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OnBaseMachine
04-04-2009, 01:18 AM
Reds Settle Their Position Logjams

Posted Apr. 3, 2009 10:37 pm by J.J. Cooper
Filed under: Daily Dish

As with any organization, the last week of spring training for the Reds has brought lots of questions about where different players will start the season. There were questions about where top prospect Yonder Alonso would be sent (he’s headed to high Class A Sarasota) and whether Homer Bailey will make the Opening Day roster or be sent to Triple-A (still to be determined).

But perhaps just as importantly with the Reds, there have been a lot of questions about where some of the team’s top prospects will be playing on the field. Last year Todd Frazier, primarily a shortstop, also played a lot of third base, some first and some outfield. WIth him and third baseman Juan Francisco both ticketed to head to Double-A Zebulon, there was a big question of whether the two would share time.

That’s been settled, according to farm director Terry Reynolds. Francisco will be the team’s everyday third baseman, while Frazier, for the first time as a pro, will also have a set position as the Mudcats’ everyday left fielder.

In an interview before the game, Frazier said that he’ll happily make the move and is looking forward to learning the nuances of playing in the outfield, even if it was apparent reading between the lines that he’s clearly a shortstop at heart.

" I’m going to be working on knowing the field, how to get help from the center fielder. I want to make sure I feel comfortable out there," Frazier said.

The move might set up Frazier’s fastest path to the majors. The Reds are entering the season with Chris Dickerson and Johnny Gomes pencilled in for left field, but if they falter, Frazier will have extensive time in left field.

In Triple-A, Chris Valaika will also be on the move, as the plan is to get him plenty of at-bats as the everyday second baseman. Valaika has played some second base in the past, but this year will see him get a lot of work turning two and working on the other aspects of second base to try to increase his versatility.

"The only adjustment is making that turn (on double plays)," Valaika said.

Some scouts have questions Valaika’s range at shortstop, although others have said they believe he can be adequate defensively at the position. With a solid bat, Valaika may profile best at second base, although he’s blocked there for Cincinnati by Brandon Phillips.

REDS NOTES

Here are some other notes culled from an enjoyable evening watching the Reds Futures Team take on the big league club in Zebulon.

• Of the few Reds Top 30 prospects not on the Futures Team, most were held out because of injury. Outfielder Juan Duran (knee) and righthanders Darryl Thompson (shoulder), Kyle Lotzkar (tired arm) and Carlos Sulbaran (blister) will all remain back in extended spring training when the season begins this week, although all three pitchers are expected to join their respective minor league clubs before too long. Duran was ticketed for rookie ball before his injury.

Sulbaran is an interesting case for the Reds. He’s a 2008 high school draftee who has yet to throw an pitch in an official game for the Reds, but he has extensive international experience with the Dutch National team, having faced Cuba in the World Cup and Olympics and having also worked out of the bullpen in the World Baseball Classic. But because of the World Baseball Classic and the blister issue, he’s thrown in only three games as a Red this spring according to Reynolds.

While Sulbaran’s a neophyte as a pro, his international experience does play a part in the Reds decison on where to send him. Because he’s faced so many older hitters, the Reds expect to send him to low Class A, skipping short-season ball, once he’s healthy.

• While the game was a highlight for Futures Team players, as they showed that at least for one night they could play with the big leaguers, the batting practice was the great moment for prospect watchers. Juan Francisco put on a show, connecting on several long home runs including a rocket shot to straight center field. While a strong wind was blowing out to center field, several of Francisco’s shots were no-doubters without the wind. Yonder Alonso also impressed with power to all fields.

Yorman Rodriguez, the 16-year-old who is headed back to extended spring training, looked very raw as you would expect. He struggled to square the ball up and popped up two of his three bunt attempts to start off his first turn in the cage, but when he did connect solidly, he showed an impressive ability a 16-year-old to drive the ball to both power alleys. As you would expect, he also showed impressive speed.

