Valaika, Votto honored by Topps
By Gazette News Services
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Billings Mustangs shortstop Chris Valaika was named the Pioneer League Topps Player of the Year, one of two Cincinnati Reds farmhands to earn such a distinction.
Valaika, a third-round pick by the Reds out of Santa Barbara, batted .324 with eight home runs and 60 RBIs for the Mustangs this season.
Joey Votto, a second-round pick in 2002 by the Reds who played for the Mustangs in 2003, was named the Topps Player of the Year for the Class AA Southern League. Votto, a first baseman, hit .319 with 22 home runs and 77 RBIs for the Chattanooga Lookouts.
Topps, which salutes the top performances throughout Minor League Baseball, picked players of the year in all 16 of domestic affiliated leagues. The Reds, Athletics, Blue Jays and Devils Rays topped the list with two players each.