by the Bats in a game since June 25, 2015 (24 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) and only the fifth time since 2015 the club has reached 20 hits in a game. Additionally, the output was tied for the fifth-most hits in a game by the Bats since at least 2005. The 2023 team is only the second Louisville team to record multiple 20-hit games in a single season (21 at Iowa, April 27), joining the 2010 team (24 at Buffalo, May 3, 2010; 22 hits versus Charlotte, July 27, 2010).
SIX STRAIGHT SERIES WINS: The Bats secured six straight series wins from May 2 through June 10, the longest series winning streak since 2010, when the club won seven consecutive series from July 15 to Aug. 12. The 2023 team went 25-9 in the series-winning streak, the best record in Triple A over the stretch. Louisville won five games over Syracuse and four games over Omaha, Columbus (first series), Jacksonville and Worcester during the stretch.
ALL ABOARD: Louisville rarely had a weak spot offensively one through nine in the lineup, as evident by the club leading the league in average, hits and runs, as well as ranking top five in several other offensive categories. For more information to provide context to the balance of the Bats 2023 offense, the club had all nine players hit safely nine separate times this season - going 6-3 in those games. The Bats had all nine players hit safely five times between June 25 to July 16.
10 WITH 10+: The Bats had several players with home run power this season, with 10 players notching 10-or-more home runs. The 2023 year was the only time since at least 2005 Louisville has had 10 players record 10+ homers, with the next closest being seven in 2019. Louisville was one of four International League teams to do so, along with Syracuse (11), Lehigh Valley (10), St. Paul (10) and Worcester (10).
20-HR CLUB: Continuing the home run team notes, let’s take a look at the Bats 20-homer club. Matt Reynolds (22), Christian Encarnacion-Strand (20) and Jason Vosler (20) all hit 20+ home runs this season - only the second time in franchise history three Bats hit 20+ homers in a season, joining the 1998 team when Scott Krause (26), Kevin Barker (23) and Brian Banks (21) each did so. Additionally, it’s only the sixth time in franchise history for the club to have multiple players with 20+ HR with the last time coming in 2019 (Aristides Aquino and Brian O’Grady, 28 each). Louisville was one of five teams in the IL to have three-or-more players record 20+ home runs (Durham, four; Iowa, four; Jacksonville, three; Scranton Wilkes-Barre, three).
SNAGGING BAGS: The Bats closed the season very active on the bases, stealing 14 bases over the final 10 games and capped the year with 148 - the most since 1999 (168). Additionally, the club’s 148 steals are the fourth-most stolen bases in franchise history. Michael Siani led the club with 22 stolen bases with Jose Barrero (20) and Alejo Lopez (18) rounding out the top three. Louisville’s stolen bases have been by committee this season with 17 total players recording at least one and seven having 10-or-more. The 2023 Bats team is only the second Louisville team (2006) since at least 2005 in which three players recorded 15-or-more stolen bases.
ON BASE IN DIFFERENT WAYS: You can see something new every time you go to the ballpark, and against Iowa on Sept. 20, you would have seen just that. Jose Barrero recorded a perfect night at the plate for the Bats, going 4-for-4 with two doubles while Jacob Hurtubise on the other hand reached base all four times by way of walking. It’s the first time the Bats have had one player record four-plus hits and one player record four-plus walks in a single game since July 6, 2009 when Darnell McDonald had four hits and Drew Stubbs had five walks. Additionally, it marks the first time since at least 2005 a Bats player recorded at least four walks without recording an at-bat.
HIGH ON HOME RUNS: With six home runs versus Omaha on May 4, the Bats tied a team record for homers in a single game - only the fourth time in franchise history doing so and first time in nearly 22 years (Aug. 29 at Toledo). Christian Encarnacion-Strand notched three of his own, while Will Benson, TJ Hopkins and Matt McLain also joined the party.
