PDA

View Full Version : Szymanski is sizzling for Lookouts



OnBaseMachine
04-16-2008, 02:45 AM
Szymanski is sizzling for Lookouts

By: David Paschall
(Contact)

From playground competition through high school and all the way to the professional ranks, there is always that last player picked when divvying teams.

Outfielder B.J. Szymanski was the last position player added to the Chattanooga Lookouts roster coming out of spring training, but he’s been anything but an afterthought. Entering Tuesday night’s Southern League games, Szymanski led the league in batting average (.417), slugging percentage (.806) and total bases (29).

“You always hear the story about how guys don’t make teams in spring training, but there always seems to be those one or two guys who show up in great shape and have a great spring,” Lookouts manager Mike Goff said. “He’s a very talented guy physically, and he’s a guy we were willing to take a chance on.

“I think we’re all kind of sitting back and waiting to see what B.J. is going to do, and getting off to this kind of start can only help his confidence.”

Tallying three doubles, one triple and three home runs in his first 10 games as a Double-A player isn’t a huge surprise for the 25-year-old from Wichita Falls, Texas, who believes he’s had the ability all along. Opening in Chattanooga, however, did come as somewhat of a shock.

The 6-foot-5, 211-pounder was a second-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2004 but has struggled to live up to that status, hitting .239 in 128 games two years ago at Single-A Dayton (Ohio) and .242 in 123 games last season at high Single-A Sarasota.

“I would have guessed coming into spring training that it was better than 50-50 that I would go back to Sarasota,” Szymanski said, “but I really, really wanted and needed to come to Chattanooga. I wanted to feel as though I was making strides.”

Much of Szymanski’s woes the past few seasons can be attributed to two right-knee surgeries and a broken left hand he has endured since signing with the Reds. His second knee surgery occurred after the 2006 season, so this has been his healthiest stretch.

Szymanski started out in pro ball as a switch-hitter, but repeatedly planting and twisting on his right knee in the batter’s box has made batting left-handed all but unbearable.

“I came to the conclusion where I was either going to have to hang them up or just hit right-handed, so I’m making a go of this, and so far I’m making some strides,” he said. “Last year, I came into the season feeling that I could hit right-handed only, but now I know I can hit right-handed only. In spurts last year I hit really well, and this year I came in with a different attitude that if I work hard and do things right, I know I can do it, rather than hoping I can do it. It’s a completely different feel.”

This is obviously a big year as far as Szymanski’s development, considering he’s the second oldest position player on the Lookouts behind infielder Luis Bolivar, but that doesn’t mean it has to be pressure-packed. He was, after all, drafted by the Reds out of Princeton University, where he also played receiver on the football team.

“I have a Princeton education,” said Szymanski, whose younger brother is the starting quarterback at Baylor University. “I’ve got everything going for me. All I’m trying to do this year is have fun. You look at all the people who have great results, and the most important thing you see in them is that they love playing the game.

“I’m feeling good now. My body is not hurting, so I have a better chance of playing well, and that makes the game that much more fun. Because of that, there is not a whole lot of pressure. It’s just me versus me.”

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2008/apr/16/szymanski-sizzling-lookouts/

Aronchis
04-16-2008, 03:50 AM
Sounds like another Brandon Larson. Larson started his resurgence I think at 25 and it came after "laser surgery of the eye". With BJ, it is the knee which has been to blame for his problems.

cincyinco
04-16-2008, 04:50 AM
I don't care what it is I just hope he's turned a corner and keeps it going. He was a 2 sport athlete so maybe he blossoms later as those types typically do.. Or so they say. It would only help if BJ could redeem himself and get back on the prospect radar.

lollipopcurve
04-16-2008, 09:45 AM
Interesting that he's gone to righty only. If memory serves, he'd been a stronger hitter from the left side, but I could be wrong there. You have to wonder if getting all his ABs from one side now will help moderate his awful K/BB ratio.

He remains quite a longshot, I think, but to me he's still one of the most intriguing players to follow. There's always been a big upside for Szymanski, and it appears he's floating upwards now.

princeton
04-16-2008, 10:10 AM
lately, a lot of Reds players have hit better at Chattanooga than at Sarasota.

flyer85
04-16-2008, 10:14 AM
2BB / 15Ks in 40 ABs

lollipopcurve
04-16-2008, 10:14 AM
lately, a lot of Reds players have hit better at Chattanooga than at Sarasota.

better place to hit for sure

BRM
04-16-2008, 10:16 AM
2BB / 15Ks in 40 ABs

Debbie Downer.

princeton
04-16-2008, 10:16 AM
2BB / 15Ks in 40 ABs

I doubt that they're even throwing strikes to him right now. Would you?

The guy can crush even bad pitches.

Benihana
04-16-2008, 11:20 AM
Could be a good guy to trade soon, if he gets any real value.