• The game was a chance for the minor leaguers to face off against big leaguers in front of a sold-out Five County Stadium, but the total big league experience was also very much part of the package. The minor leaguers flew up to Zebulon, N.C., and were flying on to Dayton, Ohio, on the big league charter. For one day, they had a extensive selection of food on the flight, dropped their bags off in the morning and then saw them deposited at their rooms worry free. It’s a long ways from the normal life of a minor leaguer, where you tote your own bags wherever you go.

"I dropped them off this morning, and I still haven’t seen them," Valaika said with a smile before the game. "This is a great opportunity to take something out of (the experience).

• Kary Booher will have much more on the actual game, but it’s worth mentioning that we had the BA Stalker Pro II out for the game. Reds starter Dallas Buck was sitting at 88-90 mph, although it was his location and his slider that caused problems for hitters. Ramon Geronimo was 88-90 mph as well to go with a high 70s changeup and Sean Watson was throwing 89-91 mph. He showed his knuckle curve during his warmup for the ninth, but didn’t use it much during his inning of work.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/?p=3040#more-3040

SMcGavin
04-04-2009, 01:26 AM
Frazier to LF is a bummer. I hoped he'd get a chance at 3B. Valaika to 2B not too suprising, wonder what it means for his future in Cincinnati though?

JaxRed
04-04-2009, 01:30 AM
Well, interesting news. Not sure I'd call taking 2 shortstops at 2 different levels and moving them (when we need a SS) as breaking up a logjam. Especially when you move them to LF, which would seem to be Votto's next position, and 2b where we do have a good player.

OnBaseMachine
04-04-2009, 01:31 AM
I think I'd rather see Frazier stay at third base. From what I've read, he possesses the tools to be a solid defensive third baseman. On top of that, he's got a polished bat which should allow him to reach the majors sometime in late 2009 or early 2010. If Edwin hasn't improved by then then Frazier could step in and take over third base. The bright side is it increases Frazier's versatility.

So Chris Valaika is starting the season in Louisville and will play second base. I'm glad to see him starting in Triple-A. His bat is close to being major league ready, IMO. Between Reds camp and minor league camp, he's crushed the ball all spring.

It's great to hear that Dallas Buck's velocity is returning. He's pitched in the mid-80's since about his last year in college and still put up good numbers. If he's back up to around 90 mph, with that sink on his fastball, along with an above average changeup and slider, he's got a chance to be a top-of-rotation starter. I think he's going to have a breakout season.

I wonder if this means Zach Cozart will start in Carolina?

Kc61
04-04-2009, 01:52 AM
I'm not really surprised about left field for Frazier. I view LF as a power position and I see Dickerson eventually battling with Stubbs for CF -- or possibly splitting the position with Stubbs or being moved.

LF is for an offensive player who doesn't necessarily have a true position and Frazier fits that mold. Yes, he could work at 3B but he's pretty far advanced hitting and learning third base now could slow down his climb to the bigs.

Francisco's development could also be a factor in Frazier's move to LF. JF was so dominant in the winter leagues and hit well this spring and the Reds may now view him as the successor to EE. And EE himself is still young and could keep the position for some time.

Valaika at second base also isn't a big surprise. There have always been questions whether he is an MLB SS. I think, initially, Valaika will be a utility guy in the majors with a good chance for a starting role when an opportunity arises with the Reds or another club. It's good if he can play multiple infield positions. Glad that it seems he will be at AAA because he sure is a AAA or better hitter.

Whether you agree or disagree at least the Reds are now starting to get these guys packaged for major league play. I was disturbed by all the movement of Frazier around the field. Seems like the Reds are now deciding the best way to get these guys to the big club soon.

dougdirt
04-04-2009, 01:52 AM
Also, as JJ noted in an email with me, the pitchers were throwing against the wind, which was quite strong. I am very excited about Dallas Buck at this point.

OnBaseMachine
04-04-2009, 02:10 AM
I don't think the Frazier to left field move is permanent. I think it's just an effort to increase his versatility. I'm more surprised by the move of Valaika to second base. I'd like to see the Reds start having him play some first base, third base, and left field in addition to the middle infield. Maybe groom him as a Mark DeRosa type of player, a guy who can start 4-5 games a week and play multiple positions.

