Reds' Lutz speeds way to third cycle

Outfielder goes 5-for-6, starter Stephenson plates three for Wahoos

Donald Lutz has hit for the cycle three times in his career -- in 2008, 2011 and now 2014. (Cliff Welch/

By Kelsie Heneghan / | April 22, 2014 12:44 AM ET

Donald Lutz felt pretty great standing on third base in the eighth inning Monday. He had just hit for his third career cycle, his Blue Wahoos were up 17-1 and he won $20.

Prior to the at-bat, the Reds outfield prospect anxiously waited in the dugout. While he was thinking about a triple, he didn't dare say it.

"Get the triple, get the triple," said his roommate, second baseman Brodie Greene.

"Stop jinxing me, what are you doing?" Lutz replied.

With the cycle -- and cash from Reds Minor League hitting coordinator Ryan Jackson promised to the player who got the Blue Wahoos' 20th hit of the game -- on the line, Lutz stepped up to the plate. With a short porch in right, he was looking to hit it to deep center complete the feat.

"Please don't go out, please don't go out," he said as he saw the ball he just crushed head to the center-field wall. "We were already up by like 15, I'll sacrifice a run."

Lutz got his wish and the money, legging out his second triple of the season in Pensacola's 17-1 win over Jacksonville. And he notched his third such feat after cycling with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Reds in 2008 and Class A Dayton in 2011.

"It was unbelievable. I've never seen anybody hit for the cycle before and it's impressive to watch," starting pitcher Robert Stephenson said.

After lining out in his first at-bat, Lutz turned his frozen ropes into doubles, hitting one in the second and another two innings later.

In the eighth, the left-fielder led off with a solo shot over that friendly right-field wall en route to the first cycle in Pensacola history.

"It's always good to put our name up there," Lutz said. "I'm happy I could share the moment."

During a 34-game stint last season, he became the first German-developed player to see time in the Major Leagues. He hit .241 with a homer and 18 RBIs while playing for the Reds.

The 6-foot-3 left fielder went on the disabled list twice last season for injuries sustained from errant pitches -- a problem that has actually led to his success at the plate.

"I put the word out on the street, if they try to come after me, I won't let it happen anymore. They can't hit me anymore," he said. "I backed off the plate, which has helped me a lot with the inside pitches that I couldn't hit before."

Every Pensacola starter got a hit as the team combined for a team-record 21 hits. One surprise player getting in on the action was Stephenson. The top Reds prospect collected two hits and plated three runs.

"He had more RBIs than me," Lutz said with a laugh. "In his first at-bat, he looked like he'd never been up there. Then in his second, he comes up with two on and scores them with a double or a single. That was pretty cool."

The 21-year-old had his first career hit April 5 when he doubled -- and came around to score -- against Tennessee. While he only has eight at-bats this season, the right-hander leads the team with a .429 average (and a minimum of two plate appearances).

On the mound, Stephenson (2-1) allowed one run on four hits while striking out seven over five innings to earn the win. It was the longest start of the year for's No. 18 overall prospect, though he had a five-inning relief appearance to begin the season.

"Honestly, I felt better at the plate than I did on the mound, only had the fastball working," Stephenson said. "[Hitting's] a lot of fun. Sometimes it can be too much to think about when you have to pitch too though."

Jacksonville starter Angel Sanchez (0-4) was charged with five runs -- four earned -- on seven hits and two walks over 3 1/3 innings. 

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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