TAKING A STROLL: An exciting year from start to finish for Louisville saw 11 walk off wins, the most since at least 2008 - surpassing the previous highmark of 10 set in 2016. Elly De La Cruz was the only player to record two walk offs, one by walking with the bases loaded on May 9 versus Columbus and his second being a two-run homer on May 30 versus Worcester. Four of the 11 walk offs came in May, a month in which the club went a Triple A best 19-7. The Bats had walk offs in nearly every type of way, including being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded (Nick Martini, Aug. 2 vs. OMA) and a sacrifice fly (Will Benson, May 17 vs. JAX). Walk Off breakdown: three singles, three home runs, two doubles, one walk, one hit by pitch and one sac fly.
Joining the club on June 17 after being optioned by Cincinnati, Barrero finished the 2023 campaign with the Bats, hitting .258 (75-for-291) with 17 doubles, four triples, 19 home runs, 57 RBI and 20 stolen bases across 80 games. He was one homer shy from becoming the second player in franchise history to have at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a single season (Brian O’Grady, 2019).
Barrero’s best month at the plate came in July, batting .337 with 14 extra base hits, 20 RBI and nine stolen bases - including stringing together a 16-game hit streak, the second-longest streak by a Louisville player this season (Jhonny Pereda, 17). The 16- and 17-game hitting streak were the longest by a Bats player since Aristides Aquino’s 22-game streak in 2019. Additionally, during July Barrero reached base in 21 straight games, sixth-longest streak on the team and one of eight Bats hitters to reach base in 20+ straight games this season.
At the International League level, Barrero’s offensive numbers ranked in the top 10 across several categories, including leading the league in home runs and tied for the lead in extra base hits (40) from July 17 to the end of the season. He ranked second in RBI, fifth in stolen bases and had the seventh-best slugging percentage (.540). The 40 extra base hits were also tied for the lead across all of Triple A (Iowa’s Yonathan Perlaza) and second in homers behind only Oklahoma City’s Michael Busch (20).
Barrero had a strong surge at the plate at the end of the season, going yard in five of the final eight games of the season - including tying a team-high three straight games with a home run (9/20-9/22). His six RBI versus Toledo on Aug. 23 also tied a team-high in a single game and marked his second 6 RBI game in a Louisville uniform (7/28/21 at IOW), making him the only Bats player since at least 2005 to record multiple games with six RBI. In the same game, Barrero hit two home runs, one of 10 Louisville players to do so this year.
A versatile player, Barrero made 56 starts at shortstop and 23 starts in center field for the Bats and turned in a .983 fielding percentage on the year, including a 1.000 in center while being a part of 36 double plays.
While his time with the Bats was short lived, Will Benson made his mark before turning in a solid season for the Reds. Acquired from Cleveland in a trade on April 12, Benson was optioned by Cincinnati on April 13 before he made his Louisville debut on April 14 and played 28 games with the club until being recalled by Cincinnati where he stayed for the remainder of the season.
Benson put together a 17-game on-base streak from May 2-24, the longest streak by a Bats player at the time. Getting on base was almost a given when Benson stepped up to the plate, reaching base in 24 of his 28 games while drawing 32 walks. He also stole 11 bases in his time with the club, tied for fifth-most on the team despite not playing since May.
ELLY DE LA CRUZ
Elly De La Cruz began the season on the IL due to a left hamstring strain before joining the club on April 20. He hit .297 (47-for-158) with 11 doubles, three triples, 12 home runs, 36 RBI, 38 runs and 11 stolen bases with the Bats, playing in just 38 games before his call-up, but De La Cruz was electric during his time with the Bats.
On May 9 versus Columbus, De La Cruz did something no single MLB team has ever done in a game. De La Cruz finished the game 3-for-4 with a double, two home runs, four RBI, two runs, two walks and a strikeout. An outstanding day on its own, the StatCast numbers tell an even better story. All three of Elly’s hits registered at 116.0+ mph off the bat (118.8, 117.1, 116.6), becoming the first player to ever do so. His double, measured at 118.8 off the bat, was the hardest hit ball across all of minor league baseball this season. On the season, De La Cruz owned the top eight hardest hit balls by any Bats player.
De La Cruz could not only do it at the plate but was also a solid defender as well. De La Cruz committed just four errors in 151 total chances in his time with the Bats, good for a .974 fielding percentage. On May 5 in Omaha, Elly showed off his arm strength, getting an out at first on a 99.2 mph throw across the infield, the hardest recorded throw in Triple-A this season. At the time, the throw was also the hardest recorded throw at the Major League level.