My plan would be as follows:

1. Move Joey Votto to left field in preparation for the arrival of Yonder Alonso.
2. Groom Todd Frazier for third base.
3. Acquire a true SS through a trade (Joaquin Arias? or package someone for a more proven talent)

CF Drew Stubbs/Chris Dickerson
RF Jay Bruce
3B Todd Frazier
SS ?
2B Brandon Phillips
1B Yonder Alonso
C Ryan Hanigan/?

Joey Votto has the athleticism to develop into an average defensive left fielder, IMO, and Frazier has the athleticism and arm strength to be an above average defender at third base. Plus, I remember reading that he played well defensively at third base during the Hawaiian Winter League. That's an offense capable of getting on base and hitting for plenty of power.

GIDP
04-04-2009, 03:15 AM
Frazier move to LF probably means they think hes the most like to be able to handle the move.

cincyinco
04-04-2009, 06:09 AM
I think frazier could go right back to 3b if he moves up to AAA quickly.. I just think the reds think its more important for Francisco to play 3b everyday.

If not, well.. Votto or alonso will be traded for a nice piece or more. Might be tough for some to swallow, but if gets this club on its way to glory then I will consider it well worth it.

icehole3
04-04-2009, 06:59 AM
I don't think the Frazier to left field move is permanent. I think it's just an effort to increase his versatility. I'm more surprised by the move of Valaika to second base. I'd like to see the Reds start having him play some first base, third base, and left field in addition to the middle infield. Maybe groom him as a Mark DeRosa type of player, a guy who can start 4-5 games a week and play multiple positions.

My plan would be as follows:

1. Move Joey Votto to left field in preparation for the arrival of Yonder Alonso.
2. Groom Todd Frazier for third base.
3. Acquire a true SS through a trade (Joaquin Arias? or package someone for a more proven talent)

CF Drew Stubbs/Chris Dickerson
RF Jay Bruce
3B Todd Frazier
SS Zach Cozart/Janish
2B Brandon Phillips
1B Yonder Alonso
C Ryan Hanigan/?

Joey Votto has the athleticism to develop into an average defensive left fielder, IMO, and Frazier has the athleticism and arm strength to be an above average defender at third base. Plus, I remember reading that he played well defensively at third base during the Hawaiian Winter League. That's an offense capable of getting on base and hitting for plenty of power.

I think the plan is to put a defensive wiz at SS no matter what he hits.

nemesis
04-04-2009, 08:10 AM
The only defensive wiz we have at that position is Cozart. He only commited what 10 errors all of last year? Keep inmind thats while getting to alot more balls than most SS in the Minors.

princeton
04-04-2009, 08:18 AM
Reds should have moved Frazier to catcher a couple of years back ;)

lollipopcurve
04-04-2009, 09:17 AM
If not, well.. Votto or alonso will be traded for a nice piece or more. Might be tough for some to swallow, but if gets this club on its way to glory then I will consider it well worth it.

If not one of these two, then Frazier or Francisco, and likely other prospects. The Reds find themselves with a nice glut of young offensive talent. I expect it to be turned into pitching, or a stud at a position of need, like C or SS.

princeton
04-04-2009, 10:11 AM
Valaika to 2B not too suprising, wonder what it means for his future in Cincinnati though?

makes a lot of sense if Zach Cozart shows this summer that he's MLB's next AGonz

if not, then either Phillips or Valaika will be re-learning shortstop next spring training.

Degenerate39
04-04-2009, 10:16 AM
This is a great problem to have. Too many good young players

OesterPoster
04-04-2009, 10:17 AM
If not one of these two, then Frazier or Francisco, and likely other prospects. The Reds find themselves with a nice glut of young offensive talent. I expect it to be turned into pitching, or a stud at a position of need, like C or SS.

A very nice problem to have...finally. Definitely one thing we can thank Krivsky for, along with the ownership change to spend more $$$ on overslot draftees and in the international area.

