The Daytona Tortugas were the last of the Cincinnati Reds farm teams to get on the field this year. They also may be the team people who follow the system are most excited to see. Some of that is because it’s really the first time many of the guys who will be there are out of the complex league, but some of it is that it’s got plenty of top prospects and some of them have been crushing the ball at their previous stops.
On Friday night the group didn’t disappoint and the excitement started early. Carlos Jorge, who has hit .309/.422/.558 with 54 stolen bases in 89 professional games since signing as an international free agent in January of 2021, led off the game with a triple. Leo Balcazar followed with a walk. Then Cam Collier got ahead in the count 3-0 before being given the green light and lined an RBI single into center that had an exit velocity of 103 MPH.
Four innings later it was Leo Balcazar making his presence felt as he turned on a 91 MPH sinker and hit it out of the stadium at 106 MPH. The 18-year-old finished the day 1-3 with three walks, three runs, and two runs batted in.
Carlos Jorge would pick up a walk later in the game, but in the bottom of the 5th inning after making a tag at second base he appeared to feel something in his leg. The video is rather limited, but he can be seen kind of bending/stretching his left leg twice before the camera zooms in to the mound as manager Julio Morillo headed out to make a pitching change. The St. Lucie broadcast didn’t notice at the time that Jorge had been replaced in the field at the same time, with Victor Acosta coming in to take over at second base. We’ll have to keep an eye on this over the next few days and see what happens.
The duo of Leo Balcazar and Cam Collier came through in a big way in the top of the 9th inning. With two outs and Daytona trailing 5-4, Balcazar walked and then took second base on a passed ball. Collier worked a full count before a broken bat double into left field tied the game up. Balcazar would drive in the winning run in the 11th on a ground out. Collier walked to follow that, finishing the day 2-3 with three walks, three runs batted in, and a double.
On the mound it was Lyon Richardson that was turning heads. He’s a bit older than the teenage position players he’s on the field with. And he’s more experienced – he’s played in High-A in the past, and he was added to the Cincinnati Reds 40-man roster in November despite missing all of the 2022 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Richardson’s in Daytona where it’s warm and he wouldn’t have to worry about pitching in potential cold midwest weather for the month of April. He looked like a man among boys on the night, giving up just one hit in 3.0 shutout innings while striking out seven.
Richardson’s fastball worked between 96.7 and 99.0 MPH on the night. He mixed in a change up in the mid-to-upper 80’s, a slider in the low 80’s, and a curveball in the upper 70’s to low 80’s on the night. The right-handed starter threw 44 pitches and got six swings and misses on the fastball, four on the change up, and one on his curveball.