Lutz finishes triple shy of cycle in Javelinas' win
Reds prospect goes 3-for-4, collects sixth multi-hit game in seven AFL contests
The Reds prospect went 3-for-4 with two RBIs on Friday, finishing a triple shy of the cycle, as the Peoria Javelinas held on for a 3-2 victory over the Surprise Saguaros.
It was the first baseman's sixth multi-hit game in seven Arizona Fall League contests and raised his average to a league-leading .517 (15-for-29).
"Down here, we've been playing a lot of day games and I've just been seeing the ball well," Lutz said. "I've got one of my batting coaches [Alex Pelaez] here with me and he's been doing a good job of getting me back on track while I'm here. We have a good group of guys, too, and that helps a lot."
Speaking of familiar faces, Lutz's home run in the first inning came off Surprise starter and former teammate J.C. Sulbaran, who spent time with the slugger at Double-A Pensacola before being shipped to the Royals organization in the Jonathan Broxton trade at the end of July.
Before the game, Lutz joked with Sulbaran that he'd be swinging for the fences.
"Yeah, definitely. We're good friends and we were talking before the game and I told him, 'First at-bat, I'm swinging as hard as I can,'" said Lutz, who also faced Sulbaran in World Baseball Classic qualifiers last month with Germany when the hurler pitched for the Netherlands. "I fouled the second pitch I saw hard down the right-field line, but then he left one up and I hit it pretty good."
Lutz also singled in the sixth and doubled in the eighth.
The 23-year-old first baseman batted .269 with 22 homers and 71 RBIs, posting a .336 on-base percentage and .517 slugg percentage across three Minor League levels. He was named a California League midseason All-Star but missed the California-Carolina League All-Star Game -- along with most of the month of June -- with an oblique injury. Lutz was promoted to Double-A in mid-July and remained there for the rest of the season.
Since ending the year with the Blue Wahoos, Lutz appeared in four games for Germany, going 4-for-13 with a double and two RBIs.
Despite the relative lack of relaxation time usually reserved for the offseason, the Reds farmhand is enthusiastic about his chances in both the WBC and AFL.
"I had a couple days off, but then I got right back to playing for Germany," Lutz said. "It's been pretty exciting. I missed the month there with my oblique, and I like getting a couple more at-bats here while I can.
"I wanted to play against the best that this league has to offer and prove to our system and our scouts that I can hang with these guys."
Sulbaran exited his Fall League debut after three innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out two.
Reds' top prospect Billy Hamilton went 1-for-4, stole a base and scored a run from the top spot in the Javelinas order.
"It's fun to watch him," Lutz said of the Minor League steals champ. "It's pretty amazing. All of the other teams get just as excited as we do to watch him and see what he can do. It's pretty cool."
Kolten Wong, the Cardinals' No. 4 prospect, got the Saguaros on the board with a solo homer in the third and is batting .400 through seven games.