Twice this season, De La Cruz secured a win for Louisville via walkoff. His first of the season came on May 9 versus Columbus when he drew a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth to give the Bats the win. His second walk off came in more exciting fashion on May 30 versus Worcester when De La Cruz stepped to the plate with one on and one out in the bottom of the ninth and blasted a two-run, walk off home run to center field.
Getting the call to the big leagues on June 6, De La Cruz ranked among International League leaders in extra-base hits (1st, 26), runs (2nd), total bases (3rd, 100), home run (T3rd), RBI (5th), SLG (5th, .633), OPS (6th, 1.031) and hits (7th) in his short stint from April 20 to June 4.
Another highly touted Reds prospect, Christian Encarnacion-Strand started the year on IL due to a herniated disk in his back. CES was activated just three days after Elly De La Cruz, making his Triple-A debut on April 23, going 2-for-5 with a double, a run and a strikeout. On the year, CES hit .331 (92-for-278) with 21 doubles, two triples, 20 home runs, 62 RBI, 65 runs and two stolen bases in 67 games.
Encarnacion-Strand hit his first Triple-A home run on April 26 in Iowa, following the next day with his first multi-homer performance, blasting two long balls in a 5-for-6 effort, recording a team-high tying six RBI, adding a double and two runs. Just a week later, CES really showed off his power, going 3-for-5 in Omaha on May 4, knocking three home runs in the game. His three homers are the most by any Bats player this season and tied for the most home runs by a player in franchise history, becoming the eighth Louisville player to hit three home runs in a single game (first since Brian O’Grady, 5/19/19). Encarnacion-Strand led all Bats hitters with three multi-home run efforts.
During his 67-game stint in Triple-A, Encarnacion-Strand was one of the best hitters in the International League, leading the league in home runs (T1st), hits (92), RBI, runs and total bases (177). He also ranked among league leaders in extra-base hits (2nd), doubles, (T3rd), slugging (5th, .637), OPS (6th, 1.042) and hits (7th).
He was called up by Cincinnati and made his MLB debut on July 17 and remained with the big club for the rest of the season. Despite not playing for Louisville since July 15, Encarnacion-Strand ranked second on the team in home runs and extra-base hits (43); third in doubles and runs and fifth in RBI.
Encarnacion-Strand was twice honored for his efforts this season. He was named the International League Player of the Week following his performance from June 5 - 11. On the week, CES hit .526 (10-for-19) with two doubles, three home runs, eight RBI and nine runs and led the International League in OBP (.640) and runs. He also ranked among league leaders in hitting (2nd), home runs (T2nd), SLG (1.105, 2nd), OPS (1.745, 2nd), extra-base hits (5, T2nd), total bases (21, T2nd), walks (6, T3rd), SLG (.920, 3rd), RBI (T4th) and hits (T6th). CES was also named to the 2023 International League All-Star team, selected as the designated hitter.
One of the most steadiest players to wear a Bats uniform in 2023, TJ Hopkins notched his first season hitting over .300 since his junior year at South Carolina - finishing fourth on the team among players who totaled 60+ games at .308 (102-for-331). His play earned him two trips to Cincinnati, making his MLB debut on June 3 and stayed until the 14th before making another stint from Aug. 5-28.
With a .411 OBP over 94 games, Hopkins had two on-base streaks of 15+ games with his season-high at 16 games (5/31-7/5). He hit his second multi-homer game as a professional against Columbus on July 21, five days after he notched a walk-off homer versus Nashville on July 16. Hopkins tied a team-high three consecutive games with a homer from June 24-28 and finished the year with 16 home runs (5th most on the team). After recording 17 home runs with Chattanooga in 2022, he now has back-to-back seasons with 15 homers and 37 total between 2022-23.
Hopkins made 68 starts in the field this season, predominantly in right field with only two errors all season .990 fielding percentage.
