No one has ever argued that Didi Gregorius
doesn't have the defensive skills to play shortstop.
Just 22 years old, Gregorius ranks among the Reds' top prospects because of his strong throwing arm and good range.
But Gregorius, who was promoted to Louisville two weeks ago, has garnered more attention these days because of improving hitting, including developing power.
"He's a well-rounded player," Bats manager David Bell said. "One thing that jumps out at you is his arm strength, but before it's all said and done, he's going to show people he has a lot more skills than that.
"He's going to hit. He's young and he's still developing. He's going to be a good all-around Major League player."
Gregorius began the season with Double-A Pensacola in the Southern League and hit .278 with one homer and 31 RBIs in 81 games to earn a promotion at the All-Star break.
"I was playing like I think I can play," Gregorius said. "I relaxed in Double-A and I think I'm bringing that same game to Triple-A."
"The pitchers here are more in the strike zone. You face big league pitchers every day, guys who have pitched in the Majors before they were sent down."
Gregorius has thrived against IL pitching, going 5-for-10 in his first two games and hitting .314 through 17 contests with the Bats.
"What excites me about his offense is that he has a quick bat," Bell said. "He can get to a fastball, and that's what separates Major League players from Triple-A players.
"He's going to adjust to the other pitches and he's going to learn how to hit in certain situations. But you can't teach bat quickness, and he has that."
Gregorius said he is working on developing his offense by taking batting practice seriously.
"I'm just working hard every day, trying to get better every day," he said. "I take BP like it's game time, trying to get ready for every game. I'm just trying to hit line drives."
What has been most notable about Gregorius in his brief time in Triple-A is that he's hit four homers in only 70 at-bats with Louisville. Last year, it took him nearly 200 at-bats to hit five home runs for Class A Advanced A Bakersfield in the California League.
"He's not going to be a home run hitter, he's going to be a line-drive hitter who hits some home runs," Bell said. "He has four home runs [for us], and I'm sure he didn't try to hit any of those four home runs. He's trying to hit a line drive and occasionally, he's going to pop one that goes out."
Bell said Gregorius continues to work on driving the ball to the opposite field, pitch recognition and other refinements to his batting.
"He's young and he's going to go through struggles -- at this level and at the Major League level," Bell said. "But he's swinging the bat really well and showing what he is capable of."
Something old, something new: Gwinnett made a pair of moves to help restock its pitching staff this week. One was the addition of 41-year-old RHP Miguel Batista as a free agent. In his first start for the G-Braves, he allowed two runs over five innings to earn a victory against Charlotte on July 28. The other addition was 22-year-old LHP Sean Gilmartin, who was promoted from Double-A Mississippi. Atlanta's first-round pick in the 2011 Draft, he was 5-8 with a 3.54 ERA with 86 strikeouts and 26 walks in 20 Southern League starts.
Sweet Lew: Norfolk's Lew Ford was closing in on contending for the IL batting title, moving within 20 plate appearances of qualifying. And with a .331 batting average through 62 games, he certainly had the numbers to step into the top spot. But Ford, who had 11 homers and 40 RBIs with the Tides, ran into a roadblock: He was promoted, joining the Orioles on Sunday and returning to the big leagues for the first time since playing for the Twins from 2003-07.
East Division showdown: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has used a strong start coming out of the All-Star break to set up a showdown for first place in the East Division with Pawtucket. The Yankees won their first four games following the break to jump-start an 11-4 run that vaulted them atop the division, a half-game in front of the PawSox. The teams began a four-game home-and-home series Sunday.
He said it: "The pitching wasn't good. The defense wasn't good. Today, we made a lot of mistakes. We've got to be more consistent and play smarter baseball. We made a lot of mistakes in the whole series. I've seen lack of communication. Physical errors are going to happen. ... But if you're not mentally prepared, it's a different story. It's getting to the time where we've got to kinda kick it in the butt here if we think that we've got a chance [at the playoffs] at all. We've got to play better baseball." -- Bisons manager Wally Backman to the Buffalo News. His team won its first three games following the All-Star break, then lost 11 of 14, including eight of nine.