Baseball notebook: Scott Schebler hitting the long ball for Cincinnati Reds

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Scott Schebler felt kind of snake bitten at the plate the first week and a half of the Major League Baseball season. The Cincinnati Reds outfielder and Cedar Rapids Prairie graduate from Solon was hitting the ball hard but right at people.

“It just seemed like everything I hit, it felt like there were 30 guys in the field,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

So Schebler did the next-best thing. Hit the ball hard but over the fence.

The 26-year-old has five home runs in his last five games, including a two-homer game this past week at Milwaukee. Schebler has eight long balls in 22 games this season, tied with all-star Joey Votto for the team lead.

The Reds had their game Saturday afternoon at St. Louis postponed by rain.

“There’s so many things in baseball you just can’t explain,” he told the Enquirer. “Why is it working this week? Why didn’t it work last week? I don’t know what to tell you. I know that I was working hard the whole time, nothing’s changed on that front. Nothing will change. I’m just going to keep working hard.”

Schebler’s batting average dipped to around the .150 mark at its lowest, but he’s up to .221 through Saturday. He has eight walks as well, a sign he is willing to take pitches.

“I just feel like Scott has a skill set that’s unique,” Reds Manager Bryan Price told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I think he can be an outstanding player. He’s got to continue to learn about the ebb and flow of emotion and try to just stay on that even keel, even plane, to where he can just go out there and play and not feel like he has to look over his shoulder or that a rough game at the plate necessitates big changes and just get more comfortable playing.”

Schebler made Cincinnati’s opening-day roster last season but didn’t play much, struggled when he did play and eventually got sent back to Triple-A. He performed very well the final two months of the season when he got recalled to the big leagues, and the Reds made him their every day right fielder to start this season.

Despite Schebler’s early struggled, Price has stuck with him in the lineup, and it’s paying off now.

“I have as much confidence in him being a great player, probably more confidence in him being a great player than maybe even he does,” Price told the Enquirer.

“I know my ability, and I know it’ll show through if I get my chance,” Schebler said. “It calmed my nerves a little bit when I was going through it this year. It’s like hey, they put the trust in me to go out there every day. All I want to do, obviously, is help the team win. Bryan’s given me the opportunity. I just want to try to do the most with that. Make him feel good.”

“It just seemed like everything I hit, it felt like there were 30 guys in the field.”

HOW THEY'RE DOING

—— Joel Booker (University of Iowa) — Outfielder has cooled off a bit, going 1 for his last 13 at the plate, but still is hitting .325 in 20 games for low-A Kannapolis (White Sox). Also has stolen six bases.

—— Matt Dermody (University of Iowa) — Relief pitcher was recalled to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night. He has made one appearance with the Jays this season. His other four appearances have been with Triple-A Buffalo, where he is 1-0 with a 6.75 earned run average.

—— Jon Keller (Cedar Rapids Xavier) — Right-handed pitcher pitched a scoreless inning at Double-A Bowie (Orioles) in his only appearance last week. Has been bedeviled by control problems, walking 11 in four innings this season.

—— Mitch Keller (Cedar Rapids Xavier) — Righty starter has a 1-1 record and 4.87 ERA in four starts at high-A Bradenton (Pirates), allowing just four walks and 19 hits in 20 13 innings.

—— Derrick Loveless (Solon) — Outfielder has hits in six of his last seven games at high-A Dunedin (Blue Jays) and has a .293 season batting average in 20 games. Ten of his 22 hits have been doubles.

—— A.J. Puk (Cedar Rapids Washington) — Left-handed pitcher and No. 1 draft pick last year still is seeking his first professional victory 15 appearances in his pro career. At high-A Stockton (Athletics) this season, is 0-2 with a 4.67 ERA in five appearances, three starts. In 17 1/3 innings, he has a whopping 31 strikeouts.

—— Scott Schebler (Cedar Rapids Prairie) — Hitting .221 with team-high eight home runs for the Cincinnati Reds, playing every day in right field.

—— Jake Yacinich (University of Iowa) — Homered Wednesday night for high-A Inland Empire (Angels), but has just .171 batting average in 16 games.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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