A pleasant surprise in the latter part of the season, Jacob Hurtubise finished the year on a 13-game on-base streak and capped September hitting .348 (24-for-69) with seven RBI, 19 walks against only 10 strikeouts and nine stolen bases. Hurtubise first joined the Bats and made his Triple A debut on June 6 before returning to Chattanooga on June 17. He later rejoined Louisville on Aug. 23 and stayed with the club the remainder of the season.
In 36 games with Louisville in 2023, Hurtubise batted .390 (39-for-100) with five extra base hits, 10 RBI, 28 runs and 12 stolen bases - including a .537 on-base percentage and .997 OPS. Since his return on Aug. 23, Hurtubise led all of Triple A in OBP (.524), ranked tied for third in stolen bases (11) and fourth in both average (.374) and walks (26).
Hurtubise’s 13-game on-base streak came off the heels of a season-long 16-game on-base streak, reaching base in 29 of 30 games and reaching base in 33 of 36 games played with the Bats this season while hitting safely in 28. Hurtubise finished the year stealing five bases in the final three games, including two in each of the last two games, to reach 12 stolen bases on the year, making him one of seven Bats players to record double-digit steals on the season while ranking him fourth on the team.
Having drawn more walks (77) than strikeouts (63) over the course of the 2023 season, Hurtubise finished the year with a .479 on-base percentage, leading all of minor league baseball.
A fan favorite over the last three seasons, Alejo Lopez was one of the most consistent hitters in the Bats lineup all season. Lopez finished the season hitting .292 (136-for-466) with 30 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 43 RBI, 76 runs, 79 walks to 76 strikeouts and 18 stolen bases in 125 games played.
Lopez ranked among team leaders in almost every category this season, leading the team in hitting, hits (136), runs (T1st), walks, OBP (.401) and games played while ranking second in doubles, triples (T2nd) and total bases (191); third in stolen bases and OPS (.811); and fourth in extra-base hits (39) and slugging (.410).
From June 8 to August 12, Lopez put together one of the most impressive streaks in franchise history, reaching base in a record tying 42 consecutive games (Joey Votto, 2007). The streak was the longest by any Bats player this season and fourth longest in all of Triple-A (3rd in the International League). At the time, the streak was the longest active streak in all of professional baseball. In addition, Lopez turned in two hit streaks of at least 10 games (13g, 7/6-8/1; 10g, 6/20-7/4), adding 14 multi-hit games and just seven hitless efforts. Over the stretch, Lopez hit .327 (51-for-156) with seven doubles, a triple, two home runs, 13 RBI, 27 runs scored, 11 stolen bases and 35 walks to 25 strikeouts. Including the streak, Lopez reached base in 69 of his final 72 games and in 107 of his 125 total games this season.
In 2023, Lopez set new career watermarks for games played, doubles, home runs, walks and stolen bases.
Currently ranked the Reds top prospect, third baseman Noelvi Marte began 2023 with Chattanooga and worked his way to the big leagues by mid-August. Marte batted .280 (40-for-143) in 39 games with the Bats - hitting safely in 28 and reaching base in 35 from his debut on June 28 until his MLB debut on Aug. 19.
Marte participated in the MLB Futures Game in Seattle on July 8 after recording 26 hits in his first 20 games with the Bats. His first Triple A home run was a 464 ft shot versus Columbus. In total, he posted 16 extra base hits, including three triples (tied for most on the team), 20 RBI and eight stolen bases in his short stint with Louisville.
Arguably, one of the more underrated players for Louisville this season was Nick Martini. Playing in 93 games before being called up by the Reds on Aug. 22, Martini finished his Triple-A season batting .275 with 20 doubles, three triples, 15 homers, and 65 RBI while playing 72 games in the outfield, 17 games at first and even making two pitching appearances.
After a bumpy start to the season, Martini turned it on and kept it on over his final 72 games, batting .316 and totaled 18 of his 20 doubles on the season while recording all of his triples and homers from May 11- Aug. 20. In that stretch, Martini led the club in RBI (62), on-base percentage (.424), tied for the lead in hits (86) and triples, while ranking second in average, home runs, slugging (.570), OPS (.994), extra base hits (36) and runs (55).