HokieRed
04-04-2009, 10:40 AM
I look for the longer-term answer at SS to be acquired in a trade involving a starter and perhaps Brandon Phillips once Valaika has proven him replaceable. I don't think we can wait as long as it will take for Cozart to arrive. The Frazier move seems to me just a way to get both him and Francisco into the lineup every day, but it seems possible that, in the longer term, there's just not going to be room for one of those guys. I expect Alonso to force a move of Joey Votto to LF, if not by the beginning of 2010, then by mid-season. That leaves Francisco, EE, and Frazier to contend over 3rd, with Dickerson, Stubbs, and Heisey in the picture for CF. I suspect Walt is not going to compromise at all about defense at SS and we're going to have some talent to dangle in acquiring one--starters, some of these infield parts, some relief talent.

HokieRed
04-04-2009, 10:42 AM
A very nice problem to have...finally. Definitely one thing we can thank Krivsky for, along with the ownership change to spend more $$$ on overslot draftees and in the international area.

Juan Francisco was signed during O'Brien's General Managership.

OesterPoster
04-04-2009, 10:47 AM
Juan Francisco was signed during O'Brien's General Managership.

It was a generalization.

KoryMac5
04-04-2009, 10:48 AM
Phillips to short and Valaika to second base. Could be a nice pairing for the next few seasons.

Cooper
04-04-2009, 11:21 AM
This is a great problem to have. Too many good young players.

Cooper's rule of prospects: if you have 5 grade B prospects:

1 will break out.
1 will regress in a generally big way.
3 will maintain where they are at.

That's what's nice about the Reds system: lots of B prospects.

A good organization would be able to ID which ones will break out and who will fail, thuis being able to trade the one that will regress.

corkedbat
04-04-2009, 12:40 PM
I'd deal Encarnacion, Phillips, Harang, Arroyo, Cordero. Weathers & make someone take Taveras over the next 18 mos.or so. Go all-in for 2010. Try to shore up SS, CA and be on the look out for pitching and younger prospects.

1B Alonzo
2B Valaika
SS (Acquisition)/Cozart
3B Francisco/Rosales
LF Votto/Frazier
CF Dickerson/Stubbs
RF Bruce/Dorn
CA (Acquisition)/Hanigan

Volquez
Cueto
Bailey
Owings
(Acquisition) (or) Thompson (or) Ramirez
Viola
Herrera
Bray
Fisher
(Acquisition) (or) Stewart (or) Watson (or) Guerrero
Roenicke
Burton

Yeah, that's 26. Dorn or a reliever would be the odd man out. If the lefties get most of the starts in the lineup though, you could use Dorn's LH bat off the bench. A young LH starter would be nice and let Viola be a LH power arm in the BP. I wouldn't mind seeing them add young closing prospect either.

camisadelgolf
04-04-2009, 12:42 PM
Ryan "The Vet" Hanigan

corkedbat
04-04-2009, 01:07 PM
Ryan "The Vet" Hanigan

Or "Votto the Vet." :D

Yeah, it probably won't shake out that way, but it's amazing to at least be able to imagine that the Reds could have a lineup that young and (mostly) homegrown.

I'd also like to see them at least get Frazier some RF starts at L'Ville this year to see if he can do a decent job. I'd keep him in a "super utility" role and get him at least occasional starts at each of the four corners where we'd have all lefties.

OnBaseMachine
04-04-2009, 02:07 PM
Also, as JJ noted in an email with me, the pitchers were throwing against the wind, which was quite strong. I am very excited about Dallas Buck at this point.

Agreed. I think Buck is poised to have a breakout season.

Caveat Emperor
04-04-2009, 02:31 PM
I don't get taking a guy who will have a difficult road to the majors (Francisco and his abysmal OBP) and giving him a position of team need (corner IF) while taking a guy who looks to have an easier road to the majors (Frazier) and giving him a position where there is an anticipated logjam (LF).

