Barry Larkin wanted to be a shortstop ever since he was a kid watching his idol, Ozzie Smith, on television. Growing up in the Cincinnati suburbs, Larkin wanted to play for the legendary Cincinnati Reds, replace Dave Concepcion at short and become the greatest shortstop in Reds history. He accomplished that and then some.
Cincinnati Reds pitching prospect Hunter Greene had fans and team executives on the edge of their seats as he began his first Triple-A start for the Louisville Bats by imposing his will on opposing batter.
Now he’s breathing down the back of MLB competition and chomping at the bit to start flaming batters.
The Cincinnati Reds’ top prospect gave up four home runs and a walk for the Bats, but he also gave hitters the gas face with eight strikeouts in a 6-5 defeat at Omaha.
The 2017 second-overall pick threw 46 of his 73 pitches for strikes to finish his rollercoaster ride of a day by striking out the side in order in the fourth inning.
Don’t buy too much stock in the home run narrative, as in all actuality, we know that hitters eschew at the plate when facing such exorbitant pitches. Instead, hitters will stick their bats out over the plate to stop the mortification with hopes of making contact.
Guys with mega-high velocity are generally relievers, not starting pitchers.
Since 2008 only five pitchers sniffed the 104-mph mark in Major League history, including closer Aroldis Chapman, who did it 67 times in his illustrious career, and fellow MLB bro Jordan Hicks, who did it 12 times.
Top prospect Hunter Greene has been promoted to the Bats!
Greene dominated on the mound during his time with Double-A Chattanooga. He fanned 60 hitters in 41 innings while allowing only 27 batters to hit safely, leading to a 5-0 record and a 1.98 earned run average.
Those accumulated stats were Greene’s first game action since 2018 after he missed all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery and 2020 due to the pandemic.
Before receiving the call to the Reds Triple-A affiliate, Greene, in his final outing, struck out nine in six shutout innings for the Chattanooga Lookouts.
Reds manager David Bell addressed the following about the possibility of Greene making the jump to the show.
Bell told Cincinnatti.com, ” I don’t think that’s unreasonable for any guys in Triple-A.” He added, ” He is getting close.”
Greene is more than close to making his jump to the pro level. The race is on between him and Vanderbilt sensation Kumar Rocker as to who will become the next great Black pitcher.
The results of his debut may not have been overwhelming, but Greene still impressed the masses with his velocity during his final three innings before getting pulled. With performances such as this under his belt, Greene, sooner rather than later, may force the Reds hand to make the call.
Barry Larkin wanted to be a shortstop ever since he was a kid watching his idol, Ozzie Smith, on television. Growing up in the Cincinnati suburbs, Larkin wanted to play for the legendary Cincinnati Reds and replace Dave Concepcion at short.
He says his dream was to replace Concepcion and then become the greatest shortstop in Reds history.
“Born April 28, 1964, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Larkin was an honor student and athletic star at Cincinnati’s Moeller High School and enrolled at the University of Michigan with the idea of playing both baseball and football.
But when legendary UM football coach Bo Schembechler advised Larkin to redshirt his freshman year, Larkin’s path to Cooperstown began.”
June 2, 1985: With the fourth overall pick in the MLB Draft, the Cincinnati Reds select shortstop Barry Larkin from the University of Michigan. #RedsVault
After college, Larkin played on the 1984 US Olympic Team. When he got to the Reds, he eventually replaced Concepcion.
Larkin also wanted to wear No.1 to honor his idol Ozzie, but the equipment manager told Larkin the number was retired and permanently reserved for Fred Hutchinson.
Larkin had no idea who Hutchinson was, but he asked for No.11 to reinforce how much he admired and idolized “The Wizard of Ozzie”
Barry eventually wrestled the Gold Glove away from Ozzie, won an MVP Award, and had his number retired by the Reds also.
Of the great shortstops, Larkin possibly has the best compilation of skills: He could run as fast as teammate Eric Davis, he possessed the strongest arm among the shortstops of his generation — and only Ozzie was better with the web.
A multi-faceted batter, Larkin concentrated on hitting for average, stealing bases and setting the table. But he was capable of going deep when the situation called for it. He stole 51 bases in 141 games, while winning the NL MVP in 1995, but for some reason was criticized for not driving in enough runs, so he came back the following season and banged all his critics in the head with 33 home run and 36 steals at the age of 32.
The Injury Bug
It’s hard to discuss Larkin without mentioning his injury-riddled history. He was placed on the disabled list fourteen times in his career. He only had 6 seasons where he didn’t spend time on the DL.
Those injuries (legs, thumbs, knee, shoulders, and even his toe), sidelined him for 450 career games. That alone probably cost him another 450-500 hits with his batting prowess. The talent was always evident, but despite his HOF swag, and championship pedigree, he always faced criticism, and was even referred to as “Mr. Glass.”
He had to continuously prove himself and relied on a strong will to overcome setbacks.
Larkin was a 12-time All-Star, including his final season when he was still a valuable player. Despite his frequent absence from the lineup, Larkin was always a great teammate and team leader.
