View Full Version : Nice Article about Joey Votto from Winnepeg newspaper

09-08-2007, 06:29 AM


Fittingly, the call came as the drama of the June 2002 draft was unfolding while he was in drama class.

The Cincinnati Reds wanted to draft Etobicoke's Joey Votto in the second round. Would he take $550,000 US as a signing bonus? Yes, Votto said.

Undrafted as a Grade 12 student in 2001 when he played for the Canadian Thunderbirds, the Reds selected him the next year, the 44th overall pick in North America.

On Wednesday, the big first baseman made his first major-league start, going 3-for-3 with a homer off New York Mets starter John Maine.

Votto was blessed with a strong arm. He showed that off, as well, on Wednesday when he gunned down a Mets runner sliding into third. But, moreso, mom Wendy and dad Joseph gave him a work ethic. Every day after class at Richview Collegiate, he would head to an indoor hitting facility where he worked out for two or three hours with junior coach Bob Smyth.

"He was a kid who came in every day to hit," said Smyth, who now lives in Ladysmith, B.C. "He just didn't hit, he worked on things -- or, until I told him he had it right."

Votto played for Mel Oswald's Thunderbirds in 2001 and Smyth's Etobicoke Rangers in '02.

"Without question, Bob helped me the most," Votto said from Cincinnati this week. "He'd sit on his metal chair, smoking and yelling at me what I was doing wrong. I knew he was trying to help.

"I called him when I got called up and he was so proud. He asked me to phone after my first start, first hit, first homer."

Votto took care of all that on Wednesday with one call.

"He had faced Maine at triple-A," Smyth said. "He told me he was sitting on a change."

Connorvale Park and the Pro-Tech hitting facility were Votto's second homes.

"He had his own locker, like in the movie Rocky," said Pro-Tech's Denny Berni. "Every day, he'd come in, get his gear and hit. He was like a coal miner: Punch the clock, work hard, go home and the next day he'd do it all over again."

Reds scout John Castleberry saw Votto on a back field at the Perfect Game showcase in Jupiter, Fla., and arrived the night of the draft. A deal was hammered out for $600,000, which was below market for a second-round spot.

"I want a chance, enough so I can eat," said Votto, who is eating better now.

Votto's father was head chef at the Island Yacht Club until it burned down in 2004. Mom is general manager and lead sommelier at Via Allegro Ristorante in Etobicoke.

"My son is quite the gourmet," Wendy says of Joey. "We had sturgeon caviar once in Louisville and ate at the grand award Fifth Floor restaurant in San Francisco."

Next, mom and son will explore Chicago restaurants together. He is flying her in when the Reds visit Wrigley later this month.

Castleberry, who now works for the Philadelphia Phillies, will be following along.

"I'm so happy for the kid. When I first saw him, he was crude, with good bat speed," he said. "Five (Reds) scouts went to Connorvale in late May. We had him targeted."

The Reds then flew Votto to Riverfront Stadium for a pre-draft workout. There he met Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, manager Bob Boone and outfielder Ken Griffey Jr.

"He was relaxed, like he talks to Hall of Famers every day," Castleberry said. "He even imitated Junior's swing."

Votto, who says he respects his elders, picks up the story.

"There are 25 people watching, so I do Griffey's waggle, rollover and hit a weak grounder to short," Votto said.

"Someone yelled: 'He may stand like that, but he never hits like that.' "

Someone then whispered to Votto: "Don't EVER do that again."

Done with his impressions, Votto proceeded to hit four out of the park.

At the Futures Game at AT&T Park this July, a San Francisco scribe asked Votto where he was from. He answered Toronto.

Later, he called us aside: "Hope you're not upset I said Toronto," he said. "If I say Etobicoke, I have to spell it. Saying Toronto is easier."

--- Nice article about our Canadian future 1st baseman:thumbup:

09-08-2007, 07:37 AM
I love the fact that he's a hard worker and if you ask him to play another position he wont pout like a lttle baby. He should not be traded, we need guys with good character.

