Donald Lutz Continues To Improve For Reds
CINCINNATI — After Donald Lutz's season in the Arizona Fall League ended prematurely with a broken fingertip, he headed to the offseason training hot spot of Regensburg, Germany.
Lutz, a 23-year-old first baseman/outfielder, was born in Watertown, N.Y., but he spent his entire childhood in Germany. Lutz didn't start playing baseball until he was 14. His late start is what makes him such as intriguing prospect. Well, that and his power. He hit 22 home runs in 402 at-bats this year.
"He just keeps getting better," assistant farm director Jeff Graupe said. "We're really pleased with the progress he's made."
This season was a bit up and down for Lutz. But he really came on in the AFL. He was hitting .395/.422/.581 in 43 at-bats when he suffered the injury. He took a ground ball off his finger. It happened late enough in the season to end his year.
Jim Stoeckel, the Reds' international specialist, signed Lutz out of tryout camp in 2007. Lutz played a total of 50 games in 2008 and '09 and hit one home run each year.
His breakout season came in 2010 at Rookie-level Billings. He hit .286/.356/.478 with seven home runs in 203 at-bats. He followed that by hitting .301/.358/.492 with 20 home runs for low Class A Dayton.
The Reds thought enough of him to put him on the 40-man roster. Lutz started this year at high Class A Bakersfield. He hit .265/.325/.561 with 17 home runs in 253 at-bats when he strained an oblique.
"It took some time to get going after that," Graupe said. "His timing was off."
After rehabbing in the Arizona League, Lutz was sent to Double-A Pensacola. He hit .242/.315/.389 in 149 at-bats there.
With Joey Votto entrenched at first, Lutz's future is probably in the outfield, where he's a work in progress. He played mostly left this year.
"He's a really good athlete," Graupe said. "He runs well for his size (6-3, 235 pounds). It's a matter of him getting comfortable out there."
• High Class A Bakersfield announced plans to build a new stadium. "The new ownership has done a good job there," Graupe said. "They've been great to work with."
• Triple-A Louisville manager David Bell took a big league coaching job with the Cubs. He had just finished his first year with the Bats.