Since the International League's all-star break a few weeks ago, the Louisville Bats have been on a tear, winning nine of 11 games to push their record to 53-50, the club's best mark so far in the 2010 campaign. After a slow start to the season, the Bats have caught fire over the last month, posting a 17-6 record, primarily due to an impressive uptick in the team's power numbers. Louisville's increased propensity for the long ball has helped them run their home run total to 117 for the year, which is tops in the league and six better than the closest competitor.
While the Bats' slugging numbers in July have been substantially better than previous months at the plate, the club has especially been on a long ball frenzy through the first seven games of their current road trip. To start the trip last week, Louisville took three of four games from the Charlotte Knights, blasting four home runs in two of their victories, and a season-high five in an 8-4, game-two win.
As an encore, Louisville traveled to Georgia to take on the Gwinnett Braves, where the Bats have taken two of three in a series that runs through Monday night. In a series opening victory, the Bats blasted three more round trippers, followed by another four dinger night on Sunday during an 8-3 victory.
Leading the team's power numbers this season is 26-year-old outfielder Wladimir Balentien, who has spent the entire season with the Bats. The right-hander's 18 big flies are tied for fourth in the league. Balentien has been a trend setter for the team in July, smashing seven into the seats. Ranking just behind Balentien are Juan Francisco and Zach Cozart, who have both went deep 15 times, putting them amongst the top-15 in the IL.
Francisco, a 23-year-old, left-handed prospect, has posted impressive power numbers throughout his career, and has done again this year despite missing over a month of the season due to injury. In the month of July, Francisco has really gotten locked in at the dish, blasting 10 homers, which is tied for tops in the league.
In Cozart's three-year professional career in the Reds' system, he has never hit more than 14 homers in a season, but has already surpassed that mark this year with over a month left in the campaign.
With Louisville's recent onslaught of power swings, the team now finds itself in the thick of the league's wild card race as we head down the season's stretch run. If Louisville can continue to blast the ball out of the park at the rate they have done so over the past month, the team should have no problems keeping up with the other teams who will be jockeying for position in the league's playoff race.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.