09-08-2007, 01:06 PM
Great stuff... thanks for posting. :-)

09-08-2007, 04:27 PM
I've watched all his big league appearences so far and admittedly didn't see a single swing of his in AAA. Was his defense in AAA that bad? I think he's looked pretty impressive behind the bag thus far (albeit a small sample size).

09-08-2007, 04:32 PM
If boss can edit the title I spelled my city's name wrong :eek:

09-08-2007, 04:55 PM
I've watched all his big league appearences so far and admittedly didn't see a single swing of his in AAA. Was his defense in AAA that bad? I think he's looked pretty impressive behind the bag thus far (albeit a small sample size).

That is what has been going through my head. From everything I had seen, albeit a small sample in Louisville, his glove work had been fine. The only thing I had seen with him concering questionable defense in Louisville was going into the first base/second base gap after balls that he probably should have let the second baseman go after.....
So far for the Reds he has made several strong plays over at first base.

09-08-2007, 05:31 PM
I agree. Votto looks like a prototypical 1stbaseman. I could see a McGriff type career for him if he pans out.

01-13-2008, 09:55 PM

Reds' Canadian slugger aiming for big 2008

Jeremy Sandler, National Post Published: Sunday, January 13, 2008

Atmosphere, more than accomplishment, marked what Joey Votto remembers as his "major-league moment."

Votto was called up by the Cincinnati Reds last September and hit a home run in his second big league at-bat - both big events for the 24-year-old Toronto native - but it was while he was striking out a couple of weeks later when he sensed he had arrived. It was the ninth inning at Chicago's Wrigley Field and Votto was the last batter.

"The crowd was insane, everyone was standing up and everyone was screaming, it was just so much to take in," Votto said. "I really just relished the moment and I felt like this is where I belong, this is really just my dream coming true."

To an outside observer, Votto's 2007 season looked like a dream come true.

The most valuable player in the Double-A Southern League in 2006, Votto made the Triple-A all-star team last season, hitting .294 with 22 home runs and 94 RBIs for the Reds' top affiliate in Louisville, Ky.

Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky said the organization considered bringing Votto up several times, but ultimately left him at Triple-A until September. He hit.321 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 24 games with the Reds.

Votto is well versed in how important ageing can be to achieve perfection. His father Joe used to be the chef at Toronto's Island Yacht Club, while his mother Wendy is lead sommelier at Via Allegro, one of the city's finest restaurants. But stay in the minors was an exercise in frustration for the first baseman and outfielder.

"I just felt I was being held back while I was in Louisville," he said. "It was hard. It was something I had to deal with every day. It drove me crazy.

"When I finally got called up I felt a real relief, I felt like all the frustration I had during the season staying in Louisville was gone and I finally got to play the game I felt I deserved to play."

Those who have watched him - from Bob Smyth, the Etobicoke Canadians coach who watched an adolescent Votto put in five hours a day at a batting cage, to Krisky, the Cincinnati GM - know he put in the work to reach the major leagues.

"They say he is one of the hardest workers you're ever going to meet," said Kevin Briand, director of Canadian scouting for the Toronto Blue Jays. "I've been told that by about six different coaches and that's a real credit to him when almost everybody, to a person, says he's a very hard worker."

Should Votto deliver on the promise he has shown so far, he would be the latest in what has become a steady stream of Canadians making an impact as big-league hitters.

Where Canada's roster of major-league hitting stars once began and ended at Larry Walker of Maple Ridge, B.C. - with a nod to the likes of Terry Puhl, Corey Koskie and Matt Stairs - the list has grown steadily in recent years.

Votto hopes he can join 2004 National League rookie of the year Jason Bay, 2006 American League MVP Justin Morneau and 2007 NL all-star catcher Russell Martin.

Though he spent some time in the outfield last season, Votto figures to battle with the Scott Hatteberg for the Reds' first base job.

"I let the players compete in spring training, but certainly Joey's earned a good look," Krivsky said. "We're looking for big things from him here down the road."

"My expectations are to play every single game," Votto said. "Whether or not they're realistic, I don't know.

"I want to stay in the major leagues from this point on. That's my goal and that's what it should be. We'll see."