Dragons' Janish proves he's more than defensive shortstop
2004 draft pick leads Midwest League in hitting, batting .390 with 4 homers.
By Marc Katz

Staff Writer

DAYTON Opening a quaint, four-game homestand tonight, the Dayton Dragons are on a streak like none of their predecessors over the last three seasons, coming off a road trip during which they won six of eight.

They have a sweet-hitting shortstop, too.

"I've just been fortunate so far," said Paul Janish, who is hitting .390 entering today's game against Cedar Rapids.

When the parent Reds drafted Janish in the fifth round out of Rice University in 2004, they knew he could field. They wondered if he could hit.

How's this: Through the first month of the Class A Midwest League season, Janish is comfortably leading the league and has shown some power as well, smacking four home runs and knocking in 14 runs. He also had to sit out a few games, starting the season with a pulled hamstring, then suffering a slight twisted ankle. Saturday, he had to leave the game following a collision at home plate.

That's nothing like what happened June 5, when Janish, running out a grounder to short, was knocked off his feet by a first baseman reaching for a wide throw. Janish put his right hand down to brake his fall, subsequently tearing the tendons in his elbow, necessitating Tommy John surgery.

Not only did his 2005 season end prematurely, it cost him a chance to move up in the organization, which decided his 208 at-bats last season weren't enough. Returning to Dayton bothered him a little.

"Without a doubt," Janish said. "I didn't anticipate it, especially since I was working out with the Class AA team in spring training. It's just one thing you have to deal with."

Janish was hitting just .245 when he was hurt last season, but in the four games leading to his injury, he was 7-of-13 (.538) with four runs scored and eight RBIs.

"Some time (last year) about mid-May, I kind of figured something out," Janish said. "It's come back again."

That should mean Janish won't finish the season in Dayton. No shortstop ahead of him is hitting the way he is, and his fielding is of major league quality already.

"I can't worry about what everybody else is doing," Janish said. "I try not to get caught up in that."

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