With the chaotic roster turnover that is typically seen with triple-A teams this time of year, there is no denying the need for some steady bullpen arms as the season comes down the stretch run.
As the 2011 campaign heads into its final month and the Louisville Bats still in the mix for a playoff berth, the team hopes it can keep one of its newest relievers, Brad Boxberger, moving forward to further solidify their bullpen.
Boxberger, a 23-year-old who was a first-round draft pick of the Reds just two years ago, made his triple-A debut a few weeks before the all-star break, and has been one of the Bats' top right-handed relief options over the past month.
To start the season, Boxberger was in double-A with the Carolina Mudcats, destroying hitters in the Southern League to the tune of a 1.31 ERA in 30 games. The six-foot-two-inch Boxberger struck out 57 in just 34 innings with Carolina, quickly earning his first promotion to triple-A action in his second season since being drafted out of the University of Southern California.
Since getting to Louisville, Boxberger has done a solid job adjusting to the increased level of competition, holding hitters to a paltry .217 average in his 14 appearances. While Boxberger's ERA is modest (4.86), his numbers have been inflated by a few rocky outings, and his strikeout numbers are still impressive.
In 16-plus innings with the Bats, Boxberger has fanned 20 and walked just seven. The 23-year-old has recorded at least one strike out in his last nine appearances on the mound. For the year combined between the two levels, he has also earned five saves.
Last year in his first pro season, Boxberger was a Carolina League all-star with single-A Lynchburg, posting a 3.19 ERA with 70 strikeouts, primarily as a starter. Boxberger eventually was moved up to double-A, and finished the season fifth among all Reds' farmhands in strikeouts with 110 in 91.2 innings.
Boxberger, whose dad was also a star baseball player at USC, was the 43rd overall pick in the 2009 draft after earning all Pac-10 honors that season.
As the Reds' organization looks for young relievers to develop over the next few years, Boxberger and his high strikeout numbers have to be right at the forefront of their outlook. If Boxberger continues to excel down the stretch this season with Louisville, there is no reason to think that he will not be a part of Reds' bullpen crew in spring training next March.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.