Alonso impresses in Hawaiian league
First-round Draft pick looks strong; Valaika solid in AFL play
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- As someone who sat out most of the summer, Reds prospect Yonder Alonso crammed in a lot of quality work in the fall.
Alonso, the Reds' first-round Draft pick in June, recently completed his season with Waikiki in Hawaiian Winter Baseball. The 21-year-old first baseman batted .308 (32-for-104) with four home runs and 21 RBIs. He had an on-base-plus slugging percentage (OPS) of .929.
"He swung the bat the way everyone that had seen and scouted him thought he would," Reds Minor League director Terry Reynolds said. "He hit some home runs and drove in some big runs."
Alonso was limited to all of six games with Class A Sarasota because prolonged negotiations stretched until the Aug. 15 signing deadline. On Cincinnati's 40-man roster, he signed a Major League contract through 2012 that was believed to be worth $4.5 million.
Although there was consideration to have Alonso play winter ball in Latin America, the Reds have decided to shut him down for the rest of the offseason.
Most likely, Alonso will start the 2009 season at either high Class A Sarasota or Double-A Carolina.
"We'll decide what level he will start in during the spring," Reynolds said.
When the Reds selected Alonso out of the University of Miami with the seventh overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, there were thoughts that he could be used as a third baseman or outfielder. Cincinnati currently has a young first baseman in Joey Votto, but all notions that Alonso might play a different position other than first base have been scrapped.
"We have a good inventory of guys at third base," Reynolds said. "We don't need to look at him anywhere else. You never know down the road with trades or if there is a necessity. As of now, he's at first base and that's where we plan to play him."
Waikiki, which won the Hawaiian Winter Baseball championship, also benefited from infield prospect Todd Frazier's production. Frazier, 22, batted .295 (28-for-95) with three homers and 22 RBIs. Sixteen of his hits were for extra bases and his OPS was .922.
Frazier suffered a concussion after a collision in a game and missed some time, but recovered and finished the season.
"He might have led the league in a bunch of offensive categories," Reynolds said.
Last week marked the end of the Arizona Fall League, where several Reds prospects participated.
Several players had strong showings. Offensively, shortstop Chris Valaika batted .311 with two homers and 16 RBIs in 32 games while second baseman Justin Turner batted .337 in 23 games. First baseman Sean Henry batted .327 in 15 games.
Former first-round Draft pick (2006) Drew Stubbs struggled while batting .200 with one homer and eight RBIs in 22 games. He struck out 29 times in 85 at-bats and drew 11 walks. Reynolds wasn't concerned about the outfielder, who reached Triple-A Louisville this past season.
"My sense is that he was just worn out," Reynolds said. "He played at lots of different levels and the playoffs. He had no time off and we will get him back together and worry about it in the spring."
Among pitchers, right-handed reliever Robert Manuel posted the strongest numbers among the Reds. Manuel was 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 11 appearances with one walk and 13 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings.
Lefty starter Pedro Viola was 2-2 with an 8.20 ERA in 26 1/3 innings over eight starts. He walked eight and struck out 25. Sean Watson had a 9.95 ERA over 11 relief appearances totaling 12 2/3 innings. Carlos Fisher had a 10.80 ERA over his 10 appearances over 10 innings.