Reds unite Valaika Bros. through Draft
Cincy selects younger sibling of shortstop prospect on Day 2
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
06/10/09 8:51 PM ET
CINCINNATI -- Among the litany of names and players selected by the Reds on Day 2 of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday, one seemed very familiar.
It was Matt Valaika, who was taken in the 20th round (599th overall) by Cincinnati. The second baseman from the University of California-Santa Barbara is the younger brother of Reds shortstop prospect Chris Valaika.
Like his little brother, Chris, Valaika was also a Gaucho. He was a third-round pick by the Reds in 2006 and is currently with Triple-A Louisville.
"He's a good, hard-nosed guy like Chris," Reds senior scouting director Chris Buckley said. "He's a line-drive hitter and more of a true second baseman. He can really swing the bat. It's just a good baseball family."
In 50 games this season for UC-Santa Barbara, Matt Valaika batted a team-leading .343 while also hitting six homers with 45 RBIs during his junior season. He had an on-base percentage of .341.
Assuming he signs, Matt Valaika will be assigned to the same Rookie-level team in Billings as his older brother. During his first professional season in the Pioneer League, Chris Valaika batted .324 and set a league record with a 32-game hitting streak.
Currently, Chris Valaika is batting .161 for Louisville and is on the disabled list with a broken right hand. Last year, the organization named him as winner of the Chief Bender Award as its Minor League Player of the Year.
"Chris is hurt now, but has done well since we picked him," Buckley said.
Here is the roundup of the Reds' picks from Rounds 4-30 on Wednesday:
Round 4, 119th overall, C Mark Fleury:
A left-handed-hitting junior catcher selected from the University of North Carolina, Fleury batted .315 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs in 63 games. He spent last summer playing in the well-regarded Cape Cod League, which is a wooden-bat league.
Round 5, 149th overall, RHP Daniel Tuttle:
From Randleman High School in North Carolina, Tuttle's scouting report shows him having a plus-slider and a fastball that can reach 94 mph. His delivery is considered unorthodox, which has kept him from having consistent command.
Round 6, 179th overall, RHP Mark Serrano:
A fifth-year senior at Oral Roberts University, Serrano was 9-1 with a 2.50 ERA in 20 games, including nine starts, this season. In 86 1/3 innings, he walked 25 and struck out 132 batters.
Round 7, 209th overall, OF Joshua Fellhauer:
A junior at college baseball powerhouse Cal State Fullerton, Fellhauer batted .399 with six homers and 55 RBIs in 58 games this season. What was most interesting was that he was hit by 16 pitches while drawing 26 walks with only 25 strikeouts. He bats and throws left-handed.
Round 8, 239th overall, OF Juan Silva:
Buckley liked Silva's tools and is a strong, athletic center fielder from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.
Round 9, 269th overall, RHP Brian Pearl:
A junior reliever at the University of Washington, Pearl was 1-5 with a 3.05 ERA in 23 games, including two starts. He also had eight saves in his 38 1/3 innings pitched.
Round 10, 299th overall, C Tucker Barnhart:
From Brownsburg High School in Indiana, Barnhart is a switch-hitter, and Buckley considered him a "very polished high school catcher and a high-energy kid."
Round 11, 329th overall, RHP Jacob Johnson:
He was selected from the Trinity Christian Academy in Florida. For a high school kid, he's already got some size at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds. Already committed to Wake Forest University, Johnson earned all-county and all-state honors during both his junior and senior seasons.
Round 12, 359th overall, OF Joshua Garton:
A sophomore from Volunteer State Community College in Tennessee, Garton batted .386 with 16 homers and 39 RBIs in 44 games this season.
Round 13, 389th overall, RHP Nick Christiani:
A senior at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., Christiani was a 32nd-round pick by the Indians last year. This season, he was 6-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 18 games, including 10 starts. In 68 1/3 innings, he walked 19 and struck out 69.
Round 14, 419th overall, RHP Timothy Crabbe:
A junior at Westmont College in California, Crabbe was 3-8 with a 5.35 ERA in 16 games, including 12 starts in 2009. In 72 1/3 innings, he walked 61 and struck out 65.
Round 15, 449th overall, IF James Walczak:
Now a senior at Mercyhurst College in Ohio, Walczak batted .352 as a junior and led his team in hits and runs scored.
Round 16, 479th overall, C Chase Fowler:
He was selected from South Forsyth High School in Georgia.
Round 17, 509th overall, SS Deven Marrero:
With the American Heritage School in Miami this season, Marrero batted .400 with eight homers and 25 RBIs this season and was named the Broward County high school baseball Player of the Year by the Florida Sun Sentinel.
Round 18, 539th overall, SS Stephen Perez:
Another high school infielder from Gulliver Prep School in Florida, here is what the MLB.com Draft Tracker had to say about him: His plus instincts help him maximize his skills, which include some definite hitting ability from both sides of the plate, a solid glove and arm from shortstop. Whoever drafts him could be getting a high schooler with a better understanding of how to play the game than most prepsters.
Round 19, 569th overall, LHP Mitchell Clarke:
The southpaw was taken from the Forest Heights Collegiate Institute in Ontario, Canada.
Round 20, 599th overall, 2B Matt Valaika:
The brother of top Reds infield prospect Chris Valaika, Matt followed in his brother's footsteps and attended college at UC-Santa Barbara. In 50 games, he led the Gauchos while batting .343 with six homers and 45 RBIs this year during his junior season. He had an on-base percentage of .341.
Round 21, 629th overall, RHP Jonathan Reed:
With Tulsa Memorial High School this season, Reed posted a 5.60 ERA in just 10 innings over three games. Also a third baseman, he batted .380 in 31 games with eight homers and 30 RBIs.
Round 22, 659th overall, 1B David Stewart:
He attended Grayson County College in Missouri.
Round 23, 689th overall, 1B Chris Richburg:
A senior at Texas Tech University this season, Richburg batted .341 in 57 games, with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs. He had a .454 on-base percentage.
Round 24, 719th overall, 1B Derrick Lowery:
This season in 47 games, Lowery batted .361 with seven homers, 39 RBIs and a .418 on-base percentage during his sophomore year at Young Harris College in North Carolina.
Round 25, 749th overall, RHP Michael Monster:
The right-hander was taken from the Rutland Secondary School in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.
Round 26, 779th overall, C Vernon Manz:
In 46 games during his senior season with the University of South Florida, Manz batted .293 with six homers and 24 RBIs. According to his college media guide, Manz likes movies, fishing and cooking.
Round 27, 809th overall, LHP Stefan Del Pino:
The lefty was picked from Dorman High School in South Carolina.
Round 28, 839th overall, SS Derek Poppert:
In 56 games this season during his junior year at the University of San Francisco, Poppert batted .252 with one homer and 52 RBIs. He also stole 16 bases in 19 attempts. Defensively, the numbers appear raw. Poppert committed 22 errors for a .919 fielding percentage.
Round 29, 869th overall, RHP Jason Braun:
A senior at Corban College in Oregon, Braun was 2-8 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 games this season, including 11 starts. He walked 25 and struck out 60 in 78 innings.
Round 30, 899th overall, C Yovan Gonzalez:
A second-year player at Wabash Valley College, Gonzalez batted .429 with 16doubles, 10 homers and 47 RBIs in 54 games this season.
On Thursday, the Draft will conclude with Rounds 31-50.