OnBaseMachine
04-16-2008, 12:08 PM
I don't ever expect him to be a starter but maybe he can develop into a fine 4th or 5th outfielder and provide some power off the bench. Lord knows we could use that.

mth123
04-16-2008, 04:02 PM
I don't ever expect him to be a starter but maybe he can develop into a fine 4th or 5th outfielder and provide some power off the bench. Lord knows we could use that.

Send him to AAA and see if he maintains his success. At his age there is no need to wait around. If hits for a month, he may become an option from the RH side when Griffey sits.

Benihana
04-16-2008, 04:04 PM
Send him to AAA and see if he maintains his success. At his age there is no need to wait around. If hits for a month, he may become an option from the RH side when Griffey sits.

Or keep him there and see if another team bites on his success.

Redman15
04-16-2008, 04:14 PM
lately, a lot of Reds players have hit better at Chattanooga than at Sarasota.

I can't wait to see how Stubbs,Valaika,Turner and Francisco hit when they
get to Chattanooga. Hopefully it won't be to long before the Reds start moving
guy's that are not producing and make room for the one's that are.

Benihana
04-16-2008, 04:18 PM
I can't wait to see how Stubbs,Valaika,Turner and Francisco hit when they
get to Chattanooga. Hopefully it won't be to long before the Reds start moving
guy's that are not producing and make room for the one's that are.

I agree, although Jose Castro is producing at Chattanooga, and he's only 21 years old. My solution? Move Francisco to the OF, and move Valaika off of SS- to either 2B or 3B. I believe his big league future is as a utility guy anyway.

mth123
04-16-2008, 04:20 PM
Or keep him there and see if another team bites on his success.

OK I suppose, but with news that Gonalez may be out a while, I think waiting on making a move should no longer be an option. Castro DFA, Hairston to the Reds and some one to AAA when Dorn comes off the DL. Sean Henry appears to be earning the right to stay up at AA so sending some one up is probably better than sending some one down

Any better ideas than Szymanski right now? Michael Griffin and Luis Bolivar maybe (both are old enough to also have a bit of urgency to move above AA), but neither provide the righty pop that the Reds may need down the road.

Benihana
04-16-2008, 04:30 PM
OK I suppose, but with news that Gonalez may be out a while, I think waiting on making a move should no longer be an option. Castro DFA, Hairston to the Reds and some one to AAA when Dorn comes off the DL. Sean Henry appears to be earning the right to stay up at AA so sending some one up is probably better than sending some one down

Any better ideas than Szymanski right now? Michael Griffin and Luis Bolivar maybe (both are old enough to also have a bit of urgency to move above AA), but neither provide the righty pop that the Reds may need down the road.

If you really want to call a guy up that badly, you can still do it from AA. Regardless, I think Cabrera and (as you said) Hairston are better options for the Reds right now for right-handed pop. I think that Bolivar belongs in AAA, especially once you promote Valaika.

I don't think you make decisions on prospects' development- especially guys in AA- based off of the Reds current needs.

OnBaseMachine
04-16-2008, 05:00 PM
I agree, although Jose Castro is producing at Chattanooga, and he's only 21 years old. My solution? Move Francisco to the OF, and move Valaika off of SS- to either 2B or 3B. I believe his big league future is as a utility guy anyway.

I don't know...I think Chris Valaika could develop into a Michael Young type player. Similar body types, both are average shortstops at best, both have decent power and possess batting average driven OBP skills. I did not know this until I just looked it up, but both attended UC Santa Barbara. Michael Young hit .296/.367/.450 - .817 in his minor league career. With this seasons stats included, Valaika is a career .301/.355/.464 - .819 OPS. A lot of similarities between the two.

camisadelgolf
04-17-2008, 12:31 AM
At this point, I might rather have Szymanski on the Reds than Jerry Gil. Syzmanski is terrible at making contact, but he does pretty much everything else well.

Benihana
04-17-2008, 11:44 AM
I don't know...I think Chris Valaika could develop into a Michael Young type player. Similar body types, both are average shortstops at best, both have decent power and possess batting average driven OBP skills. I did not know this until I just looked it up, but both attended UC Santa Barbara. Michael Young hit .296/.367/.450 - .817 in his minor league career. With this seasons stats included, Valaika is a career .301/.355/.464 - .819 OPS. A lot of similarities between the two.

Interesting comparison. I'd certainly take another Young, but I wouldn't mind seeing a shortstop with a better glove either.

Interestingly enough, isn't Jeff Keppinger also another Michael Young at this point?

gedred69
04-18-2008, 12:55 AM
Looking at the entire system now playing, it seems Waring and Frazier are "men among boys". If it continues, they should move up to Sarasota, thus pushing Valaika and Fransisco ---who are doing extremely well at Sarasota----to AA. That could boost Chattanooga, which is the only suck team in the system right now.

Gotta' love the players from a year later, pushing those a year ahead of them! The future looks bright...

MikeS21
04-18-2008, 01:51 PM
I have heard that BJ is an excellent defensive outfielder with a strong arm. It would be nice to see him get some success at AA and possibly replace the likes of Hopper/Freel/Gil next year.