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    Photo courtesy Louisville Bats Facebook Page
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    In their first 12 seasons as the Cincinnati Reds’ top minor league baseball team the Louisville Bats finished above .500 eight times and played in the postseason five times.

    In their past three seasons, however, the Bats haven’t done either.

    They’ll try to get back to their old winning ways this season, which begins Thursday. Louisville, which went 68-75 (the 12th best record in the 14-team International League) last year, hosts IL West-rival Toledo at 6:35 p.m. at Louisville Slugger Field.

    The Bats, who’ll be under the direction of Delino DeShields (their third manager in four years) this season, released their preliminary roster Tuesday.

    “We are excited for the 2015 Louisville Bats roster,” Cincinnati Reds Director of Player Development Jeff Graupe said in a press release. “The team provides a balance of veteran leadership and youthful exuberance and will be guided by an outstanding coaching staff.”

    Louisville’s roster includes eight players who are currently on the Reds’ 40-man roster and 12 who saw action with the Bats last year.

    Louisville returns several of its pitchers from last season and have added a mix of veterans and youngsters as it tries to greatly improve from 2014, when the Bats finished 13th in the IL in earned-run average (4.68) and strikeouts (927).  

    Returning pitchers from last year are right-handers Dylan Axelrod (8-9, 4.01 ERA), Josh Smith (10-7, 4.70) and Jon Moscot (1-1, 5.71) and lefty David Holmberg (2-6, 4.66). Meanwhile right-hander Michael Lorenzen will be joining the rotation. Lorenzen, who is rated as the Reds’ No. 4 prospect by, went 4-6 with a 3.13 ERA last year at Double-A Pensacola.

    The bullpen will be led, at least initially, by veteran right-hander Sam LeCure. LeCure, who has 231 appearances (third-most by a reliever) with the Reds since the start of 2010, was designated for assignment by Cincinnati on April 2. He likely will be called back up to the parent squad soon, but if not he’ll provide valuable leadership for the Bats’ bullpen. Along with LeCure that will also include righties Nate Adcock, Chris Carpenter, Jose De La Torre and Donovan Hand. Adcock is a graduate of North Hardin High School, who has appeared in 43 MLB games (with Kansas City and Texas) since 2011.

    Catcher Tucker Barnhart (.246), who had five stints with the Reds last year, returns behind the plate. Chris Berset and Ramon Cabrera will back up Barnhart.

    Second baseman/shortstop/third baseman Hernan Iribarren (.233) is the Bats’ only returning infielder from last year.

    He’ll be joined by shortstop Ivan DeJesus, third baseman Jermaine Curtis, third baseman Irving Falu, first baseman Dan Johnson, first baseman Josh Satin and shortstop Eugenio Suarez, all of whom are new to the Reds’ organization.

    The outfield will primarily be occupied by Donald Lutz (.236), Yorman Rodriguez, Steve Selsky and Bryson Smith. Rodriguez, who hit .262 at Pensacola last year and appeared in 11 games for the Reds, is the team’s 11th-best prospect according to

    The entire 2015 Bats schedule and all their promotions (including these 15), as well as new things at the park this year, can be found at Full and partial season tickets, along with inquiries about group outings and suite rentals, are available by calling the Bats front office at 502-212-2287.

    Photo courtesy Louisville Bats Facebook Page

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