Martini put together two on-base streaks of 15+ games, 22 (fifth-longest, 5/4-6/4) and 17 (6/7-7/6), while having the fifth-longest hitting streak at 12 games (5/23-6/4). He had a six RBI, two homer outing against Indianapolis on July 1, one of four Bats players to do so this season. Before this season, a Bats player hadn't recorded six RBI in a game since 2021 (Jose Barrero).
A welcome surprise for the Bats in 2023 was the play of catcher Jhonny Pereda. He had a career year, setting new professional watermarks in average (.325), on-base percentage (.405), slugging (.468) and OPS (.873). On the year, Pereda had 15 doubles, six homers and 36 RBI.
The highlight of Pereda’s season came in the way of streaks, putting together a team-best 17-game hit streak and two 20+ game on-base streaks, a 20-game streak from April 8 to June 14 and a season-long 23-game streak from June 23 to Aug. 27. From April 8 to Aug. 27, a span of 141 days, Pereda reached base in 43 of 44 games.
His 17-game hit streak was the longest since Aristides Aquino’s 22-game streak in 2019 and is tied for the second-longest streak by a Bats player since 2009 (Zack Cozart, 17 in 2011, and Juan Francisco, 17 in 2011).
Pereda was also one of just three players to remain on the Bats active roster for the entirety of the 2023 season, joining Ryan Nutof and Chuckie Robinson.
One of the most explosive bats on Louisville’s roster this season was Henry Ramos, who tallied 34 extra base hits and 55 RBI in 76 games while hitting .318 (89-for-280). Only Christian Encarnacion-Strand had more home runs (20) in fewer games played (67) than the switch hitter. Ramos’ 495 ft homer at St. Paul on Aug. 10 was the longest by a Bats player this season and was the second-longest home run in all of professional baseball this season (Jo Adell, 514 ft on June 20). Additionally, it’s the second-longest Triple A home run since Statcast began tracking distances in 2022.
Ramos finished the season on a 24-game on-base streak, the third-longest by a Bats player this season and fourth-longest active streak in the International League (seventh in Triple A). He finished the year with 25 multi-hit games this season, fifth-most on the team. Additionally, Ramos had six RBI at Charlotte on June 25 with a four-hit night, tied for the most RBI by a Louisville player this season.
Matt Reynolds had one of the better seasons in franchise history, so good, he was named the Mary E. Barney Team MVP this season. Reynolds hit .266 (118-for-444) with 38 doubles, three triples and 22 home runs, totaling 63 extra-base hits, 90 RBI, 76 runs scored and eight stolen bases. He led the team in home runs, RBI, doubles, extra-base hits, total bases (228), runs scored and SLG (.514) while ranking second in hits, OPS (.865), triples (tied for second), tied for third in walks (60) and fourth in average and OBP (.351) all while playing in 115 games, second most on the team. Reynolds also ranked among Triple-A leaders in extra-base hits (T3rd) and doubles (5th).
Reynolds’ 38 doubles rank fourth all-time for most doubles in a single season while his 63 extra-base hits are tied for second most in a single season and the most since Louisville Slugger Field opened in 2000.
He turned in a 25-game on-base streak from June 24 to July 27, the second longest streak for Louisville this season. He also led the club with 39 multi-hit games, 12 of which included multiple extra-base hits, also a team-high.
On April 13, just 11 games into the season, Reynolds went 4-for-4 with three doubles, a home run, an RBI and two runs. Reynolds’ three doubles and four extra-base hits that game set and held the season-high for the entire 2023 campaign.
Over the course of the season, Reynolds turned in one multi-homer game, hitting two on May 19 against Jacksonville. He was also responsible for one walk off win, the first Bats walk off of the season, on April 19 over Charlotte, ripping a two-out, RBI double off the wall in right center field.
One of three players in 2023 to stay on the active roster for the full season and one of four players to see action in 100+ games this year, catcher Chuckie Robinson provided both a reliable presence at and behind the plate for Louisville. A .300 hitter up until the final two weeks of the season, Robinson finished at .290 - a professional level career-high.
