Joey Votto will bat second for the Reds this afternoon

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Interesting lineup note for the Reds, as first baseman Joey Votto will bat second this afternoon against Alex Cobb and the Rays.

This will be the first time that Votto has batted second since August 8, 2008. For a team that used Zack Cozart out of the No. 2 spot for long stretches last year, it’s an experiment that is long overdue.

While conventional wisdom has said that your team’s best hitter should bat third, studies have shown that it’s actually more beneficial to have them bat second, as it assures them more plate appearances over the course of a season. Sounds pretty logical, right? It also increases the chance that your best hitter won’t be standing in the on-deck circle to end a ballgame.

Votto has led the National League in on-base percentage and walks for three straight years, so basically, the Reds should try to get him to the plate as often as possible. Moving up one spot in the order might not have a major impact, but the potential benefits are obvious enough to at least give it a try for a while. Kudos to Bryan Price for doing something that Dusty Baker wouldn’t.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.

Athletics call up top prospect Franklin Barreto

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The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.

Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.

While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.