Reds 3rd round draft pick, 84th overall in 2006 draft
Signed for $437,500
Assigned to Billings Mustangs
Baseball America May 2006:
"Chris Valaika, ss/2b (National rank: 121)
School: UC Santa Barbara. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Valencia, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: 8/14/85.
Scouting Report: Scouts have had a long time to evaluate Valaika against quality competition. He was on three USA Baseball teams, winning a gold medal in 2001 with the youth national team and a silver medal in 2003 with the Pan American Games junior national team. He earned a gold medal at the World University Games with the college national team in 2004 as an infield reserve behind future first-round picks Jed Lowrie, Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Zimmerman. However, Valaika hit a speed bump last year when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He has worked hard to come back and doesn't wear a brace on his knee. He's a hard worker with solid-average tools. Most of his success owes to his good hands. He shows quick hands at the plate that generate average power, particularly inviting for a player who should stay in the infield defensively. Valaika's hands work well in the infield, though his range at shortstop is below-average and he's a fringe-average runner. With better patience at the plate, Valaika's power should increase. His makeup is a significant plus. He can play second base and has enough arm for third, making him an ideal utility infielder."
From USCB Web Site:
Will be back in the lineup as the Gauchos' starting shortstop...Named to the 2006 Wallace Watch List by the College Baseball Foundation.
After his Freshman All-American and Big West Freshman of the Year performance in 2004, Valaika missed the majority of his sophomore campaign due to injury...Played in 18 games before the setback...In only 72 at-bats, he managed to rack up five doubles and twelve runs scored...Went 3-for-6 with two runs scored, a double, one RBI and a walk at Pepperdine on February 5...Batted 3-for-4 with two doubles, three runs scored and a walk in a 6-1 victory over San Jose State on February 13.
Valaika was named Big West Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American after starting all 54 games in 2004...Hit .347, blasting seven homeruns and driving in 38...Was the team leader in total bases (119), doubles (15) and extra-base hits (25)...Hit .311 (23-for-74) with runners in scoring position...Had a team-high 24 multi-hit games...Also recorded eight multi-RBI games...He went 70-for-183, .383, over the final 44 games, collecting at least one hit in 38 of those...Was a perfect five-for-five with five runs scored, three RBI, two doubles, a homer and a walk February 28 against Fresno State...Also posted four hits and three RBI in an April 3 game against Sacramento State...Went 3-for-5 driving in four and scoring one against Cal State Fullerton on April 13...On April 30 he was 3-for-4 in a win over Long Beach State...Valaika hit in eight of nine games against Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State and UC Irvine, all Big West opponents that advanced to the NCAA Tournament...Against those three opponents he was 14-for-37 (.378) with eight RBI, nine runs scored, four doubles, two triples and two homeruns...Finished the season with two or more hits in four straight games and six of the last eight...Not only did Valaika have 24 multi-hit games, he had eight games with three or more hits...In addition to his stellar play offensively, he had just 12 errors in 287 chances in the field.
Won a Gold medal while playing with Team USA Under-16 squad in the World Games in Veracruz, Mexico...Won a Silver medal with the U-18 team in the 2003 Pan-America Games in Curacao after hitting .385 with two homers and two doubles...Won a Gold medal with the USA National team in the Pan Am Games in Santo Domingo where he had eleven hits, two triples and a homerun.
Played at Hart High School under coach Jim Ozella...Hit .411 as a sophomore and junior and .426 as a senior...Recorded 42 doubles in those three years and compiled 107 hits...Received All-Foothill League honors his sophomore, junior and senior seasons...Also received First Team All-State and First Team All-CIF honors as a junior and senior...Holds the school record for most career home runs with 18.
