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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Rookie Davis, Amir Garrett Start First Two Games. Forgotten Trade Bears Fruit

Rookie Davis will pitch the Cactus League opener for the Reds.  Amir Garrett will pitch against the American League champion Cleveland Indians on Saturday.

Reds fans have forgotten the two pitchers the Reds acquired in the last season trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for Jonathan Broxton.

They both have impressed manager Bryan Price.

Barrett Astin and Kevin Shackelford came to the Reds in the trade that sent Jonathan Broxton to Milwaukee at the end of the 2014 season.   At the time two minor league pitchers for a veteran relief pitcher didn’t cause a stir with anyone.  It was largely forgotten until both threw impressive live bullpen sessions on Monday.

Astin, a right-hander had a good year as a starter and reliever in Pensacola last year.  He was 9-3 with a 2.26 ERA in 37 games (11 starts).  Dayton Dragons fans may remember him as one of the starting pitchers for Wisconsin in the Midwest League in 2014.

Shackelford appeared in 35 games for Pensacola and Louisville all in relief.  He had a 1.38 ERA at Pensacola in 10 games.  The right-hander had eight saves and a 2.30 ERA after he was promoted to Louisville.

“Our coaching staff talked a lot about Astin being a true ground ball pitcher last year,” Price said.  “He is a very polished guy.  He made strides last year to put himself on the roster.”

“When we traded Broxton, we weren’t even pulling from their top 20 prospect list when we made that deal,” Price said.  “You know so little about the other organization’s prospect to begin with.  To have both guys in the conversation to be able to help this team, shows we got a nice return.”

Astin, 25, was taken in the third round by Milwaukee in 2013.  Shackelford, 27, was chosen in the 21st round by Milwaukee in 2010.

Astin is a ground ball pitcher which will play well at Great American Ball Park.

“I consider myself a groundball pitcher, “ Astin  said.  “I throw a hard sinker. I rely heavily on it.  It gets me a lot of groundballs.”

Astin changed teams right after his first season of professional baseball.

“I didn’t think to much on it at the time,” Astin said.  “Looking back on it.  It gave me a great opportunity to get to the big leagues with a fresh start.”

Mesoraco Taking Building Stamina

Devin Mesoraco has no limitations but the Reds are being cautious with the catcher who has been in 39 games total for the last two seasons.

“It’s a longer spring there is no impetus to speed things along,” Price said.  “We’re just building stamina.  He hit in the cage early and tracked pitches in the live batting practice.  We don’t want him to do too much, too soon.”

Duvall and Schebler Expected To Boost Offense

Adam Duvall took the leftfield job from Scott Schebler last spring.  The pair were platooned early but Schebler struggled and was sent back to Louisville to get more at bats, while Duvall made the All-Star team.

Schebler was ready by the time Jay Bruce was traded to the Mets.    Schebler hit .329 in his last 44 games of the season.  Duvall hit 33 home runs and drove in 103.

“Corner outfielder are run producing positions.  As much as I talked about the defense of Duvall in leftfield and Schebler in rightfield,  I’d be thrilled to see them to continue on from what they did last year,”  Price said.

Let The Games Begin

Price is eager to start the slate of exhibition games.

“It will be nice to talk about something on the field besides guys fielding grounders,” Price said.

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