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Thread: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

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    Member OnBaseMachine's Avatar
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    From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    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/...3040#more-3040
    Last edited by Chip R; 04-04-2009 at 11:45 AM.
    I miss Adam Dunn.

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    Member SMcGavin's Avatar
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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    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?

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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    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.

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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    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?
    Last edited by OnBaseMachine; 04-04-2009 at 12:38 AM.
    I miss Adam Dunn.

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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    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.
    Last edited by Kc61; 04-04-2009 at 12:54 AM.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    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.

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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    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.
    I miss Adam Dunn.

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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    Frazier move to LF probably means they think hes the most like to be able to handle the move.

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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    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.
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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    Quote Originally Posted by OnBaseMachine View Post
    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.

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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    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.

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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    Reds should have moved Frazier to catcher a couple of years back

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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    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.
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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    Quote Originally Posted by SMcGavin View Post
    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.

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    Re: From BA: Frazier to LF, Valaika to play some 2B, note on Buck's velocity

    This is a great problem to have. Too many good young players
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