Born August 14, 1985 in Santa Monica, California...Aspires to play professional baseball...Roots for the Los Angeles Dodgers...Majoring in Anthropology at UCSB...Favorite athlete is former Gaucho shortstop, Michael Young...Favorite movies are Bull Durham and Cocktail...Most memorable sports moment was winning a gold medal in Taiwan...Favorite aspects of Santa Barbara are the beach and the weather...Best quote received about baseball and/or life is from James Dean who stated, "Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today"...Enjoys watching Family Guy, Nip Tuck and CSI...Three words that describe him are outgoing, loyal and dedicated...Son of Jeff and Ilona Valaika."
Individual Batting Stats at Billings thru 8/11/06:
Pos AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB GIDP HBP
2B .317 48 186 44 59 15 1 8 48 18 36 2 1 .390 .538 .928 2 6 0 7 8
From the 8/12/06 Billings Gazette:
Valaika, Mustangs roll past Great Falls
Shortstop extends hitting streak to 19 games in 7-1 win
By BILL BIGHAUS
Of The Gazette Staff
The hits keep coming for Chris Valaika - and so do the wins for the Billings Mustangs. Valaika extended his hitting streak to 19 games Friday night, and the Mustangs prevailed in their third-straight game - downing the Great Falls White Sox 7-1 in front of 2,207 at Cobb Field.
Valaika, a 20-year-old shortstop, didn't waste much time in adding to what is the longest hitting streak in the Pioneer League this season.
He singled sharply to left field on the first pitch he received from Tyson Corley in the bottom of the first inning and also laced a run-scoring double down the left-field line on the first pitch he received from Corley in the bottom of the third.
"I'm trying not to really think about it," he said of his sizzling success at the plate. "I'm just trying to do what I can to help the team. When you put the ball in play, good things will happen." Valaika, who will turn 21 on Monday, is batting .313 for Billings this season. He also drove in his league-leading 49th run with his third-inning double.
"I'm seeing the ball real well," he said. "Not just me, but the whole team in general has been hitting the ball well. We pitched great and played good defense again tonight, so we're going to win a lot of games."
Right fielder Mike McKennon belted his first home run since opening night in mid-June - a 3-run shot to right in the Mustangs' seven-run third inning. His powerful shot even knocked a branch off a tree just beyond the fence and the limb fell back on to the ballpark's warning track.
"Mike's been struggling with the bat a little bit and it's great to see him turn it around," said Valaika.
While the Mustangs' bats were lively, right-handed pitcher Jordan Smith also threw a mean slider and ran his season record to 4-1 by throwing five innings of one-hit ball. He walked four batters and struck out three.
"I was just locating my fastball down low where they can't get good wood on it," said Smith. "I was just getting a lot of ground balls today."
The only hit Smith allowed came in the second inning when Tyler Reves singled under the glove of Billings third baseman Angel Colon.
Billings, now 8-5 in second-half play and 31-20 overall, left the bases loaded in the first inning.
The Mustangs, however, put the game away in the third, sending 13 batters to the plate and scoring seven runs on six hits.
After Billy Rojo walked with one out and Danny Dorn singled, Valaika, who is from Valencia, Calif., and bats clean-up in the Billings lineup, lit the scoreboard with his RBI-double.
Another walk loaded the bases, and Chris Heisey responded with a two-run double down the third-base line to make it 3-0.
The next batter, Angel Colon, struck out, but McKennon, who entered the game with a .192 batting average, ripped a Corley fastball over the fence in right to plate three more runs.
"It's been about 100 at-bats," McKennon said of his home-run drought. "It felt good to finally get another one."
"After that one game when they stuck it to us a little bit, we had a meeting in here with (manager Rick Burleson) and he kind of lit a fire under us," Valaika said. "Ever since then we've been playing real well and I think it's going to continue."
Great Falls scored its lone run in the sixth on a double by Christian Marrero and a single by Chris Carter.
"It was a great game," said Valaika. "We were lucky enough to put that seven spot up and played hard the rest of the game. Smitty kept us in the game the whole time. Then (Misael) DeJesus and (Adam) Pointer finished it. It was a great game."
Published on Saturday, August 12, 2006.