Robinson was one of two catchers in Triple-A, along with Omaha’s Logan Porter, to qualify this year (3.1 plate appearances per team game for hitters). Among catchers who played in at least 60 games, Robinson’s average ranked tied for fourth in the International League and tied for 10th in Triple-A. His 74 RBI led IL catchers and placed second in Triple-A this season. Additionally, Robinson’s 74 RBI are tied for the fifth-most by a catcher in the International League since 2006.
The 13 homers launched by Robinson were a Triple-A career-high and this season saw him produce his third professional career multi-home run game (May 23 at SYR). To continue down Robinson’s single-game highlights, he had three perfect games at the plate - including going 4-for-4 versus Charlotte on April 23 and 3-for-3 with four runs, a double and a homer on April 15 at Toledo. Robinson also recorded a walk-off single against Columbus on May 14.
On the defensive end, Robinson threw out 25 runners looking to steal, second-most in the International League and tied for third-most in Triple-A.
Prior to being claimed by St. Louis on Sept. 2, Michael Siani was putting together a notable season with the Bats. Playing in 108 games with Louisville, Siani was batting .228 with 15 doubles, three triples, nine home runs, 47 RBI and 22 stolen bases.
When he was called up by Cincinnati on Aug. 21, Siani was ranked tied for 14th in the International League in stolen bases with 22. Finishing the year as the club’s leader in stolen bases, Siani was the first Bats player to record 20+ stolen bases in a season since 2019 (Christian Colon, 24, and Brian O’Grady, 20).
Jason Vosler flashed his power at the plate in 2023, tying a Triple-A career-high 20 home runs along with 16 doubles and 68 RBI - finishing the season batting .240 across 92 games. He first joined the club on April 27 and stayed for the remainder of the year.
His offense came in waves, recording home runs in back-to-back games four times and had one multi-homer game on June 15 versus St. Paul. Arguably the biggest highlight of Vosler’s season came by way of hitting grand slams - three to be exact - tying a single-season franchise record (Brandon Larson, 2002). He also hit Louisville’s 200th home run of the year, the first-ever 200 home run season in franchise history.
Vosler finished the season ranked tied for second in home runs with Christian Encarnacion-Strand and third in RBI.
Another highly anticipated yet short lived Reds prospect was southpaw Andrew Abbott. Abbott began the year with Double-A Chattanooga and dominated before his transfer to Louisville on April 25. Making his debut the following day, April 26 in Iowa, Abbott did not disappoint, giving up two runs on three hits in 5.0 innings of work with three walks and seven strikeouts. At the time, Abbott’s seven strikeouts marked the high watermark by a Bats pitcher. Abbott continued to set and break the single game strikeouts mark in each of his first three starts, striking out 8 on May 2 and a Triple-A high nine on May 7.
Overall, Abbott made seven starts with the Bats before his call up, going 3-0 with a 3.05 ERA, striking out 54 batters with 14 walks in 38.1 innings of work. Abbott became the second pitcher since 2005 to record 8+ strikeouts in three consecutive starts (5/19-5/30) when he tallied 8, 9 and 8 in his final three Triple-A starts, respectively, joining Mike Gosling (2006) as the only Bats pitchers to do so.
Across his seven starts in Louisville, Abbott never pitched fewer than 5.0 innings, throwing a season high 7.0 in his final start on May 30. He also tallied at least five strikeouts in all seven outings, striking out a Triple-A high nine batters twice (May 7, May 24). Overall, Abbott went 3-0 with a 3.05 ERA, allowing 13 runs, all earned, on 27 hits with 54 strikeouts to 14 walks. Abbott also owned a 1.07 WHIP and 12.68 K/9 while limiting opponents to a .193 batting average.
Silvino Bracho made 47 appearances this season, tied for the third most by a Louisville pitcher and finished with a 4-3 record, 5.51 ERA as well as recording three saves. Bracho only walked 20 batters this season out of the 217 he faced, the third-fewest walks by a Louisville pitcher that appeared in at least 30 games while striking out 52 - third-most among Bats relievers.
Closer Alan Busenitz proved to be a reliable final arm out of the bullpen this season, with a team-high nine saves in 11 opportunities. In his 47 appearances, Busenitz finished 2023 at 3-4 with a 4.94 ERA. In his first 36 games with the Bats, Busenitz had a 2.48 ERA with seven saves and a 1.23 WHIP - only giving up two-or-more runs twice in that stretch. His nine saves on the season ranked tied for seventh in the International League.
