Wahoos Even Series With Mobile

August 16, 2014

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos saved their best game for last in front of Cincinnati Reds Bill Bavasi, who was in town to evaluate the players firsthand.

Bavasi oversees Cincinnati’s scouting, player development and international operations and looked on as the Reds’ Double-A affiliate romped to an 8-3 victory over its archrival Mobile BayBears – the top team in the Southern League.

Bavasi’s assessment? He gives Pensacola, its club, ballpark and fans all high marks.

“This place is terrific. It’s off the charts,” he said. “This league is full of guys who have great tools and are on their way up. This is a great city and a terrific place to play.”

One of those Wahoos players the Reds have an eye on is its top prospect Robert Stephenson who started Friday’s game. Stephenson earned the win and is now 6-8 on the year. He went five innings, allowing one run on four hits, while striking out five to retake the Southern League lead with 121 on the season.

Stephenson, who left the game after the fifth inning and 88 pitches because his right calf started cramping, said there’s no added pressure when a front office executive like Bavasi pays a visit.

“They have videos and are watching every game any way,” he said. “It didn’t concern me. I just wanted to pitch the way I’m supposed to pitch.”

The hard throwing righty bounced back from his last start when he allowed five runs and nine hits in just 2.1 innings.

“I felt great,” Stephenson said. “I felt my struggles lately have just been mental. I told myself I was going to get everyone out and I was just better than them. It seemed to help me.”

Blue Wahoos Manager Delino DeShields reminded his players of one important lesson.

“They’ve been evaluated all along,” he said. “It comes down to how the guys finished, not how they started. They are all still playing hard. I appreciate the effort they’re giving.”

Stephenson, outfielder Jesse Winker (No. 2), starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen (No. 4) and starting pitcher Ben Lively (No. 6) are all among the Reds top 10 prospects in their organization, according to MLB.com. In addition, starting pitcher Daniel Corcino is ranked No. 12, outfielder Yorman Rodriguez No. 13 and starting pitcher Jon Moscot No. 16.

Bevasi said while Stephenson and Winker get all the kudos as the top two prospects, a lot of other players have a chance to play for the Reds in the coming years. Winker has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a sprained right wrist.

“Robert (Stephenson) has developed well and this is a good place for him to get challenged,” Bevasi said. “We wish Jesse (Winker) wasn’t hurt. We’d like to see him get more at bats. But the guys who are written up are not always the ones who end up playing in the Major Leagues.”

And Blue Wahoos players who have the best chance of joining Cincinnati’s starting lineup? All Bevasi revealed is, “I like them all.”

In Friday’s game, the players most fans liked best were leftfielder Juan Silverio, who clubbed a solo homer in the sixth, and first baseman Travis Mattair, who blasted a three-run home run in the seventh inning that put Pensacola up, 8-1.

GAME NOTES

The finale of the five-game series with Arizona Diamondbacks Double-A affiliate the Mobile BayBears (73-48) gets underway at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. RHP Michael Lorenzen (4-5, 2.98) takes the mound for the Wahoos (53-71) and is scheduled to be opposed by the BayBears RHP Archie Bradley (2-2, 3.77).

by Tommy Thrall

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