He was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012, following a career also garnered him an MVP (1995), World Series Title (1990), three Gold Glove Awards and nine Silver Slugger Awards.
He was simply a stud up the middle and one of the finest examples of MLBbro excellence at the shortstop position.
Amir Garrett won’t be intimidating any batter from the mound in the here and now.
Amir, the Cincinnati Reds’ intimidating closer, will begin to serve a five-game suspension Tuesday for his role in a bench-clearing incident in a recent game against the Chicago Cubs.
He finally found his groove after struggling to begin the season and will look to continue his strong pitching once he returns.
Batters see a monster when they look up at a 6-foot-6 left-handed reliever toeing the rubber in the late innings. He throws flames and will let you know how he feels after getting you out every time. A few times in his career, teams have taken exception to this, but Garrett has never been the type to back down.
This was the case during a game a few weeks ago against the Cubs. It was a 3-2 game in the top of the eighth when he struck out Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
Garrett then began pounding his chest and yelling at Rizzo as well as the Cubs’ dugout: I am not the best at reading lips and won’t try this time, but whatever he said the Cubs took extreme exception to it. Their entire team came out of the dugout and both benches emptied.
No punches were thrown, and although Cubs second baseman Javier Baez was the first one out of the dugout and could be seen on camera flipping the bird in Garrett’s direction, Garrett was the only player from each team to be suspended. Baez was only given a fine.
His original suspension was scheduled for seven games but after appealing it Major League Baseball decided to reduce it to just five games.
Five games, without even a punch being thrown, does seem a little excessive but this is not Garrett’s first rodeo when it comes to being involved in a benches-clearing incident.
We have to flashback to July 2019 in a game between Garrett’s Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates. There was obvious animosity in the air between both teams as a reliever was ejected just an inning earlier for hitting a batter. Garrett was on the mound talking with his catcher and pitching coach during the ninth inning of a blowout game. Garrett, who heard chirping from the Pirates dugout, finally had heard enough. He began going towards their dugout and once he crossed the third base line all hell broke loose.
Garrett was a lone soldier against the entire Pittsburg roster but that didn’t faze him. He neared their dugout and connected a left hook to a Pirate player as both teams would then begin to scuffle.
Garrett was remorseful after the situation. “When I see kids, I don’t want to set that kind of example,” Garrett told MLB.com. “That’s not the kind of person I am. I don’t condone violence. I don’t like for stuff like that to happen and for kids to be amazed by stuff like that and think it’s cool- because it’s not.” He would serve an eight-game suspension.
The no-nonsense mindset of Garrett is sort of a throwback to the attitude of Hall of Famer Lee Smith, who is third all-time with 478 saves during his 18-year career. Similar to Garrett, Smith stood 6-foot-6, weighed 265 pounds and was one of the most respected and feared pitchers in the game during his time.
“Always being positive, he had a lot of confidence in himself and was just a big guy that was overpowering and ahead of the game,” said Patrick Mahomes, Sr., when speaking on Smith getting into the Hall of Fame.
Garrett got off to a slow start this season but has seemed to find his stride in his last few appearances. In his last four games, he has thrown four innings allowing two hits, no runs, two walks and struck out six batters.
He’ll have some time to relax and unwind during this mini-break he is getting. But we need Garrett back on the mound as soon as possible. He brings a flair and charisma to the mound that we are not used to seeing in baseball and the sport needs more of it.
Triston McKenzie came into the Red’s house, left the lights on, and didn’t bother cleaning up the dishes as he struck out 7 and recorded his first career hit in his start Saturday afternoon.
The Indians former top prospect got his second start of the year and was a nightmare for Reds hitters. He finished with 7 strikeouts and only gave up 1 run through 5 innings in his team’s Saturday matinee against the Cincinnati Reds. The only run he gave up came on a third-inning solo home run.
McKenzie would go on to overshadow that lonely blemish as he upped his strikeout total for the 3rd straight appearance. He has accounted for at least 5 strikeouts in every game.
Six of McKenzie’s strikeouts came in the first 3 innings of the game; his biggest one coming with two outs and two runners on to escape a third-inning jam.
“Dr. Sticks’ ‘ as he was referred to by the Indians broadcast team surgically worked with his bat as well, on the way to recording the first hit of his major league career, singling to Right Field in the 4th inning off Sonny Gray.
It has been a solid start to the 2021 season for McKenzie, coming off a successful rookie season in 2020. He finished last year with a 2-1 record posting an impressive 3.24 ERA and striking out 42 batters in 8 games.
This season we have seen the Indians struggle as a team at the plate, putting more pressure on McKenzie to grow up fast and become a shutdown starter… a slump buster… especially with the team losing former Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer,
This week was a special one for the rest of the league and McKenzie as we celebrated Jackie Robinson Day. Although McKenzie was not on the mound, his impact was still felt as he along with more than 200 members of the Player Alliance donated their game day salaries to the Jackie Robinson Scholarship Foundations.
Early on it’s looking like McKenzie is poised to power through a sophomore slump and be a major part of the Cleveland rotation.