This just seems like moronic talent deployment to me -- especially after drafting a guy like Alonso.

corkedbat
04-04-2009, 02:43 PM
I don't get taking a guy who will have a difficult road to the majors (Francisco and his abysmal OBP) and giving him a position of team need (corner IF) while taking a guy who looks to have an easier road to the majors (Frazier) and giving him a position where there is an anticipated logjam (LF).

This just seems like moronic talent deployment to me -- especially after drafting a guy like Alonso.


I think Francisco's stock shot way up this offseason and with it looking like Votto, Bruce and Alonzo manning at least three corner spots, it probably wouldn't hurt to have a strong RH bat with some versatility in their glove.

Frazier can always move back to third if Francisco falters, but right now, I'd say the Reds view Francisco as the stronger prospect.

Caveat Emperor
04-04-2009, 06:31 PM
Frazier can always move back to third if Francisco falters, but right now, I'd say the Reds view Francisco as the stronger prospect.

Which honestly shouldn't surprise me. The Reds major league roster is almost entirely devoid of high-OBP players, why should they value such skills in the minors?

I don't get the love for Francisco at all -- sure, when he hits the ball, it tends to stay hit, but the guy strikes out at an alarming rate and rarely walks. In order to be valuable, the guy is probably going to have to hit in the .310 range. Otherwise, we're looking at the second coming of Wily Mo Pena, only with a better glove.

That has it's uses (such as acquiring pitching via trade), but it's not something I want to value at the expense of more complete ballplayers, like Todd Frazier.

RedsManRick
04-04-2009, 06:37 PM
If you look at how Jocketty has worked over the years, it follows closely to the John Schuerholz model. Minor leaguers are treated not just as future players for your team, but as organizational assets to be deployed to the benefit of the big league team. Let's be real here, it's extremely unlikely that all of Alonso, Frazier, Valiaka, Fransisco, etc. will be Reds -- even if they do pan out. At this point, you want to maximize the value of the most guys you can.

I would not be surprised at all to see the Reds in the trade market for an impact player this summer if they're in the hunt -- Holliday and Bedard come to mind.

REDblooded
04-05-2009, 12:29 AM
I absolutely LOVE this teams minor league system right now...

So much high-end possible talent.

dfs
04-05-2009, 12:52 AM
A good organization would be able to ID which ones will break out and who will fail, thuis being able to trade the one that will regress.
Waring and Turner are not in the Baltimore organization.

dfs

camisadelgolf
04-05-2009, 05:59 AM
Waring and Turner are not in the Baltimore organization.

dfs
Um what?

Rob387
04-05-2009, 09:07 AM
does anyone on here go to the mudcats games? I just moved down here to Wilson and I'll be looking to go to some games with fellow Reds fans.

icehole3
04-05-2009, 10:02 AM
Um what?

he meant theyre not in the Reds organization.

Benihana
04-05-2009, 07:31 PM
Does this mean that we're not getting Drew Sutton?

camisadelgolf
04-05-2009, 10:49 PM
Does this mean that we're not getting Drew Sutton?
If he were available, I'd bet that the Reds would have picked him up by now. He's one of the Astros' top prospects.

Mario-Rijo
04-06-2009, 02:26 AM
If you look at how Jocketty has worked over the years, it follows closely to the John Schuerholz model. Minor leaguers are treated not just as future players for your team, but as organizational assets to be deployed to the benefit of the big league team. Let's be real here, it's extremely unlikely that all of Alonso, Frazier, Valiaka, Fransisco, etc. will be Reds -- even if they do pan out. At this point, you want to maximize the value of the most guys you can.

I would not be surprised at all to see the Reds in the trade market for an impact player this summer if they're in the hunt -- Holliday and Bedard come to mind.

I gotta say as much as I concur with CE on this you bring up an excellent point. The good thing about Todd is if he gets moved to another position I have faith that he will have a much shorter learning curve than the norm, especially since he was a leftside IF for so long. So I am ok with this for now.