One of the most efficient pitchers to come out of the Louisville bullpen this year was Daniel Duarte, who appeared in 32 games with the Bats and played himself into the Reds rotation by June, recording 31 games between June and September.
Duarte went 4-0 with the Bats with a 3.34 ERA and had seven saves in eight opportunities. He was one of two Louisville pitchers to have multiple wins without a loss, along with Andrew Abbott, and the first Bats player to record at least four wins without a loss since 2019 (Lucas Sims, 5-0).
His seven saves were second-most on the team behind only Alan Busenits’s nine. In Duarte’s 17 games between May and June prior to his initial call up to Cincinnati on June 13, he had a 1.47 ERA and 0.82 WHIP with a 3-0 record, four saves in four chances while striking out 22 against walking six.
Sometimes cliches in sports are overused, but Kevin Herget’s 2023 could only be described as turning the corner. In his first 10 appearances, Herget was 0-3 with a 9.16 ERA, having made five starts while giving up multiple runs six times. In his final 24 appearances, all out of the bullpen, Herget’s ERA sat at 2.51 with a 1.15 WHIP. Herget fanned 32 compared to his 10 walks and turned in 19 scoreless outings. Additionally, he had only given up one home run in 20 games from July 15 to Aug. 23.
Herget was one of six pitchers in the International League and one of nine in Triple-A to have an ERA lower than 2.60 with 20+ appearances from July 15 to the end of the season. Thanks to his strong finish to the year, Herget cut his ERA down to 5.13 and WHIP from 2.14 to 1.54.
The second-most used arm out of the bullpen this season was Ricky Karcher, appearing in 51 games. Karcher also had a team-high seven wins with a 4.77 ERA. His seven wins are the most by a Louisville pitcher since 2021 (Reiver Sanmartin, eight, and Riley O’Brien, seven). He was another Bats player that finished the year on a strong note, giving up only two runs in his last 17 games - good for an 0.82 ERA with a 4-1 record.
Karcher stacked up solid stretches of play multiple times this year, including allowing only three runs in May (1.93 ERA, 11 games, 10 without giving up a run) and one run each in both August (0.93 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) and September (0.73 ERA, 1.22 WHIP). Karcher was one of three pitchers in all of Triple-A to have an ERA lower than 1.00 in 15-or-more appearances between August and September.
He also made his MLB debut this season with the Reds, recording a save in his lone appearance with Cincinnati on June 12.
One of the more pleasant surprises of the 2023 Bats season was righty Brett Kennedy, who began the season with the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and was signed as a free agent on May 16. Kennedy churned out 16 starts, second-most on the team, and ranked among team leaders in quality starts (2, T1st), innings pitched (78.2, 2nd), strikeouts (72, 2nd) and wins (4, T4th).
Kennedy recorded a Triple-A career-high 17 appearances, finishing 4-4 with a 4.81 ERA. He even made his return to the big leagues, appearing in five games and making two starts with the Reds - his first MLB stint since San Diego in 2018 - where he went 1-0 with a 6.50 ERA.
Additionally, Kennedy was one of the few Louisville starters to consistently stay in games, with 10 of his appearances going at least 5.0 innings and 13 going at least 4.0.
Another pleasant surprise to the pitching staff was the return of Michael Mariot. Mariot spent the 2021 season with the Bats and began 2023 pitching for the Cleburne Railroaders of the independent American Association of Professional Baseball. Joining the club on June 10, nearly two years to the day of when he joined Louisville in 2021, Mariot was a breath of fresh air to a depleted rotation. Mariot earned the win in his season debut in Columbus, tossing 5.0 innings, allowing two runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. He followed the outing with his home debut on June 17 versus St. Paul with arguably the best start of the year by any Louisville pitcher, tossing 8.0 innings of one run baseball, scattering five hits while striking out five and issuing a single walk to take home his second win in as many starts. His 8.0 inning outing was the single game high for the year for a Bats pitcher and marked the first 8.0+ inning start by a Bats pitcher since August 2, 2018 when Cody Reed threw 8.2 innings against Columbus (W, 4h, 1r, 1bb, 10k). Mariot continued to dominate early, winning his third start in a row on June 23 (6.0ip, 3h, 0r, 0bb, 2k) capping the stretch off with four wins in his first five outings on July 14 (3.0ip, 2h, 1r, 2bb, 3k).
Mariot had his contract selected by Cincinnati on July 8 but did not get the ball before he was designated for assignment one day later on July 8. He rejoined the Bats on July 11 and after some struggles in his next two outings, Mariot hit the 7-Day IL with right shoulder tendinitis on July 27 and wasn’t active again until August 20. Mariot got the call once again to join the Reds, having his contract selected on September 4, and, on the same day, made his return to the big leagues for the first time in seven years, tossing 2.2 relief innings, allowing a single run on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
He returned to Louisville on September 7 after being designated for assignment on September 5, finishing the season with the Bats. Mariot went out on a high note, earning the win in his final start, throwing 5.0 innings, giving up just one run on three hits while walking one and striking out six. Overall, Mariot made 12 appearances, 11 starts, with Louisville this season and went 5-4 with a 6.49 ERA, giving up 59 hits, 37 runs, all earned, and 22 walks while striking out 40 in 51.1 innings of work.
Ryan Nutof led the club in appearances with 59, as well as being tied for the most appearances by any Triple-A pitcher. The 59 appearances are the most by a Louisville pitcher since Ricky Stone had 59 outings in 2007. He was one game away from being the third Bats pitcher since 2000 to appear in 60+ games. On the year, Nutof had a 4-2 record with a 5.35 ERA.
In two of his last three months, Nutof had an ERA under 2.00, with a 1.88 ERA and 0.77 WHIP in July (10 games) and a 1.46 ERA in September (nine games).
A second half addition to the pitching staff, Connor Phillips was transferred to Louisville on June 28 from Chattanooga. Despite a rough debut on June 30, Phillips provided some exciting starts for the Bats. He turned in one of the best starting pitching performances of the season on July 15 when he tossed 7.0 shutout innings, surrendering just three hits and two walks while striking out a career-high 11 batters. His effort earned him International League Pitcher of the Week honors for July 17-23, becoming the only Bats pitcher to earn a weekly award this season.
Phillips was dominant in July, making four starts in the month, throwing 5.0+ innings in three of the four. He also racked up the strikeouts in July, recording 27 while tallying 5+ in each start. Overall, Phillips went 1-0 with a 1.71 ERA, allowing four runs on 16 hits with 12 walks and 27 strikeouts across 21.0 innings of work.
On August 13, Phillips made his first and only relief appearance of his professional career. Working 2.1 hitless, scoreless innings, Phillips earned the only save of his career.
Making his final Bats start of the season on August 31, Phillips was called up to Cincinnati on September 2 and made his Major League debut on September 5. While with Louisville, Phillips went 2-3 in 11 appearances, 10 starts, with a 4.69 ERA and one save, giving up 21 runs, all earned, on 33 hits with 43 strikeouts and 30 walks.
Another second half addition, Christian Roa came to Louisville with Connor Phillips from Chattanooga, joining the club on June 28. Roa also struggled early in his first stint in Triple-A but got things under control to finish the season strong.
Roa made the most of his 15 appearances, 12 starts, with the Bats, racking up 83 strikeouts to lead the club on the year. His best outing of the season came on September 15 in Durham when he tallied a professional career-high 12 strikeouts in 5.0 shutout innings of work, giving up just two hits while issuing five walks. Roa really showed his potential in his final three games of the season, recording nine strikeouts, 12 strikeouts and eight strikeouts, respectively. His stretch of three consecutive starts with 8+ strikeouts made him the third Bats pitcher since 2005 to do so, joining Andrew Abbott (2023) and Mike Gosling (2006).
In his time with Louisville, Roa went 1-4 with a 5.43 ERA, giving up 40 runs, 37 earned, on 61 hits with 83 strikeouts and 47 walks across 61.1 innings of work. Aside from his 12 starts, fourth most by a pitcher this season, Roa also made three relief appearances, the first such outings of his career.