But I can't help but think that Dusty has already poisoned Walts mind as to which of these guys has a brighter big league future. Lord knows Walt wouldn't know the difference on his own.

dfs
04-06-2009, 11:18 AM
he meant theyre not in the Reds organization.meaning the reds are discarding the guys they don't think can play. \
The Freel trade doesn't happen without the sweetening from our side and neither Turner or Waring where going to play a real role in this club's future.

bucksfan2
04-06-2009, 11:44 AM
Reds should have moved Frazier to catcher a couple of years back ;)

I like your thinking. I think had the Reds drafted him out of high school they would have.

dougdirt
04-06-2009, 02:57 PM
meaning the reds are discarding the guys they don't think can play. \
The Freel trade doesn't happen without the sweetening from our side and neither Turner or Waring where going to play a real role in this club's future.

I don't really look at it that way. You have to give up guys you like sometimes. I don't think they gave up, particularly on Turner, that he wasn't going to be a solid player... just that perhaps he was the guy that they had to give up to get the guy they needed.

OnBaseMachine
05-06-2009, 02:33 PM
Dallas Buck, rhp, Reds: Buck’s career has been riddled with injuries since he helped lead Oregon State to the 2006 College World Series title as a junior while pitching through a sore arm that turned out to be a partial ligament tear in his elbow. The injury dropped Buck from a possible first-round pick to the third round, and he’s yet to throw more than 100 innings in a pro season. He had Tommy John surgery midway through the 2007 season that also cost him the first half of 2008, and now Buck finds himself back on the DL with right shoulder inflammation. The latest setback was noticeably frustrating for Buck, who hurled his glove into the dugout after being pulled from a 1-1 game in the fourth inning on Thursday with the injury. Buck’s fastball sat at 87-90 mph and touched 91 with good tailing life on Thursday, though he struggled to throw strikes and miss bats.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/?p=3739#more-3739

Mario-Rijo
05-06-2009, 02:46 PM
Dallas Buck, rhp, Reds: Buck’s career has been riddled with injuries since he helped lead Oregon State to the 2006 College World Series title as a junior while pitching through a sore arm that turned out to be a partial ligament tear in his elbow. The injury dropped Buck from a possible first-round pick to the third round, and he’s yet to throw more than 100 innings in a pro season. He had Tommy John surgery midway through the 2007 season that also cost him the first half of 2008, and now Buck finds himself back on the DL with right shoulder inflammation. The latest setback was noticeably frustrating for Buck, who hurled his glove into the dugout after being pulled from a 1-1 game in the fourth inning on Thursday with the injury. Buck’s fastball sat at 87-90 mph and touched 91 with good tailing life on Thursday, though he struggled to throw strikes and miss bats.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/?p=3739#more-3739

Oh wonderful.

Kingspoint
05-06-2009, 04:04 PM
Sorry, Dallas.

That really sucks.

Try to stay positive, buddy. There's a lot of us cheering for you.

GOYA
05-06-2009, 05:08 PM
Does anyone know Sutton's experience at SS? I would guess it is not good. So if Valaika goes to 2nd, where does Sutton play? Third with Bolivar or Richar at SS? The Bats' infield is going to continue to post some high error rates.

11larkin11
05-06-2009, 06:20 PM
This was awhile ago Goya, just bumped to talk about Buck going to DL

Blitz Dorsey
05-07-2009, 02:59 AM
Crap.

kpresidente
05-13-2009, 05:48 PM
Alright, I'm interested now that Frazier's officially a LF...

Suppose you have two options...a Dorn/Frazier platoon in LF or Alonso at 1B? You can only have one or the other, which do you take?

dougdirt
05-13-2009, 06:22 PM
Alright, I'm interested now that Frazier's officially a LF...

Suppose you have two options...a Dorn/Frazier platoon in LF or Alonso at 1B? You can only have one or the other, which do you take?

Does Alonso at 1B mean Votto in LF? If so, Alonso all day and night.

kpresidente
05-15-2009, 10:27 PM
Does Alonso at 1B mean Votto in LF? If so, Alonso all day and night.

Is it really that wide of a margin? I'm maybe too big fan of platoons, so I figured you'd get similar production, at least to make it interesting